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The lies of Meehan & Specter

| Sunday, April 19, 2009

"The credit got by a lie lasts only til the truth comes out," we are reminded in H.G. Bohn's "Handbook of Proverbs" (1855).

Will Patrick Meehan, a former federal prosecutor now seeking the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania governor, take that aphorism to heart and diverge from the treacherous path his campaign embarked upon last week?

Don't count on it.

In a most unbecoming campaign tack laced with half-truths and innuendo, Mr. Meehan took to task Attorney General Tom Corbett, another Republican gubernatorial hopeful, alleging something akin to nonfeasance.

It all involves the developing scandal enveloping Gov. Ed Rendell and a Texas law firm's no-bid, contingency-fee contract to represent Pennsylvania in a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company that allegedly marketed a drug for off-label use. Pay to play and quid pro quo loom large, though the principals defend everything as being copacetic.

Mr. Corbett actually declined to prosecute the pharmaceutical case, believing it lacked merit. Credit the AG, a former federal prosecutor, with seeing the lawsuit for what it was -- and for what The Wall Street Journal later characterized it as: "a nationwide pay-to-sue operation with Democratic state attorneys general."

That Corbett didn't bite is a credit to his integrity.

Mr. Rendell, being Rendell, did what he damn well pleased and, according to some critics, might have done so to aid a campaign contributor.

But Meehan -- and this truly is incredible considering that he, too, is a former federal prosecutor -- has chided Corbett for not taking the case in the first place and not dipping into what, by Meehan's accounting, would be a $7 million gravy train.

This sounds like lawsuit abuse, does it not?

Just as bad, and as Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley noted to my Harrisburg colleague, Brad Bumsted, the AG couldn't take the case back if he wanted to. For there's that little matter of contract law. You can't arbitrarily abrogate a contract.

Meehan also is critical of Corbett for not opening an investigation of Rendell. This isn't a red herring; this is a giant glowing neon bass. By the very nature of Corbett's proximity to the case, he has a conflict of interest.

Appoint an "independent counsel"• Pennsylvania has no such law, Mr. Harley reminds.

And given the scope of the matter and its interstate nature, any investigation should be a federal matter, fodder for the Justice Department.

Meehan knows this. At least he should. But he chose instead to misrepresent the situation, probably at the behest of the same old tired Republi can't campaign operatives who served former Sen. Rick Santorum's 2006 re-election campaign so ably. Ahem.

And what's especially laughable is that Meehan spokeswoman Virginia Davis characterizes Harley's solid refutation of Meehan's farm animal droppings as an "attack."

What Winston Churchill once called "terminological inexactitude" has no place in the next gubernatorial race.

"A liar must have a good memory," reminded Quintilian, the Roman rhetorician. Clearly, Arlen Specter is past his prime.

Sen. Specter, in the early throes of the political battle of his life, is throwing out all kinds of verbal vomit in his rematch with former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey for the Republicans' 2010 senatorial nomination.

One already oft-repeated line is that Mr. Toomey is "too conservative" for Pennsylvania, even "to the right" of former Sen. Santorum.

Conservatism is "baaaaad," seems to be Mr. Specter's bleat.

But aside from that bogus debate, Toomey isn't "to the right" of Santorum, according to National Journal, based on its 2004 ratings. Santorum garnered a 75 percent conservative rating on economic issues, 71 percent on social issues and 60 percent on foreign policy issues.

Toomey• 69 percent, 75 percent and 56 percent, respectively, based on the magazine's 2002 ratings, the last year available for Toomey.

Additionally, Specter, speaking to reporters at an airport hotel in Allentown, offered this little history-bending ditty:

"If (Toomey) is the nominee, we lose the seat and you have 'card check' and tax increases and all of the big Obama spending programs."

Specter must think the electorate is full of absolute idiots.

This is the same Arlen Specter who said his decision to soon vote against cloture and the full Employee Free Choice Act -- which strips workers of secret ballots in union elections and allows the government to set wage rates through binding arbitration -- really wasn't all that remarkable. Why• Democrat Al Franken would win the Minnesota Senate race and, when the vote actually comes up, give Democrats the vote that Specter supposedly wouldn't.

And this is the same Arlen Specter who voted for President Obama's budget-bloating "stimulus" measure, which will, when the bill comes due, break the back of every American worker.

"He will lie, sir, with such volubility that you would think truth were a fool," wrote William Shakespeare in "All's Well That Ends Well."

Voters aren't fools. But Sen. Specter's lies certainly are foolish. And they're certainly the signs of a very desperate career politician.

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