Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter Of The Magic Bullet

Gosh-- I guess this will really mean something, maybe. Possibly. Arlen Specter; a Democrat?

I still remember Little Arlen as the creator of the Magic Bullet Theory while a junior counsel on the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The real theory the Commission wanted to sell was that a lone nut freakoid ex-turncoat Commie-sympathizing gunman (and not a conspiracy) was responsible for Kennedy's murder. One key problem from a forensic standpoint is how Kennedy, and Texas Governor John Connally (seated in front of the President) suffered so many wounds within the famous six seconds in Dallas.

Arlen invented the bright notion that a single bullet was responsible for passing through Kennedy’s neck, the chest and wrist of Texas Governor John Connally, and ending up in Connally's right thigh. This bullet would have had to make an odd mid-air turn between Kennedy and Connally, pass through multiple layers of clothing, 7 layers of skin, 15 inches of tissue, one human rib and a wrist radius bone.

The bullet was Commission Exhibit No. 399 -- and despite all it had ripped through, it was virtually, unbelievably intact.

That Specter's solution to the Warren Commission's problem was cartoonish and impossible didn't matter; the Commission seized on it as a key proof of the lone-nut explanation they intended to sell. It had a sort of logic which seems rational to a certain sort of person (those in and around the Bush crowd, for example), and was defended in 1964 as hotly as if it were an argument about Yellowcake Uranium, WMDs or a connection between Sadaam Hussein and Al-Qaeda made thirty-two years later.

The Theory was Arlen's claim to fame. Specter went on to become a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania in 1980; no surprise, there. Unfortunately, his legislative track record was never terribly interesting. The Magic Bullet Theory was apparently the best idea he's ever come up with, which doesn't exactly advertise a feeling of confidence in his overall abilities.

Then, after 28 years warming a chair for the party of Atwater, Newt, Rove, and Saint Ronnie The Dim, the GOP felt Arlen wasn't sufficiently Taliban enough -- that he was vulnerable; the Republican version of Joe Lieberman. And, when Congressional Republicans are vulnerable, they can expect to be eaten by their own -- the RNC is backing a younger, more conservative haircut in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary to unseat Arlen as their candidate . Arlen, however, doesn't want to leave.

He enjoys Washington -- and like so many Servants Of The People, pundits, lobbyists, policy consultants; talking heads and assorted movers and shakers in Potomac City, he's used to the deference and the power. Being a Senator is quite the gig, so Specter decided to become a Democrat and made his announcement today.

The Democrats would like a (cough cough) bulletproof majority in the Senate; the (ahem) magic number of 60 Senators would be sufficent to pass any legislation President Obama can convince them to vote for. And Arlen will give them that majority, or nearly, overnight.

While happy at the chance to defeat potential Republican filibusters at a time when legislation needs to move rapidly through Congress, I'd still like some bi-carb, please.