by Rob Schwarzwalder
May 21, 2010
So it comes to this: A man whose life has been defined by politics, whose whole identity has been subsumed under the title “Senator,” has been decisively rejected by the voters of his state.
Arlen Specter is 80 years old, a two-time survivor of virulent cancer and a Democrat-turned Republican-turned Democrat. His partisan allegiance was, apparently, animated only by opportunism, and this proved his rightful undoing.
The dubious British politician Stanley Baldwin reportedly once said, “I would rather be an opportunist and float than go to the bottom with my principles around my neck.” Sadly, Sen. Specter is going to the political bottom not with his principles but because of their absence.
It is always easy to kick a dead lion and then roar about one’s bravery. I wish neither to kick nor gloat. Rather, we now all bear witness as Sen. Specter trails away with growing quiet due to his legacy of ideological betrayal and broken loyalty. Believing, evidently, in nothing more deeply than his own wisdom and importance to the Republic, he has proven how empty such hubristic convictions are.
To his credit, there has never been a whiff of moral scandal around Sen. Specter. It is my hope that God will grace Sen. and Mrs. Specter with many years of happy retirement.
But the legacy he leaves will be the memory of his facile commitment to anything other than himself. May it be a warning to all who would, intentionally or otherwise, follow in his stead.