In last week's piece, Toomey criticized Specter for being a "big supporter" of "taxpayer-funded abortion" while Toomey said he believes in "respecting the sanctity of human life."
I respect Toomey's view - as long as that really is his view.
Toomey would have us believe that the pro-life issue is a core value that he has long held, but back in 1997, abortion was apparently so unimportant to candidate Toomey that, according to the Morning Call, he declined to discuss his position.
Then came the 1998 primary, and when Toomey was forced to weigh in on the issue, he said he was an abortion supporter. In response to a Morning Call questionnaire, Toomey checked a response that said "Abortions should be legal in all circumstances as long as the procedure is completed within the first trimester."
By the 1998 election, Toomey was already getting hazy. Among all Pennsylvania congressional candidates, it was only Toomey who received an "unclear" designation at that time from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
Apparently he was clear enough for PRO-CHOICE activists because on Nov. 18, 1998, Republicans for Choice sent Toomey a $500 check, which he was only too happy to cash.
Pat Toomey was first elected to Congress in that 1998 election. As he came to Capitol Hill, he was profiled as a supporter of abortion rights by two publications: The Hill and Roll Call. Initially, he lived up to that moniker.
In 1999, he supported abortion-inducing drug RU-486 when he voted against a ban on federal funds for testing or approving it. In fact, he was the only Republican from Pennsylvania to vote against the ban. That same year, he voted for legislation put forth by Rep. Jim Greenwood that weakened the federal ban on U.S. funding for foreign organizations by allowing them to promote abortions as long as they used non-U.S. funds. Greenwood - an unapologetic abortion rights supporter - and Toomey were the only Pennsylvania Republicans to so vote.
It must have been shortly thereafter that Pat Toomey decided that Arlen Specter was vulnerable to a conservative in a GOP primary because that is when his abortion position took a rightward shift.
Before long, Toomey had the support of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and established a strong voting record in the eyes of the National Right to Life Committee. And in January, he testified against a Specter- backed bill to allow human cloning research.
Now he has come full circle.
Senate candidate Toomey now has a Web site that boasts: "Congressman Pat Toomey believes that the most fundamental responsibility of government is to defend and protect innocent human life, including the lives of unborn children."
Quite a change from the fellow who just five years ago supported first trimester abortions. Makes you wonder what other positions he will change to get into the most exclusive club in the nation.
Say what you will about Arlen Specter, but at least with him, you know what you are getting. A guy who might vote a more liberal line than some Republicans would like, but whose intellect, integrity and Senate seniority more than makes up for those votes in which he disappoints.
In the months ahead the question for Pennsylvania Republicans will be whether it is worth it to sacrifice the chairmanship of the veterans committee, the second-in-line position on the appropriations committee, the chairmanship of the labor, health and human services and education appropriations subcommittee and the next chairmanship of the judiciary committee in favor of a guy willing to sing any tune to get himself elected.
That's a risk not worth taking. *
Michael Smerconish can be heard weekdays 5:30-9 a.m. on the Big Talker, 1210/AM. Contact him via the Web at www.mastalk.com.