I don't think this story's hit the Pittsburgh media yet.
It seems that Senator Rick Santorum
, Pennsylvania's own crusader in the culture of life, had some other motivations when he took that trip down to Schiavo-land. This is from Salon.com:
Santorum: the right to life, and to make money
Despite the fact that the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case didn't prove to be the political gold mine some members of the GOP thought it would be, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., is laughing all the way to the bank. After scoring some free publicity outside Schiavo's Pinellas Park, Fla., hospice last month, Santorum distanced himself from the issue, saying on March 31 that he didn't know "how anyone can believe that this is a political winner, if you look at any of the polls," and that he was actually in Florida for "other meetings."
It turns out that those "other meetings" were fundraising events for the senator's '06 reelection bid, hosted by such notables as Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., and executives from Revlon and Outback Steakhouse. According to Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer, Santorum made the trip to Florida expressly for fundraising; his finance director Rob Bickhart said the trip netted the campaign about $250,000.
Schiavo's death did put a small dent in Santorum's schedule at the time -- the Inquirer noted that he was slated to speak at a town hall meeting in Tampa to promote President Bush's proposed Social Security plan, but that it was cancelled "out of respect" for Schiavo's family. But with the death watch in full swing, when it came to Santorum's raking in the campaign contributions, apparently it was business as usual.
And this is the column from John Baer's column in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer
MY HAT'S OFF to Rick Santorum.
I mean it. Say what you want, this is one pol who works it.
Whether it's flying off to Rome to the pope's funeral, or putting out news he personally met with the pope five - count 'em, five times - he knows how to touch his bases.
More Catholic, one could say, than, well, you know.
And take his trip to Florida and his national TV appearance after visiting the hospice where Terry Schiavo was dying.
A masterpiece of timing, an exceptional use of his time and a good example of how politics is played by the big boys.
Make some news, do a little pandering, raise some money and, oh, yeah, comfort a suffering family.
Wait, raise some money? Yep, that's what the trip was about.
Maybe you thought it was about Santorum's deep commitment to the culture of life.
After all, the passionately conservative Republican was pretty visible in the controversial case, getting lots of ink and airtime. He argued that Schiavo was denie due process and her right to life. He called state and federal court refusals to intervene "unconscionable."
And at the critical moment, right near the end, the day before she died, there he was (uninvited) with her family.
Reportedly the only member of Congress to go, he said was in Florida on "a lot of other business."
Well, there was a town meeting in Tampa, near the hospice, with two other Republican senators selling President Bush's Social Security reform. See, Santorum's a leader in the U.S. Senate, chairman of the Republican Conference.
But that meeting was canceled at least two days earlier.
On Wednesday March 30 Santorum said on national TV, "We canceled it on Monday."
Why? According to the Tampa Tribune, "out of respect" for Schiavo's family.
A spokesperson for the event said, "We just didn't think it was appropriate to go into the region and do a big policy event at this time."
Apparently, though, it was appropriate for a politician seeking re-election to go into the region and do political events at this time. Even if he didn't talk about them.
Santorum told MSNBC-TV, according to the March 30 "Hardball" transcript, he was in Florida because, "I had other plans to - and other meetings." (Schiavo died March 31.) What he didn't say was the plans and "meetings" were fund-raisers for his '06 re-election effort.
There was a luncheon in Orlando and a dinner in Miami on March 29 with Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a luncheon in Tampa March 30 hosted by Outback Steakhouse, which is headquartered there, and a dinner that night in Palm Beach hosted by execs from Revlon.
The trip was made on a Wal-Mart jet paid for by Santorum's campaign fund.
Total take, according to Santorum finance director Rob Bickhart, was about $250,000 (en route to an April 15 FEC filing expected to show the senator with close to $3 million already).
So my hat's off.
Down and back on a corporate jet, grab a quarter-mill, get some national attention. This, my friends, is poetry in motion.
What's that you say? Seems a tad crass to cash in on a heartbroken family and get your mug on TV because you happen to be in the neighborhood lining your pockets?
If you cancel one event "out of respect," why not others?
Doesn't the culture of life outweigh the culture of cash?
Well, your problem is you just don't understand politics (and, hey, Jesse Jackson went down there!) or the way it's played by the big boys.
Thanks, Rick. Thanks for putting things in perspective for us. You cancelled the Social Security meeting is cancelled out of "respect" for the Schiavo family but not the campaign fundraisers. I'll repeat that for some added emphasis:
You cancelled the Social Security meeting out of "respect" for the Schiavo family but not your campaign fundraisers.
And now we have a fuller understanding of your committment to the "culture of life" and the depth of your "respect" for the Schiavo family. Maybe the quarter million is worth it. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at Mark 8:36
. In case you've forgotten, Senator, here's the text:
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Was the quarter Million worth it?