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David Broder writes today, “It’s been more than four decades since Arlen Specter, senator from Pennsylvania, earned the nickname ‘Specter the Defector.’ With his decision this week to leave the Republican Party, he confirmed that it is indeed an accurate description of his political character…But much as Specter’s decision reflects an increasingly serious weakness in the Republican Party, there is no escaping the fact that it is also an opportunistic move by one of the most opportunistic politicians of modern times. The one consistency in the history of Arlen Specter has been his willingness to do whatever will best protect and advance the career of Arlen Specter.”
Broder was much more understanding when Joe Lieberman became an “independent” after losing his Democratic primary race against Ned Lamont in 2006. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “will have to contend with a few real mavericks and independent spirits in his caucus,” Broder wrote in November of that year. “Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut…has reiterated his intention to follow his own path rather than accept party discipline. He has staked out a position on Iraq – opposing any timetable for withdrawal – that is at odds with the prevailing inclination of the new majority.”
Personally, I think Specter and Lieberman are both flagrant opportunists, but it’s hard to understand why Broder is so indulgent of the latter and so critical of the former. Actually, given Broder’s right-of-center politics, maybe it’s not.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”