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    Stop making excuses for Santorum’s endorsement of Arlen Specter

    Stop making excuses for Santorum’s endorsement of Arlen Specter

    I previously posted about Rick Santorum’s endorsement in 2004 of Arlen Specter against a challenge from Pat Toomey, in what was a precursor to the Tea Party v. Establishment fights to come.

    One of the unintended consequences of Specter’s reelection was that in 2009 Specter switched parties, and his vote was critical to the passage of Obamacare.

    I don’t consider the endorsement a deal breaker on Santorum.  Santorm supported the establishment candidate he thought had the best general election prospects against a clearly more conservative challenger.

    It is worth noting, however, that numerous Santorum supporters considered Newt’s endorsement of Dede Scozzafava in NY-23 over Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman a deal breaker, and used the endorsement as an excuse to hurl pejoratives at Newt’s character.  Newt endorsed Scozzafava for many of the same reasons Santorum endorsed Specter; until Hoffman’s late surge Scozzafava was viewed as the best general election candidate and was supported by the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.  (I supported Hoffman, by the way.)

    I don’t excuse Newt’s endorsement of Scozzafava, it lacked vision.  Santorum supporters should stop excusing Santorum’s endorsement of Specter for the same reason.

    Santorum supporters have come up with a variety of excuses for the Specter endorsement, the most recent being that Santorum made the endorsement to save Republican control of the Senate, ultimately thereby ensuring that John Roberts and Samuel Alito successfully were confirmed by the Senate.  This is typical:

    So with Santorum’s help, Specter defeated Toomey in the primary by 1%, and was re-elected in the general election of 2004.

    Thus, the GOP held its majority (actually gaining two seats) in the Senate. Specter got to remain Judiciary Committee chairman – after a very public pledge under pressure from nervous pro-life legislators – whereupon he proceeded to keep his promise, ushering through the confirmation of both Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

    First, note that Republicans gained seats in 2004.  Reelecting Specter made no difference to control of the Senate.  Even if there were no other changes and the seat were lost to Democrats, there would have been a 50-50 split in the Senate with deciding votes cast by Vice President.  So helping Specter achieved nothing.

    Moreover, it was not at all clear that had Toomey been the nominee, Republicans would have lost Pennsylvania.  The Democrat was Joe Hoeffel, a little known congressman who barely won his own district in the prior election:

    Widely unknown outside Philadelphia and suburban Montgomery County, where he lives, Hoeffel, 52, narrowly won re-election to his House seat last year against a Republican political neophyte. He prevailed with 51 percent of the vote in a district closely divided by Republicans and Democrats.

    I have been unable to find any public polling of a Toomey-Hoeffel match up prior to the Republican primary, although polling of a Specter-Hoeffel match up showed Specter winning comfortably, which is what happened.

    So while there was a legitimate basis for saying Specter was a strong general election candidate, the warnings about Toomey’s general electability appear to have been a scare tactic similar to what we still see when an entrenched moderate/liberal Republican is challenged by a conservative.  The polling linked above also showed Toomey surging in the final weeks, so there would have been good reason to expect Toomey to carry that momentum into a general election.

    John Fund, writing just before the primary election at the Jewish World Review, noted that it was not at all clear that Hoeffel could beat either Specter or Toomey:

    Rep. Toomey’s April 27 challenge to Sen. Specter, a 24-year-incumbent, is more controversial because Al Gore carried Pennsylvania in 2000. Republican backers of Mr. Specter, such as the conservative Sen. Rick Santorum, say that Mr. Toomey would find it difficult to replicate Mr. Specter’s support in the vote-rich Philadelphia suburbs. Toomey backers, on the other hand, argue that the liberal voting record of Rep. Joe Hoeffel, the likely Democratic candidate, gives their man a real shot at winning in the fall. “Toomey is no more conservative than Rick Santorum, and Hoeffel is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who just voted against a bill to protect children in the womb in murder cases like that of Laci Peterson,” says one Republican state legislator.

    Tim Carney, writing at the time for National Review, noted that Toomey as nominee might actually help Republicans by exciting the Republican electorate:

    Conservatives are fed many bad reasons to support Sen. Arlen Specter over Rep. Pat Toomey in next Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Republican primary. Among them are that a Specter nomination helps make sure that Republicans control the Senate and the White House next year. The reasoning behind these pragmatic justifications is flawed.

    First, Specter on the ballot in November does not help Bush win the Keystone State and its 21 Electoral College votes. On the contrary, Specter hurts Bush by keeping the conservatives home….

    The more sensible (but ultimately wrong-headed) argument for voting for Specter is that the GOP cannot afford to put another Senate seat at risk.

    But Toomey will have, at worst, a 50-50 chance against Democrat Joe Hoeffel in November. Toomey, like Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.), will be able to tap the Reagan Democrats who are worried about their jobs, but go to church, own guns, love their children and oppose homosexual marriage for the simple fact that it is wrong.

    And the Senate is not really at risk in 2004. If Pennsylvania is in play, there will be ten truly competitive Senate races in the country, six of them currently occupied by Democrats. Democrats would need to win eight of those ten races, and ward off possible upsets in Washington and California to get a majority of the Senate.

    In other words, a Toomey loss to Hoeffel in November would not mean a Republican minority in the Senate, it would mean only a smaller — but more conservative — GOP majority.

    Specter will take over as chairman of the Judiciary Committee if he is reelected. If he loses, the chairman will be conservative Senator Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.).

    If the choice is between 53 GOP senators with Chairman Arlen “Bork” Specter or 52 Republicans and Chairman Jon Kyl, the decision is an easy one for conservatives.

    Santorum did a lot more than just film a commercial endorsing Specter.  He traveled the state with Specter in the closing days:

    Specter, the Philadelphian seeking a fifth term, hopscotched across the state with fellow Sen. Rick Santorum in an 11th-hour plea to voters before Tuesday’s primary. As recently as last month, few believed Toomey, a junior congressman from the Lehigh Valley, could retire the state’s senior senator. But a poll released on the primary’s eve showed Specter with a slight 6-point lead over Toomey, and below the crucial 50% threshold.

    I understand why Santorum went along with the White House and the establishment, and maybe he actually believed that the seat would be lost.

    But stop with the ridiculous theory that Santorum helping to elect Specter was a principled action.  It was a political calculation not to stand up to the White House, which ultimately yielded no good as Republicans would have controlled the Senate regardless, and unintentionally yielded much bad in the form of the decisive turncoat vote for Obamacare.


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    Every single candidate has their areas of expertise as well as ones showing great flaws in character, voting record, contentiousness in governing or conservative perspective.

    Both Gingrich and Santorum have big earmark attachments, being on the wrong side of issues, endorsing wrong people. I really don’t see a dime’s worth of difference between the two, except Newt is a better speaker, and Santorum has no personal scandals. Neither have administered over a state government’s finances nor have even held a real private sector type of job.

    Romney, OTOH, has people up in arms about the depth of his conservatism. Somehow everyone’s expectations are that he should have been able to overrule an 85% democratic legislature, turning it around to implement a 100% conservative agenda. For instance, when the fed threatened to withhold 385 million in medicaid funding, if the state didn’t decrease their number of uninsured, he should have been a Clint Eastwood type saying, “Make my day! Go ahead and take that funding away. I’m not going to touch any kind of healthcare reform!” Instead, the fool went ahead with a mandate only affecting the uninsured, didn’t raise taxes because of this reform, and now it’s only liked by two/thirds of the adults there, and is said to have either improved health care or kept it at the same level of care by 88% of the physicians in MA. This was all done on a state level, a 70 page bill. But of course it is the same as the 2700 page Obamacare bill, Does that mean that 2630 pages of Obama’s bill are blank?

    Somehow, I see the details of Mr. Romney’s healthcare bill as being appropriate for his state, a policy which exercised state’s rights, something this man has continuously emphasized in his public speeches. I am a firm believer in state’s rights myself, seeing that with such individuation there is far greater of an opportunity for each citizen to express what they want from their state government, sans the interference of the federal government. Therefore, Romney’s term as governor of MA reflected that state’s party demographic of a 12% Republican registration, along with a populace that supported social liberalism. Despite these odds he still managed to balance the budget, extinguish the projected deficit and created a finsncial cushion in it’s place, basically leaving the state better off than when he took office.

    I find nothing out of sorts with that kind of record.

      StrangernFiction in reply to tsr. | February 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm

      And he stands by Romneycare. Says it’s working. You Romneybots……..*shaking head*…………..

      heimdall in reply to tsr. | February 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      So therefore, with your reasoning, if a populace supports forced abortions for their citizens under a certain age or for rape, that is just great as long as a majority supports it? Why is forcing people to buy a product any different? Is it okay for government to force us to buy a chevy volt or fluorescent light bulbs just because its energy efficient? I’m sorry, but just because a majority supports something does not mean it is right, otherwise there is a tyranny of the majority. Using governmental force to compel us to do things like that with the barrel of a gun is wrong and evil.

      Mitt Romney didn’t try to rid governmental oversight or encroachment on life in Massachusetts, he expanded it. Who is fighting for the minority in the state of Massachusetts who were/ are opposed to the healthcare laws enacted by the government there, since Mitt Romney did not veto the bill. He only used a line item veto, taking out the “bad parts” (which were passed again anyways) of the bill and kept the “good” parts. Huh, I think that was what he was claiming he wanted to do late last year/early this year on Obamacare, yet when in front of the conservative rubes in the debates he wholeheartedly supports repeal of the law.

      tsr is passing around the Romney Kool-Aid. first of all there is nothing appropriate about mandated health care which can only result in higher health care costs and less services. That is exactly what has happened with Mass-Care. Prices are rising at 20% per year despite a huge influx of Fed money from Obama to offset some costs. 17,000 healthcare jobs have been lost in Kennedy country since Romney signed the legislation. Then there massive number of Free Riders who pay a small penalty tax to keep their premiums down until they get sick — when they sign on for care, only to dropout when the health problem is resolved.

      As for Newt’s personal baggage, his lack of success in his marriages has nothing to do with political and leadership skills. Unlike ten Presidents before him, Newt, at least, married his mistresses. If Newt was involved in earmarks which likely happened, the size of and scope could not have been anywhere near the $2 billion that Romney and Utah’s Mormon congressional delegation secured from Congress for supporting the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. That amounts to $833,333 for every athlete who participated in the games.

        tsr in reply to gad-fly. | February 12, 2012 at 9:46 pm

        Where are you seeing there are “less” services because of MA health care?

        Healthcare reform was not something Romney went into office, like Obama did, as a fulfillment of a campaign promise. He got involved with this reform because of the impending prospect of defunding medicaid by the feds. The mandate was also not structured to bring costs down, but rather to insure more people, hopefully bringing down the cost of ER care that was being used as expensive walk-in care. Finally, the healthcare plan, that was eventually passed by the 85% dem legislature, was revised by said legislature, and not the one presented by Romney. He did, though, sign the bill. I keep reminding people of that huge percentage of dems in the legislature, as being an almost insurmountable force. We have something like a 65% dem advantage here in CA, and look how loony and out of control our state is! At least Romney was able to get MA out of its deficit, with a balanced budget and a small surplus, to boot.

        Regarding Gingrich’s personal baggage — it matters. Not wanting to pay child support matters, too. Not wanting to pay for his own college education, when he is criticizing students today for being lazy, matters, because it is plain hypocrisy on his part. As speaker, he is the one credited for the avalanche of earmarks that has overwhelmed our budget in recent years. He used them in order to get votes. He also is credited, along with the Senate Majority leader, for eliminating budget caps which led to higher government spending. His early accomplishments were neutered, IMO, by some of his brash and irresponsibile actions that followed. After all, it was the conservative faction, not the moderate or liberal ones of the party, who eventually turned on him, primarily for not backing enough of the conservative agenda they set out.

          Please read all about the mounting problems of Mass-Care from the single payer advocates themselves. Based upon failures in Canada and England, it is not hard to perceive that the system is coming apart at the seams.

          As for the child support/alimony story, it might just be as bogus as the tale about Newt’s visit to the hospital to tell his “dying wife” that he was divorcing her. If you read the stuff in the liberal media perpetrated by their Democratic allies who hated Newt can turn up all kinds of unverifiable BS. Divorces are ugly and truth is usually a casualty. Just the other day I read where Newt is most certainly bi-polar because his birth Mom was.

          Your buddy, Mitt, has been lying about Newt being drummed out of the House because of the bogus charge made against him regarding the college course that the IRS said was a non-political activity. Nine million dollars in false attack ads and you still drink the Kool-Aid. If this brand of politics trips your trigger, fine; but I would rather that the candidates discuss these issues face to face. Mitt has refused to do a one-on-one with Newt. I certainly can understand that position, because Mitt doesn’t handle losing well.

    aguyfromjersey | February 12, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    As a side note, If I click on Alan Grayson’s banner ad, does the Professor make money?

    Lest we forget, there is the severe contrast between the only Speaker to ever pass four consecutive balanced budgets and the PA Senator who was largely involved in maintaining his power by securing over a billion dollars in earmarks during his three terms, while voting for billions more — including the Bridge to Nowhere. Rick is just the economic genius we need in these troubled financial times, don’t you think? Ask Santorum and he will say that we have to reform earmarks — right on Rick! You were very impressive in getting spending under control as the #3 guy in the majority leadership.

    LukeHandCool | February 12, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Off topic, but I’m betting tomorrow is Aqualung.

    completely off topic, but funny— lifted from GP….

    Sarah Palin was asked for her reaction to the HBO shlockumentary on her life today on FOX News Sunday. Sarah responded after viewing the clip that she’s created more Palin impersonators than Barack Obama has created jobs.

    “I think we’re going to call that the Sarah Palin Employment Act. And, you guys need to thank me for employing more people probably in their imitations of Sarah Palin than the president has put Americans to work… It is a stimulus act, yes.”

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