Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Arlen Spector Hates American Democracy

Patterico's Pontifications - So on one hand we have “Allahpundit” over at Hot Air mocking Arlen Specter’s farewell speech where he whines about the primaries and Allah quoting a website that we are boycotting:

Referring to primary challenges as a form of “sophisticated cannibalism,” Specter called out to his moderate colleagues and would-be senators of this cycle: Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, who lost his nomination at the party convention because activists thought he was too centrist, as well as Murkowski, who lost her primary earlier this year but will likely be certified the winner as a write-in candidate.

“Congressman Mike Castle was rejected in Delaware’s Republican primary in favor of a candidate who thought it necessary to defend herself as not being a witch,” said Specter. “The spectacular reelection of Sen. Lisa Murkowski on a write-in vote in the Alaska general election and the defeat of other tea party candidates may show the way to counter right-wing extremists.”

You can even watch video of him saying that, here. Get your hankies because it is a sad one.

And meanwhile Althouse tears him apart in a different section of the speech, first quoting him as saying:

“The Supreme Court has been eating Congress’ lunch by invalidating legislation with judicial activism after nominees commit under oath in confirmation proceedings to respect congressional fact finding and precedents…

“Ignoring a massive congressional record and reversing recent decisions, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito repudiated their confirmation testimony given under oath and provided the key votes to permit corporations and unions to secretly pay for political advertising — thus effectively undermining the basic Democratic principle of the power of one person, one vote… Chief Justice Roberts promised to just call balls and strikes and then he moved the bases.”

And Althouse appropriately responds:

Bleh. You just disagree with the call. I hate this sort of political posturing. It’s not the massiveness of the congressional record that makes a statute constitutional. It’s fitting within the Constitution.

Specter is acting as if the question at the confirmation hearing was: If we put a really, really huge number of words into the record, do you promise to let us do anything we want? And the answer was: Yes, of course. When I see a lot of pages, I always think, wow, that must be true.

Which is all a valid criticism of Specter, but notice of course the common thread between Specter’s two complaints. Specter is whining on one hand that the people have chosen to primary incumbents who are not following their will. And then he is bleating that certain speakers will be able to engage in speech he doesn’t like. I mean let’s remember what Citizens United was about, apart from his spin, because no one who attacks this decision wants to talk about the facts. A documentary film company wanted to make a movie against Hillary Clinton and to advertise for it, and the FEC shut it down. That is political speech at its purist and apparently Specter is sad that it wasn’t suppressed.

And that is a big deal. As I wrote a few months ago in the context of a politician saying he disagrees with the constitution:

Freedom of expression goes directly to the heart of whether this is a republic or not. A nation that has no freedom of expression is not a republic or a democracy, even if you have the right to vote. I mean the syllogism is pretty direct. The right to make a choice implies the right to make an informed choice. The right to make an informed choice requires me to hear lots of information regarding that choice. That means in terms of speech, that people and yes, even corporations, must feel free to express themselves so that you can get the maximum amount of information about that choice, so you can make an informed choice. Thus the right to choose between two candidates is meaningless without the right to speak freely about them.

So disagreeing with the constitution is not per se bad, but disagreeing with free expression is. Put simply, the right to debate should not be up for debate.

And that is what Specter is opposed to. So I suppose that Specter felt he should be Senator because, well… darnit, he should be! And if rejecting that kind of entitlement is “cannibalism” then I only have one thing to say: can we fit him into a turkey fryer?

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