Politics affords few examples of politicians whose predictions are always right or whose proposals always catch on with colleagues.
But for predictive purposes there’s something almost as good: the politician whose predictions are always wrong and whose proposals are always immediately derided and/or ignored by his or her colleagues.
Which brings us to Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, who has just been appointed to serve as the first official token moderate in the Republican Senate leadership.
Specter used to be a pretty stand-up Senator. But in recent years he’s become increasingly prone to unreliable predictions and bizarre proposals.
Let’s review some of Specter’s recent performances.
During the pardon scandal Specter says President Clinton could, and may well, be impeached again over the pardons. (Republicans privately — and in some cases publicly — say Specter is whacked.)
During the pardon scandal Specter proposes limiting or abolishing the president’s veto power. The idea goes nowhere.
Two days before Jim Jeffords’ defection Specter gives Dems agida and Republicans a sliver of hope when he tells The Chicago Trib’s Jill Zuckman that Jeffords isn’t going to bolt. “He indicated to me that he is not going to change parties,” said Specter. Jeffords changes parties.
After Jeffords quit the GOP, Specter takes the Senate floor and accuses Jeffords and Harry Reid of possible ethical misconduct over the negotiations preceding Jeffords’ defection and goes on to propose changing Senate rules to prevent the chamber from switching hands because of a defection like Jeffords. (Of course, one would think Republicans would really resist such a rule now, considering that another defection is their only hope of recapturing the chamber before 2002.) Predictably enough, according to the Washington Post, GOP leadership aides say they have no idea what Specter was talking about.
Harry Reid probably had it right when he told the Post: “It’s a silly proposal and it has no chance. It’s his [Specter’s] way of of showing everyone he was a lawyer.”
P.S. For more on Specter’s political career you can buy his new book Truth, Justice, The American Way, and Arlen Specter from Amazon.
(The title is actually Passion for Truth : From Finding Jfk’s Single Bullet to Questioning Anita Hill to Impeaching Clinton, but you get the idea.)