Monday, July 31, 2006

Will Specter Campaign For Santorum?

By Doug Patton
July 31, 2006

In 2004, Pennsylvania's junior United States senator, Rick Santorum, a solid, reliable social and fiscal conservative, was compelled by his party and by the Bush White House to hold his nose, betray his principles and campaign for the Keystone state's senior senator, Arlen Specter, simply because he was an entrenched incumbent with an "R" behind his name. (Of course, in Specter's case, the "R" stands for RINO rather than Republican.)

You will recall that Specter was locked in a very tight primary battle against a real Republican, U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, at the time. Concerned about control of the U.S. Senate, the Bush White House strategized that it was too risky to support Toomey over Specter in that primary election, or even to allow the primary to run its course without White House interference. Their fear, of course, was that a blue state like Pennsylvania, which went for Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, would not support a conservative true believer for the United States Senate. Such thinking ignored the fact that this same state elected Santorum in the first place, but it also revealed a George Bush-Karl Rove penchant for taking the path of least resistance rather than fighting for the values of their party.

So, in a triumph of party unity over ideology, all the president's men, including poor Rick Santorum and Mr. Bush himself, pulled out all the stops to help Specter score a win in his primary campaign, which he pulled out in a squeaker. In what was perhaps a preview of his future thanklessness, Specter, who was next in line to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promptly announced that he intended to institute a pro-abortion litmus test on any and all of Bush's judicial nominees, especially those for the U.S. Supreme Court. And he would have followed through on that threat, too, had it not been for a fierce lobbying effort to dump him and install as chairman virtually anyone else among the other Republicans on the committee.

Arlen Specter is a crotchety old liberal whose ideology more closely resembles that of Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton than George Bush and Rick Santorum, especially on social issues. He does not belong in the Republican Party, and he certainly has absolutely no business chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee, which sits in judgment of the judges. Specter shows little or no gratitude for anything that is done for him. In fact, the only stimuli to which he seems to respond is the loss of his power, such as the aforementioned pressure exerted against his chairmanship when he began to revert to type after the 2004 election.

Why President Bush continues to support liberal GOP incumbents is beyond me. In fact, the problem with the United States Senate can be summed up in a handful of RINOs, the worst of which are: Lincoln Chaffee (RINO-Rhode Island); Olympia Snowe (RINO-Maine) and her colleague, Susan Collins; and especially, Arlen Specter (RINO-Pennsylvania).

Now Rick Santorum is in need of all the help he can get in a tough reelection campaign against Bob Casey, Jr., Pennsylvania's state treasurer and the son of a popular former governor. Santorum needs Specter's support in order to hold his seat. Surely, one would think, Arlen Specter, who but for the help given him by Rick Santorum, would have been forced into retirement in 2004, remembers what was done for him by his colleague two years ago. Surely, he must be grateful enough to return the favor. So far, I have seen no evidence of it. I will be pleasantly surprised if I am proven wrong, but I'm not known for holding my breath in such cases.

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Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and policy advisor to conservative candidates, elected officials and public policy organizations. His weekly columns are published in newspapers across the country and on selected Internet web sites, including TheConservativeVoice.com and GOPUSA.com, where he is a senior writer and state editor. Readers may e-mail him at dougpatton@cox.net.

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