Pat Toomey's conservatism
To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's political death are greatly exaggerated.
Toomey's standing with conservatives was put to the test over the weekend when the senator spoke at an annual gathering of some 700 conservative activists in Harrisburg.
He passed the test.
The speech followed last week's defeat of compromise gun legislation co-sponsored by Republican Toomey and Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia.
The defeat had many political pundits wondering whether Toomey had abandoned his conservative base -- or vice versa -- in seeking a compromise on such controversial legislation.
They also wondered how the senator would be received at Pennsylvania's largest conservative conclave.
Turns out, they need not have worried.
In his speech, Toomey sought to disarm his conservative audience by admitting, "We can agree to disagree on this (proposal). Most of you in this room probably disagree with me. I appreciate this."
He maintained the proposal still permitted people to enjoy their Second Amendment rights. He also noted that the background checks called for in the proposal were not as strict as those already required in Pennsylvania.
Still, the senator didn't not dwell on the matter.
Indeed, Toomey appeared anxious get put the proposal behind him, telling the audience, "I hope we can move on."
He then shifted gears to issues dear to conservatives' hearts, including regulatory reform and free-market alternatives on health care. "Obamacare is unraveling right before our eyes," he noted.
To be sure, there was some pre-speech griping by a few guests, who talked about sitting on their hands in protest while Toomey spoke.
But while there may have been some grumbling during the speech, there was no booing. And nobody walked out in disgust.
Indeed, just about everyone stood and applauded when the speech was over.
Toomey will not face voters again until 2016, and that's probably a good thing.
We'd like to think that, over time, voters will come to fully appreciate that, in Toomey, they have a U.S. senator who is willing to take bold action in an attempt to solve the most pressing issues of the day.
The speech followed the defeat of gun legislation co-sponsored by Republican Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin.