Rick Santorum's Hypocrisy

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speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

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          Anyone who cares about future of United States should be extremely concerned about what now passes for a serious discussion political issues and about the quality of the candidates who now stand for public office. A case in point is Rick Santorum. As a result of his extremely second place finish in the Iowa GOP caucus, the  former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator has now become the darling of  radical right and a serious contender for the GOP presidential nomination.   

    Santorum's website touts his commitment to limited government, fiscal conservatism and family values:

    "Every American should have access to high-quality, affordable health care, with health care decisions made by patients and their physicians, NOT government bureaucrats America needs targeted, market-driven, patient-centered solutions to address the costs and underlying causes of being uninsured rather than a one-size fits-all, government-run health care system."

    "Rick Santorum is committed to reviving our economy, restoring economic growth, and creating jobs in America again by unleashing innovation and entrepreneurship through lower and simpler taxes for American businesses, workers, and families.  He also will roll back job killing regulations, restrain our spending by living within our means, and unleash our domestic manufacturing and energy potential.  His vision for America is to restore America's greatness through promotion of freedom and opportunity for all.  This is just the start.  A plan made in America to promote America's families and prosper its businesses."

    "Coming from Pennsylvania, a state with a rich heritage of hunting and fishing, Senator Santorum understands firsthand the importance of preserving our constitutionally protected rights found in the 2nd Amendment. Senator Santorum fights to preserve this tradition, and will work to ensure these rights are not infringed upon."As a Senator, Rick Santorum opposed frivolous lawsuits against the gun industry by supporting legislation (The Protection of Lawful Commerce Act) that would protect law abiding firearms manufacturers and dealers from frivolous lawsuits attempting to hold them liable for criminal acts of third parties."

     Santorum's website further proclaims that, "As a believer in American Exceptionalism.... Rick Santorum understands that those who wish to destroy America do so because they hate everything we are - a land of freedom, a land of prosperity, a land of equality....As an elected representative, Rick knew that his greatest responsibility was to protect the freedoms we enjoy - and we should not apologize for holding true to these principles."

     The question that now needs to be answered, however, is whether any sentient human being could possibly believe in either Rick Santorum or the "conservative values" he professes to endorse.     
    There is little in Santorum's background that suggests that a reliance upon "conservative values" enabled Rick Santorum to realize the American dream. To the contrary, his life is proof positive that if the kind of limited government he now advocates had been in place during his childhood, much like millions of other middle-aged Americans, he would have been a victim of "road kill." In fact, it was the social safety, now so decried Sentorum and other the right-wing zealots, that enabled Santorum's family to be prosper and to become members of the middle class. 

     During his childhood, Santorum's parents were employed by  the local (socialist) Veterans Administration Hospital in Butler. His father worked as a clinical psychologist, and his mother was employed as a VA nurse. His  family also lived at the VA hospital in government-provided housing.  As a child,  Santorum attended public, tax-payer-supported schools in the Butler Area School District and only later attended a Catholic School, Carmel School in Mundelein, Illinois, after his father was able to transfer within the VA hospital system. Subsequently, Santorum earned a Bachelor's Degree  in political science from the Pennsylvania State University in 1980 - a public land grant university.

       As reported in today's New York Times, in an article by  Mike McIntire and Michael Luo, as a U.S. Senator, Santorum worked diligently to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in additional Medicare money for hospitals in Puerto Rico. In addition to his having sponsored  two Senate bills, Santorum inserted an amendment into a Medicare bill that provided for additional  spending that was intended to benefit Universal Health Services, a Pennsylvania-based hospital management company with facilities in Puerto Rico. 

       As a U.S. Senator, Santorum cultivated Washington lobbyists and pandered to a number of influential trade associations. For several years, he held regular breakfast meetings with a handpicked group of influential lobbyists, and he was closely linked to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and majority whip Tom DeLay who helped to create  the "K Street Project." As a reward, Santorum led all federal candidates in 2006 having received  approximately $500,000 in contributions from lobbyists and their family members, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

        Santorum also became embroiled  in controversy because of  his home in Virginia, where he and his family lived while the Senate was in session. He admitted that he spent only "maybe a month a year, something like that" at his Pennsylvania residence yet  he enrolled five of his children in an online "cyber school" in Pennsylvania for which the Penn Hills school district was billed $73,000, despite the fact that all of his the children lived in Virginia..

      Shortly after the voters of Pennsylvania declined to return Santorum to the Senate, he  was invited to join the board of Universal Health Services, where he was paid $395,000 in director's fees and he was given stock options before he resigned last year. Santorum was also hired as a consultant by Consol Energy for which, as a major Pennsylvania gas and coal producer, Sentorum had spent years supporting drilling and extraction policies that favored  the company. In addition, he consulted for the American Continental Group, a lobbying firm whose clients won earmarks he sponsored.

       A financial disclosure report that Santorum filed in August, 2011 as part of his presidential campaign shows the full extent of his newfound wealth. He earned a total of more than $1 million in the prior 18 months from a number of sources that  included a fellowship with a conservative research organization, his being employed as a commentator for Fox News, and a handful of consulting contracts, as well as income from rental properties in Pennsylvania, three years earlier, in 2007, he spent $2 million to buy a 5,000-square foot home in Great Falls, Va., according to property records.

     The contrast between what Rick Santorum says be now believes and his life history is startling and irreconcilable. The fact that Santorum's purported  working "class values" could be the subject of a favorable commentary by David Brooks, or that he could be described as a "fun candidate" by George Will, suggest that the current "conservative" movement and  the GOP establishment, as illustrated by the new found enthusiasm for Rick Sentorum, are intellectually bankrupt and, like Sentorum himself, are able to offer little more than recycle discredited slogans and nostrums from the nineteenth century.   
        H.L. Mencken once observed that "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." Rick Santorum's emergence as a serious GOP presidential contender is evidence that Mencken was right. 

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