Hey Specter, How’s Your Persuasion of Grassley Coming Along?

photo.thumbnail.jpgIn my recap of Netroots Nation, I forgot to mention that I was the asshole first swinging a cell phone around, asking Arlen "Scrapple" Specter to call Chuck Grassley from the stage to try to convince him to stop claiming the death panels he once voted for are death panels.

Specter did try Grassley backstage, but didn’t get him. And then he and Grassley had a twitter exchange, one on which Grassley has followed up on twice now

Distortion of end-of-life debate is atempt 2avoid debate:govt takovr,xplodin deficit,cost of Pelosi bill Focus shld b viabl nonGovt plan

Sounds like Grassley doesn’t want to talk about his fear-mongering on death panels, now that he has been outed as supporting it in the past. And of course, Grassley wants to find a way to oppose a real bill even if he supports it. His job is about obstruction, and nothing but obstruction, at this point.

Meanwhile, Specter hasn’t provided an update on his promises to persuade Grassley to be less obstructionist since Friday at 5:01 PM.

I will try to persuade Senator Grassley that the availability of counseling is appropriate and should be included in health care reform.

So, how about it, Specter? You told us that one of the reasons we should support you to be elected a Democratic Senator from PA was because you would be able to persuade your Republican colleagues.

Are you conceding defeat?

32 replies
  1. Leen says:

    there were a bunch of folks quick at pulling their phones out. Tough to tell who was the first.

    Did anyone go back stage with him?

    had some time with Sestak…damn he is so impressive. Only a few politicians that I have ever met able to hold eye contact and really listen to your question and then reply on topic.

    Sestak is going to roll right over Specter. Obama, Rendell, Rahm might want to think about jumping on the Sestak bus

    • PJBurke says:

      Sestak really is that impressive. I got to speak with him at length out here on the West Coast (near Santa Monica) back in June. Healthcare for all is his central issue, and it really is a pity that we don’t have his voice in the Senate already.

      Whether he “rolls over” Specter or not in the primary really depends more on turnout than on just about anything else. Historically, primaries are notoriously well-ignored by the electorate. If the progressive blogosphere can turn that one contest into a national progressive cause and thereby energize “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” in Pennsylvania on Sestak’s behalf, then a “roll over” could very well happen.

      I’d really hoped to make it home to Pittsburgh for the NN09 shindig, but couldn’t shake the time loose. I’m glad Sestak made an appearance. I’d asked him in June whether he’d attend, and he’d said they were still “in discussions” but that it wasn’t yet settled (he hadn’t yet formally announced at that time), though he did favor doing so. Whether Specter would have attended without Sestak being there is an open question (I tend to think not)… Specter has been, after all, an opponent of investigations into the Bush-Cheney torture program (was he challenged on this stance at all???), so on this issue (among others) he’d be in hostile territory.

      Finally… on Obama, Rendell, and Rahm. They — someone in that troika — is blocking the big PA Democrat donors from contributing to Sestak. Major fundraisers have been ‘counseled’ that they “really don’t want to hold fundraisers for Sestak,” and some that were already scheduled were inexplicably — and abrubtly — cancelled. This could be Rendell’s muscle, or Rahm’s, or both (together and separately).

      But it stinks…. reeks of the Philadelphia ‘Good Old Boy’ Lawyers Club (which represents most of the wealthy corporate interests — like CIGNA — that progressives abhor). They’re convinced that they can force Pennsylvania to keep Specter, so that their Chestnut Hill and Paoli nests stay well-feathered and warm.

      We’ll just have to see about that.

      • Leen says:

        When you dig down deep enough. Specter would support a first strike by Israel on Iran and then we would have to back them up.

        Sestak will not support such a move

        • PJBurke says:

          He was, however, far less than impressive on the FISA vote

          Perhaps our recollections of how Sestak handled that issue are different, bmaz.

          As I recall it, Sestak voted for the House version — which had more robust civil liberties protections and which did not retroactively immunize the telecomms — and also came to support the compromise negotiated with DNI McConnell. That compromise was rejected by the Bush White House, which instead insisted on its own version. Congress as a whole capitulated, but Sestak voted against that White House version… the one which became law. As I recall, Sestak also said at the time that “we should have stood up and said no.”

          Vote link: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll836.xml

            • PJBurke says:


              I’m thoroughly familiar with Sestak’s web release on the House FISA bill vote.

              But if we’re trying to assess who – between Specter and Sestak – is likely to be the better advocate of protecting civil rights and liberties, I don’t think that that particular vote tells us all that we need to know — or reflects all that needs to be considered — in order to make that assessment.

              We should be able to agree that of all the FISA alternatives in play, the House-passed version was the least bad. There was no ‘do nothing’ version in play, so isn’t it ‘admirable,’ to use your term, to have affected the outcome in the House for the better? I mean, if Bush rejected it, that means it could have been — needed to have been — much, much worse.

              Sestak isn’t the one responsible for that Pelosi-Hoyer rigged set-up vote, where the compromise required a 2/3rds vote to pass, but the administration-backed bill only needed a simple majority…

              Sestak did vote ‘no’ on the final version… and was very publicly critical — immediately — of the House leadership, both for their calculated ‘mishandling’ of the bill and for their unconcern (disdain?) for the civil liberties issue in general.

              Armchair quarterback it all you like, but the blame for FISA belongs not upon Sestak but rather upon Bush-Cheney and their Democrat Leadership enablers & authoritarian connivers in the Congress.

              Sestak is stronger on civil rights and liberties, IMHO, than Specter will ever be… but if your holding is that Specter is more ‘admirable’ than Sestak on civil rights/civil liberties, then I suppose we will have to “completely and unequivocally disagree.”

              • bmaz says:

                The final bill that he was just hunky dory with was a complete and utter piece of crap that shit all over the Fourth Amendment and Constitution. He may be better than Specter, I’ll grant that, but he will get no slack from me for that abysmal position and vote that he was so proud of. It was apile of crap and anybody who voted for it deserves unadulterated scorn.

                • PJBurke says:

                  …he will get no slack from me for that abysmal position and vote that he was so proud of.

                  Bully for your much-needed, well-directed and much-welcomed passion.

                  We can settle upon “he may be better than Specter.”

                  ‘Nuf said.

                  Knowing Specter’s record pretty well, I’d jettison ‘may be better’ for ‘is better,’ but no need to quibble.

                  I read you regularly, bmaz… and I really do respect your ‘take’ on things (the horrifying Tasered Mom thing is just a recent example), and I have learned very much from your work.

                  Its been said — probably too often, lately — “Don’t let The Perfect become the enemy of The Good.”

                  I’d retort: Don’t let the possible achievement of The Good erase the vision of what The Perfect looks like from your imagination… the ‘Good’ after all, may only be the bathroom in the best restaurant you’ve never yet eaten at.

                  • bmaz says:

                    Heh, I will even go with definitely better than Specter. Heck he voted for the damn thing too. Even on the issues where he made noise about doing something appropriate (take the Military Commissions Act for instance; please) he always chumped out to vote with the Republican crowd. I actually believe Specter has a conscience down there somewhere, too bad he so rarely follows it come voting time. No, if I were there, I would vote Sestak over Specter. But I have a real bug up my butt about the FISA deal.

  2. Leen says:

    Also talked to quite a sizable group of young folks over in the Pittsburgh ball field during the Netroots folks play time over there. Every young person I talked with ( many from the Pittsburgh area) were all about Sestak and all ready volunteering for him.

    Lots of young men (about 30men to every woman in that line to hit a ball) at the field. So excited to be out there running around

    Like pigs in shit I tell you

    • emptywheel says:

      I better got tell mr. ew. He hasn’t mowed the yard in 2 weeks (one of them too dry for much growth). BUt he’s out there now, trying to mow before the thunderstorm starts.

      • klynn says:

        That’s what I was doing with son-of-klynn. And you were here knocking out posts at a record rate. I am still catching up!

  3. prostratedragon says:

    Nice work, Ew!

    And elsewhere in news of those most frequently sent in to try to save Grassley’s dignity in opposition to providing effective health care plans for the American people and by extension Specter’s in disingenuous fecklessness, we now have

    Michelle Bachmann: fool for Christ.

    What I can’t figure out is what I’m supposed to ask God for now.

    • Leen says:

      Ew is so incredible at so many things. But it was tough to tell who was first(I was there and watching closely) at pulling out their phones and challenging Specter to make the call. The point being that he was challenged to make the call then and there.

    • bmaz says:

      Bachmann is too late; god has already told Sarah Palin to run for President. God did this, of course, through a witch doctor in a plywood church in Wasilla.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        I thought God uses twitter to order Sarah about. Michelle gets her marching orders by studying fish entrails from the mandated Friday Night Fish Fry.

        Boxturtle (God has a sense of Humor…obviously)

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    I’m thinking that Scrapple knows he didn’t impress at NN09 and that he’s better off being nice to Grassley.

    Boxturtle (EPU’d: I didn’t mean to even slightly imply there wasn’t value in beating up on Rahm!)

    • Leen says:

      Specter really fumbled at NN09 when he accidentally said “I support global warming” and did not catch it even though folks were chucking in the audience. I actually felt sorry for the guy for a few minutes

  5. Leen says:

    “The next time I see Chuck Grassley — in fact, I’ll tell you this, I will call him up today,” Specter said. “I think his position — I don’t characterize it beyond saying he is not correct. It is not a death squad.” People in the hall started waving their cell phones, saying, “Call him now!” So Specter bit: “Whoever said call him now, join me backstage and watch me dial,” when the forum ends. And so, backstage he went, surrounded by a cluster of bloggers, to call Grassley and give him a piece of his mind. The Iowan, though, wasn’t in, so Specter left a message. (Specter also promised to vote for cloture on the Employee Free Choice Act, a flip that wasn’t particularly surprising in light of his new party registration.)


  6. PJEvans says:

    Grassley is also claiming that government is a predator: it kills private businesses that it competes with.
    Has he noticed FedEx and UPS?

  7. PJBurke says:


    The “bug up my butt about the FISA deal” is well-considered and a VERY pertinent point of view which must not be allowed to recede into the ‘mists of the past’ or be ‘flushed down the memory hole’ (though cynicism suggests that it probably will be).

    It applies to Obama as well… along with numerous other continuations of the deliberate Bush-Cheney-Addington-Yoo-Etc predations upon the Constitution, his FISA vote in the Senate is the stone which has yet to stop skipping.

    I want Specter OUT.


    But I also have been persuaded that Sestak has much more to offer beyond simply replacing Specter (healthcare and, most particularly, veterans issues… including very strong advocacy for scrapping the odious DADT ).

    Sorry if I made it so much more complicated than it needed to be.

    – PJB

    • Leen says:

      “But I also have been persuaded that Sestak has much more to offer beyond simply replacing Specter (healthcare and, most particularly, veterans issues… including very strong advocacy for scrapping the odious DADT )”


      And his foreign policy perspective….much much better than Specters

      • PJBurke says:

        And his foreign policy perspective….much much better than Specters

        Yup. Sestak’s got actual foreign policy experience, since he sat on Clinton’s NSC as defense policy director.

        Specter needs to be shown the door, since he doesn’t seem to understand that the Republican tornado that he was such a part of has blown itself out and now its time for the clean-up crew to get the necessary work done. He’s just in the way and has nothing at all to contribute.

  8. bmaz says:

    Oh, it does apply to Obama. Absolutely. Not sure how long you have been around here, but have no fear we here have blistered Obama severely for that before, during and after the election. Still voted for him. But I don’t forget, and that is a big part of why I never seem to trust Obama. I like him, but I do not trust him.

    • PJBurke says:

      Not sure how long you have been around here

      Oh, I’ve been ‘lurking’ around here for awhile. GlennZilla recommended Marcy’s very impressive book (Anatomy of Deceit… the perfect gift for several of my cluelessly-conservative family members) a while ago and I’ve been stopping by pretty regularly ever since.

        • PJBurke says:

          Thankyou, bmaz. I appreciate it.

          Now we can argue discuss football *g*

          An unrepentant Steeler fan here… you?

          My excuse is that I grew up there, most family is still there, and by this time next year I’ll be back there — and outta this durn SoCal desert — as L’il Brother and I are building our retirement place — similar log homes on 30 acres with a lake — near there in Latrobe… which also explains my interest in the PA primary.

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