Arlen Specter and his wife, former City Councilwoman Joan Specter, enjoyed the Barnes Foundation opening gala this past May a few months before Specter learned his cancer had returned for the third and final bout. Photo: Bonnie Squires
Barack Obama and Joe Biden attend a press conference welcoming Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party at the White House April 29, 2009. Photo: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images.
Sen. Arlen Specter and Gov. Ed Rendell during Specter campaign rally in Philadelphia, May 15, 2010. Photo: AP.
Sen. Arlen Specter was carried in a flag-bedecked limousine from Temple Har Zion to his eternal resting place at his family's plot in Shalom Memorial Park. Photo: Daniel Loeb.
— by Bonnie Squires
Har Zion Temple was the site of the funeral for Senator Arlen Specter, and the thousands of people who poured into the main sanctuary, which had to be opened up to include the ballroom behind it, represented a cross-section of America.
Judges and lawyers and U.S. Attorneys and academics and heads of charities and former Specter staffers by the score populated the seats at Specter's funeral. Candidates and former candidates from both sides of the aisle came to pay tribute to a mover and shaker who according to every speaker, did the right thing, the fair thing, even when voting for President Obama's stimulus package would cost him his seat in the Senate.
Specter's influence crossed political boundaries, racial differences, and economic backgrounds, as evidenced by the huge diversity of those in attendance to pay their respects to Joan Specter and her family.
Federal officials, past and present, like Senator Bob Casey, former Senators Ted Kauffman and Harris Wofford, and former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies; state officers, including Governor Tom Corbett; federal and state judges; leaders of academia; and hundreds and hundreds of other notables, like Gwen Goodman, former executive director of the National Museum of American Jewish History, and Lee Ducat, founder of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Ducat nodded as each speaker mentioned Specter's passionate defense of funding for cancer research and stem cell research, even when various Presidents decided to cut funidng of the National Institutes of Health.
Chief among the notables, however, was Vice President Joe Biden, who teared up as he spoke about Arlen Specter, his dear friend, who always was there for him, especially in times of personal crisis.
Biden and Specter seved in the U.S. Senate, and Biden said in his remarks that he knew he had spent more time with Specter than anyone else in the sanctuary, sitting with him in the Senate and especially in the Judiciary Committee meetings and hearings.
Biden also let people know that he had foregone campaign stops in two critical swing states, Colorado and Nevada, to pay tribute to his dear friend at Har Zion Temple.
President Obama that very morning had ordered all American flags to be flown at half-staff on all government properties, military bases, embassies, etc., in the nation and around the world, to salute Senator Arlen Specter on the day of his funeral.
But the people asked to speak by Joan Specter were close personal friends, like Biden. Like Ed Rendell. Like Flora Becker, widow of Judge Ed Becker. Like Judge Jan DuBois. Like Steve Harmelin, Esq. Like Shanin Specter's long-time law partner, Tom Kline. Like Shanin Specter, the Senator's son, and two of Arlen's four grand-daughters.
Perhaps most remarkable, in all of their praise of Specter's fairness and acumen, was the telling of how, less than two weeks before his demise, Specter insisted on teaching his class on the Constitution at Penn Law School. I guess that was why Penn President Amy Gutmann was also in attendance.
Probably half the people in the throng owed their careers to Arlen Specter, either through having been hired by him when he was either District Attorney, or having been appointed by him when he chaired the Judiciary committee.
Although each of the speakers, including life-long friends Flora Becker, Judge Jan DuBois, attorney Steve Harmelin, Governor Ed Rendell, Specter's son Shanin, and Vice President Biden shared wonderful anecdotes and memories of Specter, going back to Penn undergraduate and Yale Law School days, it was two of Specter's granddaughters who made the greatest impact. Sylvie Specter, by the way, is a friend and classmate at Penn of Biden's own granddaughter.
Sylvie and Perri Specter told us that their grandfather had spent two weeks before his passing, working on yet another book - one that was a memoir with photographs from his amazing collection. They announced that the family plans to complete the book and have it published, joining the array of Senator Specter's other remarkable books.
Rabbi Kieffer, Rabbi Knopf and Cantor Vogel of Har Zion contributed to the testimonials, making this a remarkable send-off for a remarkable man.
Arlen Specter was always a fighter. From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent - never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve. He brought that same toughness and determination to his personal struggles, using his own story to inspire others. When he announced that his cancer had returned in 2005, Arlen said, "I have beaten a brain tumor, bypass heart surgery and many tough political opponents and I'm going to beat this, too." Arlen fought that battle for seven more years with the same resolve he used to fight for stem-cell research funding, veterans health, and countless other issues that will continue to change lives for years to come. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Joan and the rest of the Specter family.
— Marc R. Stanley and David A. Harris
We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of former Senator Arlen Specter. Senator Specter sat in the Republican Party for most of his career, and he was a consummate public servant whom we respected greatly as he advocated for Pennsylvanians — and a crucial voice of moderation. When he joined the Democratic Party later in his career, we were proud to welcome him as a Jewish Democrat — and his votes were crucial to helping President Obama during the first year of his presidency. Senator Specter has left behind a proud legacy of public service that will hopefully guide future generations of public servants, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.
Former Senator Arlen Specter knows something about being flexible in order to get elected. He was a Democrat until 1965, when he registered as a Republican in order to be elected District Attorney of Philadelphia. Then in 2009, facing a difficult Republican primary in his battle to be reelected to the Senate, he switched back to the Democratic party. Accordingly, The Hill's Alexander Bolton asked former Senator Specter if he would support Mitt Romney in the general election. Specter replied
Lately, Romney has said the Obama campaign is "on a mission to drive up the price of gasoline and all energy so that they can finally get their solar and their wind to be more price-competitive." According to FactCheck.org this is no quite true of President Obama. However, according to Alec MacGillis, Romney is quite familiar with this concept since this was his plan when he was Governor of Massachusetts in 2006:
Romney went so far as to make high gas prices out to be a welcome reality for the foreseeable future, one that people needed to learn to live with. When lieutenant governor Kerry Healey, a fellow Republican, called for suspending the state's 23.5 cent gas tax during a price spike in May 2006, Romney rejected the idea, saying it would only further drive up gasoline consumption. "I don't think that now is the time, and I'm not sure there will be the right time, for us to encourage the use of more gasoline," Romney said, according to the Quincy Patriot Ledger's report at the time. "I'm very much in favor of people recognizing that these high gasoline prices are probably here to stay."
"Enzi has already gotten detailed responses to the questions he raised. We know exactly how the 9/11 health clinics have spent their money, and so does Enzi."
- Manhattan U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler
Whew! The American people were spared a U.S. Senate that might take command of its legislative agenda.
We do not want to jeopardize the Democratic Senate seats in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and other conservative states.
David Eisner, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, admires the 1975 simultaneous Springsteen covers of TIME and NEWSWEEK magazines, part of the new exhibit, "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen."
— by Bonnie Squires
The National Constitution Center is the only venue to host the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's must-see exhibition, From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen, outside of Cleveland, where the exhibit has been housed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. The first major exhibition about the American songwriter will run at the Center from February 17 to September 3, 2012.
The opening reception attracted 1100 friends and supporters of the Center, including the Honorable Joan Specter, who serves as Director of Major Grants for the Center, and her husband, Senator Arlen Specter. Mayor Bob Johnson, of Asbury Park, New Jersey, was also in attendance and greeted the guests from the bandstand.
The B Street Band entertained party-goers with rousing Springsteen renditions, and the food was typical boardwalk-seashore variety, including hot dogs, pop corn, cotton candy, and hamburgers.
Today, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) delivered the final floor statement of his Senate career.
This is not a farewell address, but rather a closing argument to a jury of my colleagues and the American people outlining my views on how the Senate - and with it, the Federal Government -- arrived at its current condition of partisan gridlock, and my suggestions of where we go from here on that pressing problem and key issues of national and international importance.
To make a final floor statement is a challenge. The Washington Post noted the poor attendance at my colleagues' farewell speeches earlier this month. That is really not surprising since there is hardly anyone ever on the Senate floor. The days of lively debate with many members on the floor are long gone. Abuse of Senate rules has pretty much stripped senators of the right to offer amendments. The modern filibuster requires only a threat and no talking. So the Senate's dominant activity for more than a decade has been the virtually continuous drone of the quorum call.
But that is not the way it was when I was privileged to enter the world's greatest deliberative body 30 years ago. Senators on both sides of the aisle engaged in collegial debate and found ways to find common ground on the nation's pressing problems. When I attended my first Republican moderates luncheon, I met Mark Hatfield, John Chaffee, Ted Stevens, Mac Mathias, Bob Stafford, Bob Packwood, Chuck Percy, Bill Cohen, Warren Rudman, Alan Simpson, Jack Danforth, John Warner, Nancy Kassenbaum, Slade Gorton, and others-a far cry from later years when the moderates could fit into a telephone booth. On the other side of the aisle, I found many Democratic senators willing to move to the center to craft legislation: Scoop Jackson, Joe Biden, Dan Inouye, Lloyd Bentsen, Fritz Hollings, Pat Leahy, Dale Bumpers, David Boren, Russell Long, Pat Moynihan, George Mitchell, Sam Nunn, Gary Hart, Bill Bradley, and others.
Endorsement key to Jews and moderates in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey will be joining New York Senator Chuck Schumer in support of Rep. Joe Sestak who is running for Senate against Rep. Pat Toomey. The Senators will appear with Sestak at a reception in downtown Philadelphia Monday, October 11, 2010. Contact the Sestak campaign for more information.
Jewish Senators Schumer and Specter will tout Sestak's strong support of Israel including a perfect voting record according to AIPAC during his two terms in Congress, and helping improve Israel's defense systems during his career in the United States Navy. They will address the attack ads aired by the Republican Jewish Coalition. Sestak created and led the Navy's anti-terrorism unit, yet these ads attempt to paint Sestak as supportive of Hamas and other terrorist organizations. The RJC criticizes Sestak for appearing before the Council on American Islamic Relations even though he called on members of CAIR to "condemn not just terrorism but also the specific acts, and specific individuals and groups by name associated with those acts, such as Hamas and Hezbollah."
After joining the Democratic party to avoid a tough Republican primary against Pat Toomey, Senator Arlen Specter was defeated in a contentious primary against Joe Sestak. Now, in his first major appearance with Sestak since the primary, Specter will put old rivalries aside and speak out to endorse Joe Sestak to fill his seat in the United States Senate.
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