Party flipping Senator Arlen Specter (D then R then D again-PA) and author of the “magic bullet” theory in the Kennedy assassination, has set a new standard for slinging mud in his primary race against Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA).
By way of background, Joe Sestak is a retired Navy admiral who is the highest ranking former military officer elected to Congress. During his distinguished 31-year career he graduated second in his class from the United States Naval Academy, rose to the rank of three star admiral, served in the White House and Pentagon and eventually led an aircraft carrier battle group in Afghanistan consisting of 30 ships and 15,000 sailors and Marines. For this he is attacked.
Attacking Sestak’s distinguished service to this country
Here are the lies and half-truths that Specter uses. In the ad he claims that Joe Sestak was “relieved of duty”. To a civilian this conjures up images of some stockaded cavalry fort from F-Troop with a lone soldier being stripped of his rank and being drummed out of the corps.
The reality is that when a new officer took command over Sestak’s area of operations he replaced several officers with his own people. This is typical in the military when a new commanding officer
As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Admiral Vernon Clark, who was head of the Navy and was Sestak’s prior commanding officer, said this:
“[Joe] did what I asked him to do; I wanted straight talk, and this put him in the crosshairs. People are going to say what they want to say, but he challenged people who did not want to be challenged. The guy is courageous, a patriot’s patriot.”
Funny, that quote didn’t make it into Specter’s ad.
Sestak’s voting record
Specter then attacks Sestak’s voting record, charging him with missing over 100 votes last year. What the ad doesn’t mention is that there were 991 votes in 2009. Congress votes on many arcane items like designating April as National Taffy Pull Month and other such nonsense. Overall, Sestak’s career voting record is 94%. Specter’s voting attendance record in 2009 was 95.7%. Not much of a difference is there? It’s certainly not ad worthy.
The bulk of Sestak’s missed votes occurred in a two month period when his father was in the hospital and he was at his father’s bedside. Even with that, a 94% voting record is pretty good. But Specter’s ad, which refers to Sestak as “No Show Joe” would have you believe differently. The Specter campaign’s playing with the truth really shows contempt for Pennsylvania voters.
Back when Arlen was a Republican attack dog
Democrats in Pennsylvania would do well to remember that Arlen Specter is the same Senator that ruthlessly grilled Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings. The reward to Democrats was that the lone African-American Supreme Court justice is a conservative who marches in lockstep with Antonin Scalia.
It is disgusting beyond the pale for an individual’s military record to be twisted and then used against them. It follows the Rovian playbook of attacking a foe’s strength. We saw this in 2004 with the Swift Boat attacks against John Kerry. Why should men and women risk their lives to defend this country if the act of doing so will be used in this manner? Support the troops, um, unless they run against you for office, then you attack them.
Arlen is always about Arlen
Throughout his career Specter has proven time and again that the only principle he consistently supports is the reelection of Arlen Specter. It’s why he has a habit of switching parties when it is convenient. Now at age 80 (!) he is asking the voters of Pennsylvania to give him six more years. As an Independent I am not permitted to vote in this primary. But I hope that Democratic voters throw the repulsive Specter out on his rear.