Yesterday it was reported that in a New York Times interview with Senator Arlen Specter that he made a comment endorsing Norm Coleman's efforts at delaying Al Franken's ascendancy to the U.S. Senate. Basically he was wishing and hoping that Norm Coleman would prevail in his never-ending litigious quest against the victor of the Minnesota Senatorial election. Then when the story got out, I heard that it was just a joke, and that Specter misspoke. The whole thing was confusing, but apparently the joke wasn't funny with the rest of the Democratic caucus, so much so that they stripped him of seniority in all his committees. Losing seniority in the Senate is a big deal, so naturally people wonder if Specter was really telling a joke. Surely if it was in jest, the rest of his new-found party might consider some sympathy.
Well why not ask the woman who interviewed him:
Perhaps he has bad sense of humor but I sincerely doubt it. If I had to choose who I thought was more credible, a reporter from the New York Times or a life-long politician, I wouldn't even give my decision a second thought, unless of course that reporter was Judith Miller. Specter got what he deserved when the Democratic party pulled his seniority. Perhaps now he'll be more mindful of what he says, and as Markos said earlier, it looks like he's making progress today.
So was Arlen Specter joking, when he seemed to say he wanted Norm Coleman to win in Minnesota? That’s what some people have been wondering after Specter said this: “There’s still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.”
So I asked New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon, who conducted the interview, what her impression was of Specter’s actual tone of voice and overall expression.
“I trust he meant what he said,” Solomon wrote to me. “If he had been joking, surely he could have come up with a wittier line.”