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The haunting Specter of Arlen

The haunting Specter of Arlen

Rick Santorum endorsed Arlen Specter because he was a good establishment Republican in 2004, and that’s what the Republican President wanted.  The precursor to the Tea Party movement backed Pat Toomey.

Santorum’s endorsement was no crime.  It was a pure political calculation, one which many others in Santorum’s place would have made.

I only focused on the Specter endorsement initially because of the hypocrisy of Santorum supporters who where arguing that Newt’s endorsement of Dede Scozzafava in 2010 was a disqualifyer for Newt.

So on December 30, 2011, I posted about the background of the endorsement, linking to a video.  I also pointed out the ultimate, although unintended, consequence of Specter being the deciding vote on Obamacare when he switched parties in 2009.  The post went viral, with over 800 shares on Facebook, and linkage at various posting boards although I don’t recall any blogs or news outlets linking.

Curiously, at the debate last night Romney seized on  the Specter endorsement and its connection to Obamacare, as I mentioned in my post earlier today.

As the endorsement became an issue again after Santorum’s second surge, Santorum supporters began to portray the endorsement as something of a heroic act by Santorum, couching the justification in terms of securing the Supreme Court.  Santorum’s supporters essentially said that “but for” Santorum’s endorsement, we would not have John Roberts and Sam Alito on the high court.

My research inticated otherwise.

So on February 12, I addressed specifically the claims that the endorsement was needed to save the Senate and to secure the Judiciary Committee.   In my post, I demonstrated that at best the judiciary justification was completely speculative, and at worst just flat out wrong both as to the intent of the endorsement and its mathematical effect.  James Antle has a post today on the math, as well.

At the debate, Santorum doubled down on the judiciary justification, by asserting that he made a deal that Specter would vote for Bush’s nominees in exchange for the Santorum endorsement.

Now Specter is denying that there ever was a deal, via ABC News:

Santorum defended his endorsement by saying that Specter told him in a “conversation” that if Santorum supported him, Specter would vote for President Bush’s judicial nominees in his powerful role on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “He said, ‘I’ll support the president’s nominees as chairman,’ ” Santorum told Romney.

But Specter, now an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school, said he “never” made a deal with Santorum. He said Santorum’s defense wasn’t appropriate though it was “equal to the attack” by Romney.

“I think in these debates, it’s standard to disregard the relevant or important things and bring in the kitchen sink, anything that comes to mind,” Specter said.

I don’t think the Specter endorsement is that big a deal in itself.

What is a big deal is that Santorum doesn’t just admit, as he ultimately did with No Child Left Behind, that he made a mistake on Specter and that he went along to get along rather than standing up to the President as a matter of principle.

Now if only we also could convince Romney to admit that Romneycare was a mistake.


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DINORightMarie | February 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Now if only we also could convince Romney to admit that Romneycare was a mistake.

We all know that’s not going to happen! 😀

But Santorum……..nah, not him, either. I think he believes what he said – true or not.

And, once again, for this whole topic – you didn’t get the hat tip!! But we know….. 😉

Deal…??? THAT was no DEAL…!!!

Shoot, Santorum was “taking ANOTHER one for the team”.

Like a Pittsburgh hooker on game day…

I can’t speak to what Specter said or did not say to Santorum, but I remember the big kerfuffle about him being made chairman of the Senate judiciary committee. And I do remember that he promised to support President Bush’s picks at the time. So, Specter’s promise in late 2004 was important to his chairmanship in January, 2005, and also to getting Roberts and Alito through the process as Santorum pointed out.

It’s possible that Arlen Spector is the one who’s lying. It wouldn’t be the first time. He’s a rather unsavory character at times.

Now if only we also could convince Romney to admit that Romneycare was a mistake.

More likely he’ll claim that anything wrong with it is not his fault, that he didn’t support this or that provision and was in favor of something else.

Oops, that’s going to leave a mark.

But then, us Newt supporters always knew Rick wasn’t all he cracked himself up to be – his abilities just don’t match up to his lofty ambitions.

I love the blog and it’s the first one I go to every morning. Keep up the great work!

I also am a partisan of Gingrich, but, honestly, it is not looking so good for our guy. I don’t think it has been his “baggage,” but, rather, the smears from Romney. I do believe that only Gingrich, of all the Republican candidates (and Obama is not worth mentioning) has the intellect, experience, and imagination to lead the country out of the morass in which we find ourselves, thanks, mainly, to the policies of Bush and the socialism of Obama.

So, Professor, you may not want to commit at this point, but, if it is not going to be Gingrich, then who will it be? It is not too early to think about this.

    Ditto on this blog. I use to go to TheBlaze first, but stopped going all together as well as cancelled my GBTV subscription and stopped listening to Glenn all together.

    I am having a hard time choosing between Santorum and Romney as a second choice. I would appreciate any pros and cons that people can offer to help. I have done ALOT of research on both candidates and I am not pleased with either one.

    Hope Change in reply to nomadic100. | February 23, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Oh, nomadic100. Spoken like a true Newt supporter? Or are trolls out in force?

    That’s how well Newt did in the debate.

    People who support Newt are trying to restore our COUNTRY. Your question is like asking how soon we should stop supporting America.

    This is not about Newt. This is about restoring the constitutional basis of our government.

    Newt was fabulous. I even heard Rush say so.

    NEWT HIGHLIGHTS from the Arizona debate:

But Specter, now an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school, said he “never” made a deal with Santorum.

As they say in Scottish law: “not proven,” Mr. Specter.

Windy City Commentary | February 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm

And dutifully National Romney Online (NRO) has Pat Toomey’s take on all this as well as Pat Toomey giving Mitt Romney’s Tax plan a thumbs up. Who woulda thought that Toomey would come out against the guy who didn’t support him in 2004? Big surprise!

This is the same Pat Toomey who supported the repeal of “Don’t As Don’t Tell”, by the way. He’s not exactly the greatest social conservative by any means.

It’s too bad that there is always some ghost, like Arlen Specter to take the steam out of the latest not-Romney, yet the ghost of Ted Kennedy and his assistance in passing Romneycare isn’t mentioned by the likes of NRO and the establishment conservative media.

I’m not disagreeing with you Professor Jacobson, but I just don’t trust Arlen Specter at all. To change parties like he did, doesn’t lend to his credibility at all. I don’t trust him, plus I would bet everything I own that he’s a Romney guy.

Windy City Commentary | February 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Specter also has said today that Santorum’s endorsement really didn’t matter much. So, if that is true, than Specter would have won, even without Santorum’s endorsement, so Santorum had absolutely nothing to do with the passage of Obamacare.

you ain’t helping newt at this point. mittens sends his thanks.

Raquel Pinkbullet | February 23, 2012 at 7:17 pm

But, but Santorum assured us last night that Specter was the “Defender of Liberty.” //

dede from ny says hi newt

Raquel Pinkbullet | February 23, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Professor, the James Ante link is broken.

[…] That President Posted on February 23, 2012 7:06 pm by Bill Quick » The haunting Specter of Arlen – Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion Rick Santorum endorsed Arlen Specter because he was a good establishment Republican in 2004, and […]

Arlen Specter has reduced himself to a down and out political opportunist who ran out of opportunities. In the process, he set his entire record, his entire career to the torch.

Just because Specter is a turncoat doesn’t mean he is lying about the Santorum deal. He said/He said. Could or could not be true but I don’t know what Specter has to gain from saying this now.

bob aka either orr | February 24, 2012 at 11:21 am

Santorum was a quite unknown two-term congressman in 1994 running against an incumbent (Harris Wofford) who had won his seat in a special election, beating former Gov. Dick Thornburgh. Arlen Specter was one of the first to hop on the Santorum bandwagon and campaigned hard for him, as hard as he ever campaigned for someone other than himself. So it wouldn’t be out of line to put forth the proposition that Santorum backed Specter out of loyalty, in return for the efforts he received in 1994. There is no shame in that. Regrets at what transpired afterwards? Certainly. But no shame.
BTW, this comes from a Pennsylvanian who was there in ’94.

This Specter endorsement issue and others are examples of my belief that we can get a little too tightly focused on things said or done ten, twenty, thirty years ago that look bad in hindsight, especially when they are used to declare a candidate unelectable or otherwise unfit. Santorum also got tagged for supporting No Child Left Behind, but only three GOP US Senators didn’t vote for it. It looked good ‘on paper’, as they say, to a lot people at the time proposed. Many/most of those who did support it later regretted it, of course, but who among us hasn’t supported something we later regretted? (This isn’t a defense of Santorum by any means, it’s just that, having recently moved to the fore, its his turn in the barrel for destruction by the powers whut be, and his are the extant examples).

I think one of the reasons the GOP is struggling a bit to pick a nominee is because of this ‘micro-focus’ and the result that, for too many people, anything less than a perfect candidate with a perfect record will not do.

Of course, there are events, actions, positions, and words that really do matter regardless of how long ago they occurred – Paul’s racist newsletters, Romney’s liberal origins and pragmatic flipflops, etc. – but too many seem to me to be overblown out of all proportion. For example, I personally have no problem with Romney’s Bain history, no problem with Santorum’s support of NCLB or endorsement of Specter, and I don’t care that Newt sat on a couch with Pelosi. Too many times we see ads with video of a candidate in an earlier existence, while a governor perhaps, as they speak from a dais welcoming some liberal boogeyman in glowing terms, presented to suggest the candidate favors and endorses that liberal boogeyman when it was just the expected politeness from a governor introducing a visitor to the state whom he or she no doubt despises in private.

It is a truism of the human condition that we are all in our private lives as parents, children, employers, employees, and all our other roles, placed from time to time in the distasteful position of having no alternative but to choose between lesser evils, and anyone who denies this is likely lying to his or her self. Others will do as they do, but I’m trying my best to be understanding about this dynamic and to apply that understanding to those candidates I don’t support as much as to those I do, to make sure I have not walled myself off from a viable choice by dint of my own unreasonable expectations. I mean, c’mon, whichever candidate we love and are dying to see in the White House is still a politician, one of a set of human beings which increasingly seems not hampered, but enabled by any character flaws that allow deceit, disingenuity, and hypocrisy, not to put too cynical and curmudgeonly a point on it.

If each of us – whether Newters, Romneyites, Santorumata, or Paulites – were to accept every negative assessment and point of the other, nobody gets nominated. At some point, a real or dubious negative must be considered and accepted as a necessary internal compromise. There is no perfect candidate. Just as happiness is something remembered, not experienced, so are the ‘perfect’ icons of conservatism, with Ronald Reagan a perfect example. Many of us are old enough to remember the national outburst of concern and fear that Reagan was too old, too dangerous, too this, too that, but in hindsight, it turned out alright. At some point our respective nets must be loosened and a leap of faith must be taken.

I’d encourage all, regardless of whom we support, to reassess supposed and real negatives, and make a choice, because (a) the perfect candidate does not exist, and (b) it grows later than we realize.

[…] And what makes this statement the dumbest statement of the week is not just that the crowd at the debate actually ate up this convoluted line of logic, but that it’s created a cottage industry among conservatives trying to defend it. […]

Santorum’s endorsement of Spector may not be a big deal in isolation, but in context, it’s one more piece of evidence that Santorum is a run-of-the-mill Republican politician, not the Tea Party conservative he claims to be. Spector was well known as a RINO well before the 2004 election. His habit was to get a lot more conservative, especially in his rhetoric, as election neared. 2004 was not the first time he did this.