Howard Fineman

Stories by Howard Fineman

  • THE CELLULAR DIVIDE

    If you want to be a Republican president--and Bill Frist of Tennessee does--there's no better place to be on a Memorial Day weekend than where he was planning to be last Sunday: in Charlotte, N. C., at Lowe's Motor Speedway, waving a green flag as honorary starter of the Coca-Cola 600. For Frist, a product of prep school, Princeton and Harvard, it was the ultimate twofer, a chance for a senator and surgeon to bond with NASCAR and the Bible Belt. But it will take more than flag-waving for Frist, the Senate majority leader, to steer his way through this Congress--let alone from the Capitol to the White House. He's navigating a high-speed obstacle course, and roadblocks ahead include more controversial judicial nominations, perhaps a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, and the newest, arguably most politically dangerous of all: the emotionally freighted, divisive issue of federal funding for stem-cell research.It's no easy thing being majority leader in any circumstances, but especially now,...
  • Living Politics: Mark Warner, the Democratic Contender

    The buzz here is about Deep Throat and how President Bush allegedly lost his 'Mo, but, being the campaign geek I am, I'm thinking about the future: the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.Here's where we are as we enter the starting gate. There are paired entries, as they say in horse racing. Hillary (and Bill) Clinton in No. 1, of course. Then, the 2004 John-John ticket-mates, Senators Kerry and Edwards. The third pair are smooth-moving moderates: Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia. Rounding out the field, three other governors: Richardson of New Mexico, Vilsack of Iowa, Rendell of Pennsylvania.Hillary's Hillary. 'Nuff said. The entry I'd rather talk about this time around is arguably the most obscure--Warner.Let's put the caveats up front. He is relatively young (50), has zero experience in defense or foreign policy, has no military background or national organization, and strikes some people who know him as unusually hungry and...
  • Living Politics: Food Fight in the Big Tent

    I'm wondering if we haven't just witnessed a turning point in politics. Years from now, when we look back on the "Gang of 14" deal, will we see it as the moment when the tide of conservative Republicanism crested?American public life moves in cycles. A generation ago, Lyndon Johnson trounced Barry Goldwater. But Goldwater's 1964 crusade unleashed energy and ideas that inspired the New Right-Republican movement, which eventually reached its zenith in George W. Bush. He unified the libertarian, religious and corporate cadres of conservatism under his GOP banner.Is the wheel turning again with another bold Texan in power? Hard to know, of course, and the Democrats won't rise in some mere hydraulic fashion. They need to find vision, ideas and charismatic leaders, and none of them seem to be in great supply. But the line of products--call them "Bush Right"--suddenly is looking like what marketers call a "mature brand." There are signs of age, strain and overreach, internally and...
  • READY TO BLOW

    Sen. Arlen Specter first played squash at Yale Law School 50 years ago and sees no reason to stop just because he is battling a disease (Stage IV Hodgkin's) that has left him bald and with a "port" in his chest, through which his doctors pump chemotherapy treatments every other Friday. Still wiry and spry at 75, the Pennsylvania Republican proudly proclaims that the brand of squash he plays is "hardball"--the old-fashioned version with a dense, hard sphere that ricochets at lightning speed around a narrow court. The ball moves fast but a canny player can conserve his energy and win by letting the game come to him and working the angles deftly. The key, Specter explains, is to occupy "the T" in the heart of the court--the perilous but pivotal middle. "If you are on the T, you are in the center spot," Specter says.As with racquet sports, so with politics. Specter is one of a dwindling band of Republican moderates who are paradoxically, if temporarily, in a power position on the T in...
  • Living Politics: Seeing Red ... and Blue in the Senate

    Every theater has a backstage, Senate hearing rooms included. Behind the august chambers you see on TV are warrens of small rooms in which senators and their staff can relax, work out a deal behind closed doors, or closet themselves in old-fashioned phone booths to make private calls. Reporters aren't supposed to hang around in such places, but I did so for a while one morning last week.It was still early, so my eyes were drawn to a small table with a pot of coffee, milk and sugar, and a picked-over assortment of pastries. I was about to help myself - reporters are like that - when I noticed an official-looking sign behind the coffee pot: "FOR SENATORS ONLY."The Senate is famously regarded as a club--FOR SENATORS ONLY. That idea gives them a sense of connectedness, almost of family, that those outside the club cannot share. Their relationships often--not always, but often--have been more important than the party they belong to, the issue at hand, or the identity of the president at...
  • Living Politics: What's Yalta Got to Do With It?

    Boy, it's been a long time since Yalta made news--a half century or so. And yet if George W. Bush's trip to Europe is to be remembered for anything, it will be for the incendiary speech about Yalta he gave in Riga, Latvia, accusing FDR and Churchill of having agreed at the Crimean summit in 1945 to abandon Eastern Europe to Soviet communism.Anybody who was surprised at Bush's audacity doesn't understand his presidency--how it sees the world, who it cares about (or doesn't care about), how it operates diplomatically and politically.I recently spent some time at the White House visiting with Mike Gerson, the president's speechwriter. In his self-deprecating, elliptical fashion, Gerson told me he was working on a draft for the Europe trip. He was spending a lot of time on it. The president obviously thought it was important. Gerson didn't say that his boss was going to throw a Molotov cocktail at the entire tradition of Big Power, post-war diplomacy. I should have expected it.There...
  • Living Politics: Daddy Dobson

    When I flew to Colorado Springs recently to interview Dr. James Dobson, he had an urgent matter to interview ME about: why, he wondered, did Don Imus think that he (Dobson) was a nut? He was anything but, Dobson said.When Dobson came to Washington the other day for the White House Correspondents Dinner, he met another radio guy, comedian Al Franken. I wasn't at the event (a musical at my daughter's school took precedence), but Franken told me about it later. In typical fashion, Franken had tried to deadpan Dobson into exploding. "It must be great to always know the absolute truth," he told Dobson, "because, for me, you know, it's such a burden not to...." Dobson didn't bite. "He knew it was a joke," Franken recalled. They proceeded to debate the morals of abortion in what apparently was a civil manner.I mention these anecdotes to explain why Dobson is, arguably, the most powerful social conservative in the country, central to the battle over federal judges--and a danger to the...
  • THE RIGHT'S FIGHT

    La Colline ("the hill") is the perfect place to hold a fund-raising dinner for a Republican congressman: it's two blocks from the Capitol, in the same building as the studios of Fox News. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the embattled House majority leader, is to be feted there this week by lobbyist Glenn LeMunyon, one of an army of former DeLay aides who make a living peddling access to the GOP machinery they helped to build. LeMunyon's clients include Lockheed Martin and Verizon. Last year, at the Republican convention, he threw a series of bashes for Texas's members of Congress, featuring big-time rock acts and offering the opportunity (if you paid enough money) to have your picture taken with the politicians. "Republicans have much more fun than Democrats," LeMunyon said. This week's event is more low key: a quiet dinner, $2,000 for individuals, $5,000 for political action committees, with the proceeds going to DeLay's 2006 House race in Houston. "It's just a fund-raiser," said LeMunyon...
  • Living Politics: Bush's Political Capital

    You've got to hand it to the PR geniuses at the White House. There's nothing like back-to-back Texas photo ops with Crown Prince Abdullah and Rep. Tom DeLay to give Americans a visceral sense that the Boss is on top of the gas-price situation and desperate to save working folks cash at the pump.Just kidding, of course.Actually, it's hard to imagine two political events LESS likely to win the president points. George Bush held hands and pecked cheeks with Abdullah in traditional desert fashion--but the prince gave him the back of his hand on the issue of the moment: oil supply and prices, which the Saudis essentially control. Then the president welcomed the embattled DeLay into his photo space in Galveston. That was no energy-issue coup, either. Until lobbyist Jack Abramoff came into the picture, DeLay's best-known corporate ties were to corporate titans such as Kenneth Lay of Enron in his home town of Houston.Across a range of issues, and in a number of subtle and not-so-subtle ways...
  • TORN BETWEEN FAITH & SCIENCE

    Sen. Bill Frist is a heart surgeon who admires what he calls "the surgical personality": precise, sensitive to details, focused. He and his aides thought they had found a politically surgical way for him to participate in a nationally televised prayer service with fervent religious conservatives at a megachurch in Louisville, Ky., next Sunday. The topic: the need to ease the Senate filibuster debate rule so that the Republican majority can confirm President George W. Bush's most controversial judicial nominations. Frist's role: a brief, four-minute videotape stressing a secular argument--that presidents deserve "up or down" votes on all picks. "The senator won't be talking about his own faith and won't be speaking from a pulpit," said an aide.But even Solomon couldn't split this baby. The hemorrhaging began when the sponsor, Family Research Council, hit the Web with fliers and press releases dubbing the event "Justice Sunday--Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith" and...
  • PLAYING ROPE-A-DOPE

    There's nothing fancy about Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate. Sartorially, he is a symphony in brown. He hails from a Nevada eye-blink called Searchlight, but isn't at ease in the spotlight. "I would just as soon never have a press conference," he says. An amateur boxer in his youth, the 65-year-old Reid's idea of a good time is to watch reruns of famous bouts on ESPN Classic. A favorite was on the other night: the 1955 epic between Archie Moore and Rocky Marciano. "Moore flattened Rocky early," Reid said. "Had him down, almost out. But by patience and sheer determination Marciano came back, round by round, and won. Both guys were cut and bloody when it was over."As the Senate waits for the opening bell in one of the biggest legislative bouts of recent years--over the rules for confirming federal judges--there's mounting evidence that Reid could be the Rocky in this show. President George W. Bush started 2005 in triumph, with lofty poll numbers, sweeping goals, a...
  • Living Politics: A Dark-Horse Republican to the Rescue?

    People here remember Haley Barbour as a slightly raffish Mississippi good ol' boy with a low center of gravity and a syrupy drawl who became chairman of the Republican Party, made a bundle as a tobacco lobbyist and then went home to--of all things--become governor: A shrewd inside player, but not someone who automatically springs to mind as presidential material.It speaks volumes about the condition of the GOP that at least a few people around town are talking up Barbour as a Republican presidential contender in 2008--and that at least a few of his fellow Republicans (and not just his former business partner, Ed Rogers) seem to be taking the idea somewhat seriously.Here's the long and short of the reasons why:1. There is no obvious successor to George Walker Bush as El Jefe of the GOP except perhaps Gov. John Ellis "Jeb" Bush of Florida who, by virtue of being Little Brother to the President, is too oppressively obvious and therefore problematic.2. The party's centrifugal forces of...
  • Living Politics: Faith, Law and American Life

    The parallels are eerie: The next presidential campaign is beginning in the august chambers of Renaissance buildings with painted ceilings and corridors filled with sculpture. In the shadows of massive domes, meeting in unique, isolated city-states, the Conclave of Cardinals in the Vatican City and the members of Congress in the District of Columbia will set the tone and terms for a great debate over the roles of law and faith in defining life in America.What do the Schiavo case, the selection of a new pope, the filibuster rule in the Senate and the fate of Rep. Tom DeLay have to do with one another? At least in the political realm ... everything.Looking back, it's pretty clear what the 2004 election, at heart, was about: George Bush's lock-and-load attitude towards the use of military force against regimes allied with Islamist terrorists. Looking ahead, it's pretty clear what the 2008 election, at heart, will be about: the role of religious belief in what theologians quaintly call ...
  • Living Politics: The Disassembly of Tom DeLay

    A new drama of survival has begun here--political, not physical; legal, not spiritual. The central character isn't a woman in a hospital bed but a controversial Republican leader in the House of Representatives. Rep. Tom DeLay may not want to admit it to himself, but he's fighting for his political life.I wouldn't have said so two weeks ago. But I've seen enough of these dramas unfold to know when I'm watching a new one, and now I am. You know the story line, which dates back to the Greeks: a powerful, hubristic leader is brought low by his own flaws. Think Jim Wright, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton.A key but cautious leader of the Republican leadership put it to me this way in private recently: "Members want us spend our time protecting them. They don't like having to spend their time protecting us." Meaning: their idea of fun and productive use of time in the capital is not "DeFending DeLay."By melodramatically linking his own destiny with that of Terri Schiavo, DeLay didn't help...
  • Living Politics: The Great Republican Role-Reversal Gambit

    Here's a quick quiz on political labels for you junkies out there. Of the two major political parties, which one is spending money like water, creating new welfare entitlements, rapidly expanding the power of the federal government and launching idealistic wars of liberation around the globe?For 60 years--from the dawn of the New Deal in 1933 to the advent of Hillary Healthcare in 1993--the answer was the Democratic Party. But 1993 also was the year George W. Bush launched his national career (by running for governor of Texas). Now, 12 years later, we see the result: the Republicans are the party of deficit spending, entitlement expansion, Washington aggrandizement and Wilsonian crusades. They are presiding over the most vigorous enlargement of federal power and military involvement abroad since Lyndon Johnson unfurled the Great Society and plunged headlong into Vietnam.Maybe there's a big-government growth hormone in the artesian wells of Texas. Or maybe, as the writer Flannery O...
  • Living Politics: Friends of Bill

    Here's a vividly ironic, and deeply symbolic, political moment: on the very day Bill Clinton was being embraced, almost literally, by father and son Bushes at the White House, Republicans were pushing through the Senate an anti-bankruptcy measure that corporate America has dearly wanted--and that Clinton vetoed as he was leaving office five years ago.No wonder the Bushes, who play for the deepest of keeps, love having Clinton around. The former president has become the family's favorite hunting trophy, a symbol of their (and the GOP's) successful, decades-long rise to power.I imagine it's tough, even for Clinton's enemies, to hate the guy anymore. His "you-can't-catch-me" cockiness is gone, but the effortless charm remains. Among Baby Boomers of all persuasions (including, I think, George W. Bush) the sense exists, perhaps grows more vivid, that Bill Clinton somehow embodies us all. It IS a long strange trip, and Clinton's well-worn visage is proof. White House aides say that,...
  • SENIORS DRAW FIRE

    The letters on the building entrance are carved in gray stone, suggesting ancient inevitability and understated power. Inside, leaders of AARP, the famed "seniors lobby," exude an equivalent air of solid confidence. "AARP has an almost unshakable brand," said one. But the scene at AARP headquarters last week belied the blase words. Oblivious to a snowstorm that had emptied capital offices, the group's commanders were working late into the night, hunkered down around conference tables to plot their next moves in the war over Social Security--and the war-within-a-war over the central role of AARP.President Bush's proposal for sweeping changes in the 70-year-old retirement program has touched off the mother of all lobbying battles, and AARP is suddenly in the line of fire. A pioneer of grass-roots lobbying, the group finds itself under attack from a new legion of well-funded, Web-based foes who have decided that the Bush plan will fail if a leading critic--AARP--isn't bloodied. "The...
  • Living Politics: What to Make of the 'New' Middle East

    Karl Rove always says that George W. Bush likes to make "game-changing moves." Well, it looks like he's failing to make one on Social Security, but succeeding in doing so--at least for now--in the Middle East. It just goes to show: if the AARP governed Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire would still be intact. It turned out to be easier for the president to inspire voters in Baghdad than Republicans facing re-election in 2006.Republican congressional leaders have more or less declared Social Security "reform" dead for the year. What happened? My quick list: post-reelection hubris in the White House, which led the president and Rove to assume (wrongly) that the public was waiting, like the Israelites in the desert, to be inspired; a killer preemptive strike by AARP (with ads that started before inauguration); the administration's admission that private savings accounts had little to do with keeping the system solvent; and the simple arithmetic which showed that relatively minor tweaking...
  • KING KARL

    Saudis thrive in the heat, but not the Washington kind. In July 2003, they were looking for protective cover. A congressional panel had issued a report on the roots of the 9/11 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 perpetrators were Saudis. The report contained 28 superclassified pages that described evidence of possible Saudi funding for two of the hijackers. In reaction, the Saudis descended on the capital, eager to dispute the charges and reassure George W. Bush and his administration. Prince Saud al-Faisal sat down with the president, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Later that same day, the prince met with national-security adviser Condi Rice.But there was a third White House base to touch--up a narrow flight of stairs on the second floor of the West Wing. On July 29, according to lobbying records reviewed by NEWSWEEK, the Saudis' leading Washington fixer, Adel Al-Jubeir, met with Karl Rove to, among other things, "give a status briefing on the Kingdom's...
  • Living Politics: Biblical Politics

    Thomas Van Orden was such a person, and as he whiled away the time in the law library he noticed something that bothered him. On the lawn outside the building was a 40-year-old monument to the Ten Commandments. Here, he concluded, was a violation of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment prohibition against the establishment of religion. With the help of some University of Texas law professors, Van Orden went to court in 2002 and has been going ever since. He's lost at every turn; now he'll get his day at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2.It's a red-letter day for the lucky politician who gets to "defend" the Ten Commandments. He's Greg Abbott, the 46-year-old attorney general of Texas and protege of George W. Bush. The Department of Justice knows a PR bonanza when it sees one; it has requested time to help protect the Texas-Moses axis. Perhaps newly confirmed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who served on the Texas Supreme Court with Abbott, will want to join his Texas colleague...
  • Bush's Big Bet: Risking His Capital

    HE GOT THE BALL ROLLING AT THE STATE OF THE UNION. BUT IT'S NO ORDINARY FIGHT. ON TRIAL: AMERICA'S CORE BELIEF IN THE SOCIAL CONTRACT, AND ITS FAITH IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR
  • AND IT'S ON TO 2008!

    John Edwards and Evan Bayh are trying different paths to 2008. Edwards is moving his family back to North Carolina. (His wife, Elizabeth, is said by aides to be responding well to chemotherapy for breast cancer and is scheduled for a lumpectomy in March.) The Edwardses' two young children, in private schools in D.C., will enroll in public ones back home. This week Edwards hits the campaign trail for the first time since last fall, speaking to the "One Hundred Club" of New Hampshire Democrats in Manchester.Bayh has no trips to Iowa or New Hampshire planned, aides say, but Dem operatives noted his caustic Senate speech--and "no" vote--against Condoleezza Rice's nomination for secretary of State. Conservative by party standards--and thus a tough sell in places like Iowa--Bayh joined only 12 other Dems, all liberals, in opposing Rice. A supporter of the Iraq war, Bayh said Rice nevertheless needed to be held accountable for the Bush administration's mistakes in prosecuting it.
  • PERISCOPE

    Since the day Iraq stepped into the spotlight, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has sought to draw a clear line between himself and Washington. Where President George W. Bush used the pre-emptive-strike doctrine to justify war, Blair framed the mission as a matter of good global citizenry, consistent with his intervention in Kosovo and embrace of nation-building. "He's always set the Iraq war in a liberal-internationalist context--of doing good in the world, the 19th-century, Gladstonian idea of bearing the white man's burden," says Blair biographer Philip Stephens.Now come the graphic photographs of British soldiers abusing Iraqis. The PM quickly denounced them as "shocking and appalling," but they've nonetheless tarnished the British military's image as kinder, gentler occupiers than the Americans. "Arabs didn't expect this from anyone--but especially not the British," says Al-Jazeera senior correspondent Mostefa Souag. Few failed to miss echoes of the U.S. military's Abu Ghraib...
  • NOW PLAYING: 'ANYBODY BUT DEAN, PART 2'

    Within hours of George Bush's Inauguration, everyone was playing his assigned role. Republicans, happily united, were dancing the night away at glittering balls in downtown Washington. Democrats, meanwhile, divided into familiar warring camps: for and against Howard Dean. In Burlington, Vt., Dean and hundreds of fans gathered for an "un-Inauguration"--and in support of the former governor's quest to become the new chairman of the Democratic Party. In Georgetown that same evening, hordes of insiders partied at the stately home of Mark Penn, the Clinton family pollster, where they gripped and grinned with Bill and Hill, cheered each other up--and fretted about Dean's assault on party headquarters. "There was a ton of positive energy at the house," a guest said later, "except for the fear and loathing of Dean."If you think you have seen this movie before--"Dean Against the Machine"--you have. Ever since the early days of the 2004 presidential campaign, the country doctor from the State...
  • Lessons in Unity

    It was nearly 11 o'clock at night, and a frigid downtown Pittsburgh was fast emptying out after the Steelers game. My 13-year-old son and I had raced to a bus that, I knew from childhood memory, would take us to my mother's home. But I didn't have the right change for the $3 fare for the two of us.The bus driver rolled his eyes, but gave me time. Standing in the aisle, I asked, "Does anybody have change?" as the bus lurched around a corner to Fifth Avenue. The "71 Negley" was packed. There were other dejected refugees from Heinz Field, wearing "Big Ben" ski caps or "Bus" jerseys; maintenance workers heading home from the second shift; nurses on their way to night duty at the hospitals near the University of Pittsburgh. Rows of sympathetic eyes looked at us. Passengers fumbled with their wallets or purses. No luck. Finally, a corporate-looking fellow in a ski jacket spoke up. "Here, take the three dollars," he said. "I can't do that!" I replied. "Go ahead," he insisted. "Somebody did...
  • THE NEW POWER PLAYERS

    A veteran of the Vietnam-era Army and CIA covert ops, Rep. Rob Simmons of Connecticut knows how to survive in perilous situations--such as the one he finds himself in as a moderate Republican in a Democratic district. When George W. Bush put Social Security "reform" at the top of his presidential wish list, Simmons executed a tactical retreat. Asked by reporters whether he would vote to divert payroll-tax receipts into private savings accounts--the controversial core of the Bush concept--Simmons declared: "I would not consider that something I would support." His avowal won praise from some bipartisan-minded Democrats.But not Rep. Rahm Emanuel. The new chair of the Democrats' campaign committee in the House, a Chicagoan reared in the House of Daley, he ordered an immediate strike. "We did some quick research and found some stuff," Emanuel said--including a letter that Simmons had signed in May 2001 supporting "personal retirement accounts" for younger workers paying into Social...
  • Living Politics: The 'Media Party' Is Over

    Now the AMMP is reeling, and not just from the humiliation of CBS News. We have a president who feels it's almost a point of honor not to hold more press conferences--he's held far fewer than any modern predecessor--and doesn't seem to agree that the media has any "right" to know what's really going in inside his administration. The AMMP, meanwhile, is regarded with ever growing suspicion by American voters, viewers and readers, who increasingly turn for information and analysis only to non-AMMP outlets that tend to reinforce the sectarian views of discrete slices of the electorate.Yes, I know: a purely objective viewpoint does not exist in the cosmos or in politics. Yes, I know: today's media food fights are mild compared with the viciousness of pamphleteers and partisan newspapers of old, from colonial times forward. Yes, I know: the notion of a neutral "mainstream" national media gained a dominant following only in World War II and in its aftermath, when what turned out to be a...
  • Living Politics: Matsui's Poignant Passing

    Matsui, who died Saturday at 63 of complications from a rare form of cancer, will be remembered Wednesday at a service in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall.As 2005 began, Matsui's role had been clearly marked out for him. As a member of the Democratic leadership, a trusted sideman to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and as a ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, Matsui had been tapped to be field commander of the resistance movement in the Republican-dominated House, defending Social Security from those who would, in Matsui's view, "reform" the storied federal program into oblivion.Matsui's death was hard to accept for the people who knew him personally. Republicans and Democrats alike were drawn to his quiet, unassuming graciousness--even while they sometimes battled him on policy. He was an uncompromising liberal on many issues, Social Security among them, and could wield the sword of partisan attack with the best of them. But he passed up several...
  • EYES ON A NEW PRIZE

    Seated at his desk in Louisville's Federal Building, his coat and tie carefully in place, Sen. Mitch McConnell is the master of all of the Kentucky he surveys. Starting a Biblical 40 years ago as a student at the University of Louisville, the owlishly remorseless McConnell has assembled--in the wilderness of a once Democratic state--a Republican machine that now runs the governorship, both U.S. Senate seats, five of six House seats and the state Senate. Poring over his field maps, McConnell relishes the party's latest conquest: the Jackson Purchase, a cluster of western counties along the Mississippi River that had voted solidly Democratic since the Civil War--and that provided McConnell's beleaguered colleague, Sen. Jim Bunning, with just enough votes to survive in November. Pundits and academics who see a nonpartisan "Purple" America, rather than one divided between Red and Blue, are searching for an excuse, McConnell says. "They're looking for a way to explain away what happened...
  • MISTER RIGHT

    For most denizens of Washington, politics is a living, perhaps a way of life. For Rick Santorum, it is a bruising crusade. As a student in the dissolute 1970s, he smoked his share of pot at Penn State and was, by his own account, somewhat casual about his Roman Catholic faith. Now, still boyish at 46, he is a devout and devoted family man--father to six home-schooled children--and a senator determined to champion the church's traditional moral principles in the public square. In the reception area of his office, there's a predictably appropriate portrait of Pennsylvania's Ben Franklin, bibulous deist. But the one on the wall in the sanctum of Santorum is of Thomas More, sainted for losing his life in defense of Rome's control of English Christendom. "That picture's up there for a reason," Santorum said in an interview. "There was a guy who was willing to stand up for things that were not particularly popular, and he paid the price for it."Thus far, however, Santorum's story is the...