Former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter is a dirty old man.


Former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

In his new book, “Life Among The Cannibals,” Specter, 82, writes about meeting Palin, 48, on Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign bus in 2008.

“She was a total charmer, very friendly,” Specter writes. “The few things she said were intelligent.”

But it’s unclear what intellectual insight the former Alaska governor offered. Maybe Specter doesn’t even remember since his mind roamed into Naughtyville.

“We were sitting virtually knee to knee in the cramped bus,” he writes. “She radiated sensuality. Her skirt rode above her knees — not exactly short, but close.”

He reminds me of the creepy man who repeatedly tried to touch my leg during my driver’s test in high school.

Imagine if Palin had written something that racy about an attractive male politician like Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown or Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Or if Hillary Clinton said something off-color about British Labour politician David Miliband, who served as Britain’s foreign secretary and often was seen chummy with Clinton at meetings.

Indeed, if any female politician — Republican or Democrat — even uttered such a statement, she would have to wear a scarlet “A” and tolerate name-calling that would make Rush Limbaugh squeal.

Specter, so far, has made no apology to Palin, who hasn’t commented. She could be too busy watching this season’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

The former veep candidate tweeted on Monday, “Just had a nice diversion from politics with my kids watching Mark Ballas on #DWTS. I wish I had his energy!”

She then told her followers to vote for Ballas. Hey, Palin, tune into the Specter show. He’s certainly not boring.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday, Specter said, “Mitt Romney has changed positions more often than a pornographic movie queen.”

Calling Rick Santorum, you might want to tell your fellow Pennsylvanian to rein in his raunchy metaphors.

That’s not all.

Specter, according to Business Insider, gave a 10-minute R-rated performance Monday night at Caroline's Comedy Club in New York’s Times Square. He reportedly said, “Herman Cain has always had a problem with grammar. No matter how hard his teachers tried, they couldn’t convince Herman Cain that harass was one word.”

Was that joke running through Specter’s mind in 1991 when he grilled Anita Hill during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings? Has he just been waiting to unleash it all these many years?

Specter slashed and burned Hill during her three-day testimony. He even bragged about it to television cameras, declaring he planned to “flat-out” demolish her credibility. He crudely, and rudely, questioned her about her attractiveness, pornographic movies and Thomas’s private parts. He made women all across the country sick to their stomachs.

In 2010, Specter made a sexist swipe at Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann on a Philadelphia radio show where the two discussed the economy.

“I'm going to treat you like a lady, so act like one,” Specter said.

Bachmann and the radio host interjected that she was one.

“I think you are too that's why I’m treating you like one,” Specter retorted.

It’s a pity that Bachmann missed the chance to tell Specter to act like a gentleman.

Specter’s return on the political scene arrives at the perfect time since the war on women rages.

Twenty years ago, the media dubbed 1992 the year of the woman because of the historic number of women running for elected office. Many said they were inspired by the Anita Hill drama.

A record number of women — 60 million — voted that year. Women picked up five U.S. Senate seats, and the House gained 24 women. With the victories of Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, California became the first state ever to be represented by two women.

Somewhere over the last two decades, women became deflated and uninspired.

According to Rutgers’s Center for American Women and Politics, the number of women in office declined in 2010 for the first time in 30 years. The United States ranks 71st in the world for women running for office. The number of women in state legislatures is also dropping. These statistics are embarrassing in the 21st century.

Mr. Specter, keep the dirty talk going about Palin and women. Feel free to mention Hill's name while promoting your new book. Maybe once again you’ll inspire women to return to the political trenches.

Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker