THE MAN OF THE WEEK
The speech the Man of the Week really should have given:
“My dear friends. Fellow Pennsylvanians. Fellow Americans. I come here this morning with a heavy heart, because I know what I’m about to say is going to earn me comparisons to none other than Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot. Arnold sold out the principles that are most holy in the sphere of politics – principles such as the right of all peoples to self-autonomy, liberty, and an equal claim to human dignity. As for Judas, he sold out principles that are analogously paramount in the spheres of morality and theology. Yes, even as a Jew, I can appreciate the horror of what Judas represents, and why he has become for Christians as powerful a symbol of evil as Hitler has become for the Jews.
“Nobody wants to be reviled. No man wants to be seen as a snake. Yet that will inevitably be my fate among the very portion of this nation who has supported me in the past. I can still hear the cheers and praises that were sent in my direction after I took my most dramatic public stand. Need I remind you of the incident? I sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas, who was applying to be the first black American on the United States Supreme Court. A woman named Anita Hill, a black college professor, accused Thomas of egregious sexual harassment, much to the joy of liberals throughout the nation who felt that Thomas was not only unqualified but way too conservative to merit the title of Supreme Court Justice.
“Other Republican Senators demonstrated their support for Thomas. But I went further. I ripped into Hill like a rabid dog. I accused her of “flat out perjury.” And I did it with a heart of stone in front of hundreds of millions of Americans. For that performance, I instantly become a Republican hero. Yet to the Democrats, I became the quintessential bully. I was like the character on those Lifetime Channel movies who treat the victims of rape as if THEY were the criminals, and the rapists the victims. Back then, I was perceived by Democrats as evil incarnate. And after today? That will be my reputation among Republicans
“Imagine that – an enemy of Republicans and Democrats alike. That is my destiny, at least for the near future. It is also my destiny to be re-elected next year to a sixth term as Senator from the great state of Pennsylvania. You don’t believe me? Just watch.
“I’ve struck a deal, you see. Tomorrow morning, I intend to stand before you with President Barack Obama on my right, and Vice President Biden on my left. The Vice President will talk about what great lifelong friends we are, and how we have ridden the Acela train together for decades, and how we have jointly helped saved that train and collectively toiled on various crucial pieces of legislation. And the President? He will say the magic words: that he and the Vice President are committed to supporting my bid for re-election to the Senate.
“You heard me right. The most popular man in the nation and on the planet is going to pledge to do whatever it takes to keep my job for another 7 ½ years. And for that privilege, all that I have to do is switch parties. Call me Judas, call me Benedict, call me Faust … but what choice is there? You do realize I’m behind in the Republican polls by 14 PERCENT! It’s either cut the deal with Barack, or get sliced and diced in the Republican primary. I’m too much of a fighter to let that happen. Just ask Anita Hill. I’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.
“Truth be told, when I ran for Philadelphia D.A. back in the mid 60s, I ran as a Kennedy Democrat. Back then, the winds blew in the direction of blue. It wasn’t until the era of Ronald Reagan that I switched to red. Could you blame me? Only losers bet on the wrong horse, and Arlen Specter is no loser. When I see a political tidal wave, I ride it. And there’s never been a bigger wave in my lifetime than there is right now.
“Part of what’s happening is that we have a President who’s about as gifted a politician as Mozart was a musician. But that’s not all of it. The biggest reason why I’m having my Mephistopheles moment is that the Republican Party is bankrupt. And I don’t mean Chapter 11 bankrupt either. Have you taken a look at the face of the party? It’s that drug addict who made fun of Michael J. Fox for having Parkinson’s. You know, the big fat idiot. And if he’s not sounding off, it’s that other guy, the one with the silver hair – the other well-fed boor, who shoved divorce papers in front of his wife when she was in hospital suffering from cancer.
“And this is the party of values? They always seem to vote in lockstep – God forbid a single Republican would take on the party establishment. Look what happened last year when McCain beat a splintered field and claimed the GOP nomination. He had to nominate a ruthless air-head just to unify the Party. How’d that work out?
“No, I just can’t take it any more. I can’t take the pressure of feeling like a second-class Republican because I support a woman’s right to choose … or because I don’t think gay people are sinners … or because I think that Jesus of Nazareth might actually oppose torture. Yeah, you heard me. According to a recent poll, devout Christians are much more likely than other Americans to support torture. We’re talking about the fundamentalists. That’s how they see Jesus, apparently, as an advocate of waterboarding. And THEY are the backbone of the Republican Party. THEY are the ones who are dominating the agenda, exiling moderates like me to the backbenches of the Party, while that Big Fat Idiot is allowed to scream like a Banshee that he is rooting against the President of the United States at a time when our nation is in peril. Who needs this crap?
“With my switch to the Democratic Party, that will give the Democrats 59 members in its Senate Caucus. Once Al Franken mops up his victory in Minnesota, the number will reach 60. I don’t always plan on voting with the liberals, but I don’t plan on filibustering against them either. And I doubt any other Democrats will either. That should mean that from now on, the majority will be able to bring legislation to a vote, and the majority will be able to hammer that legislation home, whether or not the Republicans continue to vote in lockstep … like automatons.
“It’s kind of ironic, when you think about it. It wasn’t long ago when the Republicans were thrilled that they could vote out gay marriage in California by having only a simple majority – even though the California judiciary thought gay marriage was a fundamental right. Democrats thought that the California Constitution was unfair, because it violated the principle that minorities should have rights too, and you should require more than a simple majority to abrogate the rights granted by the courts. Now the shoe is on the other foot. The Republicans depended on having the 41 Senators you need to filibuster legislation and thereby protect the rights of the minority. And now? They don’t have bubkes!
“To be honest with you, I’m proud to serve as the executioner of the Republican Party. I’m proud to sell them out, given what they’ve become. Maybe some day, things will change. Maybe they’ll find another visionary like Reagan who will stand up to the Big Fat Idiot and the Pig Who Dumps His Wife With Cancer. Maybe that visionary will actually realize that in order to be an effective party, you have to have support outside of the Bible Belt. Maybe that visionary will be able to cram into the heads of his supporters that when you’ve got a Senator from a Blue State, someone who’s been elected four times already, the last thing you do is run the guy out of the Party because he’s not “pure” enough.
“You want purity? Fine, I’m going to give you the pure, honest-to-God truth. I’m a politician in the late stages of a large empire that has lost its soul. Not surprisingly, I’ve lost mine too. As a result, what I care about the most when it comes to my job is getting re-elected. And in order to get re-elected, I had better become a Democrat. So today, I am hereby announcing my resignation from the Senate Republican caucus. I will become a proud member of the Democratic Party – just as I once was years back when it was opportune to be a Democrat. If in seven years, I have to switch parties again in order to be re-elected, then that’s what I’ll do. Call it the art of the practical. Call it a survival extinct. I really don’t care what you call it, or what you call me. Judas Iscariot Specter? I’m cool with that. But remember -- it’s SENATOR Judas Iscariot Specter, and thanks to my new friend, Barack, it will be for another 7 ½ years.”