The right stirs against Specter


Geraldine Sealey
November 9, 2004 1:39AM (UTC)

Arlen Specter is not out of the woods yet, and the wolves are coming to get him. (We know, the violent wolf thing is a myth; we're just borrowing some imagery here.) After Tuesday's election, Specter created a brouhaha by daring to suggest that since Republicans will only have a 55-45 advantage in the new Senate, the Democrats could still filibuster Bush's judicial nominees, and Bush should be mindful of that if he's considering sending judges to the Hill who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

After a controversy erupted, Specter, next in line for the Judiciary chairmanship, backtracked, saying he'd support Bush's nominees no matter what their views on abortion. But that wasn't good enough. The religious right doesn't want him anywhere near the chair of Judiciary and an anti-Specter campaign is afoot. James Dobson's Focus on the Family sent an email today calling on its flock to let its disapproval of Specter be known. "His unapologetic support of abortion makes him the wrong man to run point in the fight for Bush's judicial nominees over the next four years," the email said. And it's more than just what he said last week, the email went on. "He has a long history of dismissing pro-lifers as 'extremists' and has gone so far as to advocate stripping his party's platform of its formal opposition to abortion. And, nearly 20 years ago, he helped his Democratic colleagues achieve what is still considered the greatest injustice in the history of judicial nomination battles -- the defeat of Judge Robert Bork's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court The next few days likely will determine whether Specter weathers the storm and gets the post he covets." Clearly, in the eyes of Focus on the Family, thou shalt not covet a Judiciary chairman post if you are moderate on abortion. (Memo to Dobson: only 16 percent of the electorate wants abortion illegal in all circumstances, and a majority thinks abortion should always or mostly be legal.)

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Will Specter "weather the storm," as Dobson's email put it? It's unclear so far. But Josh Marshall points out that even a newcomer like Senator-elect John Thune, empowered by his Daschling of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, is dangling the possibility that Specter will be punished for his sins.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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