So now it's Senator Arlen Specter complaining of unfair ads by his rival, Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak.
Courtesy of Philly TV station WGAL (with a h/t to Early Returns) we now have the original video that provided the Sestak campaign with its killer ad.
The Specter folks allege that the quote used in the ad -- in which Specter seemingly crows, "My change in party will enable me to be re-elected" -- has been lifted out of context. Just after making that prediction, Specter told reporters that since he made the switch, voters had been telling him they were "glad [I'd be] able to stay in the Senate and help the state and the nation."
In other words, the argument goes, Sestak selectively quoted only the part of the statement that sounded self-serving, cropping out the part where Specter wrapped up his actions in the mantle of virtue.
To which I say: pffffffft.
It's true that the Sestak ad takes advantage of the weirdly smug look on Specter's face. But you know ... Joe Sestak is hardly the first candidate to run ads that feature an unflattering likeness of his rival. Nor is he the first to omit a rival's attempts at self-justification. Is Arlen Specter now demanding fair and balanced political ads? If so, he might want to rework his spots questioning Sestak's military service.
Anyway, there's never been any question about Specter's motives, has there? Specter himself has been upfront about the reasons for his party switch:
Saying "the prospects for winning a Republican primary are bleak," Specter told reporters in Washington that he was "not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate, not prepared to have that record decided by that jury."
I see absolutely no substantive difference between these quotes. The quote in the Sestak ad says, essentially, "if I change parties, I can keep my job." The widely circulated "jury" quote, meanwhile, says "if I don't change parties, I will probably lose my job."
Specter may feel that keeping his job was a noble thing for him to do, a step he took on behalf of all us Pennsylvanians. Hey, maybe he's even right. But if he wants to make that case, he's going to have to buy his OWN advertising. He can't expect Sestak to pay for the airtime.
It's not like Sestak's ad is making stuff up, or even telling us something we don't know. The whole reason it works, in fact, is that it graphically illustrates something we knew all along. There's no way for Specter to get around that. If I were him, I wouldn't even try.