Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: Book Review: "Passion for Truth"

Is this where I put in key words such as sex, lesbians, vampires, Christopher Lloyd and others things to which this blog do not pertain, but by putting them here, I may get hits from all the Christoper Lloyd lesbian vampire fans (and you know who you are)? This is the primarily humorous and occasionally rambling writings of Leon Tchaikovsky, humor writer. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Book Review: "Passion for Truth"

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

By his own admission, Arlen Specter sees himself as a political moderate who won admiration from the liberal spectrum for opposing Robert Bork for the Supreme Court and then won admiration from the conservative spectrum for supporting Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. As I’ve always said, everyone can always count on Arlen Specter to be with you at least half the time.

As Arlen Specter realizes in his book, his career so far has been best noted for his developing a theory most disbelieve (the single bullet theory in the Kennedy and Connally shooting) and for disagreeing with a woman (Anita Hill) with whom most agreed. His has been a career filled with many successes (four terms in the U.S. Senate and one term as Philadelphia District Attorney) and failures (many political losses, including a failed Presidential venture). Love him or hate him, it is noted that Arlen Specter is currently the only Pennsylvania politician to be the subject of a nationally recognized book.

Readers will see a politician driven by ambition. This may explain his ability to pick and choose ideology at will. A Democrat who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party’s nominations for State Senator and then District Attorney, he then was elected District Attorney as the Republican nominee while remaining a registered Democrat. Switching parties to Republican, he began a long career of political losses: Mayor, reelection as District Attorney, and Governor. Then, bolstered by name recognition against lesser-known opponents, he finally won election to the U.S. Senate.

The son of a World War I veteran who protested the nonpayment of bonuses that government had promised veterans, Arlen Specter explains he has figuratively been driven to government service to fight for that bonus by working to see government delivers on its promises. A career perhaps begun in 1934 when recognized by Ripley’s Believe It or Not as the youngest Deputy Sheriff in history at the age of 4, and reinvigorated when becoming a Democratic committeeman at age 29, Arlen Specter has become one of Pennsylvania’s longest serving public figures.

Taking a salary cut to leave a law firm to start a political career as an Assistant District Attorney, Arlen Specter describes his displeasure of finding the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office of the early 1960s as one of corruption and fixed cases. Asked by Attorney General Robert Kennedy to prosecute Philadelphia Teamsters when others resisted, Arlen Specter obtained convictions and gained enough notoriety to be hired by the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President John Kennedy.

Every book requires a startling revelation to provoke sales. Arlen Specter’s great secret exposed in this book is the physician who performed the autopsy of John Kennedy burned his notes because he didn’t wish to see them someday crassly displayed in a museum. In case you were losing sleep on this great mystery, now you know. This book doesn’t offer any more great gems.

Instead, the reader follows Arlen Specter’s life journey. Students of politics may appreciate observing the difficulties of the now defunct Philadelphia magisterial system where plaintiffs seeking payments of consumer debts won 99.5% of the time, the wisecracks from Frank Rizzo ("that’s a nice suit you have on. Too bad they didn’t have one in your size"), how women and the mentally incapacitated used to receive indeterminate prison sentences, the arrest of Senator Vince Fumo, Specter’s Presidential campaign in the 1996 elections that didn’t even make it to the end of 1995, and the Senator’s personal struggles with a brain tumor and how he was once told he had less than six weeks to live.

Overall, this is a decent book. Support your public libraries and check out this book. Don’t buy it, though. Republican Senators don’t need your money.


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