Sunday, January 22, 2012

How Slippery Is Santorum?

Rick Santorum in Richmond, October 2010
Two days before he placed a distant third in the South Carolina GOP presidential primary, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum published an op-ed piece in the Washington Times in which he criticized his rival for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, for poor judgment in making judicial appointments as governor of Massachusetts.

Posing a rhetorical question, Santorum wrote:
What sort of justice to the Supreme Court will Mitt Romney nominate - a [David] Souter or a [Clarence] Thomas? A [Harriet] Miers or an [Samuel] Alito? A Kennedy or a Scalia? His record as governor of Massachusetts gives no cause for optimism.
Santorum's examples of bad nominations almost all relate to judges who issued rulings favorable to the rights of gay citizens (though not all of them -- this is somewhat unclear from the text -- were appointed by Romney, and one of them is acknowledged to have been nominated by Romney's predecessor, Republican Governor William Weld).

Santorum also notes that
Mr. Romney nominated 36 judges while governor, just nine of whom were Republicans.... There is no evidence that Mr. Romney ever fought for a conservative nominee.
Accusing Romney of "ambiguity and timidity," Santorum concludes his article by saying that (the contrast is implied) he would stand up for conservative principles, unlike the former Massachusetts governor:
Numerous conservative leaders have said that I was the “go-to” guy in the Senate to push for conservative judges. This is a deeply felt cause for me - of both heart and head. We absolutely must get this right. Ambiguity and timidity won’t get it right, nor will it defeat the left’s judicial agenda. We need to uphold the Constitution with principles and conviction, not with moderation and vague hopes.
The funny thing is, four years ago, Rick Santorum said, apparently with sincerity, that Mitt Romney was the presidential candidate with principles and conviction, and who therefore deserved the Republican party's nomination instead of eventual winner John McCain.

"Governor Romney is the candidate who will stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear," Santorum said enthusiastically on February 1, 2008, adding that "Governor Romney has a deep understanding of the important issues confronting our country today, and he is the clear conservative candidate" [italics added].

Of course, since Romney ended his term as Massachusetts' chief executive in early 2007, he had already done all those things for which Santorum criticizes him today. If Romney's judicial nominations were so bad prior to his first presidential run, why did Santorum praise him so effusively in 2008?

The only thing that has changed is that Santorum and Romney are both seeking the same job, and as a politician, Rick Santorum will say anything -- even reverse his own previously held convictions -- to get the job instead of Romney.

Really, how slippery can Santorum get?
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