Overturned Convictions | Vox Pop | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Overturned Convictions 

Santorum backs away from his own principles



The older I get, the more politicians disgust me. So many of their moves are so transparent, they make a see-through blouse look like a potato sack. (By the way, we need to bring back the see-through blouse. In fashion, as in government, the more transparency the better.)



But when the transparency reveals typical "I'll say anything to get re-elected" politics, I get nauseous. And Sen. Rick Santorum is making me barf.


That was already happening anyway, every time Tricky Ricky acted as a shill for Dubya and the religious right. But suddenly he's trying to look like an independent. Now that polls show Bush's approval ratings below 40 percent, Santorum is boldly going where no Santorum rhetoric has gone before: ever-so-slightly toward the area of actually disagreeing with the President.


Santorum acknowledged to radio host Don Imus that he does not intend to appear with the President for the time being. And when Bush recently decided to be combatively tacky and lash out at critics of the Iraq War during a Pennsylvania Veterans Day appearance, Santorum said he couldn't make it to the appearance. He cited "scheduling conflicts," which means scheduling appearances with Dubya right now would conflict with any Republican's desire to be re-elected. After all, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds 57 percent of Americans feel they were misled about this war: That's one speech you'd be a real numb-nuts to attend.


Now here's where Ricky is really crawling out on a limb. He recently told the Beaver County Times that intelligent design doesn't belong in the science classroom. As the Times noted, "Santorum's comments ... are a shift from his position of several years ago, when he wrote in a Washington Times editorial that intelligent design is a 'legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in the classroom.'" When a right-winger like Ricky abandons the religious nuts, you know he's getting desperate.


Maybe Ricky got a wake-up call when the wise electorate of the Dover school district voted out the eight school board members who favored intelligent design -- and who got the district mired in a internationally reported court battle. In fact, Santorum even disagreed with the king of religious nutbags, Pat Robertson, who told the people of Dover that they had just voted God out of their city. "I don't believe God abandons people," said the desperate-to-separate-himself-from-these-right-wing-losers junior Senator from Pennsylvania.


Senator Desperate even went so far as to imply that maybe, just maybe, the White House hasn't conducted the Iraq war in the most efficient fashion. In Philadelphia, Santorum allowed as how mistakes have been made in the war, and at least some of that blame goes to the Bush administration. I don't know whether this is a major news flash to Rick, but hey -- better late than never, numb-nuts.


But here's the part that grosses me out: Santorum insists he's not trying to distance himself from the Bush administration. Couldn't politicians at least figure out that when they tell the most obvious lies, even we pinheads in Pinheadville can spot the fibs?


I have a suggestion for a new Santorum winning strategy: Santorum should try to distance himself from Santorum. He can disavow all his boneheaded statements, such as blaming priest pedophilia on Boston's liberal climate. How would he get away with it?  Simple: He can claim he was misled. That's a very popular way to take no responsibility for your actions these days. Just ask John Kerry; it's how he's rationalizing his vote in favor of invading Iraq.


Santorum could claim the Bushies gave him faulty intelligence that said destroying Social Security would make it better. He could blame other GOP scoundrels too. It wasn't Ricky's fault he thought Terry Schiavo would leap up and start Texas two-stepping; it was Dr. Bill Frist's erroneous long-distance diagnosis from the floor of the Senate.


All along, Ricky's supporters have cited his one saving grace: Even if he was a wing-nut, at least you knew where he stood. Based on his transparent distancing of himself from the Prez, I think we do know where he's standing: right in the middle of a large pile of political quicksand.


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