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'Strange' Specter takes shot at Toomey

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Talk about an extreme case of premature exasperation.

Sen. Arlen Specter obviously is upset and frustrated over the prospect of again being challenged by Pat Toomey, who nearly toppled the five-term incumbent in the 2004 Republican primary.

So much so that Specter is running commercials critical of the former U.S. representative from the Lehigh Valley.

The TV spots obviously are an attempt to distract from Specter's recent support of the economic stimulus package, and his controversial and abrupt about-face on legislation that would have made it easier for unions to organize.

But this isn't just jumping the gun, it's hurdling over a howitzer. What Specter is doing now is a bit like phoning the Pirates to inquire when the team plans to begin selling World Series tickets.

He must be getting campaign advice from the same NBC executives who decided five years before the fact to disclose that Jay Leno would be departing "The Tonight Show."

Several compelling reasons exist why Specter's strategy likely won't increase his re-election chances:

• It ignores the fact that Specter isn't up for re-election this year.

By the time the senator actually faces a primary opponent in May 2010, the octomom might have added sextuplets to her already impressive brood. Scary thought, I know, but she has more than enough time to reproduce between now and then.

• It ignores the fact that Toomey isn't yet a candidate.

Although he has given every indication of again attempting to unseat Specter, the head of the Washington-based Club for Growth hasn't made an official announcement.

Toomey might want to consider indefinitely postponing a formal declaration. With all the free publicity he's receiving courtesy of Specter, why spend money to get his name out to the public when Specter is doing it for him?

• It ignores the long-standing political principle of never providing even prospective opponents an easy opportunity to pummel you.

The commercials opened the door for Toomey spokesman Mark Harris to land this verbal uppercut Thursday: "Pennsylvanians have come to expect bizarre behavior from Arlen Specter, but this takes his desperation to a new and very strange level."

• It ignores the barracuda in the water.

If Specter should be focused on anyone at the moment, it should be Peg Luksik, a conservative activist from Johnstown. He obviously isn't taking seriously the candidacy of the woman who garnered 45 percent of the vote in the 1990 GOP gubernatorial primary.

It's Specter's choice, of course, but the senator seems to be wasting valuable ammunition in the nascent moments of what obviously will be a lengthy and contentious campaign.

When the time finally arrives for pistols at dawn, he might regret having exhausted so many bullets more than a year before the duel.

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