More on Santorum, Dover & ID!
Santorum's intelligent design flip-flop
The Christian right is getting angry with Rick Santorum. The Pennsylvania Senator has long been one of the movement's most stalwart allies in Washington, but as his prospects for reelection plummet, he's flip-flopping like mad to lose the taint of extremism that's putting off moderate voters. Once a vehement supporter of intelligent design, Santorum has suddenly turned against it, resigning from the advisory board of the Thomas More Law Center, the ultra-right legal outfit that represented the anti-evolution school board in Dover, Penn.
During Bush's first term, Santorum tried to attach an amendment to the No Child Left Behind act that would encourage the teaching of intelligent design. It said, "[W]here topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society." The statement was eventually adopted as part of the Conference Report on the law, which meant it has advisory power only.
Santorum's intent was to give evolution's opponents the government's backing. In 2002, when Ohio debated adding intelligent design to its statewide science standards, Santorum penned a Washington Times op-ed supporting the change. He quoted his amendment and then wrote, "If the Education Board of Ohio does not include intelligent design in the new teaching standards, many students will be denied a first-rate science education. Many will be left behind."
Now the Senator has left that stance behind. In the past he praised the Dover school board's anti-evolution activism, but in recent days he's turned critical, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer and other outlets that intelligent design has no place in the science classroom. He's even said he agrees in part with the scathingly anti-ID opinion handed down by Judge John Jones in the Dover case. Santorum seems to have been alarmed by the defeat of the pro-ID Dover school board by a Democratic slate -- especially since Dover is a town so Republican that ordinarily the only meaningful elections are the primaries.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Santorum's "leading Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., has seized upon the senator's seemingly contradictory statements on intelligent design to portray him as a 'flip flopper' who puts an ideological agenda above other interests."
The Casey camp aren't the only ones appalled by Santorum's vacillating. The Pennsylvania chapter of Don Wildmon's American Family Association -- the fundamentalist pressure group famous for its boycott of Ford, American Girl dolls, Disneyland and other decadent subversives -- is furious.
In a statement, the group said, " Senator Rick Santorum���s agreement with Judge John Jones��� decision concerning the Dover Area School District ���s policy pertaining to Evolution and Intelligent Design is yet another example of why conservatives can no longer trust the Senator."
The group noted that "[I]n his Dec. 25, 2004 guest column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Senator Santorum wrote, 'I commend the Dover Area School District for taking a stand and refusing to ignore the controversy.'
The AFA of PA has to again question the Senator���s total about face on the issue.
Which is it ��� you commend the Dover Area School District or you commend Judge John E. Jones?"
-- Michelle Goldberg
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Santorum Changes His Tune on Intelligent Design
By Chuck Muth
December 27, 2005
I sure hope Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, has a good chiropractor. He's going to need one by the time this election year is over -- what with all his flip-flops, back-flips and political 180s. Either that, or he's got a great future as an Olympic gymnast if his senatorial career comes to an end next November.
I'm trying to keep track of all the strange things Santorum has said and done since kicking his base in the teeth last year when he aggressively stumped for liberal Republican incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter, who was being challenged by conservative Rep. Pat Toomey. But the list is just getting too long -- including supporting Specter for Judiciary Committee chairman and calling for a hike in the minimum wage.
Nevertheless, social conservatives have stood by their man, through thick and thin. He hasn't been able to shake their loyalty. Call it "Battered Conservative Syndrome." But now maybe some of them will finally have had enough. Perhaps the latest from Sen. Santorum will be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back.
As I'm sure you've read, a federal judged ruled last week that an updated version of "creationism," now called "intelligent design," could not be taught in the Dover School District as science. Social conservatives are, as you would expect, outraged by the decision. As surely Sen. Santorum must be, right? After all, Santorum wrote an op/ed in 2002 declaring that intelligent design "is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."
Ah, but that was in 2002. This is an election year. And "Election Year Rick," as his Democrat opposition is now calling him, is singing an entirely different tune now.
An organization called the Thomas More Law Center defended the Dover School District's decision to teach intelligent design in its science classes. Santorum is on the advisory board of the Thomas More Law Center.
Or I should say, WAS on the advisory board. He quit last week, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer, "I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did." Huh?
If Santorum thought intelligent design were "a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes," why is he now resigning from a Christian-rights organization which defended the school district that said intelligent design was a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes?
Santorum's election-year political rush to the middle just might leave his base behind. It's a high-risk gamble on his part. He's betting there's nothing he can do to cause his conservative supporters to stay home on Election Day or vote for another candidate.
I hope he's not betting the farm on it -- or at least has Olga Korbut as his campaign manager.
(Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a public policy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.)