In a nutshell, this is why I don’t like Arlen Specter. Even when, from a distance, it seems as though he’s doing good, upon closer inspection you realize that he’s only doing it, whatever it is, for his own gain.
In this case, a Fox News piece yesterday detailed how Specter was speaking out against an end-of-life care guide, entitled “Your Life, Your Choices,” that had been suspended under the Bush administration but revived under the current administration’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs, calling for hearings into what an official in the previous administration deemed a “hurry up and die” message being given to veterans.
For anyone who saw or heard Chris Wallace’s interviews on Fox News Sunday, it was amazing — despite being an absolute hero in her own right (she suffered catastrophic injuries in Iraq, which resulted in the amputation of her legs), Assistant Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Tammy Duckworth maintained, over and over again, that the manual was not reinstated despite being shown example after example that it was.
Specter stated that the guide raises “a lot of questions.”
On its face, Arlen Specter’s decision to bring the “Your Life, Your Choices” guide a little more scrutiny could be a good one, right? Well, the problem is that Specter himself voted for the so-called “stimulus” package despite knowing that it had all sorts of end-of-life consequences in it for all seniors, not just for veterans. He did so because, at the time, the world was in love with Barack Obama, and he felt as though Pennsylvanians thought the stimulus was needed. Fast-forward to now and, with his poll numbers dwindling in the Keystone State (home to the nation’s second-largest population of seniors, next to Florida), Specter is suddenly concerned about seniors being told to “hurry up and die,” already?
Specter does what’s right, politically, for Arlen Specter. Frazzled after being endlessly criticized for supporting the stimulus bill, he opposed “card check” legislation despite flipping and flopping publicly on the issue within a matter of weeks, knowing that he needed to assuage his base. Sobered due to the reality that he likely would not prevail in a GOP primary in 2010, Specter switched parties, publicly acknowledging that he did so for his own political gain.
Specter has nobody in mind but Arlen Specter. And, so, when I see faux outrage like this over a subject worthy of genuine outrage, it makes me dislike my senator even more.
Most elected officials at least try to hide their own hypocrisy. I, for one, would love for someone to stand up and ask the senator whether, at 75 and 78 years of age, he would have been able to obtain several brain surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy under the “public option” at the center of the Democrats’ health care reform. Ask him about how his particular health care needs comport with the very model he’s advocating, at the heart of which are Tom Daschle’s argument that seniors like Specter “should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.”
Every single time Senator Specter opens his mouth, I wonder more and more whether it is hypocrisy rather than blood that his heart pumps through his veins. Out of any other elected official, Democrat, Republican or somewhere in between, I would feel good about someone in Washington truly looking out for our veterans by shining the light of congressional scrutiny on this end-of-life care guide. Coming from Specter, however, I know that his motives aren’t genuine.
He might say that I have a “damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t” type of attitude toward him, and he would be right. The thing is, what he doesn’t realize is that any person or politician must earn the right to be given the benefit of the doubt. Specter, instead, is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with American politics at this day and age. Self-serving? Check. Elitist? Check. Out-of-touch? Check. Willing to depart from principles in order to curry favor and win re-election? What principles?
Forget the “hurry up and die” message in the end-of-life care guide. What we really need is a “hurry up and retire” message to be given to Arlen Specter.