Arlen Specter Boasts He Isn't A Rubber Stamp-- But That Depends If You Look At Who His Biggest Campaign Donors Have Been
The party boy
Arlen Specter thinks his road to re-election takes him through the Land of Independents. He may be right. But he has to win the Pennsylvania Democratic primary first. Vice President Biden, who claims to have once lived in Scranton, and Governor Rendell assured him there wouldn't be one. Pennsylvania Democratic voters may have another idea though, especially with popular Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak edging closer to challenging the whole idea of Specter even being a Democrat. Specter has been emphasizing he's an independent and not a rubber stamp. The independent thing may work better among Pennsylvania's independents but they don't vote in the Democratic primary.
And as far as the claim that he's not a rubber stamp... Well, he sure isn't a rubber stamp for Obama or the Democrats. He's still voting with the Republicans just like he always has. I don't know that that will endear him to primary voters, many of whom are questioning why Biden and Reid bothered even allowing Specter to join the party. He's against Employee Free Choice, against health care reform, opposing Obama's nominees, demanding to jump ahead of the seniority line to hold key Senate subcommittee chairmanships. And there's something much worse about Arlen Specter that no one talks about. He is a rubber stamp-- and the worst kind.
Arlen Specter has always been the worst of the senatorial corporate whores. He's a rubber stamp first and foremost for his big campaign contributors, the ones who have given him close to $50,000,000 since 1989. That's a lot of money and a lot of favors bought at the expense of the public good. And the correlation between how Arlen Specter votes and who gives Arlen Specter the legalized bribes that have financed his career is startling.
Let's start with the biggest fount of congressional corruption of all, the finance/insurance/real estate sector. Specter got more than his share of the $2.2 billion they've handed out to buy loyalty from legislators. In fact, since 1990 the only Republican in the Senate who's taken in more from the crooked banksters in John McCain and that's only because McCain ran for president. Specter scooped up $5,753,310, more even than legendary corruptionists and bankster shills Phil Gramm ($5,510,318) and Mitch McConnell ($5,013,778) and many times more than your average senator.
Yesterday Specter was on Meet The Press how he wouldn't back health care reform but flat out lies when he claims he's always been for the little guy and he doesn't mention that Big Insurance has funneled more of the donations into his career ($1,020,130) than into any other Republican Senator other than McCain. The securities and investment corporations who were so eager for the kinds of deregulation that has allowed them to pillage the entire economy and drive is into a recession, if not a depression, knew just who to go to-- and as an industry have given more to Specter ($1,585,518) than another Republican in the Senate other than McCain.
And it isn't only the banksters who Specter has courted and sold out to. Again, not counting McCain's presidential run, Specter is the #1 recipient of legalized bribes from the misnamed "Health" industry ($3,914,733) as opposed to crooked GOP corruptionists like Mitch McConnell ($2,723,168) and Richard Burr ($2,039,094). And in terms of Big Pharma, he even beat McCain! ($1,017,216 for Specter and just under 800 grand for ex-presidential candidate McCain). Specter delivers-- if not for Pennsylvania working families, certainly for his campaign donors.
Although Obama's odious VP pick wasn't as bad as Gore's, it was a warning sign to me that Obama might turn into a disappointment... and fast. Biden has aways been a clueless dipshit who thought he knew more than anyone else in the room. More than Reid or Rendell, it was Biden who was responsible for the Democrat's senseless embrace of the political corpse known as Arlen Specter. There are few certainties in electoral politics but it was sure looking good that Pennsylvania would soon have a second Democratic senator-- an actual Democrat.
Instead, doofus Biden throws his old crony a lifeline and drags him into the already stinking, putrid and corrupt Democratic Inside-the-Beltway Establishment. I think Biden, clueless as ever, actually believes his own dishonest hype about Specter. "I think for some time on the really big-ticket items relating to economics and social policy, safety-net issues, labor-- a whole range of things-- Arlen's been basically a moderate Democrat," the pompous Delawarecrackpot told the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday. Who's he kidding? Going back to the beginning of this year, Specter tried watering down the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act before joining Snowe and Collins in voting to pass it-- a few days before voting to reject Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary. Towards the end of February he voted to kill gun control laws for the city of Washington. He joined the radical obstructionists in voting against Elena Kagen as Solicitor General and he voted with the banksters to defeat Durbin's bill to allow bankruptcy judges to reset some mortgages to prevent families from being foreclosed on. He's currently working to defeat health care reform and several other items on Obama's change agenda.
Now all the old buddies can be stinking and putrid and corrupt together. Unless the Pennsylvania grassroots put their collective foot down and say, "Screw you, muthafucka." I guess it'll depend on how hard Obama campaigns for Specter. Biden and Lieberman and Ben Nelson could take up residence in Pennsylvania and it would add exactly three votes to Specter's total in a Democratic primary. But Obama could pull the same thickheaded trick he did in the primary in Georgia's 12th CD when he campaigned for one of the most reactionary members of Congress, John Barrow, against a progressive African-American state Senator, Regina Thomas. Because of Obama Barrow is in Congress today, voting against every bill Obama tries to pass. It is widely judged that Barrow is the single worst Democrat in the House because the other reactionaries with voting records as bad are all in overwhelmingly Republican districts. Barrow's district only gave McCain 45% of its vote (unlike Bobby Bright's Alabama hellhole where McCain took 63% or Gene Taylor's Mississippi home, where McCain won 68%!) If he does, Specter will win the primary and, probably, the general election-- and then continue to vote with the Republicans for another six years, pointing out how principled he is while he collects immense sums from the corporate interests who have bankrolled his entire disgraceful career.
UPDATE: Not All Democrats Buying Into Snarlin' Arlen's "Change Of Heart"
He's going to have to prove himself before he gets the backing of Democrats outside the foul, power-crazed Beltway Establishment and their cozy little club.
The Democratic establishment may be lining up behind Sen. Arlen Specter-- but some who control the ground troops aren't so ready to fall into line.
On today's Top Line, Richard Trumka, the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, warned that union leaders may drop their longstanding support for Specter, D-Pa., if-- as he has promised to do-- he votes against them on their legislative priority, the Employee Free Choice Act.
"Those decisions will be made by people in the state, and our members in the state know who will stand with them. And if Arlen Specter-- he stood with them in the past-- if he continues to stand with them, they'll support him. If he doesn't, they won't support him," Trumka told us.
Trumka said the Democratic Party establishment won't prevent labor leaders from making their own decision on Specter, even though President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., have all pledged to support Specter.
"We have a lot of members that are elected into that establishment, and our members generally do what's right by workers, and we don't care who's lined up against us," Trumka said. "If a candidate isn't good for workers, we won't be there. If they are good for workers, we will be there regardless of their party. I mean, we supported Arlen Specter-- and he was a Republican-- because he was good for what was happening. He was good for our members at that time."
As we reported yesterday, Andy Stern had a meeting with Joe Sestak today and came out predicting that working families are not going to be backing Snarlin' Arlen if he runs, as he expects to, in a Democratic primary. Sestak confirmed what he told me yesterday, namely that if Specter doesn’t start behaving like a real Democrat, instead of just calling himself one to save his skin, he'd would absolutely run against him. “If he doesn’t demonstrate that he has shifted his position on a number of issues, I would not hesitate at all to get in,” Sestak said. Meanwhile Howard Dean, another real Democrat not connected to the slimy Inside-the-Beltway old boys network where how someone votes on core values matters far less with how much of their bribes they're willing to spread around, also warned Specter not to expect votes from real Democrats if he keeps walking in lockstep with right-wingers. He said Specter should expect a vigorous primary if he doesn't support Employee Free Choice, the public option for health insurance and other key items in President Obama's recovery program.
UPDATE: And Then There's The Little Matter Of Franken vs Coleman
Specter in an interview coming out this weekend in the NY Times Magazine: "There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner." I'll consider any Democratic senator who contributes to Specter's campaign as giving a donation to a Republican. That disqualifies them immediately from being endorsed by the Blue America PAC.