April 26, 2010

“Hypocrisy is the homage which vice pays to virtue.
– Francois de La Rochefoucauld, French author and moralist (1613 – 1680)

Even though this quote was penned by a Frenchman more than three centuries ago, it couldn’t be more pertinent today in describing the dirty tricks of the past week perpetrated by Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania GOP bosses.

This will take a bit to explain, so please be patient.

During a luncheon speech attended by several hundred people at the conservative Pennsylvania Leadership Conference on April 17 and broadcast live on PCN, Mr. Corbett declared that “the Constitution is a living document.”  To a conservative this is a deeply offensive remark, inferring that the principles of the Constitution are open to broad interpretation through legislation and court decision.  The reaction of the audience was palpable as demonstrated by immediate gasps and murmurs throughout the room.

I’ll not debate this issue here; that has been done endlessly since the event.  The purpose of today’s post is to relate the aftermath of this event and how Mr. Corbett and the Pennsylvania GOP’s exalted ruler, Rob Gleason, twisted the facts for their own ends and confirmed their affinity for the extreme hypocrisy that bolsters their lust for power and control.

Within hours of the close of the conference Mr. Corbett’s remark was a hot topic on discussion boards and email chains, gathering momentum as it spread.  Mr. Corbett’s comment was mentioned the following morning in an article by Brad Bumsted in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  By Sunday evening the news had gone viral, fed by conservative outrage and astonishment over Mr. Corbett’s assertion.

On Tuesday morning, three days after the event, Sam Rohrer, Mr. Corbett’s Republican gubernatorial opponent, issued a rebuttal to Mr. Corbett’s “living document” remark that outlined the differences in their views of the Constitution.  Prior this statement Mr. Rohrer had said nothing about Mr. Corbett since the campaign began.

The following day Mr. Corbett issued a damage control press release about Mr. Rohrer’s statement, claiming that “desperate candidates falling behind in the polls start to make deceptive statements about their opponent” and stating that “it’s extremely disappointing that a fellow Republican has chosen this [attack] route.”

Mr. Corbett’s press release was quickly followed by an email blast from Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason, in which he stated that “I have not tolerated Republicans going after Republicans.”

Those are the details of what happened; let’s take a closer look at the situation.

As the timeline above shows, Mr. Rohrer was not the instigator of this discussion.  The comment by Mr. Corbett had already spread statewide before Mr. Rohrer’s statement on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Corbett’s “disappointment” over attacks by a fellow Republican is deceitful at best and decidedly hypocritical.  Almost since the beginning of his campaign Mr. Corbett has been crisscrossing the state screaming “pay raise” – a reference to Mr. Rohrer’s 2005 vote – on every possible occasion.  (See “The big elephant in the room”, 4/3)  His latest attack on Mr. Rohrer was reported in the April 26 edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  Mr. Corbett has been attacking a fellow Republican for months, yet he has the audacity to now whine about Mr. Rohrer’s response to his gaffe?  And where was Mr. Gleason’s outrage while these R-on-R attacks were taking place?

Oh, I see.  Criticisms of fellow Republicans are unacceptable when they’re leveled at the anointed candidate but perfectly fine when they’re aimed at the unendorsed candidate.

But the ultimate hypocrisy is that while Mr. Corbett was attacking Mr. Rohrer over the vote, he happily accepted the pay raise while Mr. Rohrer did not.

Let’s consider Mr. Gleason’s indignation a bit more.

Why hasn’t Mr. Gleason commented on Mr. Corbett’s “pay raise” attacks?

Why didn’t he show his displeasure when Mr. Corbett’s campaign filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all of Mr. Rohrer’s legislative and financial records while he was a member of the House of Representatives?

Why wasn’t the state GOP endorsement of candidates prior to the primary election considered a de facto attack on unendorsed Republican candidates?

Why was it acceptable to purge the names of all unendorsed Republican candidates from the Pennsylvania GOP website the day following the endorsement meeting in February, effectively denying their very existence?

Why have county GOP officials and volunteers been ordered, sometimes with reported intimidation, to support only the GOP endorsed candidates and not distribute campaign materials for unendorsed candidates?

Why are unendorsed Republican candidates not given the same opportunity as endorsed candidates to speak at state GOP-sponsored events?

Why was Republican State Senator Don White allowed to attack Mr. Rohrer at a GOP function in Ford City on Friday (4/23) night?

Why?  Weren’t all of these tactics real or virtual attacks on fellow Republicans?

Mr. Gleason has the impudence to self-righteously claim indignation about Mr. Rohrer’s supposed Republican-on-Republican “attack” on Mr. Corbett, yet allows these aggressions to continue with impunity when aimed at the non-endorsed candidate.  He is the ultimate hypocrite.

It’s an abhorrent double standard that’s all about a lust for power and control.  The country club elite who dominate the Pennsylvania GOP establishment want to ensure that the special interests that fund the campaigns of the anointed get full value for their dollar so they will continue to contribute generously.  They crave the backroom control of the Governor’s office that will be theirs with the election of the candidate they coronate.  Mr. Gleason and the GOP elite have no integrity or honor.  No deception, no matter how vile, is beyond their limits.  Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.  They have confirmed Monsieur de La Rochefoucauld’s statement.  Hypocrisy, indeed, is the homage which vice pays to virtue.

Ultimately, it is the people of Pennsylvania who suffer for this hypocrisy by being deceived into believing that good, decent candidates are villains unworthy of their vote.

It is time for the good people of our state to take control of the political process and teach a harsh lesson to those power-hungry hypocrites who would exercise control over us.  We must make our voices heard by rejecting Mr. Corbett and the party elite on May 18.

MAY 7, 2010 UPDATE: Today Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason issued a press release attacking Mr. Rohrer for missing two Finance Committee votes concerning property taxes.  This was quickly followed by a similar statement by Mr. Corbett’s campaign that was reported in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The irony of this is that the two bills in question, HB 2483 and HB 2484, are both Democrat-sponsored bills that are just more meaningless and ineffective smoke and mirrors that allow the Democrats to brag about their efforts for property tax “relief” in time for the November elections.  These bills in no way resemble Mr. Rohrer’s plan for total property tax elimination.  And these were simple committee votes, not floor votes.

Mr. Gleason, what happened to all of your outrage over Republicans attacking Republicans, especially since you now have done it yourself and, worse, have done it in defense of useless Democrat-sponsored legislation?  Are you now promoting legislation advanced by the opposing party to attack a fellow Republican?

You, Mr. Gleason, know as well as anyone that Mr. Rohrer has been THE champion for property tax elimination for many years and that House leaders of your own party worked against his plan whenever it came up for a vote.  Are you so desperate that you would stoop to smearing Mr. Rohrer’s name by inferring that he doesn’t care about property tax elimination simply because of a meaningless committee vote?   You have no shame.

You have proven again that you are a hypocrite and a liar and are not to be trusted as the leader of the Pennsylvania GOP.  You have given us even more justification to vote against Mr. Corbett on May 18 and to remove you from your position as leader of the Pennsylvania Republican party.

Mr. Gleason and Mr. Corbett, you are despicable.