Historical records matching Arlen Specter, U.S. Senator
About Arlen Specter, U.S. Senator
Sen. Arlen Specter - Independent Arlen: Newspaper Obituary and Death Notice
Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era (PA) - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 Deceased Name: Sen. Arlen Specter - Independent Arlen Cantankerous, opinionated, strong-willed, champion of people's rights, maverick, self-centered. The late Sen. Arlen Specter, who died Sunday at his Philadelphia-area home, was all of those things and more. Specter was a historic figure - Pennsylvania's longest-serving U.S. Senator; co-author of the Warren Commission's "single bullet theory"; and a player in both the Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nominations. A Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat, Specter was seen as a political chameleon, changing parties to suit his re-election bids. But that's only partly true. A Democrat when he first entered politics, Specter jumped ship in 1966 when Democrats denied his bid to run for Philadelphia district attorney. He shifted parties, ran for and won a record five terms in the U.S. Senate as a moderate/independent Republican, then shifted back to the Democratic Party in 2010 when it was clear that Republican Pat Toomey would oust him in the primary. But it wasn't Specter who changed as much as the Republican Party. The party's rightward shift placed him at odds with conservatives on a host of issues from abortion rights to the stimulus package to the Affordable Care Act. The initial break came when Specter voted against Supreme Court candidate Robert Bork and outraged conservatives. Yet, four years later, his harsh questioning of Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings outraged liberals. Those two episodes symbolize Specter's independent path through politics. He opposed gun control but supported universal health care. He supported civil unions but opposed same-sex marriage. He personally opposed abortion but supported a woman's right to choose. He supported the death penalty but questioned its use. In 1991, when Congress voted to go to war if Iraq did not comply with United Nations' resolutions, Specter raised constitutional questions. When Congress passed the USA Patriot Act in 2006, Specter raised questions about wiretapping U.S. citizens without warrants, and even hinted that impeachment proceedings might be held against George W. Bush - the man who endorsed him for re-election. That he was able to serve 30 years as a U.S. Senator is a testament to his intelligence and his tenacity. Specter could never be accused of being a wallflower. Whatever the issue, he had an informed opinion. Few U.S. Senators had the breadth of knowledge or understood issues as well as Specter. During visits to Lancaster, he was equally at home talking about the need for a federal courthouse here, immigration reform at the national level, problems in the Middle East or the impact the minimum wage has on single-parent households. And, as many have noted, Specter made certain that Pennsylvania received its fair share of federal funding. In 1967, Specter ran for mayor of Philadelphia alongside former basketball star Tom Gola, who was running for city controller. One of their slogans was: "We need these guys to watch those guys. They're younger, they're tougher and nobody owns them!" He may have been arrogant and difficult and complex, but to his dying day, nobody owned Arlen Specter. Page: A10 All content (c) 2012 Lancaster Newspapers Inc. and may not be republished without permission.