What’s wrong with Santorum?

Nothing, as far as I can see, from a conservative point of view.  He is under no suspicion of being a closet liberal.  He is a devout Christian, a Catholic but one who seem evangelical.  He agrees with the social conservative agenda.  He has been a champion of the pro-life cause.  He has no skeletons in his closet, as far as I know.   He is also intelligent and articulate.  And yet Christian conservatives–who have been floundering for a candidate–have not rallied behind him, nor have conservatives in general.  Why not?

The only mark against him from those circles, at least that I’ve heard, seems to be that he isn’t inspiring, he sometimes comes across as shrill, he lost a Senatorial election in Pennsylvania, so he probably can’t win the presidency.  But if any of the Republican candidates have a chance, it will be because the public has had enough of Barack Obama.  If it’s Obama who will defeat Obama, campaign charisma from the other side will not be so important.  But the Republicans have to have a credible candidate.

As the various Republican candidates have their turn in the sun as front runner, only to shrivel under the increased scrutiny the person in that position inevitably receives, why not give Rick Santorum a chance?  Does anyone know why the Republican base isn’t rallying behind him, even though he seems to exemplify what that base finds important?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Joe

    I think some of the concern from the establishment is whether a Catholic will play in the primaries in the heavily evangelical parts of the nation (i.e. the south and the plains states).

    Also, while his social positions are to be admired his insistence (or willingness) on using the power of the federal gov’t to fix them is not so attractive to small gov’t conservatives.

  • Joe

    I think some of the concern from the establishment is whether a Catholic will play in the primaries in the heavily evangelical parts of the nation (i.e. the south and the plains states).

    Also, while his social positions are to be admired his insistence (or willingness) on using the power of the federal gov’t to fix them is not so attractive to small gov’t conservatives.

  • SKPeterson

    I’ll agree with Joe. Santorum’s view of using the federal government to solve every possible social ill of concern to conservatives is disconcerting; he doesn’t apparently see that arrogating the power to the federal government to provide redress for issues he is in favor of leaves the door open for politicians espousing issues he opposes to do the same thing. Which is why I still favor Paul’s approach to the issue – keep the federal government out of almost everything, even things that might seem like a good idea, and leave it to the states because the worm can always turn when you’re dealing with federal policy. For all the upside potential in relying on the federal government to enforce your social views, the downside can be (and often is) vastly worse.

  • SKPeterson

    I’ll agree with Joe. Santorum’s view of using the federal government to solve every possible social ill of concern to conservatives is disconcerting; he doesn’t apparently see that arrogating the power to the federal government to provide redress for issues he is in favor of leaves the door open for politicians espousing issues he opposes to do the same thing. Which is why I still favor Paul’s approach to the issue – keep the federal government out of almost everything, even things that might seem like a good idea, and leave it to the states because the worm can always turn when you’re dealing with federal policy. For all the upside potential in relying on the federal government to enforce your social views, the downside can be (and often is) vastly worse.

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    I like Santorum and have all along. I am also puzzled by his inability to break out and don’t fully get it. But he seems not to have the “larger-than-life-ness” that a candidate needs. And the fact that he doesn’t inspire his own party makes me worry about his ability to inspire a nation.

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    I like Santorum and have all along. I am also puzzled by his inability to break out and don’t fully get it. But he seems not to have the “larger-than-life-ness” that a candidate needs. And the fact that he doesn’t inspire his own party makes me worry about his ability to inspire a nation.

  • Bob

    ‘If it’s Obama who will defeat Obama, campaign charisma from the other side will not be so important. But the Republicans have to have a credible candidate.’

    Can’t help but laugh at this one.

    I believe the truth is just the opposite.

    It’s the Repub. candidates who are and will continue to defeat themselves. I think Santorum is way too shrill and out of the mainstream in his thinking. I do like that he’s scandal free. But maybe that doesn’t much count anymore. If so, that’s sad.

    And actually, no, the Repubs. don’t “have to have” a credible candidate. They don’t have any. Which is why it’s a hoot to see, like Baskin-Robbins ice cream, the new “flavor of the day” about once every two weeks.

  • Bob

    ‘If it’s Obama who will defeat Obama, campaign charisma from the other side will not be so important. But the Republicans have to have a credible candidate.’

    Can’t help but laugh at this one.

    I believe the truth is just the opposite.

    It’s the Repub. candidates who are and will continue to defeat themselves. I think Santorum is way too shrill and out of the mainstream in his thinking. I do like that he’s scandal free. But maybe that doesn’t much count anymore. If so, that’s sad.

    And actually, no, the Repubs. don’t “have to have” a credible candidate. They don’t have any. Which is why it’s a hoot to see, like Baskin-Robbins ice cream, the new “flavor of the day” about once every two weeks.

  • WisdomLover

    Newt is also Catholic.

    Mitt is Mormon.

    The ‘establishment’ candidates are as bad or worse than Santorum for those ‘bigoted’ evangelicals (who, BTW, probably don’t really care). So I don’t think religion is the issue with Santorum.

    Santorum is the candidate I probably agree with the most on political matters. But he’s never run anything. In particular he’s never run any significant governmental entity. Newt has run the House, Perry Texas and Mitt Massachusetts. That counts for a lot. Each also have pretty significant achievements in those positions. I support the three men I just mentioned over Santorum for that reason alone.

    Also, Santorum lost his Senate race in Pennsylvania. For someone whose electability argument is his ability to flip the blue-trending-purple Keystone state, that’s a somewhat problematic qualification.

    With that said, if he wins the nomination, he’ll be up against someone who’s still never run anything except his mouth (and his campaigns) in spite of being in office for three and a half years. And he will, at least, have a longer and more distinguished legislative career than the incumbent. So I’d obviously vote for him over Obama.

    Note that Santorum’s ability to help with Pennsylvania might make him an outstanding VP choice, which is what I think he’s been running for. (Though Tom Corbett, the sitting Governor of that state, might do better). While the VP has no official duties except for Presiding over the Senate, it has been used effectively as a proving ground for future nominees.

    This will be the last hurrah for Gingrich and Romney. I don’t think either of them could or should serve as VP. They’d be too old to take up the party’s mantle after eight years (though they’d both be younger than Ron Paul is right now).

    All the Republican Presidents since WWII have been very smart guys…much smarter than their popular images suggest. Reagan was freakishly articulate. Nixon was a fair speaker. Most were…less so. But if Romney or Gingrich were the nominee and Santorum the VP, the Republican party could be facing a situation they’ve never had to face before: the specter of sixteen years of Presidents who are both smart and articulate.

  • WisdomLover

    Newt is also Catholic.

    Mitt is Mormon.

    The ‘establishment’ candidates are as bad or worse than Santorum for those ‘bigoted’ evangelicals (who, BTW, probably don’t really care). So I don’t think religion is the issue with Santorum.

    Santorum is the candidate I probably agree with the most on political matters. But he’s never run anything. In particular he’s never run any significant governmental entity. Newt has run the House, Perry Texas and Mitt Massachusetts. That counts for a lot. Each also have pretty significant achievements in those positions. I support the three men I just mentioned over Santorum for that reason alone.

    Also, Santorum lost his Senate race in Pennsylvania. For someone whose electability argument is his ability to flip the blue-trending-purple Keystone state, that’s a somewhat problematic qualification.

    With that said, if he wins the nomination, he’ll be up against someone who’s still never run anything except his mouth (and his campaigns) in spite of being in office for three and a half years. And he will, at least, have a longer and more distinguished legislative career than the incumbent. So I’d obviously vote for him over Obama.

    Note that Santorum’s ability to help with Pennsylvania might make him an outstanding VP choice, which is what I think he’s been running for. (Though Tom Corbett, the sitting Governor of that state, might do better). While the VP has no official duties except for Presiding over the Senate, it has been used effectively as a proving ground for future nominees.

    This will be the last hurrah for Gingrich and Romney. I don’t think either of them could or should serve as VP. They’d be too old to take up the party’s mantle after eight years (though they’d both be younger than Ron Paul is right now).

    All the Republican Presidents since WWII have been very smart guys…much smarter than their popular images suggest. Reagan was freakishly articulate. Nixon was a fair speaker. Most were…less so. But if Romney or Gingrich were the nominee and Santorum the VP, the Republican party could be facing a situation they’ve never had to face before: the specter of sixteen years of Presidents who are both smart and articulate.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I like Santorum a lot and wish he would get more play. Maybe if he surprises in Iowa then he will get a second look from voters.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I like Santorum a lot and wish he would get more play. Maybe if he surprises in Iowa then he will get a second look from voters.

  • John

    I suspect two things are at play here. The first is that conservatives are more concerned with getting anyone elected than with supporting an ideologically strong candidate. The second is that Santorum doesn’t fit in the built-for-reality-TV drama that always swirls around the election process. Think about everything that has been aired and printed so far – how different, exactly, is it from the script of Survivor or Real Housewives? Our addiction to voyeurism and entertainment has hijacked the election process.

    HSAT, I don’t see where Santorum looks to the federal govt for power any more than the other current candidates – or most of the conservative movement. Cue Ron Paul supporters in 3,2,1…

  • John

    I suspect two things are at play here. The first is that conservatives are more concerned with getting anyone elected than with supporting an ideologically strong candidate. The second is that Santorum doesn’t fit in the built-for-reality-TV drama that always swirls around the election process. Think about everything that has been aired and printed so far – how different, exactly, is it from the script of Survivor or Real Housewives? Our addiction to voyeurism and entertainment has hijacked the election process.

    HSAT, I don’t see where Santorum looks to the federal govt for power any more than the other current candidates – or most of the conservative movement. Cue Ron Paul supporters in 3,2,1…

  • Jonathan

    What’s wrong with Santorum?

    Congratulates himself for being ‘pro life,’ yet … advocates torture; at Netanyahu’s request, will send the US military to bomb and possibly invade Iran, thus killing many hundreds of thousands; still supports the US invasion of Iraq; hates the merest tax increase on millionaires, but wants to eliminate tax cuts for the middle and working classes; claims to hate the federal government, yet wants to turn every social issue into a constitutional amendment: marriage, abortion. Wants US health care monopolized by for-profit insurance companies. A Catholic largely oblivious to his church’s humane social teaching.

    Sure, he’s a perfect religious righty, but a nightmare for everyone else.

  • Jonathan

    What’s wrong with Santorum?

    Congratulates himself for being ‘pro life,’ yet … advocates torture; at Netanyahu’s request, will send the US military to bomb and possibly invade Iran, thus killing many hundreds of thousands; still supports the US invasion of Iraq; hates the merest tax increase on millionaires, but wants to eliminate tax cuts for the middle and working classes; claims to hate the federal government, yet wants to turn every social issue into a constitutional amendment: marriage, abortion. Wants US health care monopolized by for-profit insurance companies. A Catholic largely oblivious to his church’s humane social teaching.

    Sure, he’s a perfect religious righty, but a nightmare for everyone else.

  • SKPeterson

    Small quibble Jonathan – you cannot logically use the word “monopolize” and “companies” in the same sentence. They are mutually exclusive terms, i.e. a monopoly is a singular entity such as the federal government as a monopoly provider of healthcare spending let’s say, while companies is plural and therefore not a monopoly.

    Now, if you meant to say that Santorum prefers allowing private insurance for health care in the U.S., I’d have to say, so what? If you’re saying that he wants to prohibit private non-profit entities from providing healthcare I’d say you’re probably mistaken.

    And John – Santorum is staking almost his entire campaign on social issues, implying that he’d use the power of the federal government to prevent, or restrict, social positions to which he is opposed. That may be conservative socially, but it isn’t conservative politically. It is simply the right-wing version of the old leftist interventionism: more laws, more regulations, more spending, more debt. And according to his website, he’d like to wage more war for a more indefinite period of time.

  • SKPeterson

    Small quibble Jonathan – you cannot logically use the word “monopolize” and “companies” in the same sentence. They are mutually exclusive terms, i.e. a monopoly is a singular entity such as the federal government as a monopoly provider of healthcare spending let’s say, while companies is plural and therefore not a monopoly.

    Now, if you meant to say that Santorum prefers allowing private insurance for health care in the U.S., I’d have to say, so what? If you’re saying that he wants to prohibit private non-profit entities from providing healthcare I’d say you’re probably mistaken.

    And John – Santorum is staking almost his entire campaign on social issues, implying that he’d use the power of the federal government to prevent, or restrict, social positions to which he is opposed. That may be conservative socially, but it isn’t conservative politically. It is simply the right-wing version of the old leftist interventionism: more laws, more regulations, more spending, more debt. And according to his website, he’d like to wage more war for a more indefinite period of time.

  • SKPeterson

    Darn. Forgot to fully close the italics.

  • SKPeterson

    Darn. Forgot to fully close the italics.

  • Bob

    ‘Sure, he’s a perfect religious righty, but a nightmare for everyone else.’

    That’s going to be the reality of the next national election for the Republicans.

  • Bob

    ‘Sure, he’s a perfect religious righty, but a nightmare for everyone else.’

    That’s going to be the reality of the next national election for the Republicans.

  • Jonathan

    @8 – addendum.
    As usual, “pro life” conservatives, running on a “family values” platform, vote to support the wealthy, who collect no paycheck and therefore are immune to middle-class payroll tax hikes or any income tax hikes.
    Funny. No (highly paid) rightwing “Christian” talkshow hosts ever call on their listeners to swamp the Capitol switchboards with calls in protest. So the “pro life” candidates can give speeches and write all the books they want on saving the perfect American family, but if nothing is done to help families make ends meet or to promote the creation of middle-class jobs, very soon the only place one will find the traditional family will be in fiction.

  • Jonathan

    @8 – addendum.
    As usual, “pro life” conservatives, running on a “family values” platform, vote to support the wealthy, who collect no paycheck and therefore are immune to middle-class payroll tax hikes or any income tax hikes.
    Funny. No (highly paid) rightwing “Christian” talkshow hosts ever call on their listeners to swamp the Capitol switchboards with calls in protest. So the “pro life” candidates can give speeches and write all the books they want on saving the perfect American family, but if nothing is done to help families make ends meet or to promote the creation of middle-class jobs, very soon the only place one will find the traditional family will be in fiction.

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    Internet search engines don’t help him either…

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    Internet search engines don’t help him either…

  • moallen

    Bob –
    Actually, I think you are right in a way. That will be the reality of the next national election for the Democrats. Anything to turn the public attention to something other than the job performance of the Democrats during their 2 years of total control, and Obama’s performance during his term. Obama is not running on his record. It won’t matter who the Republican nominee is – we will hear about the radical right and Wall Street – despite the fact that Obama is the biggest Wall Street money recipient. Wall Street is paying off big government in hopes that it will leave them alone, or better yet – benenfit them. The bigger the government gets, the more of this corruption there will be. When the government controls the winners and the losers, one cannot expect anything else.

    Seeing the disdain of some on here for the pro-life position is disturbing. One thing that confounds me is the Democrats love of abortion. I just don’t get why killing unborn babies is so much a part of their platform. As medical technology develops and we see more and more into the world of unborn babies – it becomes increasingly disturbing. With 3D ultrasound now – we could possibly see the slaughter of the unborn limb-by-limb. I recently read of Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s conversion – first from abortionist to pro-life atheist, and ultimately to the Christian faith – being baptized by Cardinal John O’Connor. Dr. Nathanson saw abortion from inside and turned from it to defend life. I commend Senator Santorum for his pro-life position, and have grave doubts about Romney – is he really pro-life? So much of his past says no. I feel if Romney is the Republican nominee, the U.S. may deserve 4 more years of Obama.

  • moallen

    Bob –
    Actually, I think you are right in a way. That will be the reality of the next national election for the Democrats. Anything to turn the public attention to something other than the job performance of the Democrats during their 2 years of total control, and Obama’s performance during his term. Obama is not running on his record. It won’t matter who the Republican nominee is – we will hear about the radical right and Wall Street – despite the fact that Obama is the biggest Wall Street money recipient. Wall Street is paying off big government in hopes that it will leave them alone, or better yet – benenfit them. The bigger the government gets, the more of this corruption there will be. When the government controls the winners and the losers, one cannot expect anything else.

    Seeing the disdain of some on here for the pro-life position is disturbing. One thing that confounds me is the Democrats love of abortion. I just don’t get why killing unborn babies is so much a part of their platform. As medical technology develops and we see more and more into the world of unborn babies – it becomes increasingly disturbing. With 3D ultrasound now – we could possibly see the slaughter of the unborn limb-by-limb. I recently read of Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s conversion – first from abortionist to pro-life atheist, and ultimately to the Christian faith – being baptized by Cardinal John O’Connor. Dr. Nathanson saw abortion from inside and turned from it to defend life. I commend Senator Santorum for his pro-life position, and have grave doubts about Romney – is he really pro-life? So much of his past says no. I feel if Romney is the Republican nominee, the U.S. may deserve 4 more years of Obama.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    What is wrong with Santorum? He is a politician. Need I say anymore?

    @Jonathan, are you done with your screed? I don’t care that you have issues with Santorum, but don’t use him as a soap box to convict by association all who hold conservative social views and economic views.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    What is wrong with Santorum? He is a politician. Need I say anymore?

    @Jonathan, are you done with your screed? I don’t care that you have issues with Santorum, but don’t use him as a soap box to convict by association all who hold conservative social views and economic views.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @SKPeterson, #2

    “For all the upside potential in relying on the federal government to enforce your social views, the downside can be (and often is) vastly worse.”
    ————–

    Amen. Thank you for that constitutional wisdom. It can and eventually does lead to “blowback” of a different kind, which is part of the wisdom of the founding fathers from experience.

    But try telling this to the authoritarian-conservative type of mindset of Santorum et al, who are terrified of individual liberty for all. They will label you “dangerously libertarian” (actually, a pure libertarian would reject even the state government’s right to determine social issues, let alone the Federal Gov.) For sure, in a sense we ‘can’ legislate morality, and have and do–but what happens when the morality legislated is one you do not share, and flat-out goes against your conscience? There is no perfect solution to that, since we do not all espouse the same morality on all issues, but I do think the constitutional framework of relegating such matters to the individual states is better than a one-size-fits-all Federal mandate over all the states, provided that the rights of churches in all states to preach/practice as they believe (albeit without infringing upon the rights of others) are upheld/not violated.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @SKPeterson, #2

    “For all the upside potential in relying on the federal government to enforce your social views, the downside can be (and often is) vastly worse.”
    ————–

    Amen. Thank you for that constitutional wisdom. It can and eventually does lead to “blowback” of a different kind, which is part of the wisdom of the founding fathers from experience.

    But try telling this to the authoritarian-conservative type of mindset of Santorum et al, who are terrified of individual liberty for all. They will label you “dangerously libertarian” (actually, a pure libertarian would reject even the state government’s right to determine social issues, let alone the Federal Gov.) For sure, in a sense we ‘can’ legislate morality, and have and do–but what happens when the morality legislated is one you do not share, and flat-out goes against your conscience? There is no perfect solution to that, since we do not all espouse the same morality on all issues, but I do think the constitutional framework of relegating such matters to the individual states is better than a one-size-fits-all Federal mandate over all the states, provided that the rights of churches in all states to preach/practice as they believe (albeit without infringing upon the rights of others) are upheld/not violated.

  • JunkerGeorg

    As for Santorum, it’s hard to not like the man personally, for sure. But he does have a bit of “Rino” in his record, and is as fervent a Wilsonian on perpetual foreign interventionism as you’ll find. I’m all for his “family values” talk, although I don’t agree that resorting to big government solutions can preserve/promote such. For example, Santorum did support Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind, both big expansions of the federal government chock full with unfunded mandates on the states.

    Granted, such big government solutions are certainly par for course nowadays amongst the neoconservative Rinos running the Republican party, but it’s pretty far from “conservative”, at least the “old right” Goldwater conservatism which some Teapartiers and Ron Paul constitutionalists espouse, and their numbers are growing within the Republican party, which may partially explain why the lack of gravitation towards Santorum.

    On the other hand, I’m a little surprised that the MSM hasn’t made him the new “anti-Romney” darling now that Gingrich is starting to sink in the polls. Maybe that is still coming, but they’re waiting on how Santorum does in the Iowa caucus.

  • JunkerGeorg

    As for Santorum, it’s hard to not like the man personally, for sure. But he does have a bit of “Rino” in his record, and is as fervent a Wilsonian on perpetual foreign interventionism as you’ll find. I’m all for his “family values” talk, although I don’t agree that resorting to big government solutions can preserve/promote such. For example, Santorum did support Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind, both big expansions of the federal government chock full with unfunded mandates on the states.

    Granted, such big government solutions are certainly par for course nowadays amongst the neoconservative Rinos running the Republican party, but it’s pretty far from “conservative”, at least the “old right” Goldwater conservatism which some Teapartiers and Ron Paul constitutionalists espouse, and their numbers are growing within the Republican party, which may partially explain why the lack of gravitation towards Santorum.

    On the other hand, I’m a little surprised that the MSM hasn’t made him the new “anti-Romney” darling now that Gingrich is starting to sink in the polls. Maybe that is still coming, but they’re waiting on how Santorum does in the Iowa caucus.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WisdomLover said (@5):

    With that said, if [Santorum] wins the nomination, he’ll be up against someone who’s still never run anything except his mouth (and his campaigns) in spite of being in office for three and a half years. And he will, at least, have a longer and more distinguished legislative career than the incumbent. So I’d obviously vote for him over Obama.

    This is a fascinating…ly baffling claim.

    Really, you’re just going to outright deny that Obama has run the federal executive branch for the past three and a half years? Because, what, it suits your preconceived political purposes?

    And even if it were somehow true that Obama hadn’t been, well, acting as President (who, one wonders, do you believe has been doing his job?), then it would still be true that Obama did a much better job of running his campaign in 2008 than Santorum has in the present.

    In short, these facts you offer, they do not say what you want them to say.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WisdomLover said (@5):

    With that said, if [Santorum] wins the nomination, he’ll be up against someone who’s still never run anything except his mouth (and his campaigns) in spite of being in office for three and a half years. And he will, at least, have a longer and more distinguished legislative career than the incumbent. So I’d obviously vote for him over Obama.

    This is a fascinating…ly baffling claim.

    Really, you’re just going to outright deny that Obama has run the federal executive branch for the past three and a half years? Because, what, it suits your preconceived political purposes?

    And even if it were somehow true that Obama hadn’t been, well, acting as President (who, one wonders, do you believe has been doing his job?), then it would still be true that Obama did a much better job of running his campaign in 2008 than Santorum has in the present.

    In short, these facts you offer, they do not say what you want them to say.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Personally, I’m no fan of Santorum because of his pretty hawkish Culture Warrior bona fides. Blech.

    I really think having his most recent political accomplishment be “lost Senate race; now former third-ranking Senate Republican” just might be a bit of an albatross around the neck, as well.

    Seriously, what distinguishes him from any other candidate? Saying, as Veith does, that “He has no skeletons in his closet, as far as I know,” seems as good an example as any of damning with faint praise. I mean, if you want an establishment Republican for President next year, you’re not exactly lacking for choices, are you? Nor is Santorum the only scandal-free candidate. So what is his “hook”, as it were? How does the man stand out?

    Anyhow, Veith’s suggestion that Santorum “is under no suspicion of being a closet liberal” only demonstrates how the word “liberal” no longer means what it used to. I mean, he might not be a closet Democrat, but his ideas on the federal government do not appear conservative in the true sense.

    As to his being “a Catholic but one who seem[s] evangelical”, that just might be a fairly damning statement about modern American Evangelicalism. What does that even mean, anyhow? “He talks the good Culture War talk, but he’s kinda quiet about the Pope”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Personally, I’m no fan of Santorum because of his pretty hawkish Culture Warrior bona fides. Blech.

    I really think having his most recent political accomplishment be “lost Senate race; now former third-ranking Senate Republican” just might be a bit of an albatross around the neck, as well.

    Seriously, what distinguishes him from any other candidate? Saying, as Veith does, that “He has no skeletons in his closet, as far as I know,” seems as good an example as any of damning with faint praise. I mean, if you want an establishment Republican for President next year, you’re not exactly lacking for choices, are you? Nor is Santorum the only scandal-free candidate. So what is his “hook”, as it were? How does the man stand out?

    Anyhow, Veith’s suggestion that Santorum “is under no suspicion of being a closet liberal” only demonstrates how the word “liberal” no longer means what it used to. I mean, he might not be a closet Democrat, but his ideas on the federal government do not appear conservative in the true sense.

    As to his being “a Catholic but one who seem[s] evangelical”, that just might be a fairly damning statement about modern American Evangelicalism. What does that even mean, anyhow? “He talks the good Culture War talk, but he’s kinda quiet about the Pope”?

  • Bob

    Todd,

    I really don’t waste my time on here replying those who make up things that have no basis in reality. They don’t want to hear anything other than what they already believe anyway. It was John Adams who said, “facts are stubborn things.”

    I sleep well at night. But more power to ya!

  • Bob

    Todd,

    I really don’t waste my time on here replying those who make up things that have no basis in reality. They don’t want to hear anything other than what they already believe anyway. It was John Adams who said, “facts are stubborn things.”

    I sleep well at night. But more power to ya!

  • SKPeterson

    Todd – We all know that the Obama presidency is really just a Clinton regency. Hilary rules from the shadows, with Bill the avuncular elder statesman. Witness the society coming out party for the younger Clinton; she is obviously being groomed to take over the family business. Maybe a senatorship here, a governorship there, a high-profile, yet undemanding, posting as ambassador to the EU, then it will be accomplished. We will have Chelsea Clinton as our anointed whether we have a continuation of the “Obama” “administration” or a brief Republican interregnum.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd – We all know that the Obama presidency is really just a Clinton regency. Hilary rules from the shadows, with Bill the avuncular elder statesman. Witness the society coming out party for the younger Clinton; she is obviously being groomed to take over the family business. Maybe a senatorship here, a governorship there, a high-profile, yet undemanding, posting as ambassador to the EU, then it will be accomplished. We will have Chelsea Clinton as our anointed whether we have a continuation of the “Obama” “administration” or a brief Republican interregnum.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    The consensus here seems to be that “what’s wrong with Santorum” is that he is a social conservative who seems willing to use the power of the state to impose his beliefs. The main question of my post is why aren’t social conservatives rallying around him. So are you all saying that social conservatism of the sort that Santorum would seem to appeal to is dead as a political movement? That there is now no longer a constituency for a “culture warrior” who would use constitutional amendments and the law to enforce moral concerns? So is the invisibility of the “Christian right” not because they don’t have a candidate–they do, in Santorum!–but because they have all become small government libertarians? If so, that would be a remarkable development.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    The consensus here seems to be that “what’s wrong with Santorum” is that he is a social conservative who seems willing to use the power of the state to impose his beliefs. The main question of my post is why aren’t social conservatives rallying around him. So are you all saying that social conservatism of the sort that Santorum would seem to appeal to is dead as a political movement? That there is now no longer a constituency for a “culture warrior” who would use constitutional amendments and the law to enforce moral concerns? So is the invisibility of the “Christian right” not because they don’t have a candidate–they do, in Santorum!–but because they have all become small government libertarians? If so, that would be a remarkable development.

  • John C

    So SK, What do ya rekon? Jeb v Chelsea in 2020.

  • John C

    So SK, What do ya rekon? Jeb v Chelsea in 2020.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith (@22), I’m not sure that there’s really a consensus like you’re seeing, as much as a handful of “small government libertarians” who are perhaps more vocal or emphatic than the rest of the people on this thread (or, indeed, than those who are merely lurking or have moved on out of disinterest).

    So are you all saying that … there is now no longer a constituency for a “culture warrior” who would use constitutional amendments and the law to enforce moral concerns?

    Oh, there’s a constituency for it, all right. But, well, not among those of us with libertarian streaks. But surely that’s not surprising.

    The main question of my post is why aren’t social conservatives rallying around him.

    Well, I’d posit that Culture Warriors are, at base, less about political principle and more about getting things done. I say this as one who thinks that Culture Warriors are foolish for (ab)using the levers of power as they do, since they’re only setting a precedent for the power to be turned against them in the inevitable future where have fewer numbers and less influence. But hey, get things done now, and then when the tables turn, you can whine that you don’t like what’s done to you. The political principle isn’t important.

    Anyhow, if that’s true, Santorum, while attractive in principle to that crowd, still wouldn’t be popular with them because he seems quite unlikely to win. That is, backing him is not, at heart, going to get things done. You can’t win the Culture War by backing a loser candidate.

    Point being, I’d suspect Culture Warriors and/or social conservatives are looking to see which of the “winning” candidates is most likely to make their agenda happen. Or maybe they’re just hanging back, waiting to see who will be the ultimate Republican nominee, and then they’ll project all their Culture War hopes and dreams onto him or her.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith (@22), I’m not sure that there’s really a consensus like you’re seeing, as much as a handful of “small government libertarians” who are perhaps more vocal or emphatic than the rest of the people on this thread (or, indeed, than those who are merely lurking or have moved on out of disinterest).

    So are you all saying that … there is now no longer a constituency for a “culture warrior” who would use constitutional amendments and the law to enforce moral concerns?

    Oh, there’s a constituency for it, all right. But, well, not among those of us with libertarian streaks. But surely that’s not surprising.

    The main question of my post is why aren’t social conservatives rallying around him.

    Well, I’d posit that Culture Warriors are, at base, less about political principle and more about getting things done. I say this as one who thinks that Culture Warriors are foolish for (ab)using the levers of power as they do, since they’re only setting a precedent for the power to be turned against them in the inevitable future where have fewer numbers and less influence. But hey, get things done now, and then when the tables turn, you can whine that you don’t like what’s done to you. The political principle isn’t important.

    Anyhow, if that’s true, Santorum, while attractive in principle to that crowd, still wouldn’t be popular with them because he seems quite unlikely to win. That is, backing him is not, at heart, going to get things done. You can’t win the Culture War by backing a loser candidate.

    Point being, I’d suspect Culture Warriors and/or social conservatives are looking to see which of the “winning” candidates is most likely to make their agenda happen. Or maybe they’re just hanging back, waiting to see who will be the ultimate Republican nominee, and then they’ll project all their Culture War hopes and dreams onto him or her.

  • Joe

    I agree with a lot of what tODD wrote, but I also think that this election is about the economy and that social issues are taking a back seat. There are certainly the truly committed social cons, but most people have a range of issues that are important to them and at present social issues are not leading issues.

  • Joe

    I agree with a lot of what tODD wrote, but I also think that this election is about the economy and that social issues are taking a back seat. There are certainly the truly committed social cons, but most people have a range of issues that are important to them and at present social issues are not leading issues.

  • Scott

    A consistent Christian cannot be a statist. Santorum is a statist. Therefore, a lot of Christians won’t vote for him. He’s not a Constitutionalist. He’s a warmonger, just like the fake Christian neocons. Like a lot of professed Christians, he wants to use government to force a social agenda on people who, while their lifestyles are repulsive, are minding their own business and should be left alone.

  • Scott

    A consistent Christian cannot be a statist. Santorum is a statist. Therefore, a lot of Christians won’t vote for him. He’s not a Constitutionalist. He’s a warmonger, just like the fake Christian neocons. Like a lot of professed Christians, he wants to use government to force a social agenda on people who, while their lifestyles are repulsive, are minding their own business and should be left alone.

  • helen

    But are they minding their own business?

    (“Minding their own business” doesn’t seem to include leaving the rest of us alone.)

  • helen

    But are they minding their own business?

    (“Minding their own business” doesn’t seem to include leaving the rest of us alone.)

  • Tom Hering

    Today’s CNN/TIME poll shows Santorum has moved up to the #3 spot in Iowa, with Paul in second place and Romney in first.

  • Tom Hering

    Today’s CNN/TIME poll shows Santorum has moved up to the #3 spot in Iowa, with Paul in second place and Romney in first.

  • moallen

    I am not sure that either party right now has any strong leaders. Obama has proven to be an economic disaster – his policies have not brought economic growth. His Obamacare continues to be unpopular – and we have not even really experienced its true force yet. The national debt has ballooned to the extreme under his watch – and neither Democrat nor Republican are doing one thing to curb the unsustainable growth. Manufacturing is closing down in the U.S. at break-neck speed even as our economy collapses. I cannot help but think that if the 50 million children who were aborted were here today, contributing to our Social Security system, working in industry, growing our economy that things would be different. Perhaps the U.S. fate has been sealed by our neglect/killing of the least of these. Now we are faced with the possible prospects of candidate Romney for the Republicans whose wife donated to Planned Parenthood and has switched sides on abortion once he was no longer in any political position of power. Also, Romney institued a similar healthcare system in his state, and now claims he’s changed his mind on that too (maybe – depending on when asked). Why don’t I believe him? Is Santorum, weak though he is, better than this? Yes. Is Ron Paul better than this – yes, on life – but some of his past newsletters are mind-boggling in their idiocy. And he’s a 9/11 truther (maybe?? and why does it seem so plausible that he would be?) Even given all of this, I would support Paul or Gingrich (who the Republicans themselves have set about destroying) as a candidate who is truly for life, over Romney or Obama. But the power elite in the GOP have determined it will be Romney – and I think they have just lost the election. Could there be an upset and Romney loses? Maybe, but more and more I think the end game will succeed and we’ll have Romney as the nominee and Obama re-elected. Maybe the GOP does not want the economic mess that sure to unfold once our debt becomes completely toxic.

  • moallen

    I am not sure that either party right now has any strong leaders. Obama has proven to be an economic disaster – his policies have not brought economic growth. His Obamacare continues to be unpopular – and we have not even really experienced its true force yet. The national debt has ballooned to the extreme under his watch – and neither Democrat nor Republican are doing one thing to curb the unsustainable growth. Manufacturing is closing down in the U.S. at break-neck speed even as our economy collapses. I cannot help but think that if the 50 million children who were aborted were here today, contributing to our Social Security system, working in industry, growing our economy that things would be different. Perhaps the U.S. fate has been sealed by our neglect/killing of the least of these. Now we are faced with the possible prospects of candidate Romney for the Republicans whose wife donated to Planned Parenthood and has switched sides on abortion once he was no longer in any political position of power. Also, Romney institued a similar healthcare system in his state, and now claims he’s changed his mind on that too (maybe – depending on when asked). Why don’t I believe him? Is Santorum, weak though he is, better than this? Yes. Is Ron Paul better than this – yes, on life – but some of his past newsletters are mind-boggling in their idiocy. And he’s a 9/11 truther (maybe?? and why does it seem so plausible that he would be?) Even given all of this, I would support Paul or Gingrich (who the Republicans themselves have set about destroying) as a candidate who is truly for life, over Romney or Obama. But the power elite in the GOP have determined it will be Romney – and I think they have just lost the election. Could there be an upset and Romney loses? Maybe, but more and more I think the end game will succeed and we’ll have Romney as the nominee and Obama re-elected. Maybe the GOP does not want the economic mess that sure to unfold once our debt becomes completely toxic.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Moallen (@29):

    The national debt has ballooned to the extreme under [Obama's] watch…

    Sorry, but who was the last President for whom this statement was not true? And yet, the way you phrase it, it makes me think that Obama is somehow unique in this regard.

    I cannot help but think that if the 50 million children who were aborted were here today, contributing to our Social Security system, working in industry, growing our economy that things would be different.

    I’m sorry, I consider myself a pretty pro-life kind of guy, but this argument seems goofy. Are economies mainly affected by population size or population growth? Don’t you think it’s possible that, given the realities of our economy, that adding 50 million more people to the situation would only increase the unemployment numbers? I mean, China’s one-child policy (and the many abortions it almost certainly engenders) isn’t exactly hurting their economy … at the moment. So I find this to be a fairly useless tool for critiquing either America’s economic or abortion policies.

    Maybe the GOP does not want the economic mess that sure to unfold once our debt becomes completely toxic.

    Ha! Sure, maybe they don’t actually want to hold the office of the President. Sure. Keep repeating that to yourself. Because the two major political parties just hate holding power unless things are going just so. And if there’s one party that hates debt, it’s the GOP? I guess? Supposedly?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Moallen (@29):

    The national debt has ballooned to the extreme under [Obama's] watch…

    Sorry, but who was the last President for whom this statement was not true? And yet, the way you phrase it, it makes me think that Obama is somehow unique in this regard.

    I cannot help but think that if the 50 million children who were aborted were here today, contributing to our Social Security system, working in industry, growing our economy that things would be different.

    I’m sorry, I consider myself a pretty pro-life kind of guy, but this argument seems goofy. Are economies mainly affected by population size or population growth? Don’t you think it’s possible that, given the realities of our economy, that adding 50 million more people to the situation would only increase the unemployment numbers? I mean, China’s one-child policy (and the many abortions it almost certainly engenders) isn’t exactly hurting their economy … at the moment. So I find this to be a fairly useless tool for critiquing either America’s economic or abortion policies.

    Maybe the GOP does not want the economic mess that sure to unfold once our debt becomes completely toxic.

    Ha! Sure, maybe they don’t actually want to hold the office of the President. Sure. Keep repeating that to yourself. Because the two major political parties just hate holding power unless things are going just so. And if there’s one party that hates debt, it’s the GOP? I guess? Supposedly?

  • moallen

    tODD
    Annual deficit under Obama has increased dramatically since Bush, and you are right Bush was atrocious:
    http://blog.heritage.org/2010/02/05/past-deficits-vs-obamas-deficits-in-pictures/

    More people equals more people contributing to our taxes and Social Security. Less debt dragging our economy into disaster. Now, we have so many people retiring and not enough paying in to make the system work = doomed system.

    I’m not telling myself anything – I am just trying to figure out why anyone would nominate a loser like Romney. But they seem dead-set on it – and that’s what they’ll get – a loser.

  • moallen

    tODD
    Annual deficit under Obama has increased dramatically since Bush, and you are right Bush was atrocious:
    http://blog.heritage.org/2010/02/05/past-deficits-vs-obamas-deficits-in-pictures/

    More people equals more people contributing to our taxes and Social Security. Less debt dragging our economy into disaster. Now, we have so many people retiring and not enough paying in to make the system work = doomed system.

    I’m not telling myself anything – I am just trying to figure out why anyone would nominate a loser like Romney. But they seem dead-set on it – and that’s what they’ll get – a loser.

  • George

    What’s wrong with Santorum? The media has not framed him as an element of the election. If tomorrow, someone printed an article on the New York Times that read “Santorum come to rescue?: Can the Senator from the Keystone State bring new life to the GOP?” then all of a sudden, every casual Republican in America would be touting his name and speaking of his copious virtues. He is not taken as a serious candidate because the media narrative has yet to frame him as a serious candidate. But don’t worry, it will probably happen soon, since it will only increase the drama, and therefore, ratings.

  • George

    What’s wrong with Santorum? The media has not framed him as an element of the election. If tomorrow, someone printed an article on the New York Times that read “Santorum come to rescue?: Can the Senator from the Keystone State bring new life to the GOP?” then all of a sudden, every casual Republican in America would be touting his name and speaking of his copious virtues. He is not taken as a serious candidate because the media narrative has yet to frame him as a serious candidate. But don’t worry, it will probably happen soon, since it will only increase the drama, and therefore, ratings.

  • steve hays

    I find it rather incongruous that Ron Paul supporters make hay of Santorum’s Catholicism. After all, Ron Paul has collaborated closely with Lew Rockwell, who’s Roman Catholic (or so I’ve read). So Ron Paul doesn’t hesitate to make common cause with Roman Catholics, as well as they are ideological bedfellows.

  • steve hays

    I find it rather incongruous that Ron Paul supporters make hay of Santorum’s Catholicism. After all, Ron Paul has collaborated closely with Lew Rockwell, who’s Roman Catholic (or so I’ve read). So Ron Paul doesn’t hesitate to make common cause with Roman Catholics, as well as they are ideological bedfellows.

  • SKPeterson

    John C – Could be, but my tongue was planted firmly in cheek with that post. We do seem to have a penchant in American politics to ride a one-family horse on occasion. The Adamses being the prototype, but the Kennedys being the epitome, followed by the Bushes and now the Clintons.

    So, maybe we will see Jeb v. Chelsea. Or some other odd concotion.

  • SKPeterson

    John C – Could be, but my tongue was planted firmly in cheek with that post. We do seem to have a penchant in American politics to ride a one-family horse on occasion. The Adamses being the prototype, but the Kennedys being the epitome, followed by the Bushes and now the Clintons.

    So, maybe we will see Jeb v. Chelsea. Or some other odd concotion.

  • Joe

    Steve Hays – I assume you are pointing to me with your comment, so just to be clear. I have no issue (politically anyway) with Santorum being R.C. My comment was that I believe some in the GOP establishment think being Catholic is not a plus in the south.

  • Joe

    Steve Hays – I assume you are pointing to me with your comment, so just to be clear. I have no issue (politically anyway) with Santorum being R.C. My comment was that I believe some in the GOP establishment think being Catholic is not a plus in the south.

  • MMansfield

    I have a hard time with Santorum each time I remember how he backed Arlen Specter for senator against Toomey. Party politics at its worse.

  • MMansfield

    I have a hard time with Santorum each time I remember how he backed Arlen Specter for senator against Toomey. Party politics at its worse.

  • http://thereformedmind.wordpress.com Troy

    Wow. Great minds think alike? I have been saying the same thing. Blogged about it here:

    http://thereformedmind.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/why-santorum/

  • http://thereformedmind.wordpress.com Troy

    Wow. Great minds think alike? I have been saying the same thing. Blogged about it here:

    http://thereformedmind.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/why-santorum/

  • Pingback: Romney wins Iowa by 8 votes | Cranach: The Blog of Veith

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003405391164 Ahmed

    Great post. It comnibes my two favorite things – the presidency and first ladies and the Royal Family!Jimmy Carter is still rmembered by some in royal circles. The Queen Mother, not easily flustered, remarked that, “No one has kissed me on the lips since my dear husband died.” I don’t think she would have been actively offended, just completely shocked!I love all the fuss that’s made when someone touches “the royal person”. It usually seems to be Americans or Australians – the British would never think of it. There was the bear hug the Queen received in Washington, DC in 1992 and the famous arm around the back of Michelle Obama (although those present noted it was the Queen, not Mrs. Obama who instigated). What isn’t often realized is that the Queen wouldn’t be the one to take umbrage. It’s said that she loves it when something unexpected and amusing happens as she’s done everything so many times that it breaks the monotony!On a more serious note, imagine the value of having a head of state who has met everyone, weathered every political storm. While I wouldn’t necessarily advocate for it here, it certainly has some advantages. I wonder what she discusses with other heads of state in private? Likely to be rather interestingTake care,Jake

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003405391164 Ahmed

    Great post. It comnibes my two favorite things – the presidency and first ladies and the Royal Family!Jimmy Carter is still rmembered by some in royal circles. The Queen Mother, not easily flustered, remarked that, “No one has kissed me on the lips since my dear husband died.” I don’t think she would have been actively offended, just completely shocked!I love all the fuss that’s made when someone touches “the royal person”. It usually seems to be Americans or Australians – the British would never think of it. There was the bear hug the Queen received in Washington, DC in 1992 and the famous arm around the back of Michelle Obama (although those present noted it was the Queen, not Mrs. Obama who instigated). What isn’t often realized is that the Queen wouldn’t be the one to take umbrage. It’s said that she loves it when something unexpected and amusing happens as she’s done everything so many times that it breaks the monotony!On a more serious note, imagine the value of having a head of state who has met everyone, weathered every political storm. While I wouldn’t necessarily advocate for it here, it certainly has some advantages. I wonder what she discusses with other heads of state in private? Likely to be rather interestingTake care,Jake

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