Sunday, May 16, 2010

When you corner rats like Young Johnny McCranky and Old Arlen Specter, it's astonishing what comes out of their mouths


Could Old Arlen (right) be conceding the primary and
trying to sabotage Sestak (left) in the general election?

by Ken

If Young Johnny McCranky hadn't long ago made such a degraded spectacle of himself, one might almost have the tiniest grain of sympathy for him, having to run for reelection in the climate of poison that Arizona has become. (See, most recently, Howie's Thursday post "Will Arizona Secede? Have Arizona Republicans Already Done So?" and the guest post by Fred Johnson.) But from the outset of this contest Young Johnny has made it clear that he will say or do absolutely anything" to save his maggot-infested political hide.

It's hard for anyone who's really looked at Young Johnny's sordid political past, especially with the help of our friend Cliff Schecter's indispensable book The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don't Trust Him and Why Independents Shouldn't),to believe that the yutz ever actually had any serious political principles. But he used to have enough personal pride to at least pretend to have a certain core of principle, if only in the form of a modicum of self-respect. Clearly all that is out the window now, and as Young Johnny sensed the climate in which he would have to withstand an assault from his right, he made it unmistakably clear that no act of political degradation is off the table.

Same deal with Pennsylvania's endangered Republican senatorial rat, Arlen Specter. Oh wait, I guess technically he would now be "Pennsylvania's endangered Democratic senatorial rat." (Or perhaps out of old Republican linguistic habit he refers to himself as an endangered "Democrat" senatorial rat?) Astonishingly, in a Democratic primary, the rat appears to be tying his fate to an attack on Rep. Joe Sestak's eminently sane support for reinstituting the assault-weapons ban that should never have been allowed to lapse.

Of course the political environment in Pennsylvania isn't anywhere near as toxic as in Arizona. Still, Old Arlen seems to have reached the level of political desperation where he too will say or do anything, and seems to think his last best hope lies with the gun nuts. You might say that he's trying to make the political environment in Pennsylvania more toxic.

As it happens, Howie wrote just this morning ("Raise Your Hand If You Think Gun Nuts Aren't . . . Nuts") about the jaw-dropping extremes to which the National Rifle Association has accompanied the nuttiest of its gun-nut membership. As I've written ("Is it time yet for sane gun advocates to separate from the total crazies?"), I believe there is such a thing as responsible gun ownership, though I doubt that my views would impress many NRA members, since I consider responsible gun ownership unambiguously compatible with sensible gun registration. I can't see any reason why a responsible gun owner would oppose it, any more than a responsible automobile owner would question the need for automobile registration (as I've known my old friend and political guru Milt Shook to argue).

Even within the NRA, though, the gun loons have now far outstripped the good sense of many of the members. As I wrote in that last post, many of the members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (whose membership is now well over 500), which advocates basic commonsensical, nonpartisan positions like enforcing existing laws and closing the infamous gun-show loopholes through which so many illegal guns are pouring, are themselves NRA members.

However, when Old Arlen panders, he really panders. Apparently at a certain level of desperation, common sense goes out the window. Latest word out of Pennsylvania is that the Man for All Parties senses an opening in the bosom of the gun nuts, and is not only touting his unequivocal NRA support but taunting his opponent for his outspokenly sensible view on assault weapons.

The Specter campaign even has an ad on various in-state newspaper websites which in animated form interlaces on-screen crosshairs and the head of Representative Sestak. Greg Sargent reported on The Plum Line:
Specter hits Sestak for favoring ... gun control

So it's come to this: In a bid for conservative and rural Pennsylvania Dems, Arlen Specter is now using targeted ads to attack Joe Sestak for getting an "F" rating from the National Rifle Association.

In a targeted way, Specter also seems to be touting his vote against the assault weapons ban -- a vote he took as a Republican. One wonders how this ad would play among urban Dems in Philadelphia -- if they ever were to hear about it.

Specter's assault on Sestak can be viewed in a Web ad on the site of the Washington Observer-Reporter, a paper in western Pennsylvania that presumably isn't widely read in Philly.

The same ad is also running on the site of the Scranton Times-Tribune. If you click through the ad, you're taken to this page on Specter's campaign Web site. It blasts Sestak as bad for Pennsylvania gun-owners and features audio of Sestak saying this at a recent debate:

"I also support the assault weapons ban which Arlen Specter opposed and voted against."

Specter voted against the assaut weapons ban in the 1990s and opposed extending the ban in 2004. And Specter wants conservative and rural Dems to know that Sestak attacked him for this. That's presumably meant as a negative for Sestak -- and a positive for Specter. Sestak plans to make an issue of this today in Philly.

It's another mark of what the Dem establishment's party-switching deal with Specter has wrought.

In Specter's favor, at least he can't be accused of switching his position on the assault-weapons ban to curry right-wing favor. He's always believed that average citizens should have access to assault weapons, presumably to counteract the, uh, furry-animal menace.

Local observers point out that the new Specter armed-assault campaign appears to be ripped out of the political playbook of former nutjob Sen. Rick Santorum. Presumably it's those famously conservative western Pennsylvania Dem voters the campaign is targeted at, though even so this sounds like a pretty screwy way to run a Democratic primary race.

Let me throw out a theory. It's kind of nutty, but then, so is the Specter campaign. Maybe, although the polls are showing Sestak and Specter running neck and neck, Old Arlen sees the handwriting on the wall and is now campaigning not so much for the primary as for the general election, helping Republicrackpot Pat Toomey -- the loon who drove him out of the GOP -- to beat Sestak in the general election, either as revenge or as proof that the state's Dems should have given him their nomination, or both.

At this point, though, Arlen isn't giving his sort-of-adoptive party's primary voters much of a choice. He seems to be trying to make clear that there's only one actual Democrat in the race: Joe Sestak.


I myself stumbled over my reference to "former nutjob Sen. Rick Santorum," which suggests that our Rick has somehow gotten over being a nutjob. There's no evidence of that, and I don't expect any. It's only his Senate tenure that was thankfully terminated by Pennsylvania voters, and this might better have been worded "nutjob former Sen. Rick Santorum." 

I think what I had in my head was that Rick really seemed to be performing the job of a "nutjob senator." I was thinking of it as a sort of compound title, the way one might have said, "Ohmygosh, it's that damned Nutjob Sen. Rick Santorum flapping his gums again. Can't something be done about that fool?"

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At 4:32 AM, Anonymous CK said...

You don't expect that Arlen might just plan to do a Lieberman. Indepents for Arlen ... has a bipartisan ring to it.
A man who collaborated with the NVA and a man who collaborated on the coverup of the assassination of a president. The senate is well served by both.

At 7:43 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

"Pennsylvania for Old Arlen"? There's maybe one person in the state gullible enough to buy that, and we know who that is. CK, I'm sure Old Arlen would do it in a heartbeat if he could, but unfortunately for him, Pennsylvania law doesn't have Connecticut's generous provision for independent runs.



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