05/18/2010 01:52 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

For Arlen, the Specter of Abandonment

[Just days ago, in a Keystone State...]

"I can't make this thing work! How do you make this thing work?"

"It's a phone, senator -- you put in the numbers and then you hit 'Send.'"

"'Send'? Where does it say 'Send'?"

"It's right over -- OK, on this one it isn't 'Send,' it's this little green button. This little telephone."

"Is that what this -- that's a telephone? It looks like a dog bone! How am I supposed to know that's a telephone?"

"It's a telephone, senator. You'll just have to trust me on this one."

"Trusting people is how I got into this mess in the first place! 'We love you, Arlen.' 'You've got the president's full support, Arlen.' 'We'll do anything you -- '"



"The phone call? You need to make the phone call."

"Right. So first I put in the numbers, and then...?"

"The dog bone. You hit the dog bone."

"I don't know why they had to mess around with a perfectly good -- why isn't it ringing?"

"Just give it a -- "

"Oh, now it's ringing. OK."

"Remember: Confident, not desperate."

"Not desperate -- right. Confident, not -- uh, yes, hello. This is Arlen Specter. I wonder if I could speak to the vice president for just a moment."


"Specter. Senator Arlen Specter."


"From Pennsylvania, that's right. The senator from Pennsylvania. What kind of idiots do they -- ?"


"What's that? No, I wasn't talking to you. I was -- right. No, I'll hold -- of course I'll hold. It's not like I'm asking for the moon, am I? What? No. Right -- still holding for the vice president."

"Just don't take it out on Biden, sir. He's only doing what they're telling him to do."

"Yeah, but how hard is it to come up for a rally? He knows how tight this thing is. And we've known each other forever!"

"It's not his decision to make."

"He's the guy who got me to switch, for Pete's sake! You'd think that'd be worth something to those folks down there."


"Whatever happened to loyalty? That's what I want to know: Whatever happened to good old-fashioned -- Joe? It's Arlen! How are you doing, my friend?"


"Arlen Specter."


"From Pennsylvania!"


"No, I know you're pretty busy. I'm pretty busy, too -- maybe you heard. I'm in a really tight primary with this Sestak fella. Fighting for my political life up here, if you want to know the truth, and -- "


"That's right. Tuesday."


"This Tuesday. Which is why I'm calling -- we could really use your help. You know, to get out the vote. Rally the base."


"The Democratic base! It's the Democratic primary!"


"I see."


"No, you certainly wouldn't want to disappoint the Cub Scouts. I -- well, then could you possibly put in a word with the president? It would mean a whole lot to have -- "


"Both of you?! You're both speaking to the Cub Scouts?!"


"From now till Tuesday?!"


"No. No. Now, look, he promised me he'd -- look, just put me through to his office, OK? I'll deal with him directly."


"No hard feelings? Why should I have any hard feelings? First you sweet-talk me across the aisle with all these beautiful promises, and then when it gets a little tough, you hang me out to -- what? Hello? Uh, yes, this is Arlen Specter for the president. He told me to call him anytime -- it's quite important."


"Specter. Arlen Specter."


"From Pennsylvania!!!"

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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at