Over the weekend, Pennsylvania Republicant Senator Arlen Specter spoke about President Bush’s NSA wiretapping on ABC’s “This Week.”
Specter, who just wrapped up Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings with the Senate Judiciary Committee, plans to next turn that body’s attention to the wiretap issue.
When asked by host George Stephanopoulos what remedies were available in the event the president’s wiretaps are found to be illegal, the first example out of Specter’s mouth, notably, was impeachment.
Specter, a moderate Republicant, has been one of Bush’s harshest critics on the NSA spying issue, and has aggressively pursued hearings on the matter.
Yet, even as he talked in such strong language about the seriousness of domestic spying, he gave the president a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card.
“I don't think anyone doubts the president is making a good-faith effort,” Specter said. “He's acting in a way that he feels he must."
If it comes down to legal proceedings, it’s uncertain what consideration such an argument would be given.
For example, there have been cases in which an elderly person “murdered” his or her spouse, who was terminally ill and in constant pain. In some instances, the deceased had even asked their spouse to end their suffering.
While there are undoubtedly people with selfish motives, often the “killer” in these instances is acting out of love, and of their belief about what’s best for their loved one.
Courts have been dubious of these claims, though, and prosecutors have not been shy about convicting the widow/widower.
Specter is a smart, reasonable man who knows what’s right. He knows the president broke the law, and that the appropriate penalty is impeachment.
Specter understandably doesn’t want to be ostracized by his party for being the guy who brought the boss down.
But principle should always come before politics. Now’s not the time for Specter, who has broken with his party on many an issue, to compromise his integrity.