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Washington Week

September 2, 2010 - 6:00pm

Voters looking at supporting moderates in the GOP and the Democratic Party this upcoming election cycle might want to ask themselves: Do they want to be "Stupaked"?

From coast to coast and from Mike to Mike, meaning Mike Castle (R-Del.) and Mike Bennet (D-Colo.), both of these Mikes are congressional incumbents running on the moderate, middle-of-the-road platform. These folks and all other moderates need to be studied and questioned now more than ever.

Remember the health-care debate earlier this year? This is when Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) bamboozled all of his supporters who believed he would protect the right to life during the House debate on the bill. Stupak had been saying since he was elected to Congress in 1993 that he is committed to protecting life by making sure government funds never went to pay for abortions. Stupak is actually the co-chair of the caucus within the House of Representatives that affirms a pro-life agenda in Congress.

That didn't work out so well earlier this year when Stupak held the fate of the health-care reform bill in his hands. Now we have a federal health-care law that omits abortion language restricting federal funds. This is entirely thanks to the leadership of Stupak, since he led and supplied the health-care bill's winning margin in the House of Representatives.

Congressional leaders wield a lot of power when they need to round up votes for passing legislation. The "goodies" range from the obvious -- trading a vote for support for other initiatives, to plum committee assignments and leadership posts. However, when members of Congress make these deals, they never include as part of the deal any repayment to their good constituents. They are the ones that devote their time, talents, and put their trust in electing the member of Congress only to be disappointed when deals are cut to make the member of Congress go back on his campaign commitments. This Bart bamboozle was especially heinous because he had been a pro-life leader for over 20 years.

While the memory of this may be grievous for many of us, the burden of this is intolerable for pro-life supporters. Be careful, be diligent, be knowledgeable, and dont get "Stupaked" by so-called, self-proclaimed moderates this November. Stay tuned to see if we remember and apply this old adage come Election Day. It goes like this: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Elizabeth B. Letchworth is a retired, four-times-elected United States Senate Secretary for the Majority and Minority. She is the founder of

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