Do You Want Some Special Santorum Sauce with That Tasty English-Only Cheesesteak, Amigo?


Reader Zack Price passes along one more reason not to like Rick Santorum, the beleaguered social conservative from Pennsylvania who looks to be going down faster than Rod Stewart at a pony party in the upcoming senatorial election versus Bob Casey XXIII.

Not only is Santorum a minimum-wage increaser, a campaign-finance booster (when it suits him at least), a gay-marriage hater, and the embodiment of a frothy mixture that dare not speak its name.

He also supports Philadelphia cheesesteak nativist Joe Vento's campaign for English-Only sandwiches. Reports the Philly Daily News:

[Santorum] voiced support—albeit in an odd, indirect way—for owner Joe Vento's much debated "Speak English" sign.

"It makes all the sense in the world to have a sign like this," he told a Daily News reporter after the paper was tipped off to his late-night visit. "There's not really an extensive menu here. I mean, come on, it's cheesesteaks, onions, et cetera. It's not that hard."

Santorum took a quick turn flipping shaved beef on Geno's grill and was cheered on by about 20 T-shirt-wearing supporters, mostly 26th Ward Republicans from South Philly, who'd been told the embattled GOP senator was coming.

Whole account here.

Reason's Dave Weigel has been all over the Vento story like, well, Cheese-Whiz on burning-hot beef; go here and here for details. (Personal note: When I lived in Philly from 1988-90, I was a staunch defender of Geno's over archrival Pat's. One more idol smashed, alas. Are there no more heroes? Even among those who make heroes for a living?)

Reason regular Jonathan Rauch explains how Santorum is trying to pull the plug on the Goldwater wing of the GOP here.


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  1. There’s just something about the image of a rich boy in a suit telling people, “Come on, people, it’s really not that hard!” in regards to something he’s never had to do, that makes me want to give him a wedgie.


  2. Not that this is uncommon for the GOP, but Santorum is also an ardent supporter of the WOD. Just one more nail in the coffin.

  3. I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again – unless the government plans on announcing what languages counterman are expected to speak – and to provide training in those languages – this firefight is just so much bullshit.

    The man has a right to his opinions, just as you have a right to cross the street and go to Pat’s.

    Get over it.

  4. It is questionable whether the “English” spoken at Geno’s is English at all.

  5. You know, I am all in favor of this guy’s right to do what he wants no matter how dumb it may be, yadda yadda yadda. And if I were a politician and a proposed piece of legislation came before me that would infringe his right to do so, I would of course vote against it.

    But I sure as hell wouldn’t go out of my way to advertise my support for that idiot. I mean, here’s a businessman who is making a big deal about the fact that he won’t cater to a large and growing group of consumers. Not the sharpest business decision. And yet a Republican Senator, allegedy a guy who understands economics and believes in the genius of the free market, is going out of his way to show his support for this idiot.

    That encapsulates Santorum’s understanding of economics in a nutshell.

    There’s a big difference between leaving an idiot alone and actively saluting his idiocy. Santorum doesn’t get that.

    But none of us should be surprised, I guess.

  6. bb makes a good point. Are you speaking English when you say “Gimme 2 wiz wit”?

  7. thoreau,

    Santorum almost certainly believes in the free market, insofar as people are capable of unflinchingly espousing several completely contradictory viewpoints. I’m also certain he’s more interested in policing culture than advocating wise business practice. The attitude of the typical cultural policeman is philosophically neutral towards economic efficacy; this is regarded as a probable benefit of cultural correctness (actually, pretty much every political ideology makes this claim), but not its actual purpose (which is primarily moral). If forced to choose between prosperity and correctness, Santorum and his ilk would choose correctness.

  8. Sure it’s English, only part of the dialect known as Faluffyan. Your supposed respect for the English language is obviously thinly veiled contempt for Fallufyan-speakers everywhere. Well, in Philadelphia.

    The surprising thing to me is that Santorum still has supporters here. 20 of them, even.

    P.S. it’s “Zach” with an “H”.

  9. In a couple of months, the people of Pennsylvania can give Mr. Santorum the opportunity for a full time job scraping chipped beef and slathering on the cheese…a job he is more suited to than taking on Goldwater’s enduring legacy.

  10. cheered on by about 20 T-shirt-wearing supporters

    WTF? Politicians have groupies now?

    Now I understand the Rod Stewart reference.

  11. Two ideas for sub shop names, assuming they aren’t taken already.

    The Last Real American Hero

    The Greatest American Hero

  12. There’s just something about the image of a rich boy in a suit telling people, “Come on, people, it’s really not that hard!” in regards to something he’s never had to do, that makes me want to give him a wedgie.

    He’s never had to order his own sandwich?

  13. Special today… French Dip!
    Oh shit, sorry. Today’s special is Dip Santorum made with extra virgin… hahahahahaha

  14. I was hoping it would be only a matter of time before His Frothy-Mixture-Ness fell on his own sword. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

    However, I’m not getting the animosity toward Vento. He owns the business; dealer’s choice. Plenty of other restaurants are exclusive; they’re just less vocal about it. Out here, we have Canlis (or at least we used to), the hoity-toity spot where the Elite Meet to Eat that swears up and down on a stack of Bibles that they have never, ever slipped their legendary little printed cards in with people’s dinner tabs, the cards that ask diners not to return.

    Are there not plenty of tragically hip places on the East Coast that refuse diners based on appearance/perceived socioeconomic level? So Vento’s doing what a ton of other restaurants do, but he’s honest about it, and that makes him a villain? GMAFB.

    In fact, Vento’s more justified; he’s discriminating against people based not on their appearance, but on their demonstration of contempt for his culture measurable by their unwillingness to learn even a few basic phrases of his language (however mookified that language has become).

    Some friends and I are going on a Mediterranean cruise this fall. At most, we’ll be in each port for two days. And yet, each of us is working toward having at least a rudimentary grasp of the local language. So we can do things like…order food. Because when you’re visiting other lands, you show your respect for those you’re visiting by learning about their customs and not expecting them to speak to you in your language.

    Sure, he’ll lose money. I’d pass on that money, too.

  15. Free Markets and Free Minds.

    I wouldn’t expect to read “one more idol smashed” regarding someone who is clearly attempting to exercise both.

  16. Two ideas for sub shop names, assuming they aren’t taken already.

    The Last Real American Hero

    The Greatest American Hero

    For a while now, I’ve wanted to write a gritty novel about World War 2 naval warfare and the urban African-American experience called A Submarine Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich.

  17. Stevo Darkly,
    You got me thinking, Run Silent, Run Deep, would be a good name for Santorum’s difinitive autobiography.

  18. “Are there not plenty of tragically hip places on the East Coast that refuse diners based on appearance/perceived socioeconomic level?”

    expensive joints and fancy pants, sure.

    but this guy’s just a douche. why not call a douche a douche?

    no one’s calling for legislation. i’m just saying this guy’s a friggin’ douche.

  19. “I mean, come on, it’s cheesesteaks, onions, et cetera. It’s not that hard.”

    And how hard is it to learn the Spanish equivalents to theses phrases, Senator?

    Of course, I expect this level of stupidity from a man who think that legalized gay marriage will lead to an epidemic of man-dog sex.

  20. Someone really oughta send a deaf/mute fella to sign language up a cheesesteak.

  21. send a deaf/mute

    I get the feeling that Santorum is someone who would argue that the 1st Amendment only covers speech.

  22. thoreau,

    I rarely disagree with you, but on this occasion I do.

    The “English Only” rule isn’t necessarily a bad business decision. It might be a great business decision even though it excludes a large number of potential customers.

    Why? The restaurant isn’t trying to maximize customers… it is trying to maximize profits.

    Three possible reasons this could be a good decision:

    1. The restaurant might be operating at some capacity constraint and won’t benefit from additional customers, but rather needs a way to process orders more efficiently. English only ordering might help.

    2. If the restuarant is not operating at capacity it might result in a net increase in profits by making itself more appealing to the part of the population who dislike non-English speakers. This would be particularly true if this part of the population had higher incomes and a higher propensity to spend money on cheese-steaks than the the excluded segment. There are plenty of “exclusive” establishments that are very successful due in part of their exclusivity.

    3. The restuarant might benefit from additional profitability due to all the publicity that this English-only policy has generated.

    Whether or not it amounts to a good business decision can only be determined ex post, by analyzing profitability some time after implementing the new policy.

    There is also a subjective element to this whole thing… A good decision is one that results in whatever makes the proprietor most happy. It could be greater profits, but it might just be some intangible value that Geno derives from an establishment free of foreign languages.

  23. Russ-

    You may be right. It might be a smart decision under these circumstances, particularly with all of the publicity he’s getting. But if every other cheesesteak place in Philly decided to go down the same route they’d probably discover that alienating a growing portion of the population is not a good strategy for an industry.

    Bottom line: This guy should certainly have the right to do whatever he wants, and it might even happen to work out well for him, but I don’t see it as the sort of strategy that’s worthy of great applause from a US Senator.

  24. My eatery will be called The Sub Standard. ™

  25. Josh,

    “He’s never had to order his own sandwich?” He’s never had to learn to operate in a foreign language.

    Learning another language isn’t something that happens overnight. How about those people who are learning English, but who don’t have much of a vocabulary, or who still have such a thick accent that it barely sounds like English? I guess doing their best to operate in mainstream society as the work to master their language skills is, as zeroentitlement says, a “demonstration of contempt for his culture.”

    Yeah, he’s victim here, because there are people who aren’t like him, and they dare to try to patronize his business.

  26. The Sub-Mariner?.

    No italics.

  27. Pro Liberate: would sans italics be too SUBtle?

    (appreciate the connection, demonstrated yet again, to naval forces)

  28. As a cheesesteak fan I have to go with Pats. The reason is that Genos is just too much hype for my liking. Genos has all the lights, the glitz, and now the speak english sign, where as pats si more modest and just better. This is just another attmept for publicity from two media whores vento and santorum.

  29. VM,

    And to superheroes, which also fit nicely into the sandwich oeuvre.

    Italics are SUBstantially unnecessary when referring to restaurants. It’s hard enough to keep above water with all of the mis-usage of type and diacritical styles around here as it is! F?r ?nst?nc?, ? ?b?s? the ?ml??t.

  30. Pats, modest? Both are for tourists, I think. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point the owners got together and said “let’s start up a bullshit competition to get both of our places more business”. Well, I would be surprised, but it could have happened.

    Chubby’s in Roxborough is the way to go.

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