Fighting for his political life, Arlen Specter assures union workers that they’ll ‘be satisfied’ with his vote on ‘card check’ legislation
The old joke goes something like this:
Q: How do you save a politician from drowning?
A: Take your foot off his head.
For many people, politicians can be found somewhere between lawyers and used car salesmen when it comes to matters of trust, integrity and principles. As a future lawyer, and very possibly a future politician, I can allow myself to laugh at such standards because I hope to one day be the exception and not the rule.
That being said, allow me to introduce you to the rule: His name is Arlen Specter, longtime senator from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s Monday, so today he considers himself a Democrat. That he may tell you something different on Tuesday, or Thursday, or Saturday is a testament to what fellow Democrats–not to mention Specter himself–often call his “bravery,” his “independence,” or his “unpredictability.” Personally, I consider it a hallmark of a man who completely lacks a spine, a man so interested in the perpetuation of a lengthy career marked by disappointment and shallow malleability that all bets are off, that all conviction and integrity and honesty and principle goes right out the window in the name of the almighty reelection.
Specter is the worst kind of politician; and, in that, Specter is the worst kind of man. He’s the kind of man who would swear to a friend his undying support only to subsequently turn his back for trivial but self-serving reasons. He’s the kind of man who would sell his loyal dog for a positive performance review, or his own mother for a promotion.
No single issue demonstrates Arlen Specter’s complete lack of values and ideals than that of the Employee Free Choice Act. Two days ago, during a rally in downtown Pittsburgh, Specter confessed to feeling “the pressure” and “the heat” and assured union workers that they would “be satisfied” with his vote on so-called “card check” legislation, a two-tiered disaster for American business and industry. The first tier is the elimination of the secret ballot traditionally used in votes to unionize, thus allowing for unions to insist, through intimidation, the unionization of American workers. The second tier is more about control; once a particular union is certified, employers would be forced to agree to union demands for hours, wages, benefits and more or face arbitration.
In the spring of 2005, Specter stood abreast Sen. Ted Kennedy to introduce the Employee Free Choice Act, which he misspoke and described as the “Freedom of Choice Act,” legislation he nonetheless said “ought to be pursued and ought to be followed.”
In 2007, while still a Republican, Specter was the only Republican to buck the party line and vote in favor of cloture on card check, bringing the matter to debate. Specter, at that time, called the secret ballot the “cornerstone of our democracy.”
On March 10, 2009, Specter told The Wall Street Journal that he was “still thinking about it” and that he was “being lobbied on it very, very heavily.” (Any worries that Specter was making decision based upon core beliefs and convictions should have gone right out the window at that point.)
Two weeks after that, on March 24, Specter confirmed that he was indeed going to vote against the Employee Free Choice Act. In doing so, he once again deemed the secret ballot “the cornerstone for how contests are decided in a Democratic society.” According to The Hill, Specter also said that he had not considered his political future when deciding to vote against cloture, saying: “I have not traded my vote in the past, and I will not do so now.”
On Saturday, shortly after he switched parties solely to avoid the Republican primary in Pennsylvania, Specter appears to have once again changed his tune on card check. And completely for political reasons.
The man disgusts me.
Despite appearances here at America’s Right, I am less than a decade removed from being a liberal Democrat myself. I still count, among my closest friends, many great people who line up to the left of center. I understand completely that, just as I consider myself a conservative–with increasingly Libertarian leanings–because of my belief system and values and worldview, other people honestly find themselves across the aisle because of their own belief system and values and worldview. Whether someone considers themselves a Republican or Democrat or conservative or liberal matters not to me — what matters is that such beliefs are rooted in principles rather than ignorance or, worse, convenience.
Here in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, my congressman is Admiral Joe Sestak. Rep. Sestak and I may not agree on much at all, but at least I know that his perspective is rooted in longstanding ideals. Sestak is not afraid to vote for what he believes in, regardless of the possible downhill political consequences. And even if his votes and his opinion are diametrically opposed, 100 percent of the time, to what I’d hope, I’d still rather be represented by him than by someone completely devoid of core values and principles. I like Admiral Sestak. I despise Arlen Specter.
On March 24, the date of Specter’s most recent sea change on a black-and-white issue, I wrote the following, and I stick with it today:
This isn’t an issue that you waver on. This isn’t legislation placing regulations on salt in ketchup, or deciding whether to acknowledge the brown-toed tree frog as the official critter for some county in Florida. This is death to small business, and victory for unions and the Democratic Party. So, while he may very well have ended up falling on the right side of this particular vote, the wishy-washy approach to how he reached this conclusion says all we need to know about the Pennsylvania senator — to Arlen Specter, it’s not about right or wrong, but rather about gain or loss in a purely political sense.
Thankfully, at this time next year, my wife and I will be trading Gov. Ed Rendell and Sen. Arlen Specter for Gov. Mark Sanford and Sen. Jim DeMint. As much as I like those Palmetto State powerhouses, I will find a way to cast my final vote in my home state of Pennsylvania — just so I can do my part to ensure that Specter packs his bags and leaves Capitol Hill for good.
And trust me — when it comes to matter of principle, I don’t waver. And when it comes to spineless, self-serving politicians, I have a heavy, heavy foot.