updated 7/14/2005 10:21:17 AM ET 2005-07-14T14:21:17

5 p.m.

So, three years ago Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) wrote a column for Catholic Online about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. In it he made this statement:

"It is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm."

Since then that comment didn't get a ton of play, because I doubt very many of us are frequent readers of Catholic Online, terrific though it may be.

But yesterday a Boston Globe reporter caught Santorum on the Hill and asked him if he still stands by those comments. He said he does, and thus begins another Gaffegate. It, as always, starts with Ted Kennedy (D-MA) slapping down Santorum on the Senate floor today, and proceeds into a blogswarm.

Not sure what his real intentions were, but the comment isn't sitting well with Bostonians. No problem there as they can't vote in the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate race. But could the comments have implications for his standing in that race at home? He is already trailing his Democratic challenger by 11 points, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

I'll have more on this today.

And on the show, the shuttle launch has been scrapped for now. We'll tell you why. Plus, Scott McClellan is under fire over the CIA leak story. Did he know that Rove was involved?

Join us.

Links:

Political Asylum
Christians Who Think
Yesterday's Thoughts

12 p.m.

Liftoff for the shuttle Discovery is still a go, set for 3:51 p.m. ET today.  MSNBC will bring you continuing coverage all day, and the website is chock full of great resources, so check it out.

On our show today, we'll have live reports from the launch site, but also a discussion about the current state of the manned space program.  I think I'm too young to really appreciate the excitement Americans felt about the program when it was new.  For those of us who grew up in the seventies and eighties that "moonwalk" involved a space cadet, but not Neil Armstrong.  My first really awareness of the program came in fourth grade.

It was almost lunchtime, and we were in the middle of a lesson.  The television wasn't on in the classroom during the launch, which shows you that the thrill was gone.  On previous launches it was mandatory viewing.  Suddenly a heard the tinkle of our principal's bell over the school's PA system.  As she spoke her voice quivered.

"Attention students and teachers.  The space shuttle Challenger has exploded."

At this, the teacher gasped and ran for the television, wheeling the AV cart into the center of the room and fumbling for the remote.

Students were crying.  We couldn't quite make sense of why the adults were freaking out, but it was clear something really bad happened.  At the lunch bell we were dismissed for the day, and I spent the afternoon on the couch with my mom, watching live coverage on ABC (there was really no cable news at the time, or at least none that we watched).

It was really an interesting afternoon for the two of us, because my mom is the quintessential child of the Kennedy era, the two cars in the garage and weekend barbecues kind of girl.  For her the event was like losing a loved one.  I have never felt attached to the space program in that way.  I wonder if children still grow up saying "I want to be an astronaut." 

The shuttle has been a source of so much triumph and so much tragedy.  Should we continue to send men into space?  We'll discuss.

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