I Went to a Rick Santorum Speech and Lived to Blog About It

I arrived a half hour early to the Mabee Center at Oral Roberts University, which turned out to be a good idea. There were already hundreds of people crowded into the lobby waiting for a “town hall” sponsored by the ORU College Republicans featuring Rick Santorum. The event was initially scheduled to take place in a banquet hall, but it was later moved to a TV studio (yes, the campus has a TV studio). By the time I arrived, it had finally been moved to the basketball arena.

The crowd waits for Santorum

A family that was probably homeschooled came in at the same time as I did — a troop of about seven kids and their mother, all the girls wearing ankle length skirts with hair that went past their shoulders, the oldest boy in a navy blue suit. They were carrying flags, took pictures in front of the campaign bus, and bore signs that read “Too young to vote, old enough to care” and “I’m voting for Bella’s dad.”

A middle-aged man waiting in line behind me observed to his friend that this event had drawn a larger crowd than a Mike Huckabee rally he’d attended in 2008. A woman of about 60 in front of me was explaining to her neighbor why she had not been a John McCain supporter in that primary: “He wanted to impress us because he was willing to reach across the aisle. Well, I don’t want someone who will reach across the aisle. We’ve been doing that, and look where it’s gotten us.”

The sections we were directed to made up about a third of the arena’s 11,000-person capacity. These seats quickly filled up, so they had to open a full half of the venue. Media estimates put the Thursday afternoon crowd at more than 4,000.

While waiting in the stands, I continued to hear revealing snippets of conversation. A man told the woman next to him that “20% of this nation are on some kind of welfare,” and she responded that she “hadn’t heard that exact figure, but it doesn’t surprise me.” Another woman explained that she was not a Ron Paul fan because “he doesn’t support Israel. And that’s a biggie.” An album of instrumental bluegrass covers of worship songs played over the sound system, which was tolerable. Unfortunately, someone switched it to smooth jazz.

Jeremy Burton, ORU’s Director of Public Relations announced that the event was a few minutes from starting and that the opinions of Santorum were not necessarily those of the university. A potential tragedy interrupted, though. Very soon after his first announcement, he returned to ask any physicians in the house to head to the audio booth. That shut the audience up. The situation was pretty serious. A man walked down the aisle nearest to me to shout “People of God, pray for this man. They’re doing chest compressions, and he’s not responding.” Burton returned to the microphone to announce that paramedics were removing the man, and to repeat the call for prayer. “At Oral Roberts University,” he informed us, “that’s important.”

After several tense minutes, ORU President Mark Rutland stepped up to the lectern but offered no new information. He said that he would lead us in prayer, but instructed us to “pray in your own way, in your own faith.” Men like him never seem to consider that there those who prefer not to pray at all. The vast majority of the crowd bowed their heads, and he prayed like someone used to doing this publicly. He concluded with “in Jesus’ name, amen.”

When the event finally started, we did not receive any meaningful information about the man’s condition. The best I could find later was a reference on a local news site to a “man in the crowd with a health condition” who was treated. I can only hope that the lack of concern in the media (most accounts don’t mention the incident at all) reflects a lack of serious result.

Santorum Prays Before His Speech

Kara Evans, the president of the ORU College Republicans, introduced Matt Pinnell, the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party and an ORU alumnus. He declared that his goal, and that of the 49 other state chairman, was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. This was met with uproarious applause, the first of the day. He said that it was his idea to bring Santorum to ORU, “the most renowned Christian university in the nation.” He added that if “the New York Times, or anyone else has a problem with that, they can email me at Matt@IDon’tGiveARip.com.” This was met with laughter and further applause. I expect that he will run for office in the not too distant future.

He then re-introduced Rutland, who also said nice things about the “world-renowned” ORU, quoted Will Rogers, and finally introduced the man himself. After the tense wait, I was glad he kept it short.

Santorum stepped onto the court with his two oldest children and was met with a standing ovation. He assured everyone that he had participated in the “very appropriate” prayer and expressed his best wishes.

He joked about his seven children and how he was doing his part to fix the “demographic problem” associated with social security and medical care. He also spoke about his youngest daughter, Bella, who had a “scary health time” recently. He mentioned she had a “miraculous recovery,” that Tulsa was his last stop before returning home to see her. “Tuesday was a good night,” he said, referring to his victory speech in St, Charles, MO after winning the non-binding primary in that state along with the Minnesota caucus. “But wow, this is amazing,” he said said of the Tulsa crowd.

I had wondered if the advertised “town hall” format had been abandoned, as I saw no microphones available, and Santorum settled the question. He explained that he would only be taking queries from students, specifically those on the stage behind the lectern, not the audience. He described this as “Socratic.”

He launched into the meat of his address by declaring the 2012 election to be the most important of any American’s life “no matter how old” they are and enumerating all the things it was about. This was when the alarms started to go off in my head.

Yes, this is an election about a president who is allowing things to occur in the world, almost apathetically, to rally forces that have been out there over the last few decades, that want to do harm to America. And we have the audacity of calling it an ‘Arab Spring,’ and what we see now is that the Arab Spring is an icy, cold winter of radical Islamists.

Santorum included Egypt as part of this “icy, cold winter.” The idea he seemed to express, and which the audience seemed to agree with, was that Egypt’s entire uprising consisted of “radical Islamists” who opposed “an ally of the United States and Israel.” He blamed Obama for “standing by.”

It is beyond dispute that the Islamist parties who now control Egypt’s parliament were (unfortunately) popularly elected, and Hosni Mubarak was a corrupt dictator. But these facts did not seem relevant to Santorum or his audience. It was odd to hear a candidate for president not even pay lip service to the idea that the United States promotes and spreads democracy around the world.

That's an awful lot of radical Muslims

Santorum went on to state unequivocally that Iran is “building a nuclear weapon.”

And the president reluctantly fights with Congress, just to do the minimum to slow them down. And then we see in Syria, the only reason the president of the United States withdraws our embassy from Syria, which he was that put it in place, to reward the thug Bashar Assad and his reign of terror over the people of Syria, we rewarded him by placing an embassy there. And the only reason we removed it, because they wouldn’t guarantee the safety of the embassy, not because we wanted to pull out as a sign of lack of support for this thug.

I could only gape at the speed with which he switched to calling Mubarak an “ally” and Bashar al-Assad a “thug.” The difference in the ruling styles of the two men is one of degree: Assad is more brutal, and putting an embassy in his country was indeed a mistake. The difference in kind between the Mubarak and Assad is not about how they rule their people, but in how they relate to the United States. Santorum did not pretend otherwise, and the audience did not care.

I was even more taken aback at how smoothly he transitioned from promoting amoral foreign policy realism to trumpeting Judeo-Christian values.

Ladies and gentlemen we have a president of the United States who on every single count, and I haven’t mentioned the one, his slow dissemination of the freedom of religion [applause], freedom of conscience [louder applause].

Standing up and talking about abortion as if having life and being pregnant was something that would deny people their dreams. This callousness toward life, and family, and faith — and even open hostility. This is the president of the United States today. This is a president who has a fundamentally different view of America than what made America the greatest country in the history of the world.

He asked us to imagine a less accountable second-term President Obama, immune to “political considerations.” Such a president would do enormous damage internationally, in Santorum’s view. He cited Israel as an example, “who stand and plead for our help.” He referred to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta “condemning” Israel and “inviting the rest of the world to do the same.” I did not know what he was talking about, but all around me, people emitted sighs of exasperation at the claim. My best guess now is that he was talking about reports that Panetta is concerned that Israel may strike Iran soon. The news was based on comments from anonymous officials, not any public statement, and I can find no hint of a condemnation.

From this, he glided right into our healthcare system, which he says Obama has “taken over.” The Affordable Care Act, to Santorum, is fundamentally about liberty.

If the government says they’re gonna give you a right, they can then tell you how to exercise that right [man in audience: "That's right."] You see, our founders believed… [slowly building applause] Our founders believed that rights don’t come from the government.

He then pulled out his pocket Constitution — “the operator’s manual of America.” He pointed out that most pocket Constitutions also print the Declaration of Independence — “the why of America.”

And in that Declaration of Independence is a phrase you folks here in Oklahoma, and I know at Oral Roberts, you know that phrase. And that is: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their [pauses, audience replies "Creator"] with certain unalienable Rights, among them Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  And that is the essence of America.

The left, Santorum thinks, sees the Declaration as an “old, dead letter” and are trying to “ease [it] out.” It is “inconvenient” to liberals because it says “rights come from God instead of the government.”

It’s interesting. When it come to the issue of equality, they’re all for it. They use that term all the time. “Equality! Equality!” Where does equality come from? Do you find equality between men and women, in society, in other cultures in the world? No you do not. No you do not. You find it in Western civilization. You find it because we are a Judeo-Christian country.

Yes, Santorum argued with a straight face that Christianity was responsible for women’s rights.

None of us are equal, from the standpoint of, from a humanistic worldview. What makes us equal? It’s that we’re equal in the eyes of God. [Applause] We all have dignity and worth because of that.

I felt for a moment like he was telling me that, by not believing in a god, I had no rights. I know that this is not the logical conclusion of the statement, but it’s an easy reaction to have when surrounded by such a devout crowd. And the notion that rights come only from God does have a sense of exclusion to it.  Someone who holds this view would probably tell an atheist that she has the same rights as a religious person, but that she doesn’t recognize the source. This is another way of saying that secularists and humanists don’t understand the idea of American the way that Christians do.

Santorum presented this notion in stark terms.

That’s why it’s so hard to take what we have here, and transplant it in other countries. Because what we did here was unique, was different. The French tried to copy us in the French Revolution. Oh, they had their Constitution. But the watchwords of their revolution were three words. Liberty: good. Equality: good. And fraternity: problematic. Because fraternity means each other, brothers, right? Brotherhood, without fatherhood [applause]. Without a creator. And when that happens, and when that happens, then rights don’t from God, they come from each other. And, of course, once you have this radical document of freedom like our Constitution, and you give people the ability of self-government, and they have no rights they have to respect except the ones they give each other, then guess what? You get a guillotine [scattered applause].

He had no problem drawing a parallel between the godless French Revolution and 21st century liberal politics.

We have a president now who believes that government should be able to create rights and force you to exercise them in conformity with what they believe — not the unalienable rights you have. That’s why you see a church in America — I know it’s the Catholic Church, but it’s the Catholic Church first [woman near me: "That's right"]. It won’t be the last if they get away with it [applause].

America, Santorum explained, is the most tolerant country in the world. This is because of our excellence at practicing Judeo-Christian values. But somehow, an exception has been made for “behavior that is against the radical secular ideals of the left.” This is true “particularly if you’re a Christian.” He sees as a sign of this view that both Obama and Hillary Clinton have referred to the freedom of religion as “the freedom of worship.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but my religion goes beyond worship [applause]. What are you doing right here? What are doing right here, at Oral Roberts? You are practicing the freedoms that you’ve been given to educate people consistent with the values of your faith. That is a freedom, not of worship, but it is a religious a freedom, and an important religious freedom [applause].

From this, he transitioned comfortably to complaining about “government getting bigger and bigger,” which leads to “immoral debt.” He promised to “liberate the business community” with “lower taxes and less regulation,” and the audience showed strong approval. Free market capitalism is somehow a part of the package to Christian conservatives. He then narrowed the economic talk to energy issues, which are important to Oklahoma voters.

If we really want to get the business community going, one surefire way is to drive up energy production and lower the cost of energy in this country [standing ovation.] I knew that would get a good number here in Tulsa.

After drawing drawing parallels between the history of energy production in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, he made clear what kind of “energy production” he was talking about.

Thanks to the great technology developed here of hydrofracking [man in audience whistles], we have seen the gas industry explode, and as a result, the cost of gas going down [sustained applause].

We have a huge economic advantage, and what are we doing with it? Trying to eliminate that advantage. The president of the United States is now going out and saying, “Oh, we’ve got to be conservative about this new technology, hydrofracking.” New technology? Last I saw there were about 800,000 wells drilled in this country using this technology [applause and several shouts of "Yeah"].

But since the environmentalists have now been outed with the politicization of the science of this “man-made global warming” schtick [loud applause, partial standing ovation]… They’ve gotta find a new fundraising tool.

Santorum used religious language even to distinguish himself from environmentalists.

They don’t believe that creation is here to serve man, they believe man is here to serve creation. And so as a result, we have a president of the United States who sides with them on everything.

When he said that environmentalists had been “outed,” he may have been referring to a 2009 controversy that was nicknamed “climategate”: the hacking of e-mails among four researchers who worked for the Climate Research Institute at the University of East Anglia. The American Meteorological Society responded to those who suggested that the content of the e-mails revealed a widespread conspiracy among climate scientists.

AMS Headquarters has received several inquiries asking if the material made public following the hacking of e-mails and other files from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia has any impact on the AMS Statement on Climate Change, which was approved by the AMS Council in 2007 and represents the official position of the Society.

The AMS Statement on Climate Change [which states that current warming trends are anthropogenic] continues to represent the position of the AMS.  It was developed following a rigorous procedure that included drafting and review by experts in the field, comments by the membership, and careful review by the AMS Council prior to approval as a statement of the Society.  The statement is based on a robust body of research reported in the peer-reviewed literature.

“Skeptics” like Santorum’s former colleague, Sen. Jim Inhoffe (R-OK), nonetheless treated the e-mails as proof that no scientific consensus exists on climate change.

Before moving on to the obligatory bashing of his Republican rivals, Santorum attempted to establish himself as a man who believes that the problems in this country need to be solved from “the bottom up,” as opposed to someone like Obama who believes they should be solved from “the top down.” The audience rewarded him with a long standing ovation. Unlike me, they apparently knew exactly what he meant by that.

As proof of the extent to which he had won them over, the crowd laughed and cheered at his banal jokes about Mitt Romney‘s healthcare plan and Newt Gingrich‘s ad with Nancy Pelosi. He argued that since he is a man of deep and consistent conviction, he would “create a clear contrast Barack Obama.”

At that point, he moved on to the questions by pre-approved ORU students. The first was from Jonathan Townsend, the president of the College Democrats. Santorum joked to him that leading the College Democrats at ORU must feel like being the chairman of the College Republicans at Penn State, as he was in the early 80s. Townsend asked him to reconcile his opposition to the Affordable Care Act with his Catholic faith.

Here’s the way I approach things as a public official. I believe that you have an obligation to approach every issue in public life from the standpoint, as I do, from the standpoint of both faith and reason. My conscience was formed as a result of my life experience, was primarily through faith, and through the moral values that I was taught, of the teachings within the Bible and the church. And so, yes, I bring that to the table. That’s who I am. When I look at what’s right and wrong, they’re right out of what the Bible teaches are right and wrong [applause]. But, I have an obligation, not just to look at things that way, but also to bring reason.

I always say that if your faith is true and your reason is right, you’ll end up at the same place. Why? Well because God created us, created the universe, created reason. And, of course, why would God create something where your faith would bring you one place and your reason would bring you another if your faith is true? Right? [Scattered applause.]

I also believe as a public official that you have a right to speak to people of faith and no faith. You have to present a reason why you want to advance a certain public policy. Not just because, “that’s what my faith teaches me and that’s why I believe it.” That’s fine, but from the standpoint of public policy, it’s insufficient, because you need to appeal to people who may not share your faith.

And so, that’s why I look at the Affordable Care Act, and say, both from the standpoint of faith — do I believe that people have the right to purchase healthcare? Yes. Do I believe it is right that the government should impose and control? No. So it’s one thing to say that people should have the opportunity, should have access to care. It’s another to say that the government should be the implementer of that [applause]. And reason tells me that government is the least effective tool to make that the best possible care [standing ovation].

The next questioner, who introduced himself only as Micah, asked him to explain the difference between his foreign policy views and Ron Paul’s, which provoked knowing laughter among the crowd. I hope he did not mean this as challenging question — because if so, he failed. Santorum did not mention Paul while bashing Romney and Gingrich — probably because Paul is consistent on fiscal issues. And there are few supporters of Paul who could be swayed to Santorum’s side. But Micah gave Santorum and opportunity to avoid the appearance of ignoring an opponent, while drawing a real distinction between himself and the congressman.

The briefest way is, I believe in peace through strength, he believes… [Applause.] Well, maybe I’ll just say he doesn’t.

I believe that America is a source of stability in the world. The greatest benefactor of that is the United States and us. If we, in fact, do as Congressman Paul has suggested, which is to isolate ourselves, to withdraw from the world- I think we’ve seen that there are forces in the world who would replace us, who would not have our best interests in mind [applause.]

People have asked me, “would you vote for Congressman Paul, given his national security positions?” The answer is yes, because I believe after this election, if Barack Obama is re-elected, his foreign policy would be a Ron Paul foreign policy. I think he would become much more radical in his cuts to the military and bringing people home, and disengaging from the world and allowing the world to go to seed. And let me assure you — it will go to seed. And the virulence, that will be rampant, like a bacteria that keeps growing, will end up on our door [applause]. And we will not be able to have the ability to stop it.

He had, by this point, made many untrue statements. But his claim that a second term President Obama would have the same foreign policy as a first term President Paul was his most dishonest. He simply can not believe that to be the truth.

Ron Paul said that the assassination of Osama bin Laden was “absolutely unnecessary,” and that he would not have ordered it; that the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki was an “impeachable offense;” that the drone campaign in Pakistan, which Obama expanded after taking office, “makes more enemies” (and I agree with him on that one). Santorum employed a transparent scare tactic by claiming Obama, due to a lack of political accountability as a second term president, would suddenly change his entire approach to national security.

The next questioner was Luke, an international relations major, and the president of the Model UN Club. His was the best question of the night by far.

Luke: It says on your website that you want to re-brand “The War on Terror” to be “The War on Radical Islam” [applause.] Do you see radical Islam as the prime example of Islam at large? And, if you were the commander-in-chief, how would your War on Terror, or War on Radical Islam change from the current administration?

Santorum: Thank you. Great question. The reason I saw we have to re-brand the war, is because we need to be accurate as to who we’re fighting [applause.] Are we fighting all terrorists? And the answer to that is clearly no. There are terrorists in other parts of the world that we are not engaged in, and have no interest from national security point of view from engaging in.

The other issue is, is this a war on terrorism? Well what is terrorism? Terrorism is a military tactic. Can you be at war against a military tactic? … You go to war against what we’ve always gone to war against. You go to war against a virulent ideology that seeks to harm and destroy America [applause].

His point that you don’t fight a tactic is well-put, but I was disturbed the casual assumption that we are in an ongoing war that won’t end until this “virulent ideology” is eradicated. Judging by their reaction, the crowd made it along with him. If we’re in the business of re-branding, why not think of the struggle with “radical Islam” as an ongoing intelligence operation?

It’s especially unsettling when one considers the breadth of his definition of “radical Islam,” as revealed in his earlier comments about Egypt. Considering those statements, it’s hard to know what to make of his clarification of what America’s relationship with Islam should be.

Does that mean we’re at war with Islam? Of course not. But we’re at war with an element of Islam, that, frankly is at war Islam, and with most Muslims [applause]. The people who are going to be most disadvantaged, who are going to be most affected, as we see in Iran — most Iranians are not radical Islamists. In fact, most Iranians love America. And they’ve loved America for a long time. Why? Because we had the courage to go out and call their theocracy what it was: evil, and a corruption, and that we were on their side. Yet they are being oppressed everyday by these radicals. No, we’re not at war with Islam. But we are at war with the radical elements and we need to say to the people of Islam, the Islamic people, that they need to join the fight [applause] against the radical elements. And we are ready to help you in that regard.

This is a nice idea, of course, but I’m not sure how he’s capable of communicating his support and good intentions to “the people of Islam” if he supports people rulers like Hosni Mubarak. His real message seems to be: “we support you as long as you don’t oppose our allies.”

The fourth and final questioner, a young woman who did not introduce herself, asked him how he would respond in a general election to attacks on his abortion and homosexuality stances.

Well, it’s very interesting, because the other candidates in this race have the same position I have on these issues, at least that’s what they say. Right now, they have the same position I have on these issues. And so, whoever the Republican candidate is, we have these radical positions that marriage should be between a man and a woman [applause]. How radical is that?

He brought up the recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down California’s 2008 Proposition 8, which added a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the state. He claimed that the court ruled that “there was no rational basis for anyone to believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.” What they actually ruled was that Prop 8 specifically violates the 14th Amendment, in that it does not conform to the standard that there be “a legitimate reason for a passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently.” The decision does not even establish the right of same-sex couples to marry. Opponents of marriage equality are right to worry that the trend is favoring the rights of gay and lesbian couples, but it’s a bit hysterical to treat each ruling that is unfavorable to them as a rebuke on their mental faculties.

Santorum that any Republican candidate will be attacked for his views on abortion and homosexuality, but that his strong convictions and willingness to talk about the issues set him apart. Americans, he said to loud applause, “want to believe that the president believes what he believes.”

In his closing remarks, after talking about the risks taken by the Founding Fathers and the American military, challenged the crowd to put their “honor on the line.”

You are stewards of a great inheritance. You have been honored by your ancestors, the people from Tulsa, the people from Oklahoma. The people from this country have given you the honor of being an American [applause]. And it is your obligation to be great stewards, to pass on to the next generation an America that is at least as great, as free, as prosperous and safe as the country you inherited. That’s what this is about, and I hope you take that challenge and do your duty. Thank you and God bless.

Read: don’t disrespect your ancestors and the troops casting a cynical vote for Romney or Gingrich. The final standing ovation was long and enthusiastic, and the chant “We want Rick” gained some momentum.

As I made my way out of the arena, I looked around and saw a lot of smiling, enthused people. I don’t know if they will all vote for Santorum on March 6th, but I do know that they really liked what they heard.

I realize now that I’ve been exposed to Rick Santorum’s ideas almost exclusively through other liberals. The first I heard of him was when I read about Dan Savage‘s notorious Google-bomb of his surname. After he lost his Senate re-election campaign in 2006, I occasionally saw a left-leaning blogger complain about something he wrote on Townhall.com or said on Fox News. Even since his presidential campaign launched him back into the spotlight, I came across his statements largely through The Daily Show, ThinkProgress, and liberals on Twitter.

The experience of hearing his ideas unmediated, delivered to a sympathetic audience, was revelatory. The people I sat with on Thursday were not freaks. They were not on the fringes of society. Santorum’s crowd is indistinguishable from the people I see and interact with every day as they politely go about their business in the city of Tulsa.

I suppose I always knew that, but to see it in practice was terrifying.

About Bentley Owen

Bentley Owen reads books and lives in Tulsa, OK. He's on twitter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

    … wow. Attending an event like that must feel like visiting a complete parallel universe.

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy2q

    I’m just shaking my head here.  I can’t believe people spew this sort of nonsense with a straight face.  What’s more, I can’t believe how many people swallow it without a second’s thought.  Then again, that’s the problem–they don’t think, they just swallow it then regurgitate it as needed. 

    • Gordon Duffy

      I attended a christian event and couldn’t believe the approval the speaker got for stomach-churningly awful statements simply because they were wrapped in Jesus.

      At one stage he spoke fondly of how christianity outlived the fall of Rome and promised it would survive the fall of our civilisation too – and people cheered. They cheered for the fall of civilisation and a return to the dark ages!

  • Glasofruix

    “lower taxes and less regulation”

    Translation: We’ll go further in debt and let the corporations exploit you like slaves.

    • Demonhype

      That’s always been the plan–corporate feudalism.

  • Medas2005

    I recently saw a comedian in NYC who talked about villages in third world countries who get all of the logo wear of the failed teams in U.S. championships.  Because companies want to get the jump on being ready to sell T-shirts for the winning team, they print for both teams and then donate the losing shirts to villages who need clothing.  As a result, there is an alternative reality where the Patriots won the Super Bowl this year and the Steelers won it last year.  Lebron James has already won a world championship.  

    Santorum represents this alternative universe where taking away health care is actually giving people with out the ability to pay for it the freedom of choice.  The world is not warming and if it were, it would just be a hoax of nature.  Freedom comes from denying gay people the right to vote.  Christianity has led the way for women’s rights over the centuries.

    So how do you convince people that the Giants won the Super Bowl when they have the shirts to prove otherwise.  Don’t even try.

    • http://twitter.com/WCLPeter Rob U

      In other words:

      WAR IS PEACE
      FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
      IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

      Scary how 63 years ago a British guy ago was so oddly prophetic about events in modern day American.

      As a Canadian let me tell you, the latest crop of Republicans frightens me.  To know that such a large portion of America is on the cusp of willingly electing such crazed whack-a-dodles to office, putting them in control of the worlds most powerful military force, is absolutely terrifying.

      I don’t worry about radical extremists, I worry about radical Americans.

      • Anonymous

         Ditto! They almost make me thankful for Harper. Almost. Okay, not really.

      • Guest

        Agreed. Your nation is freaking terrifying.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    “Ladies and gentlemen we have a president of the United States who on
    every single count, and I haven’t mentioned the one, his slow
    dissemination of the freedom of religion..”
    Obama has been disseminating the freedom of religion?  Did he mean disseminate, or perhaps meant to say something like ‘erode the freedom of religion?’    Just what we need, another politician who malaprops.

    • Thackerie

       He probably meant “decimating.”

      Fundies often have trouble with words of more than two syllables.

  • Anonymous

    “Freedom of worship” is exactly what it used to mean and what it should mean. In a free, pluralistic society (yes I know that’s the antithesis of what they want) it can’t be “the freedom to oppress everyone else with my beliefs”.

    Santorum is simply insane. And unlike Romney and Gingrich – who will say anything to get elected – he is a True Believer. That makes him incredibly dangerous. I had written him off, but I’m astounded by his recent resurgence (pun intended). There is really nothing to explain it

    • Thackerie

       Yet again, [b]Santorum surges from behind[/b].

      He’s expected to win in Tennessee on March 6.

  • Anonymous

    From an atheist perspective this one is  interesting:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20pjeeQ611s

    Frothy complaining that many college students abandon their faith when they learn things. Thus higher, secular education is bad. The stupidity and insanity of many of his statements beggars belief

    • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

      That is scary and it speaks to why this man should never be elected.  In his mind a school that teaches young adults with developed critical thinking skills evidence-based curriculum are “indoctrinating” but filling young children’s heads with absurd fantasies based on dangerous and observably false ideologies is perfectly acceptable.

      It’s not just idiotic and it’s not just clearly wrong, it’s honestly dangerous.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Tracy.Bradley1 Tracy Bradley

      How has this happened? I really, really mean it – how has this happened? Why? seconding the commenter who said as a Canadian, s/he was really freaked out by your right-wingers… it’s banana-pants crazy, and gets less funny the more I read/hear.

  • Lance Finney

    Note: The victory speech was in St. Charles, MO, not St. Paul, MO.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks. I fixed it. That was a typo.

      • EN1

        Bentley; great article. Kudos.

        (Long-term atheist from London now living in the US and amazed at the politics here…)

        • Anonymous

          Thanks. It can be pretty mystifying. 

          • Dave The Sandman

            nice article Bentley…..my heart goes out to you for sitting through this drivel fest without chewing your own legs off.

  • Ray Mansell

    Excellent article, thank you. Your summary in the ending paragraphs is chilling since, as you say, most of these people appear perfectly normal in other circumstances – or perhaps it is we who are abnormal! 

  • Anonymous

    Always wondered what freedoms they are talking about. What to have for breakfast before being required to go to a church on Sunday morning?

  • kaileyverse

    GahhH!  The Declaration of Independence is NOT a legally binding document intended to set up the laws and system of government in America (or anywhere else) – that is what the constitution is for – and clearly YOU haven’t read it, Ricky, otherwise you would know that santoruming your religion all over it is a violation of the rights of all Americans.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

     declaring the 2012 election to be the most important of any American’s life

    I somehow ended up on the Christian Coalition of America’s email list, and they told me that this is absolutely the most important election.  Ever.  They seem to be getting more important every time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

      I think every single election since 1789 has been the most important election ever.

  • TiltedHorizon

    I should run for President.

    Q: Tilted, how do you feel about healthcare?
    A: Well, as a god fearing christian I feel that the right to healthcare does not come from government it comes from the creator, therefore as a god fearing christian I understand that god defines what ‘care’ should be. I therefore feel the only salvation for your health is through god and that we as Americans, a country surely blessed by god, should be free to explore the wonder of god’s care as the creator intended.

    Q: Tilted, what is your foreign policy?
    A: Well, as policies go, its foreign but as a god fearing christian I feel there is nothing foreign to god therefore as a god fearing christian I understand that god determines what is right and wrong here. I therefore feel foreign policy will become much less foreign through god’s enlightenment.

    Q: Tilted, how will you improve this country?
    A: Well, as countries go, America is the clearly chosen by god and as a god fearing christian I feel there is nothing America can’t accomplish therefore as a god fearing christian I understand that letting god work through me in determining what is right and wrong here as god intended is what will lead this great nation to salvation.

    • http://stochasticscientist.blogspot.com/ Kathy Orlinsky

      I’m not sure you’re electable.  You didn’t mention god enough.

    • Liz Heywood

      Tilted, you’re a Christian Scientist! So religious & spiritual that you can’t even fake credibility!  But you’re Nice.

  • Annie

    What an excellent report, Bentley.  Thanks for going.  What was so strange to me is how he mocked environmentalists and then later used the term “stewards” to state that they must protect their “inheritance”.  The level of disconnect there is remarkable.

    • Anonymous

      That is interesting. Evangelicals who are worried about the climate use the term “steward.” But Santorum’s view that “creation is here to serve man” is, unfortunately, the more mainstream view among fundamentalists.

  • T-Rex

    Creepy. I wouldn’t have been able to attend something like this unless it was to protest the event and expose the ignorance of the person it was for. Sounds like a revival meeting, not a political rally. Americans must not elect such a delusional bigot. Any politician that puts his personal beliefs above the interest of the people he’s supposed to be representing is unfit for office.

  • Bo Tait

    “I always say that if your faith is true and your reason is right, you’ll end up at the same place. Why? Well because God created us, created the universe, created reason. And, of course, why would God create something where your faith would bring you one place and your reason would bring you another if your faith is true? Right? ”

    America is fucking doomed.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Santorum says: The left, Santorum thinks, sees the Declaration as an “old, dead letter”
    and are trying to “ease [it] out.” It is “inconvenient” to liberals
    because it says “rights come from God instead of the government.”

    .
    The Declaration of Independence says: “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”
    .
    Why does Santorum neglect to mention nature and her laws?

    • Anonymous

      I don’t even know if the Declaration of Independence ever had any legal force anyway.  It seems more a list of aspirations, principles and grievances against the King of England.  I don’t think it ever was considered a law, as such, I don’t think it is correct to use the term “dead letter”.

  • Anonymous

    If only “The West Wing” were real:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulk3hDwxnmg

  • Chris

    “And, of course, once you have this radical document of freedom like
    our Constitution, and you give people the ability of self-government,
    and they have no rights they have to respect except the ones they give
    each other, then guess what? You get a guillotine”As opposed to electric chairs and lethal injections, I suppose.Oh by the way, the guillotine was put in definitive retirement exactly 30 years ago this years.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that Santorum is a Catholic.  The ORU crowd usually calls them devil worshipers!  

  • Dave the Sandman

    I have written a specific blog post, entitled “Holier Than Thou” about the positons that Rick Santorum holds, how they conflict directly with established Roman Catholic Church central doctrine, and how in some cases this arguably makes him a schsmatic heretic.

    At “Holier Than Thou Redux” I carry out the same excersise on Newt Gingritch.

    In both cases I establish that my beliefs as an atheist make me a better Catholic than both.
    As I point out in an article called “J’Accuse!” :-”On the matters of fair wealth distribution across society;
    social welfare safety nets; healthcare policy; market regulation;
    workers rights and unions; climate change science; the use of torture;
    the use of imprisonment and detention without charge; capital
    punishment; immigration policy; and, war and conflict the Roman Catholic
    Church holds diametrically opposed views to the GOP.  In
    fact the only common positions that the two share are a loathing for
    and fight against LGBT equalities, and fighting any form of abortion and
    contraception access for women.” http://alstefanelli.wordpress.com/

    • Dave The Sandman

      sorry for the double whammy

      I should point out that unlike Hemant, and Bentley, I am neither friendly nor polite to the faithful.

      Consider the blog posts of mine NSFW

      I hope you enjoy them tho.

  • A Portlander

    “I don’t want someone who will reach across the aisle. We’ve been doing that, and look where it’s gotten us.”

    Huh. That sentiment is exactly why I wish there were a Democratic primary challenger this year.

  • Affordable Party Bus

    Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic, you made my day.

    Affordable Party Bus

  • kaydenpat

    Only 4000 in the crowd.  Sounds kind of low in comparison to the crowds the Dem Presidental candidates garnered in 2008. 

    My mind cannot imagine a Santorum Presidency. Too scary.


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