Thursday, January 26, 2006

Specter on Spying

The link, alas, seems to be down for now, but Marc at American Future had posted copies of the letter Sen. Arlen Specter sent to AG Gonzales with some very pointed questions about the NSA spying issue.

As many have pointed out, there's no slam-dunk case here, either way, and it involves points of constitutional law that are too deep for most of us to activate in a snap judgement. It also involves big picture issues of presidential powers in wartime that require a historical perspective.

None of which stops people from going batshit about impeachment or treason, of course. But when Specter has a question about it, I have a question. I want the answers he wants before I decide.

Over the years, I've been able to watch Specter at closer range than most of you. He used to visit our editorial offices at least once a year for a chat. He was prickly and arrogant, but smart. He knew his issues and he knew his state. And even when I was a liberal independent I admired many of his positions, even if I found him personally off-putting. That's OK, I'd rather have arrogant and intelligently capable in the Senate than warm and squishy.

Now, though, he seems to be having his finest hour, and it comes with -- perhaps because of -- the shadow of mortality hanging over him. For the first time since 1980, I'm actually not ashamed to say, outside the small circle of trusted friends, that I think Arlen's a smart Republican and I'm glad he's my senator.

As for my other Senator, I've never cast a vote his way and I have less inclination to do so now than ever before.