The Spectacle Blog

The Specter Albatross

By on 2.23.12 | 11:50AM

With regard to Mitt Romney hammering Rick Santorum over his support for Arlen Specter's re-election in 2004, Jeff Lord is probably right when he says that had Romney defeated Ted Kennedy in 1994 that he would have likely not a cast a ballot for John Roberts and Sam Alito (or for that matter Bill Pryor on the 11th Circuit).

But the Montreal Expos should have won the 1994 World Series. If the Expos had got their victory parade down Rue St. Catherine then there would still be baseball in Montreal. But there was no World Series in 1994. Nor did Mitt Romney beat Ted Kennedy that year. So I'm afraid Jeff's point is moot.

While Santorum may have said last night that he "did the right thing for our country" when he backed Specter he wasn't so proud of supporting Specter two years ago. When he spoke before CPAC in 2010, Santorum said, "Against the advice of my wife, I endorsed Arlen Specter." After a chorus of booes cascaded across the auditorium, Santorum said, "My sentiments exactly! How many times have I said this in my 20-plus years of marriage? I should have listened to my wife." So is Santorum now back to not listening to his wife?

Jeff further argues:

One can talk all day long about Arlen Specter's liberalism or cynicism or whatever. But at the end of the day, keeping one's conservative eye on the ball meant getting two conservatives on the Supreme Court.

In short, whether anyone wants to say it or not, Rick Santorum played a key and much unappreciated role in getting that job done.

Well, underappreciated is the operative word here and unfortunately for Santorum it is largely conservatives who don't appreciate his efforts in getting Specter re-elected in 2004. If Santorum deserves some of the credit for getting Specter re-elected in order to see through the confirmations of Roberts, Alito and other conservative justices then he must also take some of the blame for getting Specter re-elected because he did switch parties and saw through the passage of Obamacare. If Santorum is now back to defending his efforts on behalf of Specter then he must take the good with the bad.

Given Romney's own role in bringing about Obamacare, he was downright audacious in his attack on Santorum. Nevertheless, Santorum did not do a good job of explaining his support for Specter in a succinct manner and was unable to put the ball back into Romney's court. Romney successfully placed the Specter albatross around Santorum's neck and unless he finds a way to remove it or somehow Romney makes a bigger blunder of his own then the damage done may very well be irreversible.

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