Arlen Specter's Club

Matthew May
Arlen Specter's rabid outburst on the floor of the United States Senate the other day was nothing out of the ordinary for his particular brand of politician. A political opportunist baring his teeth and foaming at the mouth in fury at what he perceive as the barbarians storming the gate is as trite as it is silly.

But buried in the diatribe there was a most revealing and interesting phrase employed by the Scottish lawman over his apparent astonishment at the behavior of some of his brethren "in the Senate I joined 30 years ago." (Italics added)

Did you catch that? Arlen Specter joined the Senate. He was not, apparently to his thinking, elected. He was admitted to The Club and membership has its privileges. One of those privileges -- or as Specter would argue should be -- is that only Members decide who is admitted to and who is rejected from the clubhouse.

People like Specter who spend any significant amount of time on Capitol Hill are -- or become -- quite bizarre. They devolve into thinking of the Senate not as an elected office but an elite club whose dues are paid by the unwashed in exchange for a few benefits devised by and doled out to those with the nuanced knowledge and skill that can only be attained through membership.

Non-members do not have an army of staffers to unwind for public consumption the complicated legislation sitting Club Members are just too busy to write. Non-members could not possibly understand the wisdom that comes from knowing which drawer in which desk on the Senate floor houses the special candy -- for Members only. Non-members do not have access to the hideaway offices where luminaries such as Ted Kennedy and Christopher Dodd no doubt did their most profound thinking -- for the greater good, of course.

Specter's violent reaction is borne out of total confusion about many things; our system of government, our Constitution, and the role of we the people. It is borne out of the anxiety that comes when one's protective bubble is shattered, when a career opportunist is cast out into the cold, dark world alongside the huddled masses who suddenly turn like cobras on their benefactors. It is borne out of resentment for certain justices who actually take their oaths seriously and really do follow through on their promises to the august Club Members who decide their fate. This is confusing to people like Specter, he of the back-and-forth party affiliation.

It is also out of rage against people like Jim DeMint, who work avidly to upset the fraternity. Ingrates like DeMint do not behave according to Club rules. They bring in dew-eyed interlopers who think the arcane Constitution is applicable in Club activities and decisions. Don't these people know that The Club writes its own rules? Did they not take heed when Club Member Barbara Boxer sternly reminded the dimwitted military man how hard she had worked to gain membership?

Specter is just the latest in a decades-long line of walking advertisements for term limits. Citizen cavalries led by the likes of Katy Abram should take just patriotic pride in advising the unprincipled to pardon our dust: The Club is undergoing a change in management.

Matthew May is the primary author of the forthcoming book Restoration: The God and Country Education Project. He welcomes comments at matthewtmay@yahoo.com.
Arlen Specter's rabid outburst on the floor of the United States Senate the other day was nothing out of the ordinary for his particular brand of politician. A political opportunist baring his teeth and foaming at the mouth in fury at what he perceive as the barbarians storming the gate is as trite as it is silly.

But buried in the diatribe there was a most revealing and interesting phrase employed by the Scottish lawman over his apparent astonishment at the behavior of some of his brethren "in the Senate I joined 30 years ago." (Italics added)

Did you catch that? Arlen Specter joined the Senate. He was not, apparently to his thinking, elected. He was admitted to The Club and membership has its privileges. One of those privileges -- or as Specter would argue should be -- is that only Members decide who is admitted to and who is rejected from the clubhouse.

People like Specter who spend any significant amount of time on Capitol Hill are -- or become -- quite bizarre. They devolve into thinking of the Senate not as an elected office but an elite club whose dues are paid by the unwashed in exchange for a few benefits devised by and doled out to those with the nuanced knowledge and skill that can only be attained through membership.

Non-members do not have an army of staffers to unwind for public consumption the complicated legislation sitting Club Members are just too busy to write. Non-members could not possibly understand the wisdom that comes from knowing which drawer in which desk on the Senate floor houses the special candy -- for Members only. Non-members do not have access to the hideaway offices where luminaries such as Ted Kennedy and Christopher Dodd no doubt did their most profound thinking -- for the greater good, of course.

Specter's violent reaction is borne out of total confusion about many things; our system of government, our Constitution, and the role of we the people. It is borne out of the anxiety that comes when one's protective bubble is shattered, when a career opportunist is cast out into the cold, dark world alongside the huddled masses who suddenly turn like cobras on their benefactors. It is borne out of resentment for certain justices who actually take their oaths seriously and really do follow through on their promises to the august Club Members who decide their fate. This is confusing to people like Specter, he of the back-and-forth party affiliation.

It is also out of rage against people like Jim DeMint, who work avidly to upset the fraternity. Ingrates like DeMint do not behave according to Club rules. They bring in dew-eyed interlopers who think the arcane Constitution is applicable in Club activities and decisions. Don't these people know that The Club writes its own rules? Did they not take heed when Club Member Barbara Boxer sternly reminded the dimwitted military man how hard she had worked to gain membership?

Specter is just the latest in a decades-long line of walking advertisements for term limits. Citizen cavalries led by the likes of Katy Abram should take just patriotic pride in advising the unprincipled to pardon our dust: The Club is undergoing a change in management.

Matthew May is the primary author of the forthcoming book Restoration: The God and Country Education Project. He welcomes comments at matthewtmay@yahoo.com.