MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Arlen Specter
Date: Dec. 21, 2010
Location: Unknown

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SCHULTZ: Joining us now is Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter here on THE ED SHOW. Senator, I think you did the country a favor today. You had a fabulous career. You did a lot for a lot of people over 30 years in the Senate and your final good-bye on the floor, you pointed out what"s got to get better. And I think you did more for the discourse than probably anybody has in recent months. I want to congratulate you on that and I appreciate you doing it, from one American to another.

SPECTER: Well, Ed, I made some tough comments but they were accurate. The compromise has become a dirty word. And politics is the article of the possible but you can"t engage in constructive political activity if people are intransigent.

SCHULTZ: Why has it gotten like this, senator?

SPECTER: Well, it has gotten like this because collegiality and civility has gone. Senators of one party go into the states of another senator"s party to try to defeat him and even senators try to defeat colleagues within their own party. Now, if you"re trying to do some constructive work as legislators, pretty tough to do business with people who try to defeat you simultaneously. And senators have been cut off from their opportunity to offer amendments. I was very candid about both political parties.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: Senator, what if they don"t change? What if they don"t change? What if it"s more of the same?

SPECTER: Well if they don"t change, Ed, then the voters have to change them. Nobody around the Senate has life tenure. We are not--we are not Supreme Court justices. Listen, Senator Murkowski showed the way. She was defeated by her own colleagues in a Senate primary. She went out and had a spectacular victory. And what did Murkowski"s victory show? It showed that if you arouse the electorate, if you get them out to vote, if you get them off their dead ends, they still want to be governed from the center. So, it is up to the voters.

And I call--I sounded the clarion call today to try to awaken America"s voters as to how bad it is around here, how the Supreme Court is taking over, destroying the concept of separation of powers, how we are not appropriating money, where the priorities are with NIH. How we are not engaging in constructive dialogue with our adversaries. We have earned the title of ugly Americans and how the institution of the Senate has changed enormously and I was very specific in the differences between my arrival here to the world"s greatest deliberative body 30 years as ago. It just isn"t so anymore, Ed.

SCHULTZ: No it isn"t.

SPECTER: I can"t give it all to you in a sound bite. But anybody who wants to get the detailed text, it is all in the record.

SCHULTZ: Senator, great to have you with us tonight, thanks for serving the country. I think you did the country a favor today. I appreciate it.

SPECTER: It"s a great privilege. Great privilege to be a senator, even yet. Thank you.

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