Rick Santorum is holier than thou.
Truth be told, I'm actually surprised that Rick Santorum hasn't been the obvious frontrunner long before this, as GOP primary voters tend to be far more conservative than the rest of the population. This is a clear example of where the media has had an impact - deciding who gets the bulk of the attention, who gets what questions in debates, who the loon of the day is, and so on. The media’s attraction to the outrageous antics of Perry, Bachmann, and Cain made Santorum look like a boring also-ran. Yet even from the sidelines, Santorum has consistently made statements that might upset moderates, but which have been the kinds of ideas that would garner applause from this year's shockingly-behaved debate audiences.
A sprinkling of Rick’s sanctimony:
- Singled out black people as recipients of Federal benefits in a state where 84% of the food stamp recipients are white, and like many right-wingers, has erroneously used words like Fascism to describe the social safety net.
- Favors a constitutional ban on abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, and feels that the President should be pro-life because he is black.
- Believes that states should be able to ban birth control. He opposes all forms of family planning and sex education.
- Claims that single mothers are a key factor to both the economic downturn and the advantage of the Democratic party. Of course, he opposes all means of helping women control their fertility and feels the best solution is to marry them all off.
- Signed that marriage pledge stating that a black child was better off being born into slavery. Remember that? Bachmann got for flack for it, but Santorum signed it too.
- Gives credit for Osama bin Laden’s death to the Bush Administration rather than the one who actually authorized the mission (expect to hear more of that kind of talk in the general election, even though Obama made getting bin Laden a priority and Bush expressly did not), and came just short of accusing the President of treason, declaring that Obama has “sided with our enemies” in international conflicts.
Now that’s just in this campaign. Many evangelicals might also look favorably on his attempts to amend the No Child Left Behind law with a mandate to teach Intelligent Design. However what “small-government Santorum” is probably best known for is his claim that United States citizens have no right to privacy with regard to sexual acts, an argument that is almost always supported with claims that homosexuality leads to bestiality, and was by Santorum. I’ll just let Wikipedia deal with the aftermath of that.
Santorum comes to his proclamations by way of the Catholic Church, which explains many of his anti-contraception, anti-gay, anti-woman positions. However, even the Catholic Church is more progressive about healthcare policy than Santorum. Sadly, he has chosen to blame Boston liberalism for the clergy sex-abuse scandal, and even to claim, like some in the Church hierarchy, that the victims were not children, but “post-pubescent men.” Someone should ask him about the Grand Jury investigation in Philadelphia, where as many as 30 abusive priests are thought to have been allowed to remain in active ministry by the Archdiocese.
Whether his relative success in Iowa, and his extreme right-wing positions, take Rick Santorum any farther down the campaign trail remains to be seen. New Hampshire is a near lock for Romney, particularly with McCain's endorsement. However, Santorum’s positions are attractive to the GOP base, and he also has the advantage of not appearing “wacky” thus far. As recently as last week, conservative pastors were asking him to drop out for fear of diluting evangelical influence, but now leaders from the religious right are discussing which of the non-Romney candidates they should support post-Iowa. Now that some of the bigger attractions in this circus are packing up their tents, Santorum might do well in South Carolina and Florida - unless Rubio endorses Romney in hopes of a VP slot.