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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 1, 2009 at 10:00 PM

Specter a maverick?

Dems’ praise may be hollow

E.J. Dionne Jr., in his latest and (cough, cough) greatest, lauds Sen. Arlen Specter as a “maverick” [“Arlen Specter has come full circle,” seattletimes.com, Opinion, April 28]. However, when you look back at Dionne’s coverage of Sen. John McCain, the “maverick” label is used derisively.

During the election — at least during the primaries –Dionne was tepid at best with McCain’s “maverick” status, but by the time the die was cast in the race, right before the party conventions, he turned downright acerbic.

In March 2008, even while partisanly trashing the Republican candidate, Dionne was still able to write, “There is an independent side to McCain that has made him an authentic maverick” [“McCain fascinates, frustrates liberals,” seattletimes.com, Opinion, March 11, 2008]. A short five months later, he wrote, “McCain is living off the old capital created by his maverick image” [“The problem of being ‘The One,’ ” seattletimes.com, Opinion, August 12, 2008].

Notice the change? By August, Dionne’s March assessment of McCain’s “authentic maverick” status had changed to mere “image.”

I hope Specter isn’t expecting more than some laudatory praise from those who benefit from the switch. If Dionne is a bellwether of Democratic sentiment — and I’m not saying he is — then Specter’s newfound “maverick” status could shortly turn into nothing more than vapor, and the love of Specter’s new party may be as cold as the shoulder he’s turned to his old.

— Jacob Shepherd, Seattle

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