Turncoat former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter is on the Tea Party-bashing book tour circuit. So, naturally he showed up on MSNBC this weekend to nurse his lingering electoral wounds and speak up for the nation’s endangered RINOS, squishes, and Beltway barnacles.
As I first noted on Twitter yesterday, Specter spoke — whined — to MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry as they bemoaned how voters are booting out entrenched moderate incumbents. Specter complained that “Cannibals are devouring senators. If you don’t follow orthodoxy, vote the party line right down the line, if you have a 93 percent conservative voting record like Bob Bennett in Utah — that is not conservative enough.” Specter then lamented (a la John Kerry) Indiana’s grass-roots victory of Richard Mourdock over three-decade-plus incumbent GOP Sen. Dick Lugar. Tellingly, Specter used Lugar’s defeat to plead to MSNBC’s audience (all three dozen of them or whatever) to keep endangered Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch in office.
“Orrin Hatch is in jeopardy in Utah,” Specter wheedled. “I hope that people in Utah — and I know you have a big listening audience, viewing audience there, Melissa — will read this book and come out and vote to make sure that Orrin Hatch is not cannibalized.”
As noted here on April 21, despite amassing a giant, $6 million campaign war chest and calling in every last chit with Republican friends and cronies, 77-year-old GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch faces upstart conservative entrepreneur and renowned state pension reformer Dan Liljenquist (with campaign coffers of about $200,000) in Utah’s June 26 primary.
Hatch is running scared and refusing to debate Liljenquist in any major venue. The Salt Lake Tribune called out the cowering Hatch this weekend:
Orrin Hatch is not the first entrenched politician to try to deny a challenger the spotlight and credibility that come with a chance to debate the incumbent. And he won’t be the last.
But the senior senator from Utah is being particularly cynical with his grudging agreement to a single joint appearance with his rival in the June 26 Republican primary — former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist. After weeks of claiming that pressing Senate business makes such a debate impossible, Hatch has deigned to a joint appearance with Liljenquist on KSL radio’s Doug Wright Show, sometime in late June.
Meaning no disrespect to the multitalented Mr. Wright, or to his popular radio broadcast, but this is not what the voters of Utah need and deserve. Even KSL, in cooperation with its corporate siblings at The Deseret News, had offered to host a prime-time radio and TV broadcast debate with the two candidates, with Deseret/KSL executives handling all the complicated details.
But Hatch refused.
A radio broadcast can allow for some extended discussion of complicated topics. And candidates and serious voters alike might prefer the focus to remain on those issues, rather than being shifted to such trivia as whether a candidate is looking at his watch (like losing candidate George H.W. Bush) or emitting a frustrated sigh (like losing candidate Al Gore).
But radio lacks the impact of the televised debates that voters have become accustomed to over the past 50 years. It fails to offer voters, most of whom will never have the chance to confront either candidate in person, the best available opportunity to take the measure of each hopeful, side by side.
So, Hatch is content to let crapweasel surrogates like Arlen Specter speak for him — attacking the Tea Party while Hatch disingenuously pretends to be a Tea Party founding father to save his hide.
Oh, and anyone who doubts that these two haven’t been talking to each other hasn’t been watching them in action over the last 30-plus years. Here they are way back in 1981 with then-Surgeon General nominee C. Everett Koop:
And here they are in 2004, when Specter was named to head the Senate Judiciary Committee with Hatch’s support over the objections of conservatives.
And here they are in 2006 with Senate Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Tom Harkin, with whom they collaborated on a stem cell research bill vetoed by President Bush:
In April 2009, Hatch again came to Specter’s aid after the turncoat switched parties — this time, by trash-talking Specter’s conservative, Tea Party-backed rival Pat Toomey and declaring that “I don’t think there is anybody in the world who believes [Toomey] can get elected senator there.” Toomey, of course, went on to win Specter’s seat despite disparagement and long odds.
Hatch’s grass-roots opponent, Dan Liljenquist, faces the same odds. Hatch is desperately trying to avoid public, prime-time debates with the formidable, well-respected state legislator because Hatch’s blatant lies about Liljenquist’s impressive pension reform record would be fully exposed — and Hatch would be forced to defend his habitual hook-ups with destructive Democrats. Remember:
He co-sponsored the $6 billion national service boondoggle and dedicated it to his good friend Teddy Kennedy, with whom he also joined hands to create the ever-expanding SCHIP entitlement.
He supported tax cheat Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner from day one, lavished praise on Joe Biden’s balls, and embraced and defended Attorney General Eric Holder’s nomination because, he said, “I like Barack Obama and I want to help him if I can.”
I repeat again, as I have since the inception of the Tea Party movement:
Booting out Beltway barnacles closing in on four decades in power is not “cannibalization.”
It’s healthy rejuvenation, restoration, and rejection of the pernicious permanent political class our Founding Fathers so vehemently opposed.
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