On Santorum v Romney. Which, I’m posting this here because it was rejected by Ace’s comment system
In reply to Gabe Malor’s latest attempt to level the GOP primary playing field by tearing Rick Santorum down to the Romney level of electoral weathervaning — Malor’s hope being that if he can only show that no actual conservative candidates remain, stupid flyover hicktard TEA Party hypocrites will do what’s right and embrace the most telegenic (and socially moderate) of the remaining candidates to run against Barack Obama — I offer the following pointed retort: what are you, fucking retarded?
Malor’s underlying thesis, whether he wishes it expressed this way or not, is that religion is rather a nasty, intolerant business, it being all hateful, and Santorum is therefore a nasty, hateful, intolerant bigot (or at the very least, he’ll be portrayed as such) who has no business mixing his bigotry with our government.
Whereas — conversely — if there’s one thing Romney’s not it’s hateful. In fact, he’s on everybody’s side! At once! Except the very poor, of course.
But that’s just nitpicking.
Anyway, though I’ve written this all before — and I’m sure written it better — allow me to repeat myself: Santorum is a conservative. If it’s earmarks or steel tariffs you want to chide him on, fine. But James Inhofe, whose conservatism can’t be questioned, has made the constitutional and conservative case for earmarks. And I was among those who criticized the Bushies for steel tariffs — recognizing it as a political pander, largely to Santorum’s state.
The real question is, why is it somehow a dealbreaker when the more conservative Santorum acts politically and pragmatically — even as we’re told we need to embrace a candidate who would surprise us only if he identified and stuck to a single actual principle?
Oh, right: BECAUSE OF THE HYPOCRISY!
The upshot being, if you have no identifiable values, you can’t be a hypocrite, no matter what position you take. Which means Romney, because he stands for absolutely nothing, is now a better option than Santorum, who stands for a number of things but who on occasion has made political calculations that appear to override his principles. That is, Romney religiously stands for nothing; whereas Santorum should be rejected because he hasn’t always voted for legislation that adhere to his supposedly bedrock core conservative beliefs.
— Is the argument. Which, how rigid!
And yet it’s we unnuanced rubes who simply don’t understand electoral politics who are accused of being the “purists”?
Here’s the deal, fellas: Santorum’s conservative scores were pretty good in the Senate and he consistently outperformed the GOP average for the Congresses he governed in. So generally he pulled more conservative than the zeitgeist, by 5-6%.
As for his social conservatism — and I’m not a social con by any stretch, because they don’t allow Jews in that club who refuse to wear the curly sideburns — I’ve argued a number of times now that if Santorum’s social conservatism plays any role (outside of the role the Left will assign it, which Obama has helpfully weakened), it may actually help the small government cause: Santorum’s complaint is that the government, through legislation or the courts, routinely interferes with the foundational rights of the religious to follow their faiths unmolested by the secular religion of progressivism, which uses the State to crush religious competition largely by pretending it is itself not a form of religion. That is, Santorum wouldn’t appear such an intrusive moral busybody were the State not taking away the rights of the faithful to be private moral busybodies. That is, were the state not so eager to bully the faithful by driving them out of the public square, demanding they ignore or hide the tenets of their various faiths, it’s likely we could just go back to slamming the door in their faces when they showed up to push church fliers on us during a “Law and Order: SVU” marathon.
Obama’s overstep of First Amendment protections with his recent HHS mandate is a perfect way for Santorum to illustrate the differences between the moral busybodying of the Left and the defense of certain traditions embraced by the religious right — and to show how and why the Constitution and Declaration were written as they were, and who and what it was, precisely, they were meant to protect. Ditto Obama’s refusal to defend DOMA, whether you agree with it or not: either we accept the checks and balances and the various processes of a constitutional government or we stop pretending we’re a free people living under a stable rule of law.
Too, on abortion, Obama’s published comments — “punished” with pregnancy; babies who come out still wiggling after a late-term abortion fails needing to be taken to a utility room and left to die — will hardly resonate if made an issue in the general election, I don’t think, even with many pro-choice voters, a good portion of whom are only pro-choice because they are torn over the balancing of women’s rights with the “rights” of something they know is, in the end, a baby. Reagan’s running as a strong opponent of abortion didn’t seem to hurt him much.
In an era of tremendous government overreach and dictates by Federal courts that declare constitutional amendments passed by the people of a state unconstitutional, is it really that difficult to envision how Santorum’s defense of state sovereignty over and above an all-powerful federal judicial oligarchy might resonate?
Again, whether you agree or not, Santorum — like John Roberts and Clarence Thomas before him (Roberts in his “french fry” decision, Thomas with Lawrence) — is right about Griswold, and so he’s right about states being able to pass stupid laws, even if the question is a loaded one like the one regarding a ban on contraceptives, which is in 2012 an academic question.
These fundamental facts remains: Santorum was against TARP; against the individual mandate; against stimulus; against Cap-and-Trade; against gun control. Romney, so far as I can tell, was against Reagan.
That matters. At least, to some of us.