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Campaign slogans for Arlen SpecterBY: Dan Rottenberg 05.09.2009
In the evening of his life, Arlen Specter has boldly cut himself adrift from his moorings. Is this not a parable worthy of Hemingway or Shakespeare? Who will provide Specter with the rhetorical ballast he’ll surely need when he seeks re-election next year? I volunteer.
The old man and the puddle:
The old man has cut himself adrift from his moorings, or so it seems. Now the tide is going out, night is coming on, and overhead the buzzards circle his little dinghy.
They think he’s finally lost control. But the old man won’t go quietly into that dark night. He still has his mojo, his cojones, his chutzpah. He still has a trick or two up his sleeve. For the old man knows something those young vultures have yet to learn: that we enter this world alone and we exit alone— and, that being the case, in between we’re usually better off alone too, especially if we’re sitting in an Amtrak train next to Joe Biden.
Death does not frighten the old man. He has already stared into the face of death and lived to tell the tale. Ditto for the faces of Robert Bork and Anita Hill. But retirement… Orchestra concerts and Phillies games… cruises on the Danube or the Amazon…. the chance to tackle Proust and Tolstoy…. to get in touch with his inner Arlen…. to take piano lessons or maybe learn to paint… to reconnect with Joan and the grandchildren during quiet autumn walks along the Schuylkill…. back home in Philadelphia….
The old man leans over the side of his skiff and vomits on an albatross.
I ask you: Is this not a parable worthy of Hemingway or Shakespeare? All right, all right— Larry David or Bruce Graham, at least?
To save his seat in the U.S. Senate, Arlen Specter recently switched parties. But his survival is hardly assured. When he seeks re-election next year, Specter will be challenged from all sides: by conservatives who think he’s too liberal, liberals who think he’s too conservative, Republicans who think he’s a traitor, Democrats who question his loyalty, feminists who remember what he did to Lynn Yeakel, maybe even a few anti-Semites.
Whatever their persuasion, his opponents have already lined up a pithy campaign slogan: “It’s enough, already!” What heroic rhetorical mantra can Specter possibly offer in reply?
In fact the possibilities are infinite. Let me suggest a few:
“Arlen Specter: A man for all parties.”
“Arlen Specter: You could do a lot worse!”
“Arlen Specter: Shrewd leadership for bewildering times.”
“Arlen Specter: The mind of a fox and the obstinacy of a hedgehog.”
“Arlen Specter: More government experience than Cheney, Rumsfeld and Warren Harding combined!”
“Arlen Specter: A man with as many friends as he has principles.”
“Arlen Specter: The man who made Pennsylvanians forget Hugh Scott.”
“Arlen Specter: Michael Smerconish’s idol.”
“Arlen Specter: The man who gave you Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito.”
“Arlen Specter: Thanks for the memories.”
“Arlen Specter: For the single-bullet theory alone, you owe him big-time.”
“Specter for Senator— or would you rather have him back in Philadelphia?”
“Arlen Specter: Keep him working (and save yourself the cost of his pension).”
“Specter for Senator: What else can he do?”
“Arlen Specter: He keeps you guessing!”
“If you liked Old Man River, you’ll love Arlen Specter.”
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