Arlen Specter is a scoundrel.
It really doesn’t take much digging or deep analysis to come to this conclusion. His decision to abandon the GOP and switch to the Democrat Party left everyone mad at him. Democrats never quite trusted him -- after all, a betrayer is a betrayer, no matter what his party affiliation -- and Republicans were never inclined to act particularly kindly to a person like him.
I’m not fond of kicking a man when he’s down. Sen. Specter’s defeat slammed the door on a long career of public service that ended in disgrace, and what’s done is done.
But I’m fascinated by the many life lessons that come our way each and every day. And it seems to me that the destruction of the political career of Arlen Specter is a powerful life lesson that every man, woman and child can learn.
Years ago, when I first became active in the business side of my radio show, I received some simple and powerful advice from my mentor. He told me that it was going to sound trite and simplistic, but make sure to do the right thing in every aspect of my life: business, personal, spiritual. When there are tough decisions to make and the temptation might exist that would require some ethical “short-cuts” or compromises, run from that temptation.
I’ve tried to follow that advice in every aspect of my life since the day, many years ago, when this wise person offered it to me. Naturally, I have fallen short. I’ve made mistakes, usually when I felt backed against a wall or faced enormous pressure. I’m human and flawed.
But I try.
I continually ask myself if a decision I’m about to make falls short in the eyes of God or my family or my colleagues. It’s actually a pretty simple litmus test: am I doing the right thing or not? The answer is generally an easy one.
Arlen Specter should have done the same thing.
He knew he was abandoning the political party that he called home for so many years. When he sneered at reporters and said, “I’m switching parties so I can get RE-ELECTED”, he had to recognize how mean-spirited and ugly his comments were. He turned his back on the countless Republican colleagues, including George W. Bush, who had supported and defended him for so many years.
But the person he stabbed in the back most of all was the voter. The Pennsylvania Republican citizens who counted on him, relied on him, voted for him, donated to his campaigns, and called Arlen Specter their senator.
It was a stunning betrayal.