This morning I was starting to feel a bit sad about Arlen Specter's departure from the Senate. While I rooted heartily for his defeat in 2004 and 2010, I consider him to be stubbornly independent of special interests, which is a rare and laudable thing in Washington.
But then I watched his farewell address — or as he called it, his “closing argument.”
The former Republican and Democratic Senator showed why he was called “Snarlin' Arlen”: His closing argument was an angry, petty, mean, self-serving screed that betrayed a total lack of self-awareness.
Specter began by singing the praises of old GOP Senate moderates, including Bob Packwood and Ted Stevens, both of whom left the Senate in disgrace under a deserved cloud of scandal.
Then he attacked the “activist” Supreme Court for infringing on Congressional prerogative — this is the man who killed Robert Bork's nomination out of fear Bork would overturn Roe v. Wade. It's hard to think of a decision in the last 50 years that was more “activist” and trampled more on legislative prerogative, but Specter has called Roe “inviolate.”
Speaking of Bork, this was where Specter showed his petty meanness. He gratuitously brought up Bork in his speech, saying, “Justice Bork — excuse me … Judge Bork.”
Stay classy, Arlen.
There's plenty more to say about Specter's career and his farewell speech, and I'll say it in my Thursday column.