Tuesday, October 17, 2006

T-21 Days and Counting: Rick Santorum

That's how much time is left until the general election on November 7th.

Tonight, Senator Rick Santorum spoke at a townhall meeting in Philadelphia. The event was sponsored by WNTP (990 AM) and the Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans. Featured guests were talk show hosts Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager.

The crowd was hushed as Senator Santorum came to the end of his speech, and then burst into loud applause and gave him a standing ovation. Let me share my notes from his speech and Q&A:
  • The country needs people who can stand up in difficult times and confront the issues and the American public.
  • "Greatest danger facing America is Islamic Fascism." Important that we know who the enemy is. Americans are wavering on the war because we don't understand the enemy.
  • Words matter. "War on terror" brings images of men hiding in caves — so Americans think, How could we lose to them? President Bush kept referring to the enemy as cowards for a time after 9/11, but that's a misrepresentation. "These people people are not cowards; misguided, sick, but not cowards." We don't call them what they are, so we don't understand them.
  • Enemy's favorite movie is watching the two Fox news reporters submitting to Islam. They see us as evil, corrupt, not willing to die for anything, weak materialists.
  • Iran is where the action is, our principle threat right now. We've already dealt with two major enemies: the Taliban and Al Qaeda (which are radical Sunnis), and Iraq which under Saddam Hussein was being opportunistic in aiding terrorists. Iran and the radical Shiites are now the third problem.
  • Iranian President Ahmadinajad is our threat and our opportunity. Rick sees parallel with 1930's and Europe's approach to Hitler: they didn't take him at his word, and assumed he was someone they could negotiate with. Same story now with Ahmadinajad, who has designs far beyond running his little corner of the world. He's more dangerous than Hitler because he's also a religious zealot who sees his duty as to bring the end times, when Islam wins its final battle over the infidels and the 12th Imam returns. He's dangerous because he has resources (oil, for example) and ability to aquire nuclear weapons thanks to the A.Q. Khan network and N. Korean scientists.
  • We're dealing with a man/country/movement that wants to change the world. We sit by and play political games, and do nothing.
  • This year's Senate races will determine the course of our national security policy for years to come. If the Democrats take power, they will say, We can negotiate with him. We will delay and delay, and then wonder why Iran has nukes.
  • If Iran gets nuclear weapons, the world will no longer be the same. That day is sooner than we've thought, given N. Korea's test last week.
  • Rick thinks that our intel in the Middle East is deplorable. Exiles tell him that there is strong pro-U.S. sentiment in Iran among the people. He thinks we lost credibility after the Administration's decision to work with the Europeans and negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program at behest of State Department.
  • Touted his work to pass the Iran Freedom and Support Act (S.333), saying the Administration finally realized that some policy on Iran was better than none. He feels we need to foster peaceful revolution from within Iran — soon. If not, have to consider other options, including military.
  • "On matters of principle, people deserve your best."
  • "Don't let Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi fool you into thinking that under their leadership the country would become more conservative!" I.e., get out and vote Republican; don't be cowed into staying home on election day.
  • National security, American culture, and economy would be at risk under Democratic leadership.
  • Our war efforts have had three major components. First, going after the enemy in their lairs and destroying them. Second, stepping up intelligence efforts and stopping plots before they hatch (several hundred stopped so far around the world). Third, "fortress America" — which is the Dem's first priority and exactly backwards — beefing up government to keep us safe, spending billions of dollars but not the best way to defend America.
  • US has been on offense since 9/11 and Rick wants us to stay on offense!
  • Q. about putting an end to gun violence. Rick said it was a multi-dimensional problem, requiring a number of approaches, such as tougher enforcement, intervention programs for juvenile offenders, and programs from community- and faith-based organizations. Violence comes from neighborhoods where common denominators are lots of violence, broken homes, and absentee dads. Need to promote marriage, reconnect fathers with kids. Liberals say that we can't moralize or judge people's families. Problem is that children get hurt by that ideology. Need to build healthier families and communities.

Dennis Prager preceded Senator Santorum, speaking for thirty minutes to a rapt audience.
  • Dennis is here in Philadelphia because of Rick Santorum, not being paid to appear. "This is a race worthy of your money, time, and effort."
  • We are in a battle for the soul of America. Ironic that many Republicans don't understand that, while many Democrats do.
  • Liberals are foolish, but not bad, often mean well. To liberals, essence is about feeling good (rather than actually doing good).
  • "American Trinity" is his way of describing our distinctive value system, and it's found on every US coin: In God We Trust, E Pluribus Unum, and Liberty. Uniquely American, what it's all about in the final analysis.
    • In God We Trust means we're grounded in a moral framework with Judeo-Christian values. Unlike the Europeans, our American forebears were grounded in "Judeo", although there's no such thing as Judeo-Christian theology. Talking values here, not theology. US is not a secular country, but does have a secular government.
    • E Pluribus Unum, "out of many, one". Liberals endorse multi-culturalism, which is the antithesis of E Pluribus Unum, "un-American". Multi-culturalism means every culture is equally "celebratable", which is demonstrably false. Americans have always made culturable judgements, keeping that which is good.
    • US has only culture that has put together religious society with liberty, understanding that God wants us to be free. Deeply religious people asserting that libery is at center of God's command.
  • Question that matters is, who is dominant in a society? Most Germans were peace-loving before WWII, but the Nazis were the ones in power.
  • Enemy understands that US is greatest threat to Islamist vision of world-wide caliphate under sharia.
  • Rick Santorum is up against an opponent who is just there to try and unseat him. Dennis is here to help him fight the good fight.
Hugh broadcast his first two hours from the next room (so of course, we missed his show!), and then joined us at 8 pm, after Rick Santorum's speech. He was introduced by Dennis Prager.
  • Pennsylvania Republicans have saved Union before (with Lincoln nomination), and can save Senate this time.
  • Many Democratic candidates are empty suits. Wrong and clueless, many incurious about issues. This is a crucial moment in the history of the Republic, but Democrats are fielding light-weights.
  • Related story of Mother Teresa receiving Medal of Freedom at Rose Garden, and when invited to speak, said "Mr. President, I need more money!" Moral: ask for what you need. Rick Santorum needs your time, money, and energy if he is to win in November.
  • Had Scott Rassmussen on his show this evening, who is a prominent pollster. Hugh talked to him about the models pollsters use to predict turnout. Lesson is that turnout models are garbage-in, garbage-out, so polls aren't all that accurate. Best indicator of what's really going on is to see where the parties are spending their money. Dems know that Rick Santorum has come from behind to win 3 of 4 times on election day, so they're spending lots to defeat him.
  • Rick is an unusual politician because he will answer questions that are asked, and respond with a well thought-out and articulate position. He has a coherent world-view. It's always necessary to understand what we stand for.
  • Need truth-tellers, and Rick Santorum is one.
The evening was fun, and I enjoyed getting to meet Dennis for the first time, and Hugh for the second time.

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Local campaigns I'm supporting: Jim Saxton for Congress and Tom Kean for U.S. Senate.

[Update 10/18 1046] Welcome Hugh Hewitt readers!

And for those people who haven't read his take on last night's events it's here.