RINO Survival Guide: On the Trail with Arlen Specter

By Macomber, Shawn | The American Spectator, June 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

RINO Survival Guide: On the Trail with Arlen Specter


Macomber, Shawn, The American Spectator


IT'S 10 A.M. ON A SUNDAY MORNING, and I'm at a gun show on the outskirts of Philadelphia where Sen. Arlen Specter is set to tout his NRA endorsement. The man seated next to me has a black T-shirt with blood-red lettering that reads, "Some People Are Alive Simply Because It Is Illegal to Kill Them." I accidentally catch his eye and he glares at me, which wouldn't make me nervous except I am in a room full of semi-automatic weapons, memorabilia from the Third Reich, and Japanese Samurai swords.

The only small talk I make is with a middle-aged man who expresses disappointment that there aren't any vendors selling the reinforced white plastic tubes you bury in your backyard to "dump your guns in when the man shows up to take 'em."

"I should have picked one at the last show," he says. I nod and smile, because...well, what do you say to something like that?

A few minutes later, Specter shows up and gives the kind of speech anti-government conspiracy theorists go gaga over. He rails against the ATF and FBI raid of Randy Weaver's Ruby Ridge cabin-during which an ATF officer and Weaver's wife and teenage son were killed-and the siege of the Branch Davidian complex at Waco.

Specter plays up the folk hero status Weaver currently enjoys on the gun show circuit (Weaver makes his living these days mostly by selling signed Polaroids of himself at these shows), telling the crowd Weaver had been "entrapped" by the government when he refused to "be an informant." Specter promises to use his clout as a senator to combat such "abuses of power" in the future.

That said, Specter moves on to the heart of his stump speech, which consists of quoting and re-quoting (at length) from President Bush's flattering endorsement six days earlier. Specter is in surprisingly good spirits, but seems frazzled when the gun rights folks start to ask questions. Queried about his support for McCain-Feingold, Specter simply apologizes for the vote. He lifts up his palms and says, "I made a mistake." A question on his support for the Assault Weapons Ban gets anon-verbal shrug. Atrio of college girls with literature from the campaign of his challenger, Rep. Pat Toomey, are happy to fill in the gaps.

II.

I'M CANVASSING PENNSYLVANIA because the Specter-Toomey race has become a proxy for a larger struggle within the Republican Party. The four-term senator from a battleground state was described by President Bush as being just "a little bit independent minded," in an aw-shucks there-goes-Uncle-Stew-again way, but Specter's votes and speeches over the years have made him a tempting target for conservative activists would like to make a statement against the compassionate conservative drift of the party.

Specter is the man, after all, who enthusiastically supports taxpayer funding of abortions and is the beneficiary of thousand of dollars of Planned Parenthood money targeting Toomey on his behalf; who's against tort reform and school choice; who supports racial quotas, who helped invent the verb to Bork, who voted "yea" on certifiable pinko Ruth Bader Ginsburg and "not proven" on the removal of Bill Clinton (citing an obscure provision of Scottish-yes, you read that right, Scottish-law), and whose presumptive chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee is not likely to be kind to traditional Jurists.

And there's more, of course: Specter fought Bush's tax cuts; has a lifetime love affair with labor unions; and was the only Republican senator to vote for a bill allowing the International Criminal Court to try American soldiers-an attack on our sovereignty so heinous even John F. Kerry voted against it.

So it should have come as no surprise that rightwing activists looking for a way to send a message to the Bush administration and Congress-in protest of everything from the orgiastic spending to campaign finance reform-settled on this race. The conservative money pouring into the state isn't enough to pull Toomey even with Specter's $10 million war chest, but there are other benefits.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

RINO Survival Guide: On the Trail with Arlen Specter
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?