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Arlen Specter

Yet Specter also courted the region’s tyrants, including Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and the Assads in Syria. He longed for a role brokering peace between Israel and Syria, even after his departure from the Senate.

“He visited these tyrants and he was convinced that he could convince them to moderate their policies,” Klein said. “And as we know, he never did.”

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Brog said that Specter relished, from his days as a prosecutor, the challenge of going toe to toe with bad guys and getting them to stand down.

Specter’s independence took a toll on his staff, Brog said.

“Every single vote he wanted a briefing on the merits without just knowing how the party wanted the vote,” he said.

Specter was an exacting boss, Brog said, and notorious for sending staffers packing.

“Those of us who stayed with him saw this as a very good thing,” said Brog, who now serves as executive director of Christians United for Israel. “I look at my professional standards from before and after, and I see how I grew as a professional.”

The Jewish affiliates of both parties issued statements commemorating Specter’s career. Each emphasized different aspects of his career – the National Jewish Democratic Council called him a “crucial voice of moderation” and the Republican Jewish Coalition said he was a “staunch supporter of Israel.”

But the groups echoed one another in describing Specter’s higher calling: The RJC noted that he was a “devoted public servant,” and the NJDC called him a “consummate public servant.”

(JTA)

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