Why electing Rick Santorum matters

Maggie Gallagher
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Posted: Oct 18, 2006 12:01 AM
Why electing Rick Santorum matters

The new Robin Williams movie "Man of the Year" has a premise: The American people are fed up with blow-dried, talking points-dried, media-packaged, made-for-TV political candidates. This November, when the people of Pennsylvania vote on whether to elect Rick Santorum or Bob Casey, maybe we'll find out if that's really true.

One small example. I call up Bob Casey's campaign and say: "I'm a nationally syndicated columnist whose column is carried in four small Pennsylvania papers. I'd like to know what specifically pro-life things Casey is willing to vote for. Because I've been to his Web site and I can't see any information there."

This is not just jousting on my part. Bob Casey says he's against gay marriage, but he's also opposed to every possible way to stop gay marriage -- not only a federal marriage amendment, but a state marriage amendment for Pennsylvania, too.

And these days many people feel they have a right to redefine the most basic words (such as "marriage"). Why not "pro-life," too?

The receptionist is polite and responsive: "The person you want to talk to is Bobby, our deputy press secretary. Wait just a minute."

She comes back on the line and says "Bob says he's not the right person. Can I transfer you to Larry's voice mail? He's our press secretary." So I talk to Larry's voice mail for a while. But somehow, Larry never calls me back.

If Bob Casey is so pro-life, why is it so hard to find something on his Web site or someone from his campaign headquarters -- the janitor, maybe? I'm not proud -- willing to blurt out what he means by it?

Dan Savage, a nationally syndicated columnist who sometimes writes for The New York Times, has no problem decoding what a vote for Bob Casey really means. He's in from the Left Coast raising money for Philadelphians Against Santorum. His Daily Pennsylvanian interview on the subject can be seen here. (graphic language warning).

Here's the part you can reprint in a family newspaper: "Bob Casey is not entirely about Bob Casey," says Savage, because "if the Democrats control the Senate in part because Casey is there, it's going to empower a lot of Democratic politicians who I agree with, more than I agree with Casey on issues like choice and gay marriage and other social values issues. So I'm excited about electing Casey because I'm excited about Patrick Leahy being head of the Judiciary Committee. I'm excited about electing Casey because I'm excited about Hillary Clinton having more power than she does now."

Here's the one thing I know about Bob Casey: I don't know much about what he would actually do, because that's the way Bob Casey likes to run his campaign.

Here's the one thing I know about Rick Santorum: Nobody in America has earned the undying hatred of the hard left for his courage in standing up and fighting for basic American values, whether it's the value of every single human life, or the importance of marriage as the union of husband and wife. (Full disclosure: A fund-raising consultant for the small nonprofit I run once asked Rick Santorum to sign a fund-raising letter. We raised $8,312 on expenses of $15,752, which means Rick Santorum once cost my organization $7,440.)

The undying hatred of people with Dan Savage's views is a badge of honor for Santorum personally, whatever happens in this election, but it is also the real reason for the millions of dollars flowing into Bob Casey's campaign war chest: If Rick Santorum loses, nobody in Washington will ever want to lead on the gay marriage issue again.

Gay marriage advocates know this. The people of Pennsylvania deserve to know it too.