There may be more to Feingold, Specter debate over constitutional amendment banning gay nuptials than meets the eye
How about that shouting match between Senators Arlen Specter and Russ Feingold during the Judiciary Committee hearing on May 18?
The committee voted to send the nauseating constitutional amendment banning same-sex nuptials to the full Senate, but that news was practically eclipsed by the testy exchange between the Pennsylvania Republican, Specter, and Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat.
I suspect the two men had a lot more to say to each other than they actually did say. So I’ll help them out by putting words in their mouths during the private meeting they should have had:
Feingold begins by saying, “Arlen, your decision to hold this committee meeting here, where the general public can’t see us, sucks.”
“That’s Mr. Chairman to you, Junior, and you know where we hold the hearing won’t change any votes. Everybody’s voting with their party today. Signed, sealed, delivered.”
“I’m yours,” sings Feingold.
“What?” snaps Specter. “Oh, that’s a song. I thought you were coming on to me.”
“Arlen, when it gets to the full Senate, you’re going to vote against this ridiculous amendment. Why even let it out of committee? So you can do your duty to your party, and then vote your conscience?”
“Maybe. Maybe not.” Specter giggles. “Aren’t I just the embodiment of a moderate Republican? Better be nice to me you can never tell which way I’m gonna go.”
Feingold grunts. “This thing will die in the Senate. But Frist insists on regurgitating it all the same. So fear of gay marriage will bring out conservative voters again. Believe it or not, it genuinely bothers me that people are being used this way.”
“Which people? Gays, conservative voters or we senators?”
“Still firing on all cylinders I see, despite that bout with cancer.”
Specter’s eyes turn benevolent. “Son, man to man, senator to senator, Jew to Jew, I want you to know: You bother me.”
Feingold answers, “I believe I can live with that, Senator.”
Specter says, “All this self-righteousness about the amendment. All this blather about protecting the Constitution. You’re posturing for the nomination. You’ve got your eyes on the prize, buddy boy, and we all know it.”
Feingold grins evilly. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
“Please!” Specter demands. “You came out. You told the home folks that you support same-sex marriage. You’re trying to get every gay vote from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”
Feingold sings, “From sea to shining sea!”
“Enough!” Specter shouts. “I don’t get it. How can anybody win as a liberal in this day and age? A Democrat has to be a centrist, like Clinton. Oh, silly me, you’re not a liberal, you’re a “‘maverick.’ A Democrat who believes in gay marriage but prizes fiscal responsibility and battles alongside McCain for campaign finance reform.”
Feingold snickers. “I’m as confusing as a moderate Republican.”
Specter ignores him and continues, “But it won’t work. No way. Doesn’t matter if you stir the grassroots into a wildfire. You, sir, have been divorced twice. You don’t have a prayer of being president.”
Feingold sniffs, “You know all about failing at a presidential run. How long did your campaign last in ’96? A nanosecond? Oh, don’t get mad now, “‘Snarlin’ Arlen.’ I might have to let Time know they chose badly, naming you one of the best senators.”
Specter straightens his tie. “If you’re foolish enough or egotistical enough to run, you’re going to land in a giant cow pie. Is that image Wisconsin-y enough for you?”
“Here’s my answer.” Feingold makes a rude gesture. “Is that image Pennsylvanian enough for you?”
Read more of Leslie Robinson’s General Gayety columns at www.GeneralGayety.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 26, 2006.