A Santorum Disaster (Obama Is Smiling)

by Stephen H. Miller on February 9, 2012

Roger Simon explains why a Santorum nomination would be a GOP disaster — the Republican social right may be fine with overt homophobia, but the country isn’t any longer:

[M]ost people these days have homosexuals among their friends, family, or work colleagues and don’t appreciate even the whiff of bigotry. It’s become a big no-no. Santorum does not have a good track record in that regard. He is the only politician I know of who merits his own Wikipedia entry on the subject: “Santorum controversy regarding homosexuality.” Some of the quotations at that site from the former senator are not pretty. …
In most areas — economics, foreign policy, health care, etc. — I agree more or less with Rick Santorum. … I am certain, however, a Santorum nomination will be fraught with allegations of homophobia that may very well be fatal to his chances and to the Republican Party. Romney and Gingrich, for various reasons, some of them obvious, will not be able to say much about this during the nominating process. But you can sure as Hell bet the Democrats will if Santorum succeeds.

{ 33 comments }

Houndentenor February 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm

At least you’re admitting that Santorum is anti-gay. Almost daily I have a right-winger berate me for “lying” that Santorum is against gay rights.

Tom Scharbach February 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Roger Simon explains why a Santorum nomination would be a GOP disaster — the Republican social right may be fine with overt homophobia, but the country isn’t any longer:

Santorum is rougher around the edges than either Romney or Gingrich — that is to say, he is less adept at artifice designed to make his views sound less extreme than they are — but if there are substantive differences, they are minor indeed.

Do you seriously believe that Romney or Gingrich would be any less a disaster for equality than Santorum?

Houndentenor February 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I have to admit I’m impressed with Gingrich’s chutzpah. Imagine the nerve it takes to lecture people about morality while parading around with the whore you had a six year affair with while married to the wife you cheated on with your first wife. Oh and she’s a devout Catholic this Calista because all devout Catholics carry on with married men.

Seriously, this GOP primary season reads like it was scripted but the editors of The Onion. No one could make up a more ridiculous spectacle.

jaredkc February 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Santorum is rougher around the edges than either Romney or Gingrich…but if there are substantive differences, they are minor indeed.

I think there is a big difference between a candidate who supports sodomy laws and compares gay people to men who have sex with dogs, and a candidate who opposes gay marriage. Gingrich is a bit worse than Romney, but yes, Romney (while bad) is not nearly as bad as Santorum. And these differences do matter.

Doug February 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Let me see. Would I rather be executed by lethal injection or hanged. Yep big difference.

Tom Scharbach February 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I think there is a big difference between a candidate who supports sodomy laws and compares gay people to men who have sex with dogs, and a candidate who opposes gay marriage.

What’s the difference, other than attitude?

(1) Each has pledged support for the FMA, banning marriage equality nationwide and terminating existing same-sex marriages.

(2) Each has pledged support for DOMA, banning federal recognition of state marriages.

(3) Each has pledged to appoint “original intent” judges, judges who will reverse the Supreme Court’s “right of privacy” rationale, destroying the legal underpinning of Lawrence v. Texas and opening the door to state re-criminalization of sodomy.

(4) Santorum and Gringrich each support removing federal court jurisdiction over constitutional cases on “culture war” issues, including Perry v. Brown, recently decided, the DOMA challenges, and LCR’s constitutional challenge to DADT. Romney has criticized the decisions in question, but has not yet made a definitive statement on federal court jurisdiction (unless he made the statement at CCAP today).

We can go on …

On the issues, the three are like conjoined triplets. So why does the fact that Santorum is more outspoken about his disdain for you and me than either Gingrich or Romney make a difference to you? Different words, same result. Who gives a flying fork what they call us?

Houndentenor February 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I don’t believe that. If I had to pick from this field I’d have to go with Romney. It’s not that I agree with him more. I probably agree with Ron Paul (I know. I’m scared too.) more than most of them, but Romney among that final four strikes me as the most mature. At the very least, we should have an adult in the Oval Office. Gingrich is about as emotionally mature as my three-year-old niece. Santorum is out there (he actually believes we should ban contraceptives…in 2012!!!). And Ron Paul is too blinded by a naive ideology. I’d live in constant fear of what each of those three would do next. Romney would most certainly do think I would not like. It seems like all three are itching for a war with Iran, for example. But at least Romney might listen to reason or consider the consequences before he asks. I realize that compromise is a dirty word in modern American politics, but it’s actually how almost everything of any consequence in our history was achieved. That said, the choices on the GOP side are awful. No one should be surprised that turnout for the primaries is significantly lower than it was four years ago.

Jorge February 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Santorum is out there (he actually believes we should ban contraceptives…in 2012!!!).

Sorry, but he never said that. He said contraception is not right. He punted on the question of whether he would support banning it. I believe both he and Romney (certainly Romney) expressed that they do not agree with Griswald v. Connecticut.

Tom Scharbach February 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I believe both he and Romney (certainly Romney) expressed that they do not agree with Griswald v. Connecticut.

All three have made clear that they do not believe that there is a right of privacy, which is the right articulated in Griswald and on which the decision was based. All three have pledged to appoint judges and Justices who will reverse the privacy cases, including Lawrence.

Houndentenor February 12, 2012 at 8:48 am

Why on earth would he punt on that question? The case law is from long before he was born and pretty much everyone uses contraception at some point, including Catholics.

In the digital age, they are against a right to privacy? That’s insane.

Tom Scharbach February 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

In the digital age, they are against a right to privacy? That’s insane.

I think we are talking about the “right of privacy” in two different contexts, Houndentenor.

The “right of privacy” in the context that involves contraception is not a right to speak or act without government knowledge (as in, say internet eavesdropping) but instead a “right to be left alone”.

The “right of privacy” that social conservatives take aim at is the reasoning behind a line of Supreme Court cases starting with Griswold v. Connecticut, which held that a married couple had a right to use contraception, and the government could not interfere with that right.

Drawing on the logic of a number of cases from the 1920′s involving parental rights to educate their children as they saw fit, and the reasoning of Justice Brandeis in a 1928 opinion (“The makers of our Constitution understood the need to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness, and the protections guaranteed by this are much broader in scope, and include the right to life and an inviolate personality — the right to be left alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. The principle underlying the Fourth and Fifth Amendments is protection against invasions of the sanctities of a man’s home and privacies of life. This is a recognition of the significance of man’s spiritual nature, his feelings, and his intellect.</“) the court found a “right of privacy” regarding sexual matters.

Although the basis on which the “right of privacy” was found in the Constitution varied (Justice Douglas found it in a “penumbra” to the Bill of Rights, Justice Goldberg in the 9th Amendment, Justices Harlan and White in the 14th Amendment) the Court concluded that the right to privacy was “fundamental” when it concerned the actions of married couples, because it “is of such a character that it cannot be denied without violating those fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of our civil and political institutions.

Griswold, in turn, gave rise to a line of cases expanding the “right of privacy” beyond married couples and contraception — Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas being the most notable, perhaps, because it is those cases that have provoked the bile of social conservatives more than any others in the line.

When you hear the Republican Presidents-Presumptive pandering to social conservatives about “activist judges” and “appointing judges who will apply the original meaning of the Constitution”, this is the line of cases that they are talking about abolishing.

Spaniel February 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm

The most obvious difference between Santorum and the other Republican candidates is that he is on record as being against contraception, as well as any sexual activity that is against “God’s will,” i.e. any activity that is not open to procreation. If Santorum should get the nomination, my guess is that clips showing him saying these words will get lots of air play and Youtube play, and straight people who don’t think the government has any business monitoring their bedrooms will vote against him in droves.

Houndentenor February 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Newt and Calista Gingrich have no children. They aren’t using birth control?

BobN February 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I’m more curious as to why Mrs. Santorum hasn’t popped out 13 or 14.

Tom Scharbach February 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm

The most obvious difference between Santorum and the other Republican candidates is that he is on record as being against contraception, as well as any sexual activity that is against “God’s will,” i.e. any activity that is not open to procreation.

True enough. Santorum is a conservative Catholic and makes no bones about his religious beliefs about contraception, marriage as a “privilege” granted to encourage procreation, and so on. And that might turn some straight people off.

But on the issues Roger Simon seems to be talking about (marriage equality, FMA, DOMA, adoption, the right of privacy, “original intent” and so on) the three might as well be conjoined triplets. There are differences: (a) Santorum and Gingrich both are on record supporting eliminating federal court jurisdiction over “culture war” case, while (surprise) Romney has made no clear statement either way, and (b) Santorum and Gingrich are both on record supporting immediate reinstatement of DADT, while Romney has said that he will not necessarily reinstate it.

I don’t think that Simon is necessarily right in thinking that Santorum’s more forthright, less veiled, statements (i.e., according to Simon, “homophobia”) will turn off many more voters than the triplets’ substantive positions will turn off. My guess is that a lot of Americans will find the substantive views of all three very problematic. After all, how many voters in states where marriage equality is a fact really want to have those marriages invalidated at this point? How many younger voters buy into the idea that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children? And so on …

That’s the dilemma that the Republican Party faces in 2012.

Mary February 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm

I love Roger Simon – he’s a fascinating guy. But he’s also someone who thought Rudy Giuliani would have little trouble winning the Republican nomination in 2008 because, and I’m paraphrasing him here but only slightly, “I think the social issues are over and everyone knows it.” I believe his article was called “Rudy and the Social Issues.”

And who was the last Republican presidential candidate to lose because he was too far to the right on social issues? Bush 41, Dole, and McCain all lost because of the economy. Santorum comes across as far more literate and intellectual than Bush 43 (not that this is a big achievement in and of itself, I’ll admit.) I think liberals are imagining him to be the Christine O’Donnell of presidential nominees – whereas he’s really somewhere between Reagan and Bush 43 in terms of how appealing he should be to voters. He doesn’t have Reagan’s personal touch, but he’s a respectable candidate who represents the party as a whole pretty well.

The smartest thing for Obama to do is focus on the economy and hope that a foreign policy crisis develops – one he could finesse with seriousness and skill rather than using military force. If liberals try to make Rick Santorum sound like a neo-fascist, voters will only see it as a desperate attempt to get their attention off the sluggish economy.

Tom Scharbach February 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I think liberals are imagining him to be the Christine O’Donnell of presidential nominees – whereas he’s really somewhere between Reagan and Bush 43 in terms of how appealing he should be to voters. He doesn’t have Reagan’s personal touch, but he’s a respectable candidate who represents the party as a whole pretty well.

Santorum is no Christine O’Donnell. His views are on “culture war” issues are no farther to the right than either Romney’s or Gingrich’s views — he’s mainstream Republican — and Santorum is a good campaigner who is articulate and smart, with demonstrated ability to handle himself well on the campaign trail. You’ll not find him making wacko statements like O’Donnell and spending the rest of his campaign trying to hide. If anybody thinks that Santorum will be an easy mark, they haven’t been paying attention to his performance in the primaries.

Frankly, looking at the candidates with cold objectivity born of years volunteering in campaigns, including running a few, I think that Santorum will be a stronger candidate than Romney.

Santorum is likeable. Romney just isn’t; Romney is Tom Dewey all over again. Santorum believes what he stands for, and Americans respect that, whatever they might think of his positions. Romney stands for nothing. He comes across as a phony, and Americans don’t like phonies. Romney doesn’t have a plan, a vision, a “grand idea”. Nobody’s home. Santorum, in contrast, does, whatever you may think of his idea.

Romney’s weakness has shown up clearly in the Republican primary debates. I’ve watched all of them. Romney’s scripted responses have been formulaic platitudes. Take him an inch off script, and he ends up looking in turns petulant or like the kid who enjoyed “scoring points” on the other kids. He could never pull off “a Reagan” in a debate. Go look at a couple of those debates again, the debates where somebody knocked Romney off his script. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

Here’s a way to get at what I’m talking about. A standard focus group technique at getting at a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses is to ask the folks in the focus group to think about which kid in fifth grade the candidate reminds them of, and why. Try it. It is revealing. If Romney doesn’t come out second to Santorum in that exercise, Romney reminding you of someone you didn’t like and Santorum reminding you of someone you did like, I’d be surprised.

I know that what I’m saying isn’t conventional wisdom — the polls show Romney faring better than Santorum against Obama. But I don’t think Romney will do as well when Americans get to see more of him. I think that Santorum, on the other hand, will do better as Americans get to see more of him.

A disclaimer to anyone who doesn’t already know this: I’m a Democrat and active in Democratic politics. I intend to vote for Obama and I hope he wins. So look at what I’m saying about the relative strengths of the two as campaigners with some skepticism. But evaluate what I’m saying objectively — particularly that “fifth grade” exercise — and see if you don’t agree with me.

Ibdifdsf February 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I admire Senator Rick Santorum. I hope he becomes President of the United States, and I’m looking forward to the triumphant re-election of President Santorum in 2016.

Santorum’s stand against homosexuality is one of the things I most admire him for; it shows great courage, and I think many people respect that, even if they don’t agree with him.

Doug February 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Santorum would be a disaster for the GOP for the same reason he lost his Senate seat by 18 points.

Mary February 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm

While losing a Senate seat by 18 points is not a thing to brag about, I don’t see it as being a factor in this election. The Republicans don’t need Pennsylvania to win the White House. And Santorum will be running against Obama, not the socially conservative Bob Casey Jr. Many of the PA voters who rejected Santorum’s re-election to the Senate in 2006 may prefer him to Obama as president. Each election involves unique circumstances. And Santorum’s willingness to support Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey could easily be used to show that he is not a narrowly-based ideologue, but a party loyalist who understands the need for compromise.

Jorge February 9, 2012 at 9:35 pm

“The Obama administration issued what amounts to a diktat to Roman Catholics to toe the liberal line on birth control, even to the extent of paying for the contraceptives their faith finds immoral…. Santorum, the candidate most associated with religious faith, should profit from this execrable policy, especially in the short run.”

It is well that he acknowledged it at all, but I find it interesting how Mr. Simon completely glosses over the potential for any Republican candidate, including Rick Santorum, to run with this over and over again in the general election. In my opinion this policy could become singlehandedly responsible for making Santorum electable vs. Obama. It’s the one thing he can use that has a chance of blocking the expected firestorm over his quotes and positions on gays.

Almost daily I have a right-winger berate me for “lying” that Santorum is against gay rights.

You liar!

You’ll not find him making wacko statements like O’Donnell and spending the rest of his campaign trying to hide.

No, just the rest of his political career wearing a bulletproof vest because he refuses to hide.

Jorge February 9, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Since Dick Morris regularly has mentioned that the various attacks and scandals against the Republican candidates are short-term, serve to “vet” and prepare them, and wear off after the candidate successfully answers (or answer to) them, why would this be long-term?

For the same reason Obamacare is a long-term negative–hey, wait, the Sebellus contraception decision *is* part of Obamacare! Because there are fundamental problems and disagreements that will not satisfy people, and Obama is likely to double down instead of backing off. The Republican candidate can drill it over and over again. President Bush won the 2004 election in partly by drilling home John Kerry’s flip-flop on the war in Iraq.

Doug February 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm

People need only be reminded of Santorum’s involvement in the Terri Schiavo issue to see how radical he is. He dose not want the government involved in providing contraception but he sure as hell wants the government involved in keeping you plugged into life prolonging machines.

Jorge February 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Being a supporter of big government is an awesome responsibility: you have to be right (which is why Ron Paul will always have a base in the Republican party). You have to have the courage to be wrong when you take a stand for what’s right.

To say Rick Santorum doesn’t want the government involved in providing contraception is not quite right. Rick Santorum was, as I never tire of saying, a very strong supporter of expanded AIDS prevention in Africa, which adoped a model program promoting abstinance, monogamy, and condom use. “By the way did you know the United States is the world’s largest purchaser of condoms”? (Bono to Bush, cited in Decision Points).

So the Sebellus decision it’s not just about power of the government, come to think about it, and with RU-486 in the mix, it’s certainly not just about contraception. It’s about this being a wrong decision that is out of touch with the laws, values and best interests of this country and its citizens.

Houndentenor February 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

Practicing birth control and the prevention of spreading diseases isn’t in the best interest of the country?

Doug February 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm

If it’s out of touch with the values of the country why does the overwhelming majority of the public, including Catholics, support it.

Jorge February 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Practicing birth control and the prevention of spreading diseases isn’t in the best interest of the country?

Over 95% of couples in the US already use some form of birth control. Or women, or whatever. I’m not sure where that statistic comes from, but it’s so jaw-droppingly large I must protest that if it ain’t broke, there’s no benefit to the government fixing it, especially when it’s intruding upon the constitutional rights of churches and their affiliates.

If it’s out of touch with the values of the country why does the overwhelming majority of the public, including Catholics, support it.

Let me look that one up. Ah, it’s cited by Media Matters. Terrible at analysis, but MM usually uses the right sources, in this case, the Public Religion Research Institute.

Nope, you’re wrong. According to PRRI’s own website, 49% of Americans polled “say that religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception or birth control at no cost”, as well as 52% of Catholics but only 45% of Catholic voters. 46% of those polled were against it. This was on Feb 7.

Out of touch with the values of this country.

Houndentenor February 12, 2012 at 8:54 am

That wasn’t the point I was making. What I was pointing out was that Catholics use birth control just like everyone else, ignoring their priests, bishops and cardinals. They also have abortions at about the same rate as the rest of the population. The Catholic Church isn’t even respected as a moral authority by Catholics. I’m not sure why any of the rest of us should take them seriously, especially when a good number of those bishops and cardinals knowingly shielded child rapists from prosecution.

The values of the country, based on people’s actions, not just their answers to a poll, is that they want the ability to decide when they have children and how many. It’s stunning that anyone would advocate for overturning Griswald. But if that’s the direction you want the GOP to go, be my guest. Nothing would swing the country to the left faster.

Jorge February 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm

You express skepticism against my point of view critical of the Obama administration’s decision on the merits (“best interests”). I tell you why a decision purporting to give universal access to birth control is a useless gesture–there already is universal access. You say I’m missing your point? I think you’re just trying to change the subject because this exchange isn’t going your way.

It seems to me that you don’t care whether or not this policy is objectively necessary or helpful, and that you’re just in this to beat up on the Catholic Church. What are your real motivations here, Houndentenor? Do you really think this is an important reform the Obama administration is trying to accomplish? I’d like you to respond to my post (the next one above) before I respond to yours.

Houndentenor February 13, 2012 at 9:01 am

I’m lost. I’m not sure what question I’m supposed to have answered.

I really don’t understand what the big deal is. I never understood the RCC’s ban on birth control. My parents are fundies but my mom was on the pill. If you want fewer abortions (something I think we’d all like to see), then we should support people using birth control unless they are trying to have a baby.

Here’s the issue: most women consider birth control a basic health care issue. I agree with them. Contraceptives should be covered just like everything else is covered. I doubt it occurred to anyone that the RCC would object in this way or that the fundamentalists, who demonize Catholics in their services on a regular basis…I know I grew up with it and hear it when I go to church with my parents back home…would create fake outrage over this. It’s just being used as a wedge issue by the right and a smokescreen by the RCC.

I’ll say it again, if the RCC wants to be taken seriously as a moral authority in our country, then they need to cooperate fully with investigations of child abuse by priests. Until then, I will mock any attempts to act as if they know what’s best for us. If you can’t even protect children from rapists, what kind of morality to you require?

Jorge February 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm

And I’ll say it one more time until you address my point directly: What I don’t understand is what the big deal is when such a hypermajority of women already use birth control? Why are we so eager to fund it? Why are we promising a chicken in every pot, free, when every household already has a chicken in every pot? What is the urgency here? Could you please try to answer that instead of throwing down irrelevant distractions that showcase nothing more than your blind axe to grind?

Because as it stands, this is nothing more than the feminist lobby asking for a type of welfare that women are perfectly capable of and willing to pay for already. And the right to be spoon-fed by the government does not come before the right not to fund an activity you object to on longstanding religious grounds.

Jorge February 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Oh, and I was wrong about RU 486. It covers emergency contraception, but RU 486 is something else (and it’s not covered).

abumeEndeam February 15, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Molto divertente messaggio

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