Sestak Suggests Biden Should “Smack” Specter “In the Chops”

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn.) | Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/americanprogressaction/3098074555/">CAP Action Fund</a> (<a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a>).

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The already-bitter Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary between Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak may be about to turn into an all-out brawl. First, Specter’s campaign launched a negative TV ad describing Sestak as “relieved of duty in the Navy for creating a poor command climate.” Then, Sestak accused Specter, who switched parties last year, of “Swiftboating” him, referring to the attacks that tanked John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Now, Sestak is trying to drag Vice President Joe Biden into this dust-up. In a letter to the vice president, Sestak calls on Biden to make good on his September 2008 declaration that if anyone tried to Swiftboat another Democrat, “I’m going to smack ’em right square in the chops.” 

Today, I am calling on you to fulfill that promise…

After the shameful political attacks we saw carried out, with unfortunate effect, against Veterans Senator John Kerry and Senator Max Cleland, you know we cannot allow even tacit approval of these tactics—not in our party, not in our country.

I understand that Arlen Specter is your longtime colleague and close personal friend, but I call on you to disavow these lies and demand that they be stopped immediately.

The Specter ad draws on a Navy Times story that states Sestak “had been sacked in 2005 by the incoming chief of naval operations, Adm. Mike Mullen, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for treating staff poorly.” Sestak was reassigned to a lower position and then retired from the Navy the next year. The Navy has never officially commented on the issue. But this isn’t the first time that Sestak’s Navy record has served as political ammunition: in his first 2006 House race, his opponent also called it into question. 

Specter’s characterization of Sestak’s military experience is hardly as extreme as the allegations that Kerry had falsified his accomplishments during his service in Vietnam. But this latest kerfuffle signals that the battle between Specter and Sestak is only going to get more acrimonious—whether or not the vice president smacks anyone in the chops.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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