Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Farewell to Arlen or Why I Voted for Joe Sestak

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

My Dear America:

It is just a few days after the extraordinary Primary Election in Pennsylvania which resulted in a loss by long time incumbent Senator Arlen Specter and a win by a previously little known Congressman named Joe Sestak.

Although my wife and I are generally on the same page politically we ended up having a split decision this time.  Sandy voted for Arlen and I voted for Joe.  I suppose the reason that she voted for Arlen was that he has been a long term Senator from Pennsylvania and certainly has made some good moves in his United States Senate career along with some bad ones.  I must confess that in previous Senate campaigns I have voted for Arlen on more than one occasion when I sincerely thought he was a better candidate than his Democratic rival.

That was not the case this time, however.  Joe Sestak, in my opinion, was the better of the two candidates for U.S. Senator even though from the first it seemed like Joe had the deck stacked against him.  Word has it that Joe was first approached by top Democrats in Pennsylvania and Washington, including the President, to run for the Senate against either of the two likely Republican rivals, Arlen Specter or Pat Toomey.  Toomey is a Righter than Right Wing former Congressman from the Lehigh Valley area of Pensylvania who has headed the dreaded Super Right Wing mislabled "Club for Growth" in recent years.  Toomey is a Harvard Educated Restaurant owner with a slick personality who manages to look to the uneducated Pennsylvania electorate as if he is just a regular man of the people.  He is not that, however.  He is a man of the Corporations and I would expect that in the coming race for the Senate he will be fully funded by his Right Wing Republican supporters.

I also expect that, although Joe Sestak had virtually no support from the Democratic Party leaders, Labor Unions and the President of The United States, that this situation will certainly now change.  Joe Sestak is no longer just pain in the party Joe, whose annoying presence embarassed Democrats. Those Democratic party leaders including President Obama who threw Joe Sestak under the Democratic Party Bus once Arlen came aboard will likely be singing a different tune now that Joe Sestak has proved that he is no ordinary Joe.

In truth, Joe Sestak's accomplishment must be looked at with a great degree of astonishment regarding what he has done to get to the point where he is presently.  Joe started off his primary campaign facing a gigantic lead on Arlen Specter's part.  Nobody in their right mind gave Joe Sestak much of a chance at the beginning of his campaign.  Nobody, that is but Joe Sestak.  Sestak recognized the grim reality of his situation.  He was an Underdog with no Democratic support except for a few scattered Democratic leaders throughout the Commonwealth who liked what Joe had to say and didn't like the fact that the Pennsylvania Democratic Party was in the process of nominating a dyed in the wool, George Bush 1 and 2 and a Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon Republican to be their standard bearer in the Senate Primary just because he had switched parties to protect his job. 

If there was one issue that I think brought Joe Sestak to the winner's podium on election night it was the issue of George Bush and Sarah Palin embracing Specter in Sestak's powerful video released late in his campaign.  Bush stating "I depend on this man" and looking at Specter was the kiss of death for Specter.  Specter also looked outclassed in his one and only debate with Sestak and his demand that Sestak apologize for calling Specter a liar made Specter look foolish, not statesmanlike.  Sestak held his own in the debate and once you got past his soft spoken halting speech patterns that he used over and over again in every instance that he could find a place to speak in Pennsylvania, I found that that guy made sense. 

His stump speech everywhere was pretty standard.  He talked about his daughter's brain tumor and his appreciation for the free and competent medical care that he and his family received courtesy of the U.S Navy, where he was an Admiral when he retired.  He went into politics to try to obtain the kind of health care for everyone that his daughter received.  He went everywhere in Pennsylvania where he was welcomed and over the countless times he was on the Pennsylvania Cable Network and other newscasts it rang true for many Pennsylvanians that this guy was not a Democrat of convenience and necessity but a committed Democrat who had a clear record of voting as a Democrat.  He was not, like Arlen Specter, a man escaping to the Democratic Party from a likely defeat in his own Republican Party.  Sestak was the real thing.  Democrats in Pennsylvania when they finally got that message responded appropriately and Joe Sestak, as he carried his daughter on his shoulders from TV interview to TV interview on election night was a happy man.

I must say, though, that even though I did not vote for Arlen Specter on Primary Election night in Pennsylvania I, like Joe Sestak in his victory speech, also respect Arlen Specter for all of the good things that he has done and there is quite a list of positive things he has done.  Arlen worked on the Warren Commission and came up with the One Bullet Theory regarding the Assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.  The One Bullet Theory was not his best work but he apparently did well in other Warren Commission assignments.  He was the District Attorney of Philadelphia prior to being elected to the Senate, where he served for over thirty years.  

It is anybody's guess as to what Arlen Specter will do now but after surviving cancer and other serious medical conditions and being 80 years old it might be the time for him to sit down and write his Autobiography.  If and when he does that I would count on the book being  very interesting and quite likely a best seller.

I know I join many in Pennsylvania and around the Country in wishing Arlen Specter the best in his retirement and further ventures.

I also wish the best to Joe Sestak, who will not have an easy task of beating his slick and sleazy Republican rival, Pat Toomey, in the November Election but I certainly hope Congressman Sestak does it and becomes the next United States Senator from the State of Pennsylvania.

In other words Good Luck to everyone except Pat Toomey.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher   

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