The witness of Rick Santorum

The New York Times (!) has a sympathetic and moving look at his daughter Bella’s illness, and how it has shaped Santorum’s life and affected his campaign:

Isabella Santorum, the fragile 3-year-old daughter of Rick Santorum, has pulled through again.

She came down with pneumonia over the weekend, a frightening turn of events given that Bella, as she is known, received a diagnosis of a fatal chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18 shortly after her birth and has lived longer than most babies born with the illness. About two weeks after her birth, doctors sent her home from the hospital on hospice care, which is usually reserved for the end of life, not the beginning, saying her condition was “incompatible with life.”

Bella’s condition is a constant challenge for the entire family, especially for Mr. Santorum’s wife, Karen, and their six other children.

But her health issues present another kind of challenge to Mr. Santorum. As a presidential candidate, he is constantly traveling and must devote considerable time and energy to his campaign. Yet he is still a father. And ultimately, voters may judge him on both of his roles — as a candidate and a parent.

“I think his priorities are right, if you have a sick child — whether you’re running for dog catcher or president of the United States — your family comes first,” said Gail Hebert, president of the St. Petersburg Republican Club in Florida…

…Bella has emerged as the emotional centerpiece of Mr. Santorum’s campaign. His references to her are easily the most riveting moments of his speeches, usually leaving audiences silent and weepy. He has even built entire speeches around Bella’s story, telling certain audiences, especially those in churches, every painful detail of her birth and how the family has embraced her as a blessing.

On the campaign trail, the Santorums share the lessons they have drawn from Bella. Mr. Santorum told a church gathering in Charleston, S.C., that Bella can never “do” anything in her life in the traditional sense, except love him.

“She is a font of love,” he said. “And she made me understand that that’s how the Father looks at me. I’m disabled and unable to ‘do’ anything for him — except love him. And he loves me unconditionally.”

Many in the congregation wiped away tears.

Mr. Santorum concluded that he had decided to run for president even with a child who needed so much “because we wanted to make sure we had a health care system and we had a society that respected the dignity of every human life. And what better way to go out and defend that than by talking about the dignity of every human life in our own lives?”

Read more.

  • ron chandonia

    I’m surprised to see such a favorable article in the Times, not just because it’s friendly to a social conservative like Santorum but because it implies support for sustaining the life of a child that many other families . . . “for philosophical or other reasons,” as the authors put it . . . would not value so highly. The oddly inappropriate comparison with John Edwards’ treatment of his dying wife suggests to me, however, that the authors are somewhat skeptical about Santorum’s motives.

  • Klaire

    Ron I have to disagree with you re: the skeptics. Let’s face it, the Santorums have 8 kids, one dead, one disabled, and clearly walk the walk. John Edwards is night and day and shouldn’t even be in the same sentence, except to say that he needs our prayers too.

    I’ve been mentioning all along how some of MSM juornalists, despite not having a thing in common with Santorum, actually write well of him as a man of integrity, character, and true to his convictions.

    Maybe it’s because it’s so rarely seen, and so hard to fake.

    Imagine what even 4 years of a family like that in the White House, leading the free world would do? God always sends us what we need, but like most elections, most can’t think beyond their walets or contraception, failing to trust that God knows what is best (FWIW, Santorum is NOT going to outlaw contraception, only making the point that he walks that walk too). Furthermore, the root of every problem Ameirca has is in it’s rejections of “God’s ways.” If only we returned to God, everything else would take care of itself, starting with the economy.

    My guess, albeit not my prayer, is that once again America will “learn the hard way”, never taking the time to thing through why Santroum is the best thing that could happen to America. Regardess, The Santorums are already in the God’s eyes, as Mother Theresa so often taught, “We don’t have to be successful, just faithful.”

    Few if any can deny, regardless of how you break for Santroum, this is man who walks his faith. My God forever bless him and his beautiful family.

  • Klaire

    Correction (fast typing as always), mean to say Santorum is “already in the eyes of God a winner.”

  • Richard Johnson

    While I do not agree with the policies he has supported or proposes for his campaign, I do admire his dedication to his family, and agree that we need more of that kind of love in our world.

  • IC

    “I’ve been mentioning all along how some of MSM juornalists, despite not having a thing in common with Santorum, actually write well of him as a man of integrity, character, and true to his convictions.

    Maybe it’s because it’s so rarely seen, and so hard to fake.”

    Amen.

  • http://www.canonlaw.info Ed Peters

    DITTO.

  • Will

    “because we wanted to make sure we had a health care system and we had a society that respected the dignity of every human life.”

    I do not see how Mr. Santorum’s health care proposals will do much to provide affordable health care for every human life.

  • Klaire

    Will I think you like many are greatly misguided by “affordable” health care. Affordability is useless if what we can afford doesn’t give us what we need. I doubt anyone reading hasn’t had a life teaching moment of “you get what you pay for.”

    Right now Obamacare, if God forbid it goes into full action, is “cost” centered. That means that the elderly, the disabled, and to some extend, the “poor or useless” will not be given the same standard of care the “important” people might be given. For sure, a a patient like Bella Santorum would/will most likely be required to be aborted, as under O’care, she would be “too expensive” and a bad investment. After all, we’ve got an entire country to keep going, can’t spend that kind of money on the useless.

    Santorum on the other hand, would have no such thing, as his plan centers on “PATIENT NEEDS”, which, in keeping with the dignity of every human life, is exactly how it should be. Every patient deserves the right to life (under reasonable means of course) regardless of their situation.

    There are many ways this kind of health care can be made affordble to all without the goverment dictating our rights. This just isn’t the place to get into it, only wanted to point out that “affordabilty” is a deceptive buzz word when it comes to O’care.

  • Will

    i think you do not understand how many people cannot afford, and do not obtain, health care. What part of his plan would bring health care to those who cannot afford it? We now have insurance companies dictating our rights.

  • Klaire

    Will I do agree with you that insurance companies to a large degree dictate our rights, as well as some physicians. If we are “over insured”, we are seen as “cash cows” with every test in the book thrown at us, and if we are “under insured”, we certainly don’t get the best that is out there, only what is legally necessary. So yeah, it’s a double edge sword.

    In Obamacare, it’s sort of like the worst of the above. The weatlhy and “important” will (like our current congress), will always get the best that is out there, while the poor, the disabled, and the elderly, and to some extent the middle class, will “get what they want to give us”, when and when not they deem it “worthwhile.”

    I don’t know the details of Santorum’s plan, only that I more than anyone I would trust a pro-life rock solid person of integrity like Santorum to get it right. He promises, “patient centered” care, and I have every reason to believe that is what he will deliver if he can (obviously he can’t do it alone), and as affordble as possible.

    If anyone in congress has been a champion for the poor, it was Rick Santorum. He was often thought of one of the biggest advocates in the Senate for the poor.

    I certainly can guranatee you that if Santorum is elected, all of our health woes are over, only that if there is anyone I trust to get the job done for the best interest of the American People, it would be he.

  • Will

    Unless there is some catastrophic change, he will not get the nomination.

    The problem is that what he proposes, based on his website, will do little or nothing to make health care more affordable.


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