As Brit Hume put it, "Senator Specter, who gets worked up over anything, doesn't seem bothered by the NY Times disclosure of [the anti-terror banking program]. He's going to 'look into it'."
Indeed. Specter, who began his political career as a prosecutor, played defense lawyer for the Gray Lady on this morning's Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace asked the senior senator from PA "do you think the Times was wrong to publish this story as well as the NSA warrantless wiretap story, and does it rise to the level that they should be prosecuted?"
"Well, we have seen the newspapers in this country act as effective watchdogs. You had Jefferson lay out the parameter saying if he had to choose a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, he'd choose newspapers without government . . . I don't think that the newspapers can have a totally free hand. But I think in the first instance, it is their judgment. The editor of the New York Times was quoted as saying that they have considered the government's request not to public and made their decision that it was in the public interest. I'd be prepared to criticize the New York Times if I felt it warranted. After knowing a lot more about the facts, but on the basis of the newspaper article, I think it's premature to call for a prosecution of the New York Times just like i think it's premature to say that the administration is entirely correct."
What precious sensibilities! True, he's not willing to criticize the New York Times yet. But on the other hand . . . he's not willing to say the administration is correct, either! What fairness!
On immigration, the diminutive Specter let his Brobdingnagian ego show. Wallace asked him whether he had been 'snookered' by Ted Kennedy "since the House leaders keep calling what you guys passed in the Senate 'the Kennedy bill."
Specter took umbrage:
"Well, as to whether I got snookered by Senator Kennedy, I think the record's pretty plain. I was on your network when we had the confirmation hearings about Supreme Court Justice Alito and we had a pretty good size clash, and I think it was pretty apparent who came out on top. I wasn't snookered by him at all."