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Inventing a Controversy: The Post-Gazette on Santorum’s Residency May 30, 2006

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.
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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is trying hard to create a controversy where none exists. On May 26th, they published the following attack:

"Before every election, the Post-Gazette routinely sends letters to the candidates seeking material for the Voters Guide. Back in March, as part of that process for the primary, the newspaper sent a letter to Rick Santorum at his home address, at least the one that he claims. Back from Penn Hills came the letter with a sticker from the U.S. Postal Service checked as "Not Deliverable As Addressed — Unable To Forward."

That is all you need to know about the nasty dispute between the Republican Sen. Santorum and his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr., in the November election. The whole thing is rooted in one inconvenient fact for Sen. Santorum: He doesn't live here anymore."

This seems fishy to me. If Santorum really didn't live in PA, don't you think he'd be smart enough to set up mail forwarding? The article (my comments inline) reads like a smear campaign:

This is not to say that he doesn't visit Penn Hills from time to time. But while he may meet the legal requirements for residency, his home is in Virginia with his wife and children. [Papundit: Isn't it weird that the attack article is about how Santorum doesn't live here, yet the Post-Gazette admits he meets the legal requirements for residency. Facts don't matter to the Post-Gazette when it's trying to smear a Republican.]This is well-known and it has been for quite a while. Indeed, it was at the heart of the objection by some Penn Hills residents to the local school district paying for the senator's children to be enrolled in a cyber charter school. The theory was that — let us emphasize it again because it is central to the current problem — he doesn't live here anymore. [Papundit: If Santorum meets the legal requirements for residency– as the Post-Gazette just said he did– he is entitled to the benefits of residency– including schooling for his children.]

In furtherance of that objection, two local Democrats, Ed and Erin Vecchio, tried to revive the residency issue on primary election day, which was covered by a subsequent KDKA-TV report. A radio ad for Sen. Santorum flagrantly distorts that report, suggesting that "operatives" for the Casey campaign had trespassed on the Santorum property. (It also sneeringly calls Mr. Casey "Bobby" — as if the Democrat wore short pants.) [Papundit: Since when is using a nickname, "sneering"? Articles have referred to Casey as Bobby in the past. Is it also sneering to refer to former President Carter as Jimmie Carter?]

First, the couple criticizing Sen. Santorum have denied a connection to the Casey campaign, an assertion confirmed by Mr. Casey. (Perhaps Sen. Santorum thinks that just being a critical Democrat makes people "operatives.") [Papundit: Double standard watch! The media thinks that just being a critical Republican makes people "operatives." Don't believe me? Do a few Google searches. Here's a hint: look at just about any story on the Swift Boat Vets.]

Second, no one has admitted to trespassing on the Santorum property or peering through windows. The KDKA report merely quoted Mr. Vecchio as saying the house was vacant, with no curtains or furniture. But you wouldn't have to be a trespasser to find that out; you could ask neighbors — or the local mail carrier. [Papundit: Except…Mr. Vecchio didn't ask neighbors or the local mail carrier. Mr. Vecchio admitted on KDKA-TV to viewing the inside of the Santorum home. This would require him to trespass on the property.] After all, the senator's absence is not in serious dispute because he doesn't live here anymore.

Mr. Casey described Sen. Santorum's claims as "weird" and "bizarre." [Papundit: Very objective of the Post-Gazette to quote Santorum's opponent and to agree with him.] Actually, they are beyond weird and raise serious questions about the senator's ethics that go beyond the residency question. In a letter to Mr. Casey, he speaks of his "outrage" regarding the actions of the Casey campaign "which have put our six young children at a serious safety risk."

Though that suggestion is far-fetched to the point of absurdity, [Papundit: I doubt most parents would find Santorum's concern for his children weird or absurd.] it would be a potential source of fear only if the senator actually lived in Penn Hills, but — let us repeat one last time — the Santorum family is at no risk because he doesn't live here anymore and the family is in Virginia most of the time. So what we have is the senator making untrue [Papundit: The Post-Gazette said Santorum met legal residency standards, yet they want to call Santorum's statement about his residency untrue? The Post-Gazette may think Santorum's statements raise questions about the senator's ethics that go beyond the residency question, but articles like this one raise questions about the Post-Gazette's ethics. Are they a newspaper, or are they an unofficial part of the Casey campaign?] and outrageous comments while seeking to hide behind his wife and kids in order to get around an inconvenient fact.

We have a feeling that those who do live here may have something to say about this cowardly tactic at the November polls.

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