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The End of Idealism May 8, 2006

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.
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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette endorsed Casey on Sunday May 7th:

"If he is given the unified support of his party, state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. could be U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's worst nightmare….Bob Casey also has the potential to cause problems for Sen. Santorum among the Republican's base."

A prescient Washington Times editorial theorized that the Democratic strategy of dividing the conservative base by nominating pro-lifer Casey to the senate could backfire.

Calling Santorum "kryptonite to liberals," the Washington Times observed that Santorum is "toxic" to the Democratic coalition. The reasoning behind this bold statement was that Santorum's policies on poverty, AIDs, Third World debt relief and other issues could woo voters away from the Democratic party:

"By advocating alternatives to liberal social policies and articulating a vision of hope, opportunity and empowerment for the underprivileged, he potentially attracts significant chunks of non-traditional voters to the Republican camp — defections Democrats cannot afford. Mr. Santorum is an antidote to arrogance for those who believe Democrats take them for granted and for those weary of more promises, failed policies or unacceptable results. Triggering even a minor rebellion among black, Hispanic and other traditionally solid Democrat base voters could end decades of thankless, liberal hegemony within these communities. Mr. Santorum leads this revolution, and the Left wants him stopped.
He has spearheaded welfare reform and the CARE Act, a bill to promote more charitable giving and strengthen the institutions providing needed services. He also coauthored the Senate Poverty Alleviation Agenda, a series of bills that reform programs for the poor and promote housing ownership. Working with Irish rocker Bono, Mr. Santorum prodded his colleagues to act on issues like Third World debt relief and the AIDS pandemic in Africa."

I suspect that the Casey nomination could divide the Democratic base, but not for the reasons the Washington Times does. Casey was handpicked by top Democratic strategists and endorsed by the press as the man who can beat Santorum, but his candidacy represents the end of Democratic idealism. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette acknowledged that the selection of Casey upset some activists:

"Some Democrats were annoyed that party leaders, including Gov. Rendell, asked the pro-choice Barbara Hafer not to run for the Senate in the interests of improving Mr. Casey's chances."

Although the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's editorial board is pro-choice, they endorsed Casey over his pro-choice primary rivals for the following reason:

"In the event of a minor miracle in the primary, neither man could hope for a major miracle head-to-head against Sen. Santorum."

The Philadelphia Inquirer espoused a similar opinion in its endorsement of Casey:

"Casey is antiabortion and opposes gun control, positions some think doomed Klink in 2000 vs. Santorum….If Pennsylvania Democrats want to capture that elusive Senate seat, their choice in the primary should be BOB CASEY JR. If they want someone who'll preach to the choir, but make few converts outside the congregation, they can pick one of the other guys."

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette both endorsed Casey in the primary, but there was pessimism in the endorsements– a recognition that Democratic ideals and values have to be abandoned if the Party wants to reverse its losing streak. Electability has now trumped Democratic idealism.

Feminist groups and gun control activists have worked hard to elect Democratic candidates for years, but DNC strategists saw that a pro-choice, gun-grabber wouldn't poll as well. A Casey victory would prove their hypothesis and possibly move the Democratic Party to the right in 2008. And that would be bad news for the special interest groups who make up the Democratic base.

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