01.17.2012 03:04 PM

Stop the presses! Far-right SoCons are full of crap!

…oh, wait. Not very newsy, is it?

My new book is going to jam-packed with gems like this one:

Rick Santorum’s wife once pro choice, lived with abortion practitioner
Source: The Canadian Press
Jan 17, 2012 14:53
By Lee-Anne Goodman

THE CANADIAN PRESS

WASHINGTON – As political scandals go, it’s a doozy – and it lands just as Rick Santorum is attempting to rally South Carolina’s evangelicals and social conservatives in advance of the state’s crucial Republican primary on Saturday.

Newsweek magazine is reporting that the pro-life Santorum’s wife, Karen Garver Santorum, once lived with an abortion provider 40 years her senior. Tom Allen claims his one-time lover had no problem with his chosen profession while they lived together for six years in the 1980s.

The story features an interview with Allen, a longtime Pittsburgh obstetrician and gynecologist who actually delivered Karen Garver in 1960. It includes a photograph of him cuddling with his former girlfriend, the daughter of a friend and business associate.

Allen, now 92, told Newsweek reporter Nancy Hass that his ex was “a lovely girl, very intelligent and sweet.”

But there was no sign in the 1980s of the passionate pro-life crusader she would become in later years, he added.

“Karen had no problems with what I did for a living,” he said.

It’s not the first time the story has been reported. In a lengthy 2005 profile in a Philadelphia newspaper, Allen divulged his past out-of-wedlock love affair while dropping a bombshell that raised questions about Santorum’s commitment to the pro-life cause.

“When she moved out to go be with Rick, she told me I’d like him, that he was pro-choice and a humanist,” he said at the time. “But I don’t think there’s a humanist bone in that man’s body.”

The story’s resurrection seven years later couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time for the former Pennsylvania senator.

Spouses should matter, Santorum himself once said.

“When you look at someone to determine whether they’d be the right person for public office, look at who they lay down with at night and what they believe,” he said on a campaign stop last year.

In the Newsweek article, however, those who were friendly with the former Karen Garver and her older boyfriend when they were a couple backed up the doctor’s insistence that she was unconcerned about his work as an abortion practitioner and a keen advocate of reproductive rights.

One friend of the couple, Mary Greenberg, said Karen Santorum even offered to accompany her to a Pittsburgh abortion clinic in 1983.

“She told me it wasn’t that bad, that I shouldn’t be worried,” Greenberg told Newsweek. “She was very supportive.”

The couple broke up amicably in 1988 because Karen Garver wanted to have children and Allen, in his early 60s at the time and the father of adult children, had no interest in starting again. She married Santorum in 1990.

In recent remarks on abortion, her husband said he would “advocate that any doctor that performs an abortion should be criminally charged for doing so.”

On the campaign trail in South Carolina late last week, however, Santorum was on the hot seat when he was asked about subsidizing abortion and Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the United States.

“There is nobody that’s been a stronger pro-life leader in the United States Congress than I was,” he replied.

INDEX: INTERNATIONAL HEALTH POLITICS

4 Comments

  1. Jason Hickman says:

    I have no brief for Santorum – I’d be just as happy if he dropped out of the RNC race tomorrow – but the underlying issue is of more interest to me.

    What *is* the proverbial statute of limitations for this sort of thing? Regardless of whether you move from left to right or right to left on abortion – or any issue – how long does it take before you’re protected, in a practical sense, from the flip-flop/hypocrite charge?

    For instance, let’s say a then-backbench MP voted against same-sex marriage 10 or more years ago. Heck, let’s say that she didn’t just vote against it but actively spoke out against it, inside & outside the House. But once the Courts started getting in on the act, this MP muted her opposition and even ended up voting to recognize it and keep it. And now let’s say the same MP wants to run for leader of her Party 5 years from now, after the next election. With all the time that’s passed, and her intervening votes, is she innoculated from *either* the charge that she’s a hidden social conservative *or* the accusation that she’s a flip-flopper/hypocrite? (And by “innoculated”, I don’t mean that such charges wouldn’t be made by one opponent or another, just that they wouldn’t be effective.)

    You see what I mean by this? I don’t pretend to do war-room/spin-doctor stuff for a living, so I don’t have a clue what the answer is. But surely, with enough passage of time and/or intervening acts, a politican (or spouse) isn’t going to suffer for what he said or believed years ago.

    Anyway. Interesting catch, and I’ll be interested to hear what people think.

    • James Bow says:

      I think the problem is less the matter of the facts themselves, but that Santorum’s camp shied away from them.

      I’m with you on the “statute of limitations” point. Much as I strongly disagree with Santorum’s point of view regarding abortion, gay marriage, and so on (and I consider myself to be pro life, but that’s another debate for another time), the fact remains that twenty years have passed since some of these events took place, and twenty years is more than enough time for somebody to change their mind about just about anything. Look back on the man or woman you were twenty years ago, and you’ll probably find that you’ve held some completely different political positions back then.

      The problem is, though, that Santorum himself didn’t try to get ahead of this story. He could easily have diffused the situation by describing how he changed and how he came to believe in the things he believed in. When was Rick Santorum’s “road to Damascus” moment? When was that moment for his wife? There is no shame in changing your mind, as long as you can explain the reasons why. Even if you are ashamed of the person you were, the fact is that you should be able to turn the change into the person you are into a story of triumph.

      But Santorum hasn’t done that. He’s shied away from this issue, and given the impression (to me, anyway) that he has something to hide. And as a result, of course the media is going to be all over this, because of the apparent hypocrisy. There was an easy way to show that there was no hypocrisy, but Rick didn’t take it. It’s as if he wanted to maintain a lie that “oh, no, I was ALWAYS pro life and I was ALWAYS opposed to gay marriage. I didn’t take these issues on in order to try and appeal to the looney end of the social conservative base.”

  2. Anne Peterson says:

    Those ‘Road to Damascus’ moments are handy, aren’t they. Let you get away with all kinds of hypocracy, don’t they? I notice how those right wing candidates have them regularly, like a bath. Not an intellectualy honest person among them.

    • James Bow says:

      That’s the thing: they mostly _don’t_ have them. They just pretend that they’ve always been the way they are and if their history comes back to haunt them, it’s as if they hope people will think it happened to somebody else who shared the same name.

      I want to hear some of these stories. Then, at least, they’d have to put some effort into them.

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