July 24, 2006

The Senate's Neville Chamberlain of the Constitution

Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory has another excellent and thorough post today, this time presenting a complete analysis and destruction of the op-ed piece Senator Arlen Specter wrote for Sunday's Washington Post, attempting to justify his proposed revision to the FISA laws.

Specter, who has a reputation as a moderate Republican largely because he is pro-choice, may actually be one of the most insidious saboteurs of the Constitution in Washington today. The senior senator from Pennsylvania's favorite tactic is to come out strongly against the most extreme abuses of power by the Bush administration, but then, once public attention has moved elsewhere, thoroughly capitulate what was ostensibly his initial position.

With regard to President Bush's adventurism in unauthorized surveillance, Specter has repeatedly demonstrated this method of operation, whether refusing to place under oath Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez when he testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, or now, promoting legislation that essentially removes any congressional oversight of the president on surveillance matters. (Not to mention granting amnesty for past abuses.)

Hardcore rightwingers like Rick Santorum and Bill Frist have survived in their position through a confluence of ignorance among the electorate and events that have conspired to make questioning our leaders unpopular. Santorum's politcal life, in particular, is on borrowed time, and Frist's pandering to the religious right is so naked and embarrassing that his reported plans to run for the presidency in 2008 are likely to be stillborn.

Specter, however, is a different breed, who has survived in his careers as author of the Warren Commission single bullet theory, District Attorney in Philadelphia and U.S. Senator since 1981, through a combination of moral posturing unencumbered by actual substance and oily political maneuvering masquerading as moderate compromise.

Make no mistake; Arlen Specter is at least as dangerous to the future of this country and its system of government as anyone who is more easily tagged as an extremist. He champions the type of appeasement never intended to occur between the executive and the legislature, and although it is job and his duty, he is no defender of the Constitution.

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