Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2924, June 3rd, 2015

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Dennis Roddy used to be a mainstay on PCN’s “Journalist Roundtable". Roddy recently penned an article about the prospects of Rick Santorum as the former Senator embarks on a another race for President. That’s today’s Write On Wednesday.
The Rick Santorum who would like to meet you is a curious mixture of better timing and clearer focus than the 2012 Republican nomination silver medalist.
He’s getting back to roots most people didn’t know he had: working-class, anti-Nafta, and generally aligned with the kind of people who would still be Democrats if Hubert Humphrey were still living.
Put simply, the “new” Rick Santorum is the one who first ran for Congress in 1990 with the backing of the union at the local Heinz plant and the blessing of Allegheny County’s famously moderate Republican leaders. Social issues weren’t even on his radar until one-third of the way through the campaign, inspired by a combination of pro-life in-laws and a rediscovery of his own Catholic roots, he came down against abortion.
The election that first put him into office did not turn on abortion. It mostly turned on a general sense that the incumbent had drifted out of touch with his district. Remember, this was the early edge of the anti-incumbency movement that, four years later, culminated with voters in Washington State voting out their congressman, who happened to be Speaker of the House Tom Foley.
Santorum’s mistake in later years was to become the face of a Republican Party that insisted on behaving like a collection of Blue Meanies: anti-immigration, anti-union, fixated on birth certificate conspiracies and lapsing into intemperate language on the subject of gay rights.
If Republicans were going to be the party of obstruction, the left consistently pandered to the “right side of history” crowd, painting any legitimate question about the social consequences of same-sex marriage or immigration reform as coded hate language. Certainly, there was some of that on the fringes of both parties, but in Santorum’s case it was a case of a genial social conservative having his economic progressivism overshadowed by opponents who understood it’s easier to campaign against a caricature than a man.
So, there was Santorum on the stage at a manufacturing plant in his old home turf, rural Butler County, sounding at times like the ghost of Eugene V. Debs. He wants a raise in the minimum wage. Read that again: a Republican presidential candidate wants to increase the minimum wage. He took a passing swipe at union leaders, but focused his wrath on big business, which he accuses of seeking untrammeled immigration by low-skilled labor to drive down wages.
He decried how big business and both political parties “hollowed out” the lives of working families. “Somewhere along the way someone changed the rules and both political parties left them behind.”
Pundits in the room immediately set to work on stories about the “new” Santorum, unaware that it’s actually the old one I met 25 years ago. Over hamburgers and milk shakes at a greasy spoon tucked into a parking garage, he laid out his worldview. To be honest, I never heard a word from him about gay rights, nor did I ask about it, because same-sex marriage in 1990 was not an item on the public agenda.
In western Pennsylvania, where the mill towns had been gutted, and in Pittsburgh, where the population had been halved, it was all economics and on that, Santorum adhered to the far-middle.
After he spoke Wednesday, I caught up to him and mentioned that long-ago lunch. He knew what I meant.
“Everybody says, ‘Oh, he’s remaking himself,’” Santorum said. “Anybody who’s been around me a long time knows this isn’t a remaking.”
That’s true, but with one caveat: the Rick Santorum of 1990 didn’t stay around long enough for people to know him, not once the stars got in his eyes and he became a leader of a party that was changing under his very feet. It’s good to have him back, if only to see if people will really listen.
Dennis Roddy served as a special assistant to Gov. Tom Corbett and is a writer and consultant living in Pittsburgh


At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick is Great for comic Relief

At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Now can you please put this to rest.

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