One of the most ignominious political careers of the modern era will at last sputter to a pitiful end when the 111th Congress finally relinquishes its strangle-hold on the American Republic. Arlen Specter, outgoing senator from Pennsylvania, personified the sort of elite, politically opportunistic, government careerism that the American people have grown to so justifiably loathe. He will not be missed.
Educated at Yale Law School, Specter first sought public office when, though a registered Democrat, he ran for district attorney of Philadelphia on a Republican ticket in 1965 because, as TIME once noted, “ he failed to secure the Democratic nomination.” Not long after, Specter officially changed his spots and became a Republican just in time to ride the ascendant conservative wave of the latter decades of the 20th century: In 1980, he was swept into the United Sates Senate on Ronald Reagan’s back, as so many were. In early 2009, however, after the Obama tide seemingly washed political conservatism back into the sea, Specter changed his spots yet again, abandoning the GOP and officially changing his party back to Democrat. Any which way the wind blows, that has been Arlen Specter’s political motto.
His latest political transmogrification did not pan out so well, however: Specter lost the recent Democratic primary, and so will soon be shuffling off to retirement. True to form (the only form he seems capable of being true to). Specter tried to take some federal pork dollars home with him one last time, requesting 126 earmarks in the (thankfully) now defunct omnibus spending bill, which would have soaked the taxpayers to the tune of $143,987,000.
Nice try, Arlen. But didn’t you get the memo? That kind of thing just isn’t cool anymore. Now don’t let the door hit you in the donkey on the way out…
Matt Patterson is a contributor to Proud to Be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation (HarperCollins, 2010). His email is firstname.lastname@example.org