Arlen Specter’s Blood Libel

Arlen Specter has not been a Democrat for one week, and he is already saying things that are unconscionable. As conservatives spent the last three days celebrating Jack Kemp’s life, Specter sought to charge Republicans with his death.

Discussing his recent party change with Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, Specter, D-Lifelong Incumbency, stated: “as a matter of principle, I’m becoming much more comfortable with the Democrats’ approach. And one of the items that I’m working on, Bob, is funding for medical research. If we had pursued what President Nixon declared in 1970 as the War on Cancer, we would have cured many strains. I think Jack Kemp would be alive today.”

He’s certainly become more comfortable with the Democrats’ rhetorical approach. His words echoed those of 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards, when he offered false hope to an Iowa crowd in October 2004. “If we do the work that we can do in this country,” he said, referring to embryonic stem cell research, “the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk – get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.”

Specter’s comments (one can only imagine how Jack’s wife, Joanne, must have greeted them) are the other side of Edwards’ coin. The Left rationalizes its positions by demonizing its opponents. Those who disagree with them are not wrong but evil. Anyone who opposes reverse discrimination is a racist; anyone who opposes radical feminism is a sexist; and anyone who opposes disarming before a hostile world is a warmonger. In but another facet of this campaign, conservatives are now regularly accused of waging “a war on science,” of opposing fruit fly research, of spreading crippling diseases – and in the case of Jack Kemp, of murder. Such a railing accusation is hardly new. Barbra Streisand repeated the phrase used in hundreds of rallies during the 1980s when she called Ronald Reagan’s AIDS policy “genocidal.” When Reagan died, playwright Larry Kramer wrote a poison pen obituary seething, “The man who murdered more gay people than anyone in the entire history of the world, is dead. More people than Hitler even.” This despite the fact that AIDS funding increased by nearly 4,000 percent under Reagan’s watch.

As with Reagan, so with Specter. One year ago, Katie Couric reported (if that is the proper verb for what she does), “Between 1998 and 2003, Congress doubled the National Institute of Health budget.” And who was in charge of Congress during those years, Sen. Specter?

In all, since Nixon declared a War on Cancer (in 1971, not 1970) the nation has invested some $200 billion in cancer research, beginning with the National Cancer Act of 1971. The government spends billions annually through such varied departments and agencies as the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Pentagon. Tremendous advances have taken place, but some warn of danger in the grant allocation process, which finances miniscule or duplicative experiments. But cleaning bureaucracy is not a left-wing concern.

Politicizing death is. From the raw-throated roars during the pep rally that masqueraded as Paul Wellstone’s funeral, to the decision to allow the deceased Mel Carnahan to “campaign” for U.S. Senate from Missouri (becoming the first person ever to be elected to the that office posthumously), the Left never lets a crisis – or a funeral – go to waste. In this case, Jack Kemp’s corpse served as the fig leaf for Arlen Specter’s self-seeking defection. Very classy, Arlen.

His remarks were a welcome change from the way many in his new party’s base greet their opponents’ deaths – a queer mourning process that involves sipping champagne, singing, and inviting the deceased to “Rot in Hell.” But Senator Specter’s comments were egregious enough.

This article originally appeared as the lead story on Tuesday, May 5, 2009, on FrontPage Magazine.