Joe Sterns is the kind of guy you would want your daughter to date. A devoutly Catholic, hard-working, caring Mets fan, Sterns was the campaign spokesman for Pat Toomey’s Senate run in Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately for your daughter, Sterns is married. Mrs. Sterns, as the primary results came in Tuesday night, told me in the ballroom of the Holiday Inn in Fogelsville, Pa., “Joe wasn’t this nervous when our son was born.”
Joe didn’t like that comment. For an instant he took his eyes off of the big screen showing the vote totals. “That’s not fair,” he said.
Apparently, while his wife was in labor, Joe took the occasion to chat with the doctor about medical malpractice lawsuits, a growing plague that is driving doctors out of the state. For harping on that topic at that time, Joe got a swift kick from his delivering wife.
On Tuesday, that doctor was one of a small army of volunteers working the polls for Toomey in his race against liberal Senator Arlen Specter, the darling of the trial lawyers.
Scores of conservative Capitol Hill staffers, Penn State students, Philadelphia businessmen, and devout pro-lifers poured out blood and sweat for Toomey’s run. When the votes were counted, however, their toil could not overcome the equally tireless work on Specter’s behalf by President George W. Bush and Senator Rick Santorum.
In Newberry, Pa. the Methodist Church served up sloppy joes and scalding chicken corn soup in the gym where the voting went on. Rick and Sherry Sariano, who describe themselves as “definitely pro-life” told me they both voted for Arlen Specter. Sherry qualified her abortion position “I’m also pro-choice–you have a choice before you get pregnant [to not have sex].”
How did they pull the lever for a Senator who votes for taxpayer funding of abortion clinics and who saved Roe v. Wade? The Sarianos are great admirers of Santorum, considered something of a hero to pro-lifers. Santorum not only endorsed Specter, he taped an ad for him, flew around the state with Specter on the final days of the campaign, and even sent his Senate staff around Pennsylvania to detract from Toomey’s pro-life credentials.
Rick Santorum saved Arlen Specter. Now, barring the unexpected, Specter will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specter was the key to the liberals’ defeat of Reagan’s Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork. Instead of Bork we got Kennedy. Kennedy was the swing judge in upholding Roe.
Within twelve hours of winning the nomination, Specter held a news conference in which he vowed to try and increase taxes by a quarter-billion dollars, fight for more research on stem cells taken from embryonic humans, and oppose school choice.
This couldn’t have surprised anyone who has followed Specter’s long career. He is the hero of the trial lawyers and the teachers’ unions, and the favorite Republican of Planned Parenthood.
Still, President Bush said in Pittsburgh days before the primary, “Arlen Specter is the right man for the Senate.”
What were Santorum and Bush thinking?
It is simply false that Specter will help Bush win the Keystone State in November. If Bush needs anything in Pensylvania, it is to rally the conservatives who are justly disillusioned with the President who has exploded government. Pat Toomey would bring those folks to the polls. Specter will not.
Republicans need to win independent and Democratic votes to win Pennsylvania. There are two kinds of Democrats in Pennsylvania: Specter Democrats from the upper-middle-class white-bread suburbs of Montgomery County, and Reagan Democrats from the rural places such as Newberry.
One Newberry woman blew off the GOP poll workers Tuesday on her way to vote, declaring herself, “Democrat, ultra-conservative and ultra-pro-life.” If not for Santorum’s and Bush’s efforts, she would have been a Toomey Democrat come November.
It’s hard to understand why Santorum and Bush did what they did as long as you think of them as conservatives. Sure, they are conservative, but that’s not why they’re here.
Politicians, like all bureaucrats, do what they do to perpetuate their careers and empower themselves. For the Republican Party, that usually means acting conservative. Sometimes, however, it means protecting their own, however much damage that does to the conservative and pro-life causes.
Over a couple of Yuenglings at “Rookies,” the Allentown bar Toomey started up when he left Wall Street, Joe Sterns told me Monday night he had no interest in following Toomey to Washington if Toomey were to win. No, Pennsylvania was the right fit.
Joe’s sentiment struck me as my friend Dave and I drove back to D.C. from Pennsylvania on Wednesday morning, still trying to make sense of everything. The sign over the Baltimore Beltway showed us coming to a fork in the road. We could stay left towards Interstate 95 and Washington, D.C. Or we could veer right to I-70 West.
I flipped through my road atlas and saw I-70 would take us to Colorado. There’s a town off of I-70 called Sparks, and the map showed the only road to that town as a dotted line. At that moment, with the 16,000 vote loss still smarting, Sparks seemed far more appealing than Washington.
Many young conservatives and libertarians flock to Washington in order to fight a fight–to become foot soldiers in the war for the future of our country. Men like Bush and Santorum are supposed to be our generals. Now we find they are as likely to march left if it serves their interest as to march right.
It’s hard, when we realize this, to not throw in the towel, head for the hills, grab a shotgun, and steal away and stay away. It’s not easy to do battle when your commanders may turn the cannon on you.
But if we take the fight seriously, honest reflection makes clear we have no choice but to continue to march behind our generals, scoundrels though they may be at times. But Pennsylvania teaches us that as we march, to ensure our leaders will take us rightward, we must make certain they feel our bayonets pressed against their backs.
Tim Carney is a reporter for the Evans-Novak Political Report.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire