History’s Long Shadow

May 14, 2010 6:31 a.m.

TPM Reader TS chimes in on Specter/Sestak …

I am a Democrat living in Pennsylvania and wanted to chime in on the Sestak/Specter primary.

Words cannot describe how brutal that “I changed parties which will enable me to be… reelected” ad that Sestak is running. It is just devastating. The way Specter pronounces “reelected” makes him sound pompous in the extreme.

Everything is about his own preservation. His switch to the Democratic party was about his own career. People in Pennsylvania know that. I don’t begrudge the guy for doing what he could to get reelected, but we know with Specter that he thinks about number one first.

Also, we all remember that he invoked that goofy Scottish law citation when he voted “not proven” during the Clinton impeachment. He represented the Commonwealth that twice voted overwhelmingly for Clinton but he didn’t want to stick his neck and vote guilty or not guilty. He wanted to be on the fence because that suited him best politically. (Is there any doubt that he would voted for a straight acquittal if the trial was today?) He came up with his own verdict which differed from the rest of the 99 Senators.

Recall, too, that Sestak took out Curt Weldon in Delaware County, a largely GOP stronghold. He beat him soundly. People know that Sestak’s Navy background will help him in the middle part of the Commonwealth.

Lastly, I want to share an anecdote that, I think, helps define Specter’s peculiar relationship with some Pennsylvania voters. My next-door neighbor is a life-long Democrat who has spent the last 20 years as a registered Republican. He switched his registration just so he could vote against Arlen in the GOP primaries. When Arlen switched to the Democrats, so did my neighbor. I have disliked many a politician but have never been tempted to switch parties to get another opportunity to vote against him an extra time. While this is an extreme example, Specter engenders so much emotion with many of us. People here know him and many want him out. With Sestak, he may be unknown, he may be difficult soul to deal with and he may have departed the Navy under less than ideal circumstances (which retired Admiral hasn’t?), but he ain’t Arlen Specter and that counts for a lot.

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