October 14, 2012

Arlen Specter has died.

He was 82.

ADDED: He played an important role in Supreme Court nominations:

Arriving on Capitol Hill in 1981, he became a dominant force during the Judiciary Committee’s rancorous Supreme Court nomination battles. More than anyone else, he helped defeat conservative nominee Robert Bork in 1987, and his aggressive questioning of law professor Anita Hill four years later — he accused her of “flat-out perjury” — helped secure Clarence Thomas’s confirmation....
“He was a Rockefeller Republican, a liberal Republican, and was willing to take on Presidents Reagan and Bush, and became a true leader in the bipartisan efforts that strengthened all the civil rights laws and defeated Bork,” said Ralph G. Neas, a longtime civil rights and health-care advocate.

“Then you had a line of demarcation,” Neas said, beginning with Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination and continuing with the Republican majorities in the House and the Senate after the 1994 midterm elections. “Arlen Specter became an especially cautious politician,” Neas said....
After Sen. Specter warned President George W. Bush not to nominate judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court case that essentially legalized abortion rights — conservative Republicans protested his appointment to the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Specter later said he would not use a “litmus test” to deny confirmation to abortion opponents.

He presided over the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. and was a key force behind passage of some of the Bush administration’s controversial anti-terrorism laws, including the Patriot Act. But as controversy erupted over the government’s handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Sen. Specter became a leading proponent of habeas corpus rights for unlawful combatants.
I was just watching old clips from the Bork and the Thomas nomination hearings — because, after the VP debate, I wanted to review Joe Biden's performance.

43 comments:

kcom said...

The Post can't even be honest.

"He lost the Democratic primary the next year in an anti-incumbency movement that swept many veteran politicians from office."

But he only "exposed himself to charges of political opportunism" for switching political parties.

AJ Lynch said...

Note, in the picture, he is surrounded by Dems. I wonder why the Wapo chose that pic?

kcom said...

He didn't even win the Democratic primary. They didn't want him and he had burned his bridges with the Republicans. How does that have anything to do with an anti-incumbency movement? It was more of an anti-selfserving blowhard movement focused on him.

Carnifex said...

Not gonna' miss the traitorous bastard. Have fun in the Bolgia Arlen!

edutcher said...

He was a disappointment in Congress, but as DA in Philadelphia, he and Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo were a great crime-fighting team and made Center City more than safe enough for people to come back into town.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

God's speed.

SMGalbraith said...

And of course he was one of the main investigators for the Warren Commission and was known for the originator of the "single bullet theory" in the JFK assassination.

Which, if you understand it completely, is the only logical explanation for what happened.

I.e., if the bullet that exited JFK's throat didn't hit Connally, then where did it go? It had to go somewhere. And since it wasn't found elsewhere in the car, it had to be the one that hit the Governor.

Charlie Eklund said...

Melius sero quam numquam.

Michael K said...

Specter will be waiting in hell for his client, Einhorn who he got released in bail even though he was charged with murder. Einhorn jumped bail and spent 17 years in Europe evading extradition and taunting the Philadelphia DA. Arlen Specter was the attorney who got his bail reduced (!) to $40,000.

Lem said...

The man responsible for the single bullet theory?

I believe thats correct.

ndspinelli said...

Frank Rizzo, great????

elkh1 said...

Could have retired a statesman. Instead he was a turn-coat twice for no reasons other than for satisfying his own ego.

Two times shameless bastard.

Unknown said...

In his defense, he was one of the best at applying Scottish law to American politics.

Texan99 said...

For an amazing example of obit-waffling, try the Philadelphia Enquirer piece linked at HotAir. You have to get to the very end before they even admit that he started his Senate career as a Republican. The picture they chose to use was taken when he was 17 years old.

Hagar said...

Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court case that essentially legalized abortion rights —

and that is essentially what is wrong about Roe vs. Wade!

kcom said...

This is another case of the ego has landed.

He was a sick 82 year old man, well past retirement age, fighting now-terminal cancer (i.e he wouldn't have made it through a third of his new term), had been in office for decades, and he still couldn't go out with grace and style. He had to claw and grasp and embarrass himself for that last, tiny sliver of power.

What a shame.

SMGalbraith said...

"The man responsible for the single bullet theory?"

Yes. If you wade through the Warren Commission Report and read about Specter's role, it becomes clear (at least to me) that the "single bullet" argument can be the only explanation.

Unless one thinks the whole thing was a conspiracy a la the Stone movie. Autoposy faked, photos faked, Zapruder film altered, et cetera.

That's all absurd.

Oswald and Oswald alone killed JFK that day.

Rusty said...

SMGalbraith said...
"The man responsible for the single bullet theory?"

Yes. If you wade through the Warren Commission Report and read about Specter's role, it becomes clear (at least to me) that the "single bullet" argument can be the only explanation.

Unless one thinks the whole thing was a conspiracy a la the Stone movie. Autoposy faked, photos faked, Zapruder film altered, et cetera.

That's all absurd.

Oswald and Oswald alone killed JFK that day.


If you've ever been to Dealy Plaza(?) you'd wonder how he missed the first two shots. The distances, especially for a scoped rifle, are not that great. 100-150 yards tops..

MadisonMan said...

Cancer is an implacable foe. He wasn't the worst Senator. Is that damning with faint praise?

Rest in peace.

rhhardin said...

I wonder if he switched religions.

MadisonMan said...

I did not read the whole WaPo obit, by the way, because it goes over 1 screen, and I no longer click through to the next screen. Give me one whole page, or you don't get me to read the entire article.

Methadras said...

Not your fan Arlen, but RIP and Godspeed.

orthodoc said...

De mortuis nihil nisi bonum.

So there's not much to say. Except to quote Hunter Thompson on Humphrey, because it fits ol' snarlin' Arlen pretty well.

"There is no way to grasp what a shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack [he] is until you've followed him around for a while."

furious_a said...

...also, the Senator whose cross-examination undercut Anita Hill's testimony against Clarence Thomas, forcing Ms. Hill to recant statements made under oath.

AJ Lynch said...

Orthodoc- that was pretty good.

JohnJ said...

“The man responsible for the single bullet theory?”

Yes, along with assistant Warren Commission council, David Belin.

Specter really should have been given praise for his insight into the physics of the assassination. Instead, when his role was mentioned, it was almost always in ridicule of the single bullet theory.

Really too bad.

Johanna Lapp said...

He could have extracted much from Harry Reid to switch parties. Continuity of his seniority, protection of his committee assignments, an uncontested Dem primary. Instead, he heroically announced his party switch and trusted the Dems would take care of him afterwards, without any sordid backroom promises.

Chump.

Robert said...

Arlen Specter was on the Warren Commission. Now, he's dead. Where's Oliver Stone?

Big Mike said...

He wasn't the worst Senator.

I'm sure if one goes all the way back to Washington's first term you can find worse.

Big Mike said...

@Rusty, Oswald didn't miss twice. There were three spent casings on the floor by the window of the 6th floor of the Book Depository and Kennedy was hit twice. It's believed that the first shot was a miss, perhaps because Oswald didn't adjust appropriately for the fact that he was shooting from well above his target and/or because the first shot went through the crown of a tree and may have hit a branch.

Richard said...

I will not mourn the death of a man who made it his life manipulating and destroying other people's lives.

Paul Kirchner said...

If you've ever been to Dealy Plaza(?) you'd wonder how he missed the first two shots. The distances, especially for a scoped rifle, are not that great. 100-150 yards tops.

I've been there and looked out the window. All the shots were under 100 yards. It didn't look like a difficult challenge.

First shot--175 feet (53 m)
Second shot--240 feet (73 m)Third shot--265 feet (81 m)

edutcher said...

ndspinelli said...

Frank Rizzo, great????

Believe it.

Great Police Commissioner, great Mayor.

That the last couple of mayors have undone his work is sad because Center City Philadelphia was a great place to go again, largely through his efforts.

MadisonMan said...

I'm sure if one goes all the way back to Washington's first term you can find worse.

He was re-elected. That tells me many of his Constituents liked what he did, even if maybe I didn't.

Roger J. said...

no need, IMO, to speak ill of the dead. Condolences to his family and rest in peace.

BaltoHvar said...

Not to turn this into a Thread Hijack, but indeed he should be remembered for proffering the Single Bullet Theory for the Commission. I read a couple dozen books over two decades, and digested all the theories, yet this one is indeed the only thing that could have happened that day.

Too bad that the one thing Specter was respected for led to a Career in the Senate that ended in a shameful, dishonest way.

RIP Sen. Specter

damikesc said...

An abysmal Senator but a good DA. Extremely obnoxious blowhard.

damikesc said...

Yes. If you wade through the Warren Commission Report and read about Specter's role, it becomes clear (at least to me) that the "single bullet" argument can be the only explanation.

It defies all logic --- but, sadly, there are times in life where stuff defies logic. No way around it. I spent years checking (was a serious conspiracist on this for a while) and when you think about it --- yeah, the theory seems mind-bogglingly ridiculous.

Except literally nothing else makes more sense. It's an asinine theory that explains what happened better than any alternative. And if a conspiracy cannot make more sense than the official explanation, I see little reason to buy the conspiracy.

Peter said...

Oswald and Oswald alone killed JFK that day.

Unless of course you subscribe to the JFK-is-alive-as-a-vegetable theory. Though given that he was born in 1917, it would now make more sense as the JFK-lived-for-years-afterward-as-a-vegetable theory.

Peter said...

Oswald and Oswald alone killed JFK that day.

Unless of course you subscribe to the JFK-is-alive-as-a-vegetable theory. Though given that he was born in 1917, it would now make more sense as the JFK-lived-for-years-afterward-as-a-vegetable theory.

SMGalbraith said...

"If you've ever been to Dealy Plaza(?) you'd wonder how he missed the first two shots. The distances, especially for a scoped rifle, are not that great. 100-150 yards tops"

As others have noted, the first shot missed. The theory is that it either hit a tree branch or, more likely, a traffic light arm or pole that is still there. It then ricocheted off the pavement with a piece of it hitting a bystander in the cheek.

More here: The First Shot.

Phil 3:14 said...

RIP Senator

Speaking ill of the dead is a small, petty act, common among blog commenters

Astro said...

Mmm, sorry? Arlen who?