He looks pale and frail. His gray-plaid suit seems to hang on his shoulders. And, yes, he is quite bald.Seriously, I should say at the outset that I’m glad Specter is enjoying good health. Of course, it would have been nice if he had bothered to support legislation that would have blocked a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors as a thank-you to those who help him to maintain it instead of caving in to the White House, though the cuts were eventually blocked anyway, as noted here.
Two weeks after completing a debilitating, three-month regimen of chemotherapy for Hodgkin's disease, the 78-year-old Republican pronounces himself in "good physical shape" and says he has an "excellent" chance of full recovery.
There's probably a better chance of a snow squall on this steamy July morning in Washington than that Specter - a former prosecutor and a renowned political infighter - will admit any weakness. "I'm at the top of my game," he says.
Also laudable is Specter’s stated goal to meet with Cuban leader Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, since we should all be adult enough to talk to those with whom we disagree (of course, Specter can discuss talking with our enemies and not fear any kind of appeasement backlash unlike A Certain Senator From Illinois Running For President, because, as we all know, IOKIYAR).
But beyond this, Specter offers the following…
Specter was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005 and 2006, the last time Republicans controlled the Senate. He envisions an even bigger role for himself if he gains another term and if the GOP somehow rebounds in the Senate.Well, that’s interesting, but see, Senator, here’s the problem for you on that.
"If reelected in 2010," he says, "I think I have an excellent chance to be chairman of the Appropriations Committee."
That would make him one of the most powerful figures in Washington and would be a boon for Pennsylvania, which, like every state, relies on its congressional delegation to bring home discretionary federal funds.
Committee leadership in the Senate comes from seniority, and Specter has 28 years of it. He says he will argue to voters that this is a big reason to keep him.
As you know, the Democrats currently enjoy a single-seat advantage in the Senate and, barring electoral calamity (which can always happen), should pick up at least five more seats and maybe more. That will add to their majority. So, for you to claim that you could take over the Appropriations Committee is assuming a huge mid-term electoral collapse that would return Senate leadership to your party. Again, this is possible, but at this moment (after eight ruinous years of essentially Repug “non-governance”), it is highly unlikely.
And again, I really wish that, one of these days, Tom Infield or someone else in our corporate media would bother to ask Specter exactly what he meant when he said almost a year ago here that "I don't know that there is any victory (in Iraq). We're not going to be able to defeat all the crazies (there)." I would also like for Our Man Arlen to finally come clean on his relationship with Comcast (here) and his book deal (here).
I’m “a firm believer in dialogue” too.