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ISSUE #111
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ArrowBig Baby Brown
Buffalo Mayor Tramples BEAST Publisher

ArrowThe Vilsack Buzz
As the nation looks to ‘08, excitement is high
Matt Taibbi

ArrowCut -N- Fun!
2 dimensional fathers better parents, say experts

Rich Herschlag

ArrowDialing for Santorum
My last-ditch heroic effort to save the GOP’s holiest hatchet man
Matt Taibbi

Local BEAST

ArrowAn Important Message from our Fearless Leader
Paul Fallon

ArrowBeast Product Review
Buffalo Rising Magazine

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Casino Royale, Déjà Vu, Stranger Than Fiction, Bobby, Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny, Happy Feet

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Dialing for Santorum

continued - page 2

Back in Washington, Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel had the champagne chilled and a ballroom ready to rock. But the midterm elections this year were not a celebration of something new -- they were the rotting, stinking end of something, a Death Watch. And there was no better place to catch the last act than Pennsylvania, where Santorum was set to take one final drink and drive the Republican revolution off the pier. A fiercely devout Catholic with an altar-boy face, Santorum has been an icon of America's political divisiveness for the past dozen years -- a pioneer of the religious, crusading politics that helped wipe out the ideological middle and divide the country into two seething, paranoid camps fueled by implacable hatreds.

By religious, I don't mean the injection of biblical themes into his campaigns, though that was also a feature of his style. No, the hallmark of Santorum politics was to say something utterly outrageous and insulting about his opponents, incur a national outcry and then refuse to take even a half a step back, digging in with his convictions in the manner of a man of faith. He blamed pedophilia in the Boston Archdiocese on Massachusetts liberalism. He compared Democrats engaged in a filibuster to Nazis. He likened homosexuality to "man on dog" sex. He described the charity group CARE as being "pro-prostitution" and "anti-American." And in his re-election campaign this fall, he accused his opponent, state treasurer Bob Casey, of making state-pension investments that support "terrorism and genocide." Thus, to the Santorum point of view, opponents were at various times whores, dog-fuckers, terrorists, Nazis, mass killers, boy-touchers and traitors. Even McCarthy never got that creative.

In this sense, Santorum's race offered the most exact referendum on the hardheaded, religious inflexibility of George W. Bush. Indeed, the poisonously negative atmosphere surrounding this entire midterm election was in many ways a hell of Santorum's own creation. All across the country, candidates on both sides of the aisle stooped to new lows in campaign-season broadsides seemingly pulled straight from Santorum's fuck-everybody-else playbook.

A GOP congressional candidate in Wisconsin said his opponent wanted to "let illegal immigrants burn the American flag" and allow "convicted child molesters to enter this country." In Ohio, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell accused opponent Ted Strickland of failing to condemn pedophilia. Meanwhile, in more than two dozen districts around the country, a political-action committee released ads portraying Democrats as the party of choice among black street thugs who want to abort their babies ("If you make a little mistake with one of your ho's," says one, "you'll want to dispose of that problem tout de suite"). And in a kind of masterpiece of political pettiness, the Republican National Congressional Committee ran an ad accusing New York Democrat Michael Arcuri of using state funds to pay for a phone-sex call -- which was true, except that Arcuri had dialed a wrong number and hung up immediately.

As I sat in Santorum's headquarters dialing his supporters, this talent for invective was all that was left of the great Republican revolution of Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and religious crusaders like Santorum. Their biggest policy initiatives, like Iraq, were unmitigated catastrophes, and the much-vaunted "morality" issue so important to them in the Clinton years was now a dead end -- crashed on the rocks of fun-house congressional creeps like Mark Foley, Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham and Santorum's fellow Pennsylvania Republican Don Sherwood, who was defeated amid revelations that he cheated on his wife and allegedly choked his mistress. Public perception that the GOP had gorged themselves like leeches on power was so strong that even President Bush was shunned across the country; in Florida, the Republican candidate for governor fled from the president's presence before the polls opened.

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