Friday, April 15, 2005

One of These Days...Eventually...Sometime.

Hugh Hewitt, as of late, has been driven by concerns that Republicans in the US Senate are doing all that they can to lose their majority in the upper house of Congress, particularly over the issue of filibustering judicial nominations. My former Congressman and current Senator, Rick Santorum, spoke to Hugh Hewitt yesterday and essentially validated everything that Hugh has been complaining about. (The full transcript is at Generalissimo Duane's blog.) While Santorum may be -- as Hugh told him -- on the right side of the issue, he seemed unwilling to try to do anything to speed up the vote to put an end to Democrats' obstruction. "We're working on it", said the Senator, and the Senate will vote on the matter "within a couple of months".

As a new Congressman back in 1991, Rick Santorum was young, fresh, and in a lot of ways idealistic. He was a reliably conservative Republican. Four years later, as a freshman Senator, Santorum shocked the old boys network (represented by Robert Byrd) with his seeming lack of decorum, such as when he referred to then-President Clinton as "Bill " on the Senate floor. The Senate, they said, was a "deliberative" body, as opposed (one assumes) to the rapid-fire style of the House of Representatives. To many of us, Rick Santorum was a welcome change from the moderation, compromise, and deliberation that characterized the Senate. He was a rebel in a suit.

Fast forward ten years -- and Senator Rick Santorum is part of the mainstream. I do not doubt that he is still, at heart, the same reliable conservative that was first elected to Congress over fourteen years ago. He has always been one of the strongest pro-life voices in either house of Congress. Like many other veteran legislators, however, he has gotten to the point where he is just another politician who doesn't want to rock the boat. He needs to get back to his roots and represent his party.

Next year, Santorum faces his strongest challenge yet. Prospective Democratic challenger Bob Casey (son and namesake of the late Governor) has been leading in early polling. Casey, like Santorum, is a pro-life Catholic and therefore appeals to a number of swing voters who may have supported Santorum in the past based solely on his strong pro-life stance. Santorum has already begun courting this portion of his constituency by showing up on Terri Schiavo's doorstep and then trekking on over to the Vatican to pay his last respects to the pope. The former visit seems opportunistic, and the latter is something that he may have done anyway as a matter of devotion; but already, his actions seem to be those of a man who wants to demonstrate that he is more Catholic than his opponent.

Rick Santorum was not elected as the candidate of the good old boys party nor of the Catholic party. He needs to start representing the Republican party and differentiate himself from Bob Casey and any other candidates who may enter the race. Many of us voted for Casey's father back in 1990. Give us a reason to reelect you, or we may take the same approach to your candidacy for re-election as you do to the filibuster vote. When is the next Senatorial election? Within a couple of years. Have we decided to support you this time? We're working on it.

No comments: