Friday, July 28, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Rick Santorum recognizes the threat

Sen. Rick Santorum is in the fight for his political life. The junior senator from the Pennsylvania, has risen quickly through the Republican ranks to claim one of the top leadership posts in the Senate at a fairly young age.

He has also become a lightning rod for the far left. He is the No. 1 target of the liberal smear machine and is the big fish Democrats want to land this November. A big part of the venom liberals have toward Santorum is the fact that he stands for something. As outlined in his best-selling book "It Takes A Family," Santorum champions traditional American values, the kind that have been under attack by the radical left for decades.

The other reason Santorum has been targeted by the left is payback for the defeat of former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle in 2004. Democrats want revenge. And Santorum, the third ranking Republican in the Senate, has a giant bull's-eye on his back.

The unfortunate part of all this is that Santorum is a good senator. Not only has he done a great job of representing Pennsylvania since 1994, but he has been a conservative standard-bearer at a time when most politicians won't take a position without first conducting a poll. The John Kerrys and Hillary Clintons of the world are all over the map depending on which special interest group is picking up the tab that week, but Santorum has stood his ground, even when it means opposing President Bush.

The most recent split between Santorum and the White House has been immigration. While Bush and many Republicans (including Pennsylvania's senior senator, Arlen Specter) are behind the Senate's "amnesty bill" for illegal immigrants, Santorum voted against it.

One issue that Santorum has never wavered on is the war on terrorism. In a remarkable speech largely ignored by the left-leaning mainstream media, Santorum outlined clearly what the United States is facing if we retreat from the threat posed by Islamic fascists.

In a speech delivered at the National Press Club, Santorum made a convincing case that the United States and its allies are engaged in a World War IV, which is no less dangerous than the two previous two world wars or the Cold War.

"In those wars we fought against European tyrants and their allies, from the Kaiser to Hitler to Lenin, Stalin, and their heirs," Santorum said. "We fought them because we knew that our survival was at stake. The tyrants would never stop attacking until they had defeated us, or we had defeated them."

While the Dean-Kerry-Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party has its head in the sand and the liberal media continues to mislead the American public, Santorum fully understands what's at stake if we lose in Iraq and Afghanistan and allow Islamic terrorists to destroy Israel.

"We are in the same kind of conflict today," Santorum said. "Some say we are fighting a war on terror. That is like saying World War II was a war on blitzkrieg. Terror like blitzkrieg is a tactic used by our enemy, not the enemy itself."

Santorum went on to say that "the threat of Islamic fascism is just as menacing as the threat from Nazism and Soviet communism. Now, as then, we face fanatics who will stop at nothing to dominate us. Now, as then, there is no way out; we will either win or lose."

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were the culmination of a 10-year campaign by our enemies that largely went unanswered by President Bill Clinton, according to Santorum.

"A group of Islamic fascists attacked the United States directly, at the World Trade Center, a month into Bill Clinton's first term," Santorum said. "So why is it so hard for so many Americans to see the nature of this war?"

Santorum answered his own question later in the speech: "I think in part because it makes us feel vulnerable. This is not just happening someplace thousands of miles away. The enemy is doing his utmost to kill us, because of who we are, wherever we are, at home or overseas."

Unlike the "Blame America First" crowd, which includes prominent Democrats such as John Murtha, Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy and Dick Durbin, Santorum believes we should not be afraid to confront the enemy.

"It is unfashionable in some quarters to speak about the Islamo-fascists, because of the misguided cultural reflex that condemns anyone who speaks critically about others' practices or beliefs. Therefore, we can't say or do anything that might offend Muslims," Santorum argues. "But that's backwards. The real offense to Muslims is to remain silent about an ideology that produces the systemic murder of innocents. Those who refuse to criticize Islamic fascism undermine the cause of freedom of religion because if the Islamic fascists win this war, no other religion will be permitted to flourish."

Santorum is a serious man. An intelligent man with a firm grasp of history. The kind of person we need in the Senate.

His opponent is an empty suit by the name of Bob Casey Jr., the son of the former Pennsylvania governor. Casey, hand-picked by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, is a younger version of John Kerry, but with a lot less hair. Bob Casey Jr. has flip-flopped on so many important issues he could open a pancake shop.

While Casey Jr. was attending a fund-raiser hosted by the increasingly embarrassing Murtha, the darling of the "cut-and-run" crowd, Santorum was standing up for his country by making his courageous speech.

"Islamic fascism is the great test of this generation," Santorum said. "We have an obligation as leaders to articulate exactly what this threat is, and to defeat it. The American people have always rallied to the cause of freedom, once they understood what was at stake."

Leadership is a rare quality. It's what we need to survive as a nation. Rick Santorum is a proven leader. Pennsylvania — and the nation — needs to keep Santorum in the Senate.

Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. E-mail him at tphyrillas@pottsmerc.com