Fresh from his recent double bill with Tommy Chong, Dr. Cyril H. Wecht shared a microphone with Allegheny County Democratic Chairman Jim Burn yesterday, expressing shock _ shock _ that Senate challenger Joe Sestak would air commercials attempting to make his opponent look bad.
The presser at Democratic headquarters on Ross Street was part of the Specter campaign’s orchestrated outrage at a tough Sestak ad which aired a news clip of Sen. Specter speaking to the camera explaining that his party switch would “enable me to be re-elected.’’
In high dudgeon, the Specter campaign circulated an ad watch from WGAL, a Lancaster television station, which reported that the snippet was part of a longer quote:
“My change in party will enable me to be re-elected and I've heard that again and again and again from people on the street: 'Senator we're glad you'll be able to stay in the Senate and help the state and the nation.'"
Denouncing this “disturbing development,’’ Mr. Burn directed his aide to play a YouTube clip of the ad watch segment that unearthed the fuller version of Mr. Specter’s remarks.
But Mr. Burn’s presentation had some selective editing of its own. In the news story he displayed, the WGAL reporter went to state that the Sestak commercial had not distorted or altered the Specter quote. Oddly, the Democrats did not display that portion of the clip in their news conference.
While the Specter campaign might have preferred the longer quote, the meaning of the first portion is the same with or without the following sentences.
Dr. Wecht, and the Specter campaign, also denounced the Democratic challenger for airing two ads that include a picture of Mr. Specter at a time when he was still nearly bald due to the effects of chemotherapy. They characterized this as a low blow calculated to make the incumbent look old and feeble.
Now, it’s true that the Sestak campaign has no interest in making Mr. Specter look good, but was his appearance the chief motive for running the picture? In one of the cases cited, the picture was a thumbnail mug shot above a list of votes. It did not dominate the frame. In the second case, Mr. Specter was shown smiling with then vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Mr. Specter completed his last round of chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s disease in the summer of 2008, not long before Ms. Palin’s selection at the GOP convention in the Twin Cities.
ER can’t get inside the heads of the Sestak ad crafters, but it seems likely that the goal of depicting the former Republican with Ms. Palin was higher on their list of priorities than an unflattering depiction of Mr. Specter.
But Dr. Wecht insisted the Sestak forces should have had the good taste to resist airing the less than flattering photo.