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More from the Prayer Breakfast

posted by awelborn

Greg Popcak was there

Considering the nature of the event, neither I nor anyone else had an opportunity to ask Santorum why, in the name of all things Holy, he agreed to be complicit in the re-election of a completely odious pro-abortion Senator.

However, the consensus of many gathered, including one Republican congressman who sat next to me at breakfast, was that the number one priority of any political party is to ….

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Steve Skojec

posted April 29, 2004 at 8:30 am


Sigh. I have a feeling this is the correct analysis. Not a particularly comforting thought, though.
What would be comforting would be if Santorum could actually make it to the White House. I think that not only does he have sufficient charisma and stature – he’s certainly got the brains. Whether or not he’d be electable would depend upon a whole lot of things.
With that brood of kids he has, there wouldn’t be much room on Pennsylvania ave for visiting dignitaries, that’s for sure. Instead of getting rented out for thousands of dollars, the Lincoln bedroom would probably get bunk beds….



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Charles M. de Nunzio

posted April 29, 2004 at 8:48 am


I should have known that “further aspirations” were likely behind Sen. Santorum’s complicity in the betrayal of principle for the sake of what was meant to be political expediency. Echoing what I said in another thread yesterday, what a chastizement it is for us to have bishops and politicians alike who put getting along with the anti-Christian dominators of our culture ahead of their professed Faith! (I know that “politics is the art of the possible,” but there still has to be a foundation of principle to it.)
As I’ve also said previously, I don’t see how this strategy is even politically expedient. A dispirited support base can’t be counted on to go to the polls! And what events like this say is that we’ve gotten to the point where it’s better to side with those whose principles are anti-Christian, for that’s where the greater number of votes will come from. Pathetic!
If only Sen. Santorum would stop and think for a minute, perhaps he’d realize something. If a self-evident milquetoast like Bush barely took the Electoral College and yet still lost the popular vote to a man whose hard-left credentials were unquestionable, then how does the Senator think he’s got anthing better than a snowball’s chance in hell with this electorate? All the media have to do is remind us of his April 2003 AP interview regarding the Lawrence sodomy case, and he’s toast.
Face it, a man with Reagan’s agenda would hardly stand a chance today in Republican primaries, let alone the general election! This is a disgrace, all around.



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Don Boyle

posted April 29, 2004 at 9:06 am


The naivete of Greg Popcak and most other pro-life commentators on this election (including Ramesh Ponnuru and others at Nat’l Review) is Exhibit No. 1 of why the Republican party doesn’t take them seriously. Instead of assuming that Sen. Santorum has sold his soul, let’s consider some more practical possibilities:
1. Toomey would have been less electable in the general election than Specter. This puts the Republican Senate majority — and with it, the chance of ANY prolife legislation’s being passed — in jeopardy. Reason to hold your nose and go with Specter.
2. Specter has promised Santorum and Bush that he will not block prolife judicial nominees from getting through the Judiciary Committee and onto the floor of the Senate. (Yes, I know — promises can be broken. But allow the possibility that Specter would compromise his pro-choice “values” to get re-elected.)
3. This is less attractive, but still not a betrayal of pro-life principles: Maybe Santorum doesn’t like Toomey, for political or personal reasons. One political reason is that Toomey was loudly opposed to, and voted against, Bush’s recent budget. (This would give Bush plenty of reason to stay with Specter.)
All this is speculation, but entirely possible and more probable than Rick Santorum’s apostasy, which is preposterous given his constancy in support of pro-life legislation.
Until pro-lifers can understand politics as the art of the possible and become content with small steps toward the goal, they will continue to lose and lose and lose.



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Greg Popcak

posted April 29, 2004 at 9:33 am


Don,
I am many things, but it has been long time since anyone has called me naive. I am hardly calling for Santorum’s head. And I am not of the All-or-Nothing pro-life camp. I realize that incremental steps are better than no steps, and if Santorum things he can win the war by conceding this battle, more power to him. But forgive me if, having visited the factory where “democracy” is manufactured, I continue to be a little disturbed at what goes into it, and how it is produced.
I happen to love sausage. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be a little disconcerted by the factory tour.



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Joel

posted April 29, 2004 at 10:14 am


Don’t worry, folks. D’s are making sausage too, even at this moment.
This is politics . . . .



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Peggy

posted April 29, 2004 at 10:35 am


Planned Parenthood is claiming Spector’s victory as its own, according to a C(onservative)NS article posted on townhall.com. I doubt very much that PP brought Spector over the top. Those folks need to claim every “victory” they can get. I do believe it was Bush/Santorum support that hurt Toomey.



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Steve Skojec

posted April 29, 2004 at 10:49 am


I’ve noticed that the slack some of us (myself included) are cutting to Santorum in this is becoming irksome to others who hear us carping about holding others’ feet to the flame.
In fairness to those individuals, I would like to confess that I feel I am being somewhat hypocritical in that regard. I’d also like to tell you why.
For the first time in as long as I’ve been paying attention to politics, I’ve got hope that decent, honest men can get elected. And that hope is pinned on Rick Santorum.
So there’s this part of me that wants to do what I get irritated at other people for doing with, say, John Paul II – blindly trusting that some of the bizarre, virtually inexplicable things an otherwise excellent man is doing must be being done for a good reason because the man himself is just, well, so good.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not equating Santorum with the Pope. But I do think he is the most honest-to-goodness Catholic politician we’ve ever seen. His pro-life record is untouchable. He speaks against immorality even when it costs him a lot in public opinion – like his comments on the sodomy laws. He lives the Catholic pro-life family – he’s got at least seven kids. He’s active in parish life. He’s outwardly pious.
I want to believe in this man.
Maybe I’m just being foolish, but I desperately want to believe that he’s really trying to do a greater good, not serve political ends for their own sake. I fear that his means are too Machiavellian for my own conscience, though, and that does bother me.
I don’t think he should get a free pass. I think he owes an explanation not only his constituents, but those of us on a national scale who have come to look to his leadership as an example. I hope we get one. If we do, however, I’m not dumb enough to think it will be soon – he’s not going to reveal his hand before the game is up.
I just want to be transparent about my own reasons for leniency. Maybe it’s not fair, and I’m open to criticism on that. It’s just hard to let go of the hope that someone who gives every impression that he’s the real deal is anything other – in a government populated by phonies.



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Frank Banecker

posted April 29, 2004 at 10:55 am


Don Boyle–
Your charge of “naivete” is not only mean-spirited, it is simply wrong. The recent pro-life legislative achievements–banning of partial birth abortion, and the unborn victims of violence act–directly contradict your contention that the Republican Party does not take seriously the pro-life movement. In fact, in terms of practical action, I would contend that President Bush and the current Republican Congress has done more for the pro-life movement than even Ronald Reagan.
Let me also deal with the other points you make:
1. I often heard this argument during the election that Toomey was “less electable” but no one, including yourself, could adequately explain why. Toomey is a conservative in the Santorum mold. Santorum was elected in 1994, when Clinton was President. Please explain why a conservative is now “less electable” with Republican in the White House.
2. You claim that “Spector has promised Santorum and Bush that he would not block pro-life judicial nominees.” Is this on the record? I myself have not seen it. If you could provide a link backing up this claim I would appreciate it.
3. Toomey’s opposition to the Bush budget was based on a principled conservatism. There was simply too much spending in it, much of it the kind of unnecessary pork that is part of Specter’s tainted legacy. This point of yours is only speculation, but even if it were true it would seem to me that the protection of human life inside the womb would take precedence over a disagreement about the budget.
The bottom line is this: Santorum betrayed both conservatives and pro-lifers with his endorsement of Specter. He has therefore become complicit in the Culture of Death. I once admired the man a great deal. Now I feel nothing but contempt.



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Don Boyle

posted April 29, 2004 at 12:26 pm


Dear Frank:
There were 40+ comments on a previous thread bashing Sen. Santorum for supporting Specter and thereby going over to The Dark Side. I stand by my comment: it is naive not to look for other reasons for Sen. Santorum to have done as he did; not to do so would be — what’s the bon mot — mean-spirited.
The partial-birth abortion ban and the UVV Act confirm the point that I made — pro-lifers (myself included, in case it’s not clear) need to be able to settle for something less than Complete Victory (a const. amendment against abortion). Leaving Specter and a Republican Senate majority in place (where further restrictions on abortion can be achieved) is consistent with this principle. We can argue about whether it was the best thing to do without assuming that Sen. Santorum has sold out.
I threw out those 3 “possibilities” as “possibilities” only. This is clear from the comment.



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Mike Petrik

posted April 29, 2004 at 12:47 pm


I agree with much of what Don says. Politics is the art of the possible. There is a place for principle and a place for compromise. Selecting the wrong approach at the wrong time can derail many a good cause. I have no issue with those who question Sen. Santorum’s judgment in choosing compromise over principal in this instance. They may be right — it is hard to say. But those who see fit to question Santorum’s sincerity because of his support for Specter are being uncharitably presumptuous given the totality of Santorum’s record in my view.



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Mark C.

posted April 29, 2004 at 12:50 pm


A couple of other thoughts on Santorum. It is claimed by some that he had to support Specter because he owed Specter for supporting his Senate bid in 1994. Yes, Specter strongly supported Santorum after he got the Republican nomination, but he did not endorse him during the primary and in fact sought out stronger candidates to support him (including the then Teresa Heinz, now Mrs. Kerry). On that basis, I can’t see why Santorum couldn’t have stayed neutral in the primary, promising to actively support whoever won the nomination.
Others assert that Santorum did this to keep his national ambitions alive (and thus should be cut some slack). But the only reason Santorum has credible national ambitions is because of the GOP’s implicit litmust test on abortion for Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. If Bush could have got away with nominating an electable pro-choicer, Tom Ridge would be his Vice-President today, and Santorum would have no hope of being on the ticket in 2008 or later. If there is a pro-life litmus test, Santorum is a 2008 contender for President or Vice-President. If there is no litmus test, he is at the back of a list of more impressive candidates, including Giuliani, Ridge, Condoleeza Rice, Pataki, etc. But by actively supporting Specter over Toomey, Santorum has undermined the lgic of the pro-life litmus test for the GOP national ticket, which hurts not only his own political ambitions, but the long term future of the pro-life cause.



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David

posted April 29, 2004 at 2:07 pm


I know that it isn’t exactly the same thing as the Santorum endorsement, but I’ve yet to hear (from the never ever vote for anyone who’s prochoice in any circumstances crowd) a sufficiently loud protest at the fact that after his loss, Toomey endorsed Specter over his Democratic rival.
“At 12:45 a.m., after a long election night had turned to the next day, Toomey greeted his disappointed supporters and recounted his call of congratulation to Specter. Despite the rancor of their battle, Toomey offered his “unequivocal support,” to the veteran he had come so close to toppling.
While acknowledging his abiding disagreements with the moderate who will be seeking a record fifth term in the Senate, the conservative Toomey said, “Our differences are not nearly as great as our differences with the Democrats.”
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04119/307849.stm
Then there’s this:
“NEXT FOR SPECTER [John J. Miller]
Specter will face Rep. Joe Hoeffel in the general election. If the Democrats had been smart, they would have looked for a candidate in the mold of former Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey, a social conservative who would have appealed to GOPers disillusioned by Specter. Yet Hoeffel is a standard-issue liberal. From what I can tell, he isn’t even to the right of Specter on abortion–a huge missed opportunity for the Dems. Some conservatives will suggest that Hoeffel deserves support simply to prevent Specter from becoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That’s not an unreasonable view, but it doesn’t appear to me as though Hoeffel is the best vehicle for this approach. Specter probably will win. Then again, my recent predictions haven’t been worth much.” (my emphasis)
http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/corner.asp
And if, as this NRO writer claims, Hoeffel (the Democratic nominee)is to the right of Specter on abortion, then what?
Is Toomey automatically, then, a sell-out?



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David

posted April 29, 2004 at 2:32 pm


Sigh. That’s what I get for reading, and posting too fast. Scratch the bit about Hoeffel’s being to the right of Specter on abortion.
It still is significant, however, that Toomey asks us to vote for someone who’s prochoice (and ostensibly conservative on other issues) over someone else who’s prochoice (and liberal on other issues) rather than refrain from voting.



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Frank Banecker

posted April 29, 2004 at 3:05 pm


Don–
Well, I stand by my comment. To fling a pejoritive term like “naive” around at folks who disagree with you, especially someone as informed as Greg Popcak, has a mean quality to it–your lame comeback notwithstanding.
I agree that the incremental approach is the only way for the pro-life movement to have any success. But how this applies to support for Specter simply doesn’t make any logical sense. Spector has a very long and very ugly record of supporting laws which sanction the unlimited destruction of human life inside the womb. Is this mitigated by the fact that he represents a potential Republican majority? I just can’t buy it.
As I see it, Santorum had three choices:
1) The politically brave choice of endorsing Toomey outright;
2) The weasle move: staying neutral;
3) Endorsing Spector and thumbing his nose not only at his constituancy, but to his core principles as well.
I could have lived with the weasle move. Santorum is, after all, a politician, but this way he keeps his hands clean. But I can’t tell you how dismayed I am at the outright endorsement and active campaigning he did for Specter. Believe me, I admired Santorum as one of the great Catholic leaders in national politics. And while Mike Petrik is right in saying we should judge him on the totality of his record, I still feel bitterly disappointed.
This election was another chance for Santorum to stand up for the protection of life within the womb. This time, for whatever reason, he didn’t do it. So, it bothers me. And it seems to me, if you call yourself pro-life, it should bother you too.



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David

posted April 29, 2004 at 3:40 pm


For what it’s worth:
Here’s the ACLUs account of Specter’s voting record (note the number of times he disagreed with the ACLUs position):
https://ssl.capwiz.com/aclu/bio/?id=497&lvl=C&azip=18411&bzip=
Here’s the ACLUs account of Hoeffel’s voting record (note also the number of times he disagreed with the ACLUs position):
https://ssl.capwiz.com/aclu/bio/?id=512&congress=1072&lvl=C
And here’s Santorum’s:
https://ssl.capwiz.com/aclu/bio/?id=498&lvl=C&azip=18411&bzip=



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Ramesh Ponnuru

posted April 29, 2004 at 5:14 pm


I’m not sure why Don thinks he’s disagreeing with me. I had a lengthy post in the Corner yesterday suggesting that Santorum’s endorsement of Specter does not automatically make him a pro-life sell-out even though I disagreed with that endorsement. My argument for Santorum’s not having sold out is the same as Don’s first scenario. So wherein lies my naivete?



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Victor Morton

posted April 29, 2004 at 8:45 pm


“But how this applies to support for Specter simply doesn’t make any logical sense. Specter has a very long and very ugly record of supporting laws which sanction the unlimited destruction of human life inside the womb. Is this mitigated by the fact that he represents a potential Republican majority?”
“Mitigated”? Absolutely.
With a Democratic majority, pro-life bills and pro-life judges *will never even come to the floor.* Even if more than 50 senators support them — the majority leader sets the calendar (basically) unilaterally. US parties are pretty weak by world standards, but the one vote you can count on is the organizing votes.
A few RINOs and pro-death lawmakers like Specter and Thelma and Louise from Maine can be offset by Democrats from conservative states, like Miller and Breaux, who whatever their inclinations cannot for their own political reasons be too pro-abortion.
But having the majority is an absolute yes or no — an “on-off” switch.



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Don Boyle

posted April 30, 2004 at 8:21 am


Ramesh is correct, and I apologize. I was recalling the multiple posts on the Pa. election by Cornerite John J. Miller, who I think could give Sen. Santorum some benefit of the doubt, for the reasons I’ve already stated.



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Frank Banecker

posted April 30, 2004 at 12:29 pm


Victor–
You’re right, and I conceed that point. Still, with Specter as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, it is unlikely a pro-life judge will be given a floor vote. And it is actually through the judiciary that the pro-life movement will gain in any real power.
Maybe Don was right and it was part of a deal. We can only pray and hope. Somehow, though, I doubt it.



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Ramesh Ponnuru

posted April 30, 2004 at 2:09 pm


Thanks, Don.



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