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It takes some nerve

July 15, 2005

It took U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., three years to get offended by a column that Senate colleague Rick Santorum, R-Pa., wrote in which Santorum linked abuse by Catholic priests to Boston's "academic, political and cultural liberalism."

It's tough to believe Kennedy would have gotten so worked up if Santorum weren't being mentioned as a possible candidate for president. But, given Santorum's more recent remarks and actions, he's not polishing his resume very effectively.

In his new book, "It Takes a Family," Santorum wrote that respect for stay-at-home mothers "has been poisoned by a toxic combination of the village elders' war on the traditional family and radical feminism's mysogynistic crusade to make working outside the home the only marker of social value and self-respect."

Leaving aside the question of who these diabolical "village elders" are, we wonder how the senator squares his remarks with the growth in support for the home-schooling movement, which often depends on one parent, usually the wife, staying at home.

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And we'd bet that if the senator were more in touch with his constituents, he might find that whether or not one is a stay-at-home mom often depends less on feminism than on whether the family could pay all of its bills without her salary.

In another chestnut from "It Takes a Family," Santorum opines that a college education to help unmarried mothers get on their feet financially "is just wrong."

That would come as a surprise to most educators and professionals who work to help single mothers become productive citizens, as opposed to burdens on the taxpayers.

And speaking of burdens on the taxpayers, The Associated Press reported Monday that a Pittsburgh-area school district lost its bid to recover fees it paid to a Pennsylvania cyber school for Santorum's children.

The district argued that Santorum should pay back more than $30,000 in tuition because his children spend more of their time in his house in Leesburg, Va., than in Pennsylvania.

Santorum called the district's charges "mean-spirited" and "politically motivated" and asked Democrats not to make his children "political pawns" in the next election.

We would agree with that idea, if Santorum's children had done this on their own, using the immature judgment children often have.

But we can't believe that this champion of the family would be unaware of his children's activities, or worse, use these innocents as a shield against criticism of his actions.

We advise Pennsylvania voters to do as all wise parents tell their children to do: Pay more attention that what is done and less to what is said.

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