Sestak vs Specter, Round 1: Who’s the real Democrat?

posted at 6:25 pm on July 10, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

It’s so on.  Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak began their primary campaigns early today for the Democratic nomination for the Senate, not over policy, but over which of them had more right to the (D) next to their names:

Specter called Sestak a “flagrant hypocrite” for challenging Specter’s Democratic credentials. Specter switched political parties in April after 29 years as a Republican when it became clear he was headed for an epic GOP primary battle.

Specter said Sestak, a retired Navy vice admiral, didn’t register as a Democrat until 2006, when he ran for Congress.

“His lame excuse for avoiding party affiliation, because he was in the service, is undercut by his documented disinterest in the political process,” Specter said, noting that Delaware County records showed that Sestak voted in only 12 of 35 general elections from 1971 to 2005. He also pointed out that he did not vote in President Clinton’s 1996 election despite working in the White House at the time.

Uh, yeah, sure.  Sestak has only been a Democrat for three years, but Specter hasn’t yet been one for three months.  Specter can push back against Sestak’s criticism by talking about the issues, but if he’s looking to run on the notion that he’s a more loyal Democrat than Sestak, Specter will lose, and lose big.

Sestak punched back:

“Like Colin Powell (who was registered as an Independent while he served), I believe that military officers should be nonpartisan.”

Sestak said he was proud to be an independent during his 35 years in the Navy and to register as a Democrat as soon as he retired from active duty.

“Let’s be clear: I voted for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama while Arlen Specter was voting for George Bush and Bob Dole and John McCain,” he said. “My question to Arlen Specter is this: Do you regret voting for George Bush and John McCain? Why should Democrats support someone like you who actively campaigned — as recently as last year — for politicians with values like George W. Bush?”

I’m not sure I’d push the Bush-hatred much farther, if I was Sestak.  At the rate independents are bailing on Barack Obama, Bush might start looking pretty good in comparison, especially in Pennsylvania, where Obama threatens to create an economic depression in coal country.  Otherwise, he makes a good point.  We should be encouraging non-partisanship in our military leadership, not declarations of loyalty to political parties.  And how exactly does Arlen explain campaigning for Republicans until one of them threatened to end his lifetime job in DC?

Sestak wins this round, but I’m happy to say it’s not a knockout.  I’m hoping this one will go the distance, just like in Rocky, with both fighters so bloodied that Pat Toomey has a walkover in 2010.  Pass the popcorn and enjoy.


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I’m pretty sure Specter voted for Obama as well actually…

“Like Colin Powell (who was registered as an Independent while he served), I believe that military officers should be nonpartisan.”

This guy’s actually more honest than Powell…he had the guts to register as what he really is, a Democrat.

Rogue on July 10, 2009 at 6:28 PM

Pass the popcorn and a beer. This is going to be a fun ride.

txag92 on July 10, 2009 at 6:29 PM

I love Dem vs. Dem catfights.

itsnotaboutme on July 10, 2009 at 6:29 PM

Biggity, biggity, biggity!

a capella on July 10, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Didn’t take Specter long to adopt the “crap on the military ” mentality by trying to use one’s service against him as some sort of weapon.

Concur. Round 1 Sestak. But Specter has endurance, so the middle rounds are going to be crucial. This one could go the distance…

Hog Wild on July 10, 2009 at 6:33 PM

“Ultimate Dem on Dem Night Fight”

PappaMac on July 10, 2009 at 6:33 PM

My money’s on the Sleestak.

Cicero43 on July 10, 2009 at 6:34 PM

This is the kind of fight where you hope it goes the distance and they both lose.

perroviejo on July 10, 2009 at 6:34 PM

Arlen at 79, its over, get a life while you still have time.

patrick neid on July 10, 2009 at 6:34 PM

as a Pennsylvanian, Specter has always disappointed us by being a RINO. At least he’s telling the truth now…but I gotta admit, it seems like Bizarro world when he says,”I’m a Democrat”

eccckkhhhhh (shivers)

birdhurd on July 10, 2009 at 6:35 PM

“Heartache to
heartache

we stand

noo promises
booing demands

both of us knooowww it

love is a battlefieeelldd”

blatantblue on July 10, 2009 at 6:36 PM

Boing = no

WTF iphone

blatantblue on July 10, 2009 at 6:38 PM

Arlen was a Democrat until 1965, when he switched to the GOP to run for DA in Philly. The GOP primary field was much less crowded, so he had a better chance of getting the nomination.

Sestak needs to do more oppo research. The Arlen “flip-flop” ads will write themselves.

Wethal on July 10, 2009 at 6:39 PM

“Let’s be clear: I voted for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama”

Sestak may have won that round but it’s obvious the man has poor judgement and no shame.

He bragged he voted for Kerry? Unfrikkin believable.

Guardian on July 10, 2009 at 6:40 PM

I do so hope the dem primary in PA becomes another anti-Bush bash fast. How serious can PA possibly take two people duking it out over a guy who won’t have been President for 2 years by the time 2010 rolls around?

Then again, Jack Murtha was re-elected, so…

BKennedy on July 10, 2009 at 6:44 PM

I get the “joy” of having both these guys “represent” me in congress. Would someone please tell Sarah Palin to move here and knock these clowns out of the senate race? Please… please… I’m begging now…

ROCnPhilly on July 10, 2009 at 6:44 PM

He bragged he voted for Kerry? Unfrikkin believable.
Guardian on July 10, 2009 at 6:40 PM

Desperate times call for…
Name dropping

buncha MORANS!’

blatantblue on July 10, 2009 at 6:45 PM

This may be Specter’s finest hour. Doing battle with a dem and hopefully bloodying him and getting blooded so Toomey can win. The dems aren’t going to vote for Specter after knowing that he bailed on the GOP only to save his own skin. Oh wait… they’re dems.

cjs1943 on July 10, 2009 at 6:48 PM

But the people in PA fall for Mr. Murtha’s b.s. they will probably think Mr. Sestak is a super hero.

Cindy Munford on July 10, 2009 at 6:50 PM

Name recognition.

Rode Werk on July 10, 2009 at 6:51 PM

Sestak is my congressman…why, Curt Weldon, why did you go down the wrong path. Anyway, as far as not voting, I remember we considered him a carpetbagger since he spent decades away from our county and only came back in order to run in 2008. Specter shouldn’t use Delaware County voting records because the man wasn’t here during the time in question so Specter looks even more ill informed that he is.

deedledee on July 10, 2009 at 6:52 PM

After the “respect” libtards showed McCain’s war record, I’m not going to be crying about poor Sestak.

Speedwagon82 on July 10, 2009 at 6:52 PM

Murtha is in western PA. Think Pittsburgh. Completely different disaster area.

ROCnPhilly on July 10, 2009 at 6:53 PM

We know RINO Powell didn’t register as an Independent to stay neutral. He did it to make sure that no matter which Party won control of the country, he could pretend to have been on their side the whole time. So not a really good example.

Speedwagon82 on July 10, 2009 at 6:55 PM

But the people in PA fall for Mr. Murtha’s b.s. they will probably think Mr. Sestak is a super hero.

Cindy Munford on July 10, 2009 at 6:50 PM

Murtha turned his district into a company town, Murtha, Inc. Without the federal payroll and federal grants, there would be considerably more unemployment, and Murtha always reminded them of this at election time.

Now that the feds are slowing closing in, and the pork is under great scrutiny, one hopes the people will start realizing the gravy train is ending, and they don’t owe Murtha a vote to protect their jobs.

Wethal on July 10, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Specter called Sestak a “flagrant hypocrite” for challenging Specter’s Democratic credentials.

Sorry. Can’t comment yet. Still laughing at this. Funniest thing Spectre has ever said.

Loxodonta on July 10, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Speedwagon82 on July 10, 2009 at 6:55 PM

RINO Powell had a choice to make.

“Do I register as a democrat and get lost in a black caucus, or do I register as a Republican and draw a lot of attention for everything I do or say?”

Powell chose the Attention whore route.

portlandon on July 10, 2009 at 6:58 PM

Powell chose the Attention whore route.

portlandon on July 10, 2009 at 6:58 PM

So did Arlen back in 1965. Would have taken a long time to rise up through the crowded Philly Dem machine.

Wethal on July 10, 2009 at 7:00 PM

I hope they fight themselves into a bloody pulp.

old trooper2 on July 10, 2009 at 7:01 PM

Murtha is in western PA. Think Pittsburgh. Completely different disaster area.

ROCnPhilly on July 10, 2009 at 6:53 PM

Hold on there a minute – Pittsburgh may be totally dysfunctional, but you can’t blame us for Murtha. He belongs to Johnstown!

Sam Adams on July 10, 2009 at 7:01 PM

I live in Sestak’s congressional district and will not vote for anyone who does not read the bills before him! That is not representative government.

To paraphrase Jefferson, The blood of tyrants and patriots will flow from the ballot boxes of this nation in the coming primary.

Folks in Sestak’s district, join the http://www.thomasjeffersonclub.com/ in Newtown

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on July 10, 2009 at 7:03 PM

Between the Specter-Sestak fight, and the Pa Senate saying nuts to Fast Eddy’s proposed tax hike, things are looking up for the PA GOP. Eddy is term-limited and leaves next year with no clear successor, and the GOP might have a chance at taking the state House back, too. Fiscal conservatism coud win the purple suburbs.

Wethal on July 10, 2009 at 7:04 PM

Odd. The link isn’t opening for me from Hot Air, only from Fox.

Loxodonta on July 10, 2009 at 7:05 PM

I voted for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama

Where I from Pennsylvania, that’s not much of a recommendation to get my vote.

I hope they tear each other apart.

GarandFan on July 10, 2009 at 7:06 PM

Sestak is my congressman…why, Curt Weldon, why did you go down the wrong path. Anyway, as far as not voting, I remember we considered him a carpetbagger since he spent decades away from our county and only came back in order to run in 2008. Specter shouldn’t use Delaware County voting records because the man wasn’t here during the time in question so Specter looks even more ill informed that he is.

deedledee on July 10, 2009 at 6:52 PM

Active military service does not equal carpetbagging, even for a Democrat.

Cyfir on July 10, 2009 at 7:07 PM

Rep. Joe Sestak: We’ve learned today that Arlen Specter can abandon his party, but he just can’t quit making Republican swift boat attacks on the integrity of Democrats who served in our military

I guess that attitude developed from all those years of being a “nonpartisan” military officer.

Loxodonta on July 10, 2009 at 7:10 PM

Blue on blue, heartache on heartache.

You made me think of Bobby Vinton.

ICBM on July 10, 2009 at 7:10 PM

Murtha is in western PA. Think Pittsburgh. Completely different disaster area.

ROCnPhilly on July 10, 2009 at 6:53 PM

And of course there is eastern PA known for city of Brotherly Love. That is …if you think Love is being beaten, killed, or rape. Philly is a pit.

CWforFreedom on July 10, 2009 at 7:13 PM

Mr. Arlen “Magic bullet theory” Spector is a POS who is full of shi… himself. Go Navy!!!

Americannodash on July 10, 2009 at 7:15 PM

Those of you from Pennsylvania, is it still possible to switch party affiliation and do some Operation Chaos in the Democrat’s primary? If so, who is the weakest candidate against Pat Toomey?

Loxodonta on July 10, 2009 at 7:17 PM

Wethal on July 10, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Justice moves so slowly.

Cindy Munford on July 10, 2009 at 7:21 PM

Those of you from Pennsylvania, is it still possible to switch party affiliation and do some Operation Chaos in the Democrat’s primary? If so, who is the weakest candidate against Pat Toomey?

Loxodonta on July 10, 2009 at 7:17 PM

.
Dollars or Sense —– You chose for us
.
Specter or Sestak

Americannodash on July 10, 2009 at 7:21 PM

To Sam: Sorry. I meant general area.

To CW: Ow! Ow! My feelings are sooooo hurt! See above and I was speaking of a political disaster area.

ROCnPhilly on July 10, 2009 at 7:22 PM

Sestak is probably weaker. So many oldsters here vote by name recognition.

ROCnPhilly on July 10, 2009 at 7:24 PM

noting that Delaware County records showed that Sestak voted in only 12 of 35 general elections from 1971 to 2005

I hate siding with Arlen but, man, that is a crappy track record for Sestak. This guy wants to be a politician but he hasn’t even got “voter” down yet.

LastRick on July 10, 2009 at 7:25 PM

We’re talking a Democratic party race. Isn’t this more like arguing herpes or gonorrhea, which is the REAL STD.

Jeff from WI on July 10, 2009 at 7:26 PM

Those of you from Pennsylvania, is it still possible to switch party affiliation and do some Operation Chaos in the Democrat’s primary? If so, who is the weakest candidate against Pat Toomey?

Loxodonta on July 10, 2009 at 7:17 PM

Sure. Primary isn’t until next year, so there’s plenty of time for some GOP chaos registrations as temporary Dems.

Wethal on July 10, 2009 at 7:32 PM

So does Sestak like to brag about voting for McGovern, Carter, Mondale or Dukakis? What an idiot.

gsherin on July 10, 2009 at 7:37 PM

Pass the popcorn and a beer. This is going to be a fun ride.

txag92 on July 10, 2009 at 6:29 PM

make mine a Bud Light please :-)

_________________________________
got lots of family in the Pittsburgh area, big time union folks, will have to see who they are leaning towards

cmsinaz on July 10, 2009 at 7:38 PM

Sestak wins this round, but I’m happy to say it’s not a knockout. I’m hoping this one will go the distance, just like in Rocky, with both fighters so bloodied that Pat Toomey has a walkover in 2010. Pass the popcorn and enjoy.

To say that Sestak isn’t a “people person” is an understatement. He bullies his staff and goes through them at a huge rate. He’s also an opportunistic partisan whore. George C. Marshall, also a Pennsylvanian was a careful apolitical military officer. Sestak not so much if he was hanging out at the White House.

The real question I’m concerned about is Toomey’s chances against either of them. The turncoat RINO or the thuggish Admiral.

highhopes on July 10, 2009 at 7:40 PM

Sestak is probably weaker. So many oldsters here vote by name recognition.

ROCnPhilly on July 10, 2009 at 7:24 PM

Reminds me of the Eddie Murphy movie where he plays Thomas Jefferson Johnson, a con man with the same name as the long-time Congressman. Back in 1992 the idea of a black man going to Congress was still a novelty. In 2009 we are living the nightmare of what happens when affirmative action trumps electing serious people.

highhopes on July 10, 2009 at 7:48 PM

Ditto to the comment of one previous post.” I hope that they beat and bloody each other up so that hopefully a TRUE CONSERVATIVE will win in Pennsylvania.

hamradio on July 10, 2009 at 7:57 PM

“I was for the GOP before I was against it.”

This is the only argument Arlen can make. What else is there for him in his Senate tenure?

“I was almost a liberal most of the time” just doesn’t seem convincing.

Sestak, OTOH, has a fabulous argument:

“When Arlen was voting in support of Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II, I was defending the country, as a non-partisan patriot”. The face value alone is humiliating to Spectre.

BobMbx on July 10, 2009 at 7:58 PM

I lived in Pa and I know Specter is a doofus but I’m a little lost how someone can spend 35 years in the military and be a Dem.

Does he not notice the military is about the only part of the govt the Dems ever try to actually cut? Does notice how no ships are ever going to named after most of the people he voted for and the only reason Carter would is cuz he was in the navy but a god awful president?

gsherin on July 10, 2009 at 8:05 PM

I’m torn, here.
Should I send Sestak some money or not?
Lieberman and Carl what’s-his-name who ran against Bloomberg were easy choices

Lanceman on July 10, 2009 at 8:13 PM

Sestak, OTOH, has a fabulous argument:

“When Arlen was voting in support of Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II, I was defending the country, as a non-partisan patriot”. The face value alone is humiliating to Spectre.

BobMbx on July 10, 2009 at 7:58 PM

Dude, what in the hell are you smoking? Sestak was fired by the current CJCS (then CNO) Mike Mullen due to poor command climate. Do you know what it takes to fire a Deputy CNO for poor command climate? We aren’t talking about having the talk that he should retire, he was canned from his job because of his performance. Conversely, Specter may have been a liberal bastard but he was consistent and never fired for his performance much as he probably should have been.

highhopes on July 10, 2009 at 8:14 PM

Sestak sucks. I very much want Spectre in the general, where he will be despised by the far left, who adore Sestak, who is a total leftist, and how in the hell does a total leftist function as a Navy Admiral? Is the Navy as weak and full of pansies as they appear to be, e.g. Lindsay Graham?

Jaibones on July 10, 2009 at 8:21 PM

I lived in Pa and I know Specter is a doofus but I’m a little lost how someone can spend 35 years in the military and be a Dem.

gsherin on July 10, 2009 at 8:05

I only spent 23 years in the Navy, having come in during the Reagan years. Those a few years older were very bitter about the way Carter treated the military (it was years between any pay raises and no real commitment to the hardware) Then I experienced the way Clinton used the military as his own private lab for social experimentation as if an organization whose mission is national defense should be used to play around with issues like legitimizing gay lifestyles. Obama is doing much of the same thing.

I don’t buy Stasek was really a committed Democrat all that time. I suspect he is a political opportunist who got fired from his job as a Deputy CNO by the Bush leadership team and that might have been the deciding factor. He got elected to Congress as a Bush-hater and that’s about all he has.

highhopes on July 10, 2009 at 8:22 PM

highhopes on July 10, 2009 at 8:14 PM

Dude, seriously? I did not know that. It all makes sense now – he’s a worthless pansy, no wonder he’s a Demorat.

Jaibones on July 10, 2009 at 8:23 PM

Is the Navy as weak and full of pansies as they appear to be, e.g. Lindsay Graham?

Jaibones on July 10, 2009 at 8:21 PM

Graham is an Air Force lawyer in the Reserves. Stasek was a Surface Warfare Vice Admiral ultimately fired for poor performance by the Bush leadership team which is when he had his “revelation” that he had always been a Democrat.

highhopes on July 10, 2009 at 8:26 PM

“Blue on Blue, Heartache on Heartache. . . . . .”

Ed, shouldn’t you be giving Bobby Vinton a Shout-Out?

And. . . . . does anyone else know what I’m talking about?

Narniaman on July 10, 2009 at 8:55 PM

I do not know who is the real democrat, but I know who is the real a-hole.

bayview on July 10, 2009 at 8:59 PM

highhopes on July 10, 2009 at 8:14 PM

I’ve been in and around the Navy since 1979. It may be helpful to learn what it takes to become a Vice Admiral, and then rise to the JCS.

Naval officers with ‘poor performance” don’t get to put on a star. “Poor command climate” can mean anything, but mostly means “I don’t like you anymore”. More often than not, it is a result of irreconcilable differences of opinion or policy. First, you get the warning. If that doesn’t work, you’re encouraged to retire. If that doesn’t work, you get “Poor command climate” or “loss of confidence in ability to command”. Then you get fired. W

When you wear 3 or 4 stars, diffences of opinion are defacto policy differences; policy is set by politicians. So, Sestak was more than likely breaking with Bush’s policys.

BobMbx on July 10, 2009 at 9:05 PM

highhopes on July 10, 2009 at 8:22 PM

well he can whine about Bush til the cows come home that will not be impressing the electorate in 2010. maybe he should beef up his Dem credentials with bragging about the # of flags he’s burned or abortions he’s helped facilitate or homosexual affairs.

gsherin on July 10, 2009 at 9:06 PM

And. . . . . does anyone else know what I’m talking about?

Narniaman on July 10, 2009 at 8:55 PM

She wore bluuuu uuuuueeee velvettt….

Lanceman on July 10, 2009 at 9:27 PM

we’ll it’s nice to find out who my pa brethren are, this will be a lot of fun watching this play out, and i voted for sphincter and feel very betrayed and pizzed, so i hope to see him totally humiliated come 2010…

SHARPTOOTH on July 10, 2009 at 9:47 PM


BobMbx on July 10, 2009 at 9:05 PM

I’ve been in and around the Navy since 1979. It may be helpful to learn what it takes to become a Vice Admiral, and then rise to the JCS.

Getting stars is a matter of luck and timing as much as it is competence. The second star is virtually assured but to get the third you have to be on the short list. There are a couple paths to get there. You can do it in the field in a select few commands or you can do it primarily from your DC experience as Colin Powell did and (I suspect) Stasek did.

Naval officers with ‘poor performance” don’t get to put on a star. “Poor command climate” can mean anything, but mostly means “I don’t like you anymore”. More often than not, it is a result of irreconcilable differences of opinion or policy. First, you get the warning. If that doesn’t work, you’re encouraged to retire. If that doesn’t work, you get “Poor command climate” or “loss of confidence in ability to command”. Then you get fired. W

One of my pet peeves is firing people for “poor command climate” or “loss of confidence”: as opposed to making specific charges. Nevertheless that is the current standard. I disagree with your scenario that this was the last step in a process where the admiral refused to retire. Flag assignments are on a very clear schedule that everybody knows and tracks. Were there not an immediate reason to fire Stasek, he would have simply been removed by not giving him an assignment in the next round. There was some compelling reason why he was relieved of duty when he was.

When you wear 3 or 4 stars, diffences of opinion are defacto policy differences; policy is set by politicians. So, Sestak was more than likely breaking with Bush’s policys.

So What? He was fired because of poor command climate. That has nothing to do with policy differences with the administration.

highhopes on July 10, 2009 at 10:02 PM

Reminds me of the Eddie Murphy movie where he plays Thomas Jefferson Johnson, a con man with the same name as the long-time Congressman. Back in 1992 the idea of a black man going to Congress was still a novelty. In 2009 we are living the nightmare of what happens when affirmative action trumps electing serious people.

highhopes on July 10, 2009 at 7:48 PM

Too bad that we don’t have more men like Robert Smalls. He was a slave who was the pilot of a confederate gunboat. He ‘stole’ the gunboat to escape to the union. As pilot of the ironclad KEotuck or however you spell that, he saved that ship. He was on his old gunboat the Planter when it got in a crossfire (wooden ship, 15″ shells, what could go wrong). The union captain wanted to surrender but Small fought the ship to safety. He was later given command of it.

After the war he became a republican congressman. His quote about the democrats was “The democratic party should be thrown into the deepest hole and covered over so no trace of it’s existance ever bubbles to the surface”

TO get back to your point, Smalls got to where he was by brains, b*lls and effort, not affirmative action.

Oh, one more thing. He bought his former master’s home. The mother or the wife of the master was going senile. Smalls let her move back into the house to spend the remainder of her days. Add class to the previous.

bullseye on July 10, 2009 at 11:06 PM

For the record, Sestak actually retired as a Rear Admiral (2 star) instead of at the higher rank of Vice Admiral (3 stars). The “poor command climate” referenced by highhopes is still talked about within the Pentagon (at least in some Navy circles). Don’t blame Bush for Sestak getting fired; ADM Mullin did that completely on his own. It was really the first thing he did after he became CNO (Chief of Naval Operations; the Navy’s Service Chief). The severe consequence of the action and the associated timing of the firing did not go unnoticed in the Fleet.

Khun Joe on July 11, 2009 at 5:33 AM

Specter, is the true Demoncrate. All he needs is a black robe and scythe when promoting Health Care, because he always looks like death warmed over.

MSGTAS on July 11, 2009 at 10:30 AM

I forgot. Is his first name Arlen or Dick?

Mr. Grump on July 11, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Sestak got fired for being so abusive towards his staff, pure and simple. A practice he continues to this day as having the highest turnover rate of professional staffers on the hill.

From realclear politics:

Sestak has run through 61 staffers since he was sworn in. By comparison, three other Pennsylvania Democrats elected to the House in the same year – Reps. Chris Carney, Patrick Murphy and Jason Altmire – got by with just 25, 26 and 28 staffers, respectively, over that same period.

In a widely read 2007 article in The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress, several former staffers said that aides to Sestak “are expected to work seven days a week, including holidays, often 14 hours each day, going for months without a day off. These are very long hours even by Capitol Hill standards.”

“There is a revolving door in his office, not just because of the long hours, but also because he is not particularly nice or supportive of his staff,” said Capitol Hill veteran. “I am sure he would say he is demanding, just as he was in the military on both the giving and receiving end. To staffers on the Hill, though, he is a guy to avoid unless you are desperate for a job.”

rotorhead on July 12, 2009 at 2:20 AM