One of the biggest red flags in Rick Santorum's senatorial record was his endorsement of turncoat Arlen Specter in 2004. Those here on this forum who might otherwise be sympathetic to Sen. Santorum's candidacy repeatedly point to how unsettling it is that Santorum backed a liberal Republican over rock-ribbed conservative Pat Toomey. In last night's debate, Mitt Romney exploited this vulnerability when he demanded an explanation of Santorum for this apparent lapse in judgment (minute 3:05 in the clip below).
Santorum's explanation (at minute 4:40 in the clip):
Why I supported Arlen Specter: number one) because Arlen Specter was a Senator who was going to be the chairman of the judiciary committee at a time when the most important issue that was coming up in the next session of Congress was two to three Supreme Court nominees that were going to be available and one, maybe two of them or maybe all three were going to be out of the conservative block.
And Arlen Specter as chairman of the judiciary committee, we had a conversation as he asked me to support him. I said, 'Will you support the president's nominees?' We had a 51-to-49 majority in the Senate. He said, 'I'll support the president's nominees as chairman.'
So make of that justification what you will. And then recalculate your conclusion adjusting for Arlen Specter's statement in a podcast interview this morning:
"He is not correct. I made no commitment to him about supporting judges," Specter said. "I made no deal."
That Specter should parade his disloyalty is no surprise, and I think it's folly to take him at his word —for all I know, he did indeed make that deal with Sen. Santorum. What concerns me is not Specters dishonorable behavior, but rather Santorum's honorable behavior. Rick Santorum here (and again with his 'I support bills I didn't support' moment) demonstrated that loyalty can be a character flaw when the the object of one's loyalty is an unworthy master.