April 29, 2004

Okay, But What I Don't Understand...

Greg Popcak writes about Sen. Santorum's support of anti-lifer Sen. Specter:
The sense at the table was that Santorum, who has his eye on the White House, simply cannot afford to buck the Party "wisdom" on this issue, and so had to play the game to (hopefully) do greater good in the future.
Understood, although it sounds weasley. But what bothers me far more than the support of Bush and Santorum was that the voters listened to Bush and Santorum*! Perhaps I'm too much of an individualist to be a good party man, but it wouldn't sway my vote in the least if they came out for Specter as they did. I'd say to myself, "they have to do it for the sake of the party, but I don't have to vote for Specter." I don't know what led PA primary voters to be swayed by B & S (or b.s.) but perhaps it's the simple matter of a voter being only as good as his information (including mine - see UPDATE). NRO writes:
One dentist in Lower Paxton calls himself a conservative and a pro-lifer, but Bush's relentless campaigning made the dentist think Bush needed Specter if he was going to win the November election. This reasoning is faulty, but local media parroted it, and it pervaded the state enough to push Specter over the top.
But when is a victory not a win? How about when this happens (from Greg Popcak):
Unfortunately, if Specter manages to get himself re-elected, he will have a shot at becoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the most powerful committees in congress. The irony of Bush's endorsement of Specter is that if Specter gets this plum position, Bush won't be able to get any pro-life judicial nominees past his own party's leadership.
* - a very small but significant group. Toomey received almost 50% of the primary vote. Given that probably 40% of Pennsylvania Republicans are moderates who would've voted for Specter anyway, that leaves a very tiny but ultimately extremely powerful group that were swayed by Bush & Santorum.

Update:
Okay, Don Boyle on Amy's blog suggests that perhaps "Specter 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." I'm not sure I'm buying, but it's plausible and would make Santorum's decision comprehensible. It'd also a deal Specter couldn't make public, else he'd lose votes in the general election.

Update II: Okay, okay, the typically wise Mike Petric 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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