THE PROCLIVITY for otherwise highly intelligent, seasoned elected officials to stick their feet into their mouths is a continuing source of amazement to me.

The revelation that U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., used a public forum to tell Polish jokes is particularly outrageous, given that he is a member of the Jewish faith, a minority religion whose members have throughout history been subjected to anti-Sematic behavior and who were scapegoated and targeted for extermination by the Nazis strictly due to the religion into which they were born.

Apparently the insensitivity with which Jews have often been treated and portrayed has not served to make Specter respectful of the feelings of other ethnic groups.

The 78-year-old Specter has served 28 years in the Senate and is planning to run for re-election in 2010. Perhaps he should re-evaluate his plans and consider retirement.

Arlen Specter has often shown himself to be a brilliant man, but it is obvious that he is also part tactless dunce.

Oren M. Spiegler, Upper Saint Clair