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What happened to Arlen Specter?



What happened to Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter? AP Photo/Alex Brandon

A series of polls released over the last few days in the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary all point to a single indisputable fact: Sen. Arlen Specter has gone from heavy favorite to -- at best -- an even money bet in his race Tuesday against Rep. Joe Sestak.

What happened?

As always in campaigns, it's never a single thing that led to the quick -- and deep -- erosion of Specter's support. But, there are a few identifiable factors-- courtesy of the Fix brain and conversations with several smart strategists -- that made the race so close so late.

* The Initial Switch: Specter, one of the most able politicians of his generation -- you don't get re-elected five times in Pennsylvania as a Republican unless you are very skilled -- was badly off his game in the days immediately following his decision to switch parties last April. In explaining his decision to switch, Specter didn't cite deep principles but rather his belief that his best chance to be re-elected was by running as a Democrat. His now-infamous quote -- "My change in party will enable me to be re-elected" -- sums up the problem for Specter. (Sestak turned that quote into an absolutely devastating ad against Specter.) If he winds up on the short end on Tuesday, Specter may well look back to April 28, 2009 as the day he lost the race.

* Waiting on Sestak: For months, Specter and Sestak were engaged in a staring contest. Both men were sitting on mountains of cash but refusing to spend a dime on television -- waiting for the other man to make the first move. Specter eventually broke the ad silence but by the time he did so, he had, according to Mark Nevins, a neutral Democratic strategist in the state, squandered the several million dollar cash edge he initially enjoyed over Sestak. "In a condensed race, the two campaigns ended up essentially even in the money game," said Nevins.

* Age is more than just a number: In his closing ad -- released this morning -- Sestak make explicit what had long been an implicit focus of his challenge to Specter: that the incumbent has simply been around too long. The narrator in the ad describes Sestak as "the best Democrat for Pennsylvania's future" and, in case voters miss the reference, Sestak himself closes the ad by saying: "It's time for a new generation of leadership." Specter's campaign has taken offense at the ad, noting that the image of the Senator used in the commercial is from the fall of 2008 when he had lost his hair due to chemotherapy treatments. "Has he no shame?," Specter campaign manager Chris Nicholas asked of Sestak. Regardless of that back and forth, it's clear that Specter's long resume of experience and his age -- he is 80, Sestak is 58 -- is not working in his favor with an electorate that badly craves new faces.

* Bad Luck: The nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court this week came at the exact wrong time for Specter who had voted against her nomination to her current post last spring -- when he was still a Republican. Specter quickly sought to lessen the political damage by noting that Solicitor General and Supreme Court Justice were two very different jobs, and in a meeting with Kagan today called her "very forthcoming". But, the damage was done as Sestak jumped on Specter's past vote to remind voters of the incumbent's not-so-distant Republican past. Luck -- and timing -- always matters in close races. Specter has benefited from simple twists of fate in the past but doesn't seem so lucky this time.

* Environmental Toxicity: It's hard to imagine a worse national environment in which for Specter to run. Voters view legislative experience as a negative and, as we noted yesterday, the "I deliver" message simply isn't working. Add to that mix that Specter has to not only answer for his service in the Senate but also for his past ties to a VERY unpopular President and you begin to understand just how hard the wind is blowing in his face. Specter is trying to counter those national hurdles with a few national assets of his own -- most importantly the endorsement ads from President Barack Obama currently running on radio and television across the state.

To be clear, while the trendline for Specter is not great, his allies insist that he has begun to tick back up -- thanks in large part to the support from Obama -- and that he will be able to eke out a win on Tuesday.

And, Specter has a proven record of winning races where he was counted out -- beating Lynn Yeakel (D) by three points in the 1992 "Year of the Woman" election and edging out then Rep. Pat Toomey 51 percent to 49 percent in a 2004 Republican primary fight.

But, at the moment, it looks as though a series of factors -- strategic missteps, bad timing, a tough national environment -- are conspiring to keep Specter from the Democratic nod this time around.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 13, 2010; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

"We will purge the system of all who do not live up to the OATH THEY TOOK !!!!"

Be careful of what you ask for. Specter has been a terrific senator for PA. In your efforts to slash and burn, make sure you don't throw out the good ones. Anyone care why Sestak (the junior freshman congressman) doesn't bother to vote and do his job? Or why he won't prove the circumstances of his dismissal from the military? Sure you want that for 6 years?

Posted by: babsf342 | May 16, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he should switch to Independent.
Appears he is good at switching sides and changing positions on issues.

Posted by: NobleDog | May 16, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

specter is a LIAR VOTE ALL INCUMBENTS OUT !!!!IF YOU WANT REAL CHANGE !!!

Posted by: yourmomscalling | May 15, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

"Your leader has been elected and has failed. pay attention and watch as his cronies are voted out in November and that he is a one-term prez. Then watch as his policies/bills and laws are thrown out to the public's delight!"

Where do you come across getting such mind-numbing absolutisms? I have some ruby shoes you might be interested in...

Posted by: Crucialitis | May 15, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

www.goooh.com Spector has no value to the new Government taking back America in 2010.

Posted by: mlimberg | May 15, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

It seems as if the 47% has decided they are the majority. And the extreme fringes of that group comprise those in the tea party, the birthers, the anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-government(until they need the government)loonies who can't see the forest for the trees. What these people are most afraid of is the fact that this country is no longer being lead by the white right.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

YOU WISH!

Have you checked the majority lately? ha!
Extreme fringes of a that group? ha!

birthers? is that supposed to be a bad thing to call someone who wants to protect a babies life? you can call me a birther too!

Anti government? I am anti-BIG Government at the expense of our rights and future.

Nothing about the tea-parties is a white right. Go to one yourself and stop watching softball news like msnbc and nbc. Your leader has been elected and has failed. pay attention and watch as his cronies are voted out in November and that he is a one-term prez. Then watch as his policies/bills and laws are thrown out to the public's delight!


Posted by: JBfromFL | May 15, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

guess who you are and what you represent matters in the long run. I am surprised Specter survived this long. Being on the wrong team and running the country into the ground under GW Bush should matter.

Bye bye Arlen, I can't believe you lasted as long as you did. Maybe the GOP will give you another shot.

Posted by: Reesh | May 14, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

No the GOP won't give him another shot. Remember he was elected before Bush?

He switched parties to save himself, not because he believes in the Democrats. Not because he wants to represent the people. He is a sell-out.

Your right, being on the wrong team matters...As a democrat he has helped ruin the country under this administration.

As the article says..Obama and all the african-american religous leaders in his state can't help rescue him now.

Posted by: JBfromFL | May 15, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Dump this steaming pile a CRAP!!!

Posted by: yourmomscalling | May 15, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

GOODBYE you steaming heaping pile a crap

Posted by: yourmomscalling | May 14, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Well first, its not a foregone conclusion that Specter will lose. But also, I think its a credit to Joe Sestak's skills that this is a competitive race. In 2006, it was considered extremely unusual for a 3-star admiral to run for a House seat, Sestak was almost over-qualified. And PA 7 was a seat the Dems had to win to have any chance of being able to capture the House. There was always a tacit understanding that Joe Sestak would have a clear path at statewide office at the earliest chance in exchange for his 2006 coup. So in a way, both Sestak and Specter are seeking political payback in 2010.

Posted by: gpsbus | May 14, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

We will purge the system of all who do not live up to the OATH THEY TOOK !!!!

election day is coming USURPER IN CHIEF !!!
Yes that's you bambi

Posted by: yourmomscalling | May 14, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

When Reagam quipped the applause line "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me," republicans hooted and cheered and taunted, dancing from one foot to the other and wriggling in delight.

When Arlen Specter went in the other direction, leaving a GOP that had settled on pure opposition in place of policy and governance, well, you see how they reacted.

Goose, gander.

Now we have a Republican Party with no positive way back to power, bereft of ideas, uninterested in doing the nation's business, praying for failure and calamity, ready to seize on misfortune and turn it to advantage, ready to resume the destruction I'd the military and middle class. Disgusting.

Specter should have been the first in a long line.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 14, 2010 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Reesh


How did this guy get elected in the first place?


This is the problem with our system - a guy like Specter gets in, and is clearly bad - but no one is able to remove him for decades.

TELL ME that Pennsylvania did not have HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE who would have not made BETTER SENATORS THAN SPECTER ????

This is what is wrong.


AND the guy won't leave, he just won't leave.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 14, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse

I haven't seen the new Sestak ad and I don't want to. It sounds like it is a cheap shot coming from an over confident man. And, the fact they used a picture of Senator Specter while he was undergoing chemotherapy is hartless. I find that very offensive. My father died of cancer and I remember the courage he showed while trying to fight that cancer with chemotherapy. And, yes he lost his hair too. How arrogent and wrong it is to use someones illness and their appearance during that illness against him. It takes a meanness a lack of understand and a real arrogance to do something like this. Sestak may call himself the new Democrat, but if he is what the party is offering up, I am not buying. Absoulutely discusting is the only way I can describe it. I hope Specter pulls this one out and we get rid of this arrogent little prick.

Posted by: margievogel | May 14, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

I guess who you are and what you represent matters in the long run. I am surprised Specter survived this long. Being on the wrong team and running the country into the ground under GW Bush should matter.

Bye bye Arlen, I can't believe you lasted as long as you did. Maybe the GOP will give you another shot.

Posted by: Reesh | May 14, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

marnie249


Your statement is just NOT true


Obama promised to be BIPARTISAN - WHICH MEANS COMPROMISE WITH THE OTHER SIDE - ARIVING AT CENTRIST POLICIES IN THE MIDDLE.


Even at the health care summit, Obama was clearly UNWILLING TO DO THAT.

The country voted for CENTRIST POLICIES, not the far left-wing policies of Obama.

YOU keep on repeating the same lies.


Apparently you do not understand WHY the country is so angry -

Obama is a FRAUD TO HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISES.


IF OBAMA DOES NOT WANT TO BE BIPARTISAN FOR ALL FOUR YEARS OF HIS TERM, HE SHOULD RESIGN IMMEDIATELY.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

President Obama campaigned on health care reform. It was one of the major issues on his agenda. He decided to tackle the issue knowing full well it would be the toughest battle in his first four years. The electorate in this country knew where he stood on health care and they voted 56% to 47% to put him in office. It seems as if the 47% has decided they are the majority. And the extreme fringes of that group comprise those in the tea party, the birthers, the anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-government(until they need the government)loonies who can't see the forest for the trees. What these people are most afraid of is the fact that this country is no longer being lead by the white right. Most people tend to be centrist. To say that Obama didn't want to work across the aisle is just plain ludicrous. They were given the word from on high by rush limbaugh(who is any higher than him) that it would be great if Obama would fail. No one had to wish that on Bush; he did it all on his own.

Posted by: marnie249 | May 13, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

want --> wane

darn spellchecker winky winky winky

Posted by: Noacoler | May 13, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

@Brigade: I'm not panting over this race (and oh, I agree on Meeks), but my sense is that Rubio has already peaked and is now on the want. He's already flipping on positions in response to polls, he's too extreme for Florida, and I think his early appeal was his novelty, which is an ephemeral. Crist is popular, more experienced, and canny. Rubio will do just like the national GOP, try to appeal to the most ideological at the expense of the center, which Crist will claim.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 13, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Noacoler wrote,
"Crist hasn't been elected yet and his caucus choice unknown."

I know he's currently ahead in the polls, but I'm as doubtful this guy can win in Florida running independent as I am shocked that the Democrats can't field a competitive candidate.

Posted by: Brigade | May 13, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Not a great "balance of power" .. Lieberman (Likkud-CN) is despicable, Crist hasn't been elected yet and his caucus choice unknown. He may very well caucus with Democrats, hardly remarkable given the the Democrats of 2010 are to the right of Republicans most of the time Crist has been in office.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 13, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Specter's unerlying problem is that his switch killed off all the affection that anyone, Republican or Democrat, had for him. He used to be popular -- or at least not unpopular -- across the political spectrum. He was a source of pride even for many who disagreed with him politically.

Now he's a source of disdain on a personal level. Even people who agree with him politically would like a reason not to vote for him -- and that goes for Republicans AND Democrats. Sestak has done a good job of making himself appear viable and that's all the excuse many people need to switch. I predict a blow out.

The really ironic thing is that if Specter had made a big show of sticking to his principles and gone the Lieberman/Crist route, he might well have ended up as one of the most influential members of the Senate as one of the gang of three -- and counting -- who may well hold the balance of power in the next Senate.

Posted by: anon99 | May 13, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Save your breath, stevenjay, just ignore 37th along with the rest of us. Since the comments are reverse-chronological we read from the bottom up, so we see the moniker before the body of the post .. when you see 37th, jusdt keep scrolling. It's always the same thing, over and over and over, day in, day out, 18 or even 20 hours a day.

And I think blood pressure is the least of his health problems. As little sleep as he gets it's obvious he's on illegal stimulants, and his constant hysteria and impulse-control issues reflect the derangement that comes of doing stimulants and getting too little sleep. To say nothing of the obsessive behavior of posting here around the clock.

Probably permanent brain damage.

He will respond by pointing that out I have been banned from here before, which makes it all the more mysterious that he hasn't.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 13, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

To 37thandwhatever:

I don't live 24/7 on these boards, so I don't have a memory of how "this place went downhill". I'd be fine with a 50/50 liberal/conservative split if that could be managed.

In the meantime, you should find yourself a pastime other than venting in these discussion groups. The current state of affairs can't be good for your blood pressure.

kisses,
stevenjay

Posted by: stevenjay | May 13, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Do only trolls post here now?

Posted by: sauerkraut | May 13, 2010 5:05 PM
-------

Just you and a few others.

==

This "I know you are but what am I" crap is childish. Quit it.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 13, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

"
Do only trolls post here now?

Posted by: sauerkraut | May 13, 2010 5:05 PM
-------

Just you and a few others.

Posted by: Brigade "


and there's one now...

Posted by: drindl | May 13, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Do only trolls post here now?

Posted by: sauerkraut | May 13, 2010 5:05 PM
-------

Just you and a few others.

Posted by: Brigade | May 13, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

If I were a Pennsylvania Democrat, I wouldn't trust Arlen Spector any farther than I could spit. He's already flipped once too often. If things turn out worse than you expect in November and you have a 50-50 split, what makes you think this old fool won't sell you out and cut some deal to run back across the aisle? If a Republican takes the White House in 2012 and you have an equally divided Senate, you know you can kiss this guy goodbye. If he lived out the term, he'd be 86. He'd rather have the goodies now than worry about running in 2016.

Posted by: Brigade | May 13, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

stevenjay


The comments sections would be better if the democrats were limited too


How about equal with the Republicans.


I would like to remind you that this place went downhill with the Obamaniacs

So don't blame me

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

These comment threads would be much improved if the WaPo limited each user to two messages per topic per day. Mr. 37thand0street needs to get a life...

Posted by: stevenjay | May 13, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Specter is a poster boy for term limits. Surely the voters will throw this old hack out. He should not have even run but the audacity of turning from Republican to Democrat and thinking voters would be dumb enough to elect him shows the arrogance which infects all DC Senators after you leave them in there past the embalming time. Get this fool out of there Democrats! We are not that desperate yet!

Posted by: cdorbg | May 13, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

There are so many other metaphors one can use instead of those involving the ramming of things down throats, but for some reason, that line of metaphors has stuck. Would that I had infinite time to figure out why.

Poopy Sandbox Law would be a good name for a band.

Posted by: GJonahJameson | May 13, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

@drindl: ah, no. The problem isn't the size of the scoop, but the hand that holds it is disinclined to use it. 37th needs to be removed more urgently than Jake .. not banned, not punished, just blocked. He's noise.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 13, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

"@sauerkraut. It only seems that way.

The trolls are intent in proving Gresham's Law, as applied to the marketplace of ideas, where words are "currency"

Or to put this on troll level, call it the Poopy Sandbox Law: Leave enough doots in the sandbox, and pretty soon you will have the whole damn sandbox all to yourself.

Don't let 'em. Keep the scooper handy.

Posted by: mattintx | "


good post, but the problem is, no one has a scooper big enough for 37's poopy, and eventually, he will drive everyone else away out of sheer boredom.

Posted by: drindl | May 13, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

As you see, OF, 37th has gone out of his way to corroborate what I wrote.

Excellent post, by the way.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 13, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

OFJones at 5:31


Your posting is clear evidence you don't get why Obama is in such trouble.


Your posting is really an outrage.

It was just like the health care summit meeting Obama called - the participants were told that each side would have equal time - but Obama spoke more than anyone.

In the end, the health care bill was not a COMPROMISE - A MEETING OF TWO SIDES EACH GIVING -


No, Obama said he would "throw in" a few Republican ideas into a 2400 page bill !


Anyway, no one is fooled, everyone thinks Obama is a joke.

The health care bill can be DEFUNDED and then REPEALED.


The Courts may even declare it unconstitutional as trampling on the States' traditional powers.

Who knows, but this history is WRITTEN - OBAMA IS AN UNPRECEDENTED FRAUD.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Sestak seems goofy and oily, a Navy lifer trying to simulate "combat" experience--and he will not defend himself against Specter's info that S was relieved for a bad command environment. When he was pimping for Hillary, S was at his worst. He is no statesman but Arlen, senior that he is, remains sharp and vigorous. Sestak sounds like a man about to lose his containment vessel and explode.

Posted by: axolotl | May 13, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Noacoler


Pay your taxes - in the other thread, and I hope you saw the response, you admitted to evading taxes.

You should pay


Employer taxes


Unemployment taxes


Social Security taxes.


Workers Compensation taxes


Funny how you love to harass posters here - and YOU SUPPORT TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TAXES.

yet, you don't pay your own taxes.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

OFJones at 5:31


One more point - Obama in the campaign kept on saying HE WOULD BE THE PERSON TO BRING EVERYONE TOGETHER.

Not - well - those kids aren't playing with me, so I'm free to go off to the far-left wing.

You claim "good faith" - there was little of that.


IN ANY EVENT, Obama is not release from his commitment TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE - WHICH MEANT THAT BOTH PARTIES WOULD AGREE - AND THE RESULT WOULD BE CENTRIST POLICIES.


This was Obama's commitment - he could have easily made another platform

OBAMA IS A FRAUD - HE NEVER INTENDED TO DO ANY OF IT.

IF OBAMA'S COMMITMENTS ARE OUT, THE OBAMA SHOULD RESIGN IMMEDIATELY - AND GO HOME.


Obama said he would be bipartisan for his entire term, not just a FEW DAYS AND THEN SAY, OH THIS IS TOO HARD.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

OFJones at 5:31


There were no "good faith" negotiations.


The democrats sat down with the Republicans - walked out and told everyone that they won the election.

I would like to make a very fine point - I hope you can follow it.

The commitment Obama made during the campaign was TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE - not to the Republicans.

You and some democrats appear to CLAIM THAT OBAMA HAS BEEN RELEASED FROM HIS CAMPAIGN PLEDGES TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.


If that is the case, the votes in the election should be VOID AS WELL - Obama should resign and GO HOME.

OBAMA IS NOT RELEASED FROM HIS CAMPAIGN PLEDGES.

NO - Obama went around the country for TWO YEARS - TELLING EVERYONE WHO WOULD LISTEN THAT HE WOULD BE BIPARTISAN - AND NEGOTIATE POLICIES WITH TWO PARTIES - AND ARRIVE AT CENTRIST POLICIES.

This was never viewed to be easy.


Your point seems to be - oh, that was too difficult, so Obama is released.


It was NEVER viewed to be easy.

OBAMA MADE THE PLEDGE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.


The American People certainly DID NOT WANT A FAR LEFT WING AGENDA.


YOUR STATEMENT IS A PILE OF CRAP.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

"37th, I've read your comments carefully."

When you waste time, its gone, you never get it back. This is your life you are living!

Meanwhile, as to Republicans obsessed with getting stuff rammed down their throats,
glad you brought it up GJJ, not me.

Posted by: shrink2 | May 13, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

@OF Jones and sauerkraut:

we ignore 37th around here. He's a brain-damaged crystal meth user who exhibits the derangement that comes of long-term use to stimulants. He is on here as much as 20 hours per day, only a few hours between his last post one day and his first post the next.

The fact that his doots are allowed to remain in the sandbox is a mystery to everyone else who posts here, since he clearly seeks to jam discussion like the Soviets used to jam radio stations coming from free countries.

Don't waste your time. The guy is incapable of learning, and atop all the hysteria and unhinged racist junk, he's really stupid.

Steer around the obstruction.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 13, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

37th writes:

"The POINT IS THIS - AND I HOPE YOU 'GET IT' THIS TIME.

OBAMA PROMISED TO NEGOTIATE BIPARTISAN COMPROMISES - WHICH BOTH SIDES WOULD SUPPORT - AND WHICH WOULD BE CENTRIST SOLUTIONS."

"Yea, but the health care bill had virtually no Republican support - so IT WAS NOT NEGOTIATED OUT - WITH A CENTRIST RESULT."

"Obama DID NOT DO WHAT HE PROMISED DURING THE ELECTION - PEOPLE DON'T LIKE THAT."
{Quotations slightly rearranged for coherence...}

As a candidate, Barack Obama did indeed promise to negotiate in good faith with the Republicans on health care. Those negotiations were duly attempted, repeatedly, in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate. In fact, the final bill includes a number of ideas originally sponsored by Republicans and does not include a number of progressive ideas that were sacrificed, in part, to attract Republican support.

Republicans, however, made a cynical decision to stone wall any health care bill as a means of wounding the Obama Administration. The Republicans refused any compromise of any kind. In fact, when the Democrats compromised, the Republicans moved their own position further to the right so that they could continue to disagree. The process was a very long and complicated one, but the record on this is clear. It can be found by reviewing the coverage of the topic from any reputable source. In the short term this may have given the Republicans an advantage in this year's mid-term elections, but the strategy was unprincipled and distinctly corrosive to the nation's interests.

In answer to your claim that President Obama did not negotiate, however, the truth is that he did. Repeatedly. And in good faith. That good faith was not returned by the representatives of the Republican Party. After remarkable patience, the Democrats decided to act alone, if they had to, on a critical and urgent need of the nation. They sought Republican participation up to the very last vote in the Senate, offering reasonable compromises throughout. In doing so, the Democrats acted honorably, in good faith, and in the interests of the American people.

What hypocrisy and deceit there is in the history of this debate lies heavily on Republican shoulders.

37th, I've read your comments carefully. Your are very free with sweeping statements and what you declare are facts. It seems to me that you could benefit from an introduction to the difference between rhetoric and reality.

Posted by: OFJones | May 13, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

@sauerkraut. It only seems that way.

The trolls are intent in proving Gresham's Law, as applied to the marketplace of ideas, where words are "currency"

Or to put this on troll level, call it the Poopy Sandbox Law: Leave enough doots in the sandbox, and pretty soon you will have the whole damn sandbox all to yourself.

Don't let 'em. Keep the scooper handy.

Posted by: mattintx | May 13, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks Arlen Specter is significantly more of an opportunist than any other elected official -- or, for that matter, more of an opportunist than Joe Sestak or Pat Toomey will be if Specter loses in the primary or the general -- is greatly romanticizing the nature of elected office in this country. Sure, Specter's got re-election on his mind at all times, but so does every other elected official and so will every other person who happens to be elected to office from now until humanity is wiped out in the zombie apocalypse. Specter's problem is that he was foolish enough to admit it. While I don't live in Pennsylvania, I think it's fair to say that if I did, I might be more put off by Specter's sudden lapses in political calculation than by his slavish devotion to re-election.

'Course, romanticizing the nature of elected office has come back into fashion with the rise of the Tea Party, so I guess it's not so unusual that so many folks seem to be latching onto the idea. I doubt we'll be seeing a lot of Tea Party sympathizers elected in the fall, but I imagine I'll find myself wishing for some kind of sight beyond sight so I can see the looks on their faces when the reality of how our political system works first hits them.

Incidentally, having seen variations on it referenced twice in the comments section of this post, I have to ask: What's with the oral fixation afflicting so many stalwart opponents of President Obama and health care reform? Political blogs and "Letters to the Editor" sections have more references to things being rammed down throats than a DMX album these days.

Posted by: GJonahJameson | May 13, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Do only trolls post here now?

Posted by: sauerkraut | May 13, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey Pennsylvanians - take the cue from New Jerseyans. Vote the crooks (all Democrats running for reelection - including DINO Specter) out. That's the only way to keep our democracy and our great nation alive!

Posted by: CJ123 | May 13, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Man - the democrats here are really really SENSITIVE.


Spending which resembles a COCAINE BINGE.

Over a TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT.

PLUS THEY JUST SPEND ANOTHER TRILLION DOLLARS IN THE HEALTH CARE PLAN.

And all of a sudden they go nuts over $35 Billion in a CBO report.

THE PROBLEM IS THE TRILLIONS OF SPENDING.

you don't get it do you?

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse


It is easier to put these old horses out to pasyure in the Primary.

Americans are tired of not being heard when we speak and tired of paying for things that we don't want...

We Won't Get Fooled Again in 2010!

Posted by: TDickson1 | May 13, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1

Just wait until the REAL figures come out.

Hopefully, health care will be REPEALED by then

OR the courts will find the whole thing an UNCONSTITUTIONAL TRAMPLING ON THE TRADITIONAL POWERS OF THE STATES.


And whoever said impeachment, yea - and I hope among others, one count is hypocrisy.


You see Karzai today - he has Obama's number - Obama says he will start to leave in 18 months - and all of a sudden Obama is wondering how he lost Karzai

EVERYONE IN AFGHANISTAN is saying to themselves Why should we help Obama if he is going to leave in 18 months.


Way to really really blow it Obama.

,

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 13, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

37th, here's klein's post on the $115B. I should have said 'existing programs' rather than 'existing spending', but the point is the same: the vast majority of that $115B is not an addition attributable to Health Care Reform.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 13, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

umm, gordon brown hung onto power until the bitter end. this parliament's five-year term was due to expire in june 2010. there's nothing the conservatives or lib dems could've done to hasten his departure.

at least in the U.S. the president's term is only four yrs, rather than the five-year parliamentary term in britain.

and there is a process to toss obama out of office (not that i advocate it): impeachment and conviction.

Posted by: von_wallenstein | May 13, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

"Would you please come up with the additional $150 Billion that the health care bill will NOW cost ???"

1) its $115B, not $150B, according to the coverage I've seen.
2) Ezra Klein has a post on the subject. $86B of that is EXISTING SPENDING.
3) All of the $115B is subject to future appropriations. It will only get spent if a future congress appropriates those expenditures.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 13, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

It really is too bad we don't have a system like in Great Britain - in which we can toss these characters out FAST.

If only this country could have called for NEW ELECTIONS THIS PAST WINTER - and been able to see Obama walking out - just like Gorden Brown just did in London.

WE NEED ELECTORIAL REFORM IN THIS COUNTRY WHICH WOULD ALLOW US TO GET RID OF OBAMA RIGHT AWAY.

INSTEAD OF OBAMA JAMMING HIS health care down everyone's throats, we could have tossed OBAMA OUT OF OFFICE.

Instead we have to listen to COMPLETE IDIOTS TRY TO DEFEND OBAMA FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS - THE LIES, THE DISTRACTIONS, THE CRAP THAT IS ABOUT TO COME FROM THE DEMOCRATS IS GOING TO BE UNREAL.

Go ahead CALL THE WHOLE COUNTRY RACIST.

NO ONE CARES ANYMORE - AS LONG AS OBAMA AND THE LIBERALS ARE ALL THROWN OUT OF OFFICE.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

JRM2


It is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING that you have some lame excuse, and name-calling - in response to the VALID POINT that Obama has not lived up to his campaign promises of bipartisanship and post-racial policies.

It is simple.


As it stands now, Obama and his campaign are FRAUDS.


A FRAUD ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

What Obama promised in 2008 is far, far from what Obama has delivered - and his job performance.

AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY - a lame excuse about Romney (in Massachusetts a liberal solution) - and NAME CALLING.


YOUR ATTITUDE IS OFFENSIVE.

Your side is the one which LIED - and COMMITTED FRAUD AGAINST THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.


The topic here is what happened to Arlen Specter - the ANSWER IS HE SUPPORTED OBAMA'S LIES AND FRAUD.

Take your trash elsewhere -

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Time for him to go. He's part of the problem.

Posted by: madest | May 13, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I dunno -- from where I sit, "D-bagging free luncher" rates as some FINE psy op!

Roslyn Mazer, alert the DNI: Finally, some A-list tradecraft from the cyber units.

Oh, Roz, also read this, because the lame-sters are still out there:

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-govt-censors-net-political-speech-targeted-americans
http://nowpublic.com/world/how-u-s-spy-ops-censor-web-political-speech
NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 13, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Although I may have disagreed with him from time to time, I used to have a great deal of respect for Specter, and indeed, voted for him several times. However, when he decided to change horses in mid-stream, he did so without proving to anyone that his motives were anything other than selfish ones. He turned off those who had supported him through the years but yet fell short of convincing those in his new party that he was really one of them. If he was successful in anything, it was in alienating both sides. That alienation will cost him his seat and he will deserve that loss.

Posted by: Lilycat1 | May 13, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

JRM2


Yea, but the health care bill had virtually no Republican support - so IT WAS NOT NEGOTIATED OUT - WITH A CENTRIST RESULT.


When confronted with the TRUTH, you respond with a lie.

Obama DID NOT DO WHAT HE PROMISED DURING THE ELECTION - PEOPLE DON'T LIKE THAT.

.
this is what I said


I was making the point about WHAT Obama promised during his campaign - and what happened later.


It is an extremely valid point.

Obama is a hypocrite.


For you to bring up 1994 or what Romney did in Massachusetts MEANS NOTHING.

I sincerely doubt that the Republicans put forth a plan like Obama's MASSIVE TAXES in 1994 - but I don't want to quibble about the details.

The POINT IS THIS - AND I HOPE YOU 'GET IT' THIS TIME.

OBAMA PROMISED TO NEGOTIATE BIPARTISAN COMPROMISES - WHICH BOTH SIDES WOULD SUPPORT - AND WHICH WOULD BE CENTRIST SOLUTIONS.


NOT some crappy idea that YOU SAY is a Republican idea.

So, you are creating a deception, and that makes you a liar.

As for your name-calling, right back at you.

The POINT of all of this is WHY are people upset with Specter - and that is the reason - Specter supported all of this.

AND the $500 Billion CUT IN MEDICARE -

which if the Republicans ever did that the Democrats would be screaming to the seniors - so now the Republicans can scream to the seniors.

YOUR PARTY IS A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES AND EVERYONE IS SICK OF IT.

.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

He went the way of the neocom statists. Became a D bagging free luncher for a phonecall from the Big O.

==

doesn't matter what the topic is, every god damn one of your posts has this same crap.

Your cutesy invented words and this meaningless "free lunch" sh|t. Why don't you go back to bloody kindergarten and start over.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 13, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

JRM2


You are the one who is not constructive - in anything you say.

And if I say you lied, you lied.

Would you please come up with the additional $150 Billion that the health care bill will NOW cost ???

Because at some point, you must have defended those cost estimates.

thank you !


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Was Specter just fool's gold for the Ds anyway? Did that temporary 60th vote only antagonize the electorate and get us Scott Brown in retaliation? Was the price for moving Specter across the aisle too dear? In any case, a real D beats an opportunistic one. Sestak will be my next senator.

Posted by: optimyst | May 13, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

What happened to Arlen Specter?

He went the way of the neocom statists. Became a D bagging free luncher for a phonecall from the Big O.

Posted by: leapin | May 13, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Forget all about his flip flopping, his hypocrisy, his lack of loyalty, and consider senility. Watching and listening to him on the news last night was ghastly. It's time for him to go.

Posted by: Aquarius1 | May 13, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I think the man has proven by his actions he is a very charming self-serving politician who could care less what the people believe! He is just wants to be hooked up to the political money stream!
I think Specter and corruption are the same thing.

Posted by: USDefender | May 13, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I think the man has proven by his actions he is a very charming self-serving politician who could care less what the people believe! He is just wants to be hooked up to the political money stream!
I think Specter and corruption are the same thing.

Posted by: USDefender | May 13, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Specter is no longer a leader.

Time for him to go home.

Posted by: vigor | May 13, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

i live in philly, and i don't think any democratic primary voter (of which i'm one) is being drawn to the polls to vote on the BRT. people are voting because of the competitive senatorial and gubernatorial primaries, period. that, or they're voting out of loyality to their ward leader and the dem. machine. turnout in philly is abysmal in non-mayoral primary yrs

Posted by: von_wallenstein | May 13, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

MDDem1: Show me where they differ.

and 37th: You are a loud ignorart child, my statements are true and you don't even know how to propose or follow a logical argument.

There is no sense in trying to have a constructive argument with you.

Posted by: JRM2 | May 13, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

i'm certainly no fan of specter (registered dem living in philly) and think toomey would be the best senator of the three (next tuesday i'll vote for the guy most likely to lose to toomey, which is specter i think), but the sad reality is that specter seems all of his 80 years. both specter and sestak were on NPR a few weeks ago. while sestak sounds like an airhead, specter sounded like one's befuddled grandfather.

he's been in the senate for 30 yrs. what more does he have to acocmplish (other than win re-election, as he so maladroitly stated)? why doesn't he retire to spend more time in east falls with his grandkids in the winter of his life?

Posted by: von_wallenstein | May 13, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1, he did recently muse that perhaps he should have stayed as Republican. Not a good thing to say because , well, that alienates everyone.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 13, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Philadelphia voters will be out in strengths not typical for primaries due to the BRT referendum. For those not familiar, the BRT, Board of Revision and Taxes, is widely viewed as a corrupt patronage office in Philadelphia that raised property owners' tax liabilities while perpetuating absurdly low assessments for the politically powerful in Philadelphia such as the now-imprisoned former state senator Fumo. Philadelphian have an opportunity to show up and eliminate this monstrosity and we can expect to see an above-average turn out. I think that this will help Specter. We'll see.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | May 13, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

In order to maintain one's feet out on a boat, one has to understand how the waves and wind are moving the boat, and how to adjust one's weight to keep equilibrium. Life is much the same way, especially in politics. The shipdeck of life has shifted on a lot of people in Congress, and they haven't adjusted. That's why they're starting to fall.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | May 13, 2010 1:50 PM
-----------------------------------
Kudos to mbcnewspaper for a great analogy that I will remember.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | May 13, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

HOW A PROFILE-IN-COURAGE 'HAIL MARY' COULD WIN IT FOR SPECTER

Arlen Specter is a good man saddled by his central role in some of the nation's most traumatic and troubling moments: The Anita Hill-clarence Thomas affair; his steadfast backing George W. Bush's Iraq war strategy; the assassination of John K. Kennedy, and Specter's authorship of the "single bullet theory."

Those of us who have covered Specter throughout the years have a sense that he knows much more than he's told about these signal American events. At the age of 80, this bulldog of a politician, a cancer survivor, has absolutely NOTHING to lose. At this stage of his life and career, he, more than anyone else still alive who knows the inside story, can afford to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Arlen Specter described himself recently as a "John K. Kennedy Democrat." In this space, this writer challenged him to prove it. The gauntlet is laid down once again.

Arlen Specter could salvage his endangered career -- and save American democracy -- if he stepped before the microphones tomorrow, at the beginning of the weekend before the primary, and told the American people all that he knows about the Kennedy assassination; the genesis of the single bullet theory; and his perspective on whether a half-century cover-up has hidden the truth from the American people.

A side benefit of such a confessional could be the salvation of democracy in today's America, because shadowy forces still are committing atrocities that make a mockery of the rule of law -- such as THIS:

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-silently-tortures-americans-cell-tower-microwaves
http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america OR NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 13, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

JRM2 posted "....The HCR bill is almost identical to the bill presented by the Republicans in 1994 and also to the Massachusetts bill signed by Mitt Romney and voted for by the likes of Scott Brown..."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wow! JRM2 must have a line on some good stuff from the guy on the corner. The 1994 offering from the Republicans was nothing like Otrauma's fiasco. And Massachusetts is so NeoCommie heavy that all bets are off if you're a Rebuplican from there. But, just like Adolf's MO, the bigger the lie, the more people beleive it. Keep up the good work, JRM2!

Posted by: MDDem1 | May 13, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

JRM2


Do you "get it" that the American People do not want Obama's health care reform ?


It is being IMPOSED ON THEM - partially with a deal between Specter and Obama ???


The back-room deals on health care were enough to make most people from Chicago vomit.


Give us a break.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

JRM2


Yea, but the health care bill had virtually no Republican support - so IT WAS NOT NEGOTIATED OUT - WITH A CENTRIST RESULT.

When confronted with the TRUTH, you respond with a lie.


Obama DID NOT DO WHAT HE PROMISED DURING THE ELECTION - PEOPLE DON'T LIKE THAT.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Hasn't Sen Specter had a few gaffes lately that haven't been helpful to his primary fight?

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 13, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

he tried as a republican. he tried as a democrat. he's got a big ego. will he now try to figure out how to run as an independent?

Posted by: doof | May 13, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Specter will lose because after all these years it's apparent the only thing he cares about is getting elected.

If you think about it, he's been ineffective for 15 years, but if he left he has no other qualification.

The ruling class can't imagine not being in charge.

Posted by: Skeptic1 | May 13, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

What's becoming clear, and could become even clearer next week, is that the anti-Washington sentiment is not confined by political party, geography, or gender (remember the KBH flame-out). Specter is pretty likely to be another casualty, either next week in the primary, or later in the year against Toomey.

But it's easy to get sloppy whenever the discussion of an 'anti-Washington' or 'anti-incumbent' sentiment comes up. Not everybody in Washington is in trouble; not every incumbent is up worrying at night. I sense that voters are making a distinction between those who have served in Washington, and those who have become creatures of Washington (playing the game the way it's always been played, resisting reform, etc). It's the latter who are in the most trouble. In order to maintain one's feet out on a boat, one has to understand how the waves and wind are moving the boat, and how to adjust one's weight to keep equilibrium. Life is much the same way, especially in politics. The shipdeck of life has shifted on a lot of people in Congress, and they haven't adjusted. That's why they're starting to fall.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | May 13, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, Pennsylvania, you are a proud state. Left or Right, you can do much, much better than Specter.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | May 13, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Don't you think Harry Reid is getting a little nervous about just what kind of voting pattern he'll see from the senior senator from PA should he lose on Tuesday?

Specter's need to convince liberal voters he's really on their team was just about the only thing keeping him in line. If Specter loses, that collar is off, and the leadership may have its hands full for the next six months.

Posted by: howlless | May 13, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

When the behind the scenes details of this primary are eventually revealed, I believe we will find that Obama has played both ends against the middle here.

When they couldn't talk him out of running, the administration asked Sestak to hold off until after Spector supported the D's on several key votes. This worked in Sestak's interest, as Chris noted, in conserving money, as Spector could easily outspend him over a longer period.

Obama publicly supported Spector in campaign ads, but likely knew they would not be as decisive as the ones Sestak is now running showing Spector with Bush. Obama is also not working actively against Sestak by showing up to support Spector in person.

Obama could have waited to announce Kagan's nomination until after the Pennsylvania primary. This is pure speculation, but it's possible he was aware of the effect it might have on the race.

If Sestak wins, Obama can safely transfer his support to the "people's candidate" and if Spector wins he owes Obama for the campaign help. It's a no-lose situation for Obama.

Most politicians think in terms of the current month and rarely plan past the next election. Obama (or possibly Axelrod) is a much more strategic thinker and plays the game of politics with levels and depth well beyond anyone else currently in the game.

I predicted last year when Sestak announced his candidacy that he would be the next senator from Pennsylvania for most of the same reasons Chris outlines above. It's going to be close next week, though.

Posted by: Gallenod | May 13, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

37t
"NEGOTIATE OUT A BIPARTISAN HEALTH CARE BILL WHICH WOULD BE CENTRIST."
---
The HCR bill is almost identical to the bill presented by the Republicans in 1994 and also to the Massachusetts bill signed by Mitt Romney and voted for by the likes of Scott Brown.

Posted by: JRM2 | May 13, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Benedict Arlen got what was coming to him. soon all the leftists communists will be tossed to the back of their own unemployment lines.

good riddance.

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 13, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama's support of Specter is the kiss of death - nobody wants the massive expansion of federal bureaucracy and the deficit that Obama is forcing down our throats. Time to give Specter what he so richly deserves - a hefty boot to the backside out of office.

Posted by: hill_marty | May 13, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Specter was like crack cocaine to Obama - he just couldn't resist taking Specter and abandoning his pledge to NEGOTIATE OUT A BIPARTISAN HEALTH CARE BILL WHICH WOULD BE CENTRIST.

This was Specter's doing - at the center of the AXIS OF CORRUPTION.


Obama was then free to cut all sorts of MULTI-BILLION DEALS WITH SPECIAL INTERESTS - PHARMACEUTICAL FIRMS, DOCTORS GROUPS, MEDICAL EQUIPMENT MAKERS AND CONNNECTICUT HOSPITALS.

Cost cutting?

NOT HERE.

Specter was a key column holding up this AXIS OF CORRUPTION.

Make up your own mind - but those are the facts.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Put a real Democrat in from Pennsylvania and elect Sestak. It is sad that guys like Specter, who have an illustrious career in the Senate just don't know when to retire. Why do they always have to be carried out?

Posted by: peterdc | May 13, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Specter voted FOR health care - he gave it a crucial 60th vote - a vote during a term IN WHICH HE WAS ELECTED AS A REPUBLICAN.

Ouch.

Ouch.


Let's keep a running tally. Oh forget it, let's just watch.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 13, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

There is also the fact that Sestak picked the perfect time to pounce. I thought that he had waited way too long and that he had no chance of making up the ground, but his campaign planned it this way and they are proving me very wrong. I also think Sestak has benefited from the polls showing him doing better against Toomey than Specter. IF there is one thing that Specter had going for him was that he would win in November, but the numbers aren't supporting that idea. In essence Specter wanted primary voters to vote their heads, and Sestak was going after their hearts. Once the electability argument was debunked there was no longer any reason to vote for Specter, which I think is too bad since I think he is a good moderate voice in the Senate.

Posted by: AndyR3 | May 13, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

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