Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., used his final Senate floor speech Tuesday to take a less-than-subtle jab at his old party, claiming that conservative Republicans who recently supported tea party challengers over establishment candidates engaged in political cannibalism.
Claiming himself as a centrist, Specter complained that the U.S. Senate has become so politically polarized that it is no longer civil. "In some quarters, compromise has become a dirty word," Specter said. After serving three decades in the Senate and claiming the title as Pennsylvania's longest-serving U.S. Senator, Specter lost his bid for re-election to Democratic primary challenger Joe Sestak. Democrats lost the seat, however, after Republican Pat Toomey defeated Sestak during November's general election.
Specter also complained that some GOP senators had helped tea party challengers beat incumbent Republicans such as Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and Rep. Mike Castle, D-Del.
"Eating or defeating your own is a form of sophisticated cannibalism," Specter said.
The outgoing veteran senator also praised the write-in re-election of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski over tea party challenger Joe Miller as a "counter" to "right-wing extremists."
CBS also noted that while other departing senators have given goodbye speeches this month, Specter's departing words "offered a sharp and sometimes angry" tone.
In the end, the longtime senator pleaded for his legislative colleagues to return to a state of civility, what he calls a "state of mind" that members must strive for. "This polarization will make civility in the next Congress more difficult - and more necessary - than ever," he said.
Specter's parting shots didn't end with Republicans, however. He also took time to criticize Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito for "eroding the constitutional mandate of separation of powers.
“The Supreme Court has been eating Congress’ lunch by invalidating legislation with judicial activism after nominees commit under oath in confirmation proceedings to respect congressional fact finding and precedents,” said Specter.
“Ignoring a massive congressional record and reversing recent decisions, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito repudiated their confirmation testimony given under oath and provided the key votes to permit corporations and unions to secretly pay for political advertising - thus effectively undermining the basic Democratic principle of the power of one person, one vote,” he said. “Chief Justice Roberts promised to just call balls and strikes and then he moved the bases.”