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This Is Rick Santorum

The candidate goes to eleven on the culture amplifier.

by
Jazz Shaw

Bio

February 10, 2012 - 12:00 am
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Up until this week we had been faced with a few different possibilities in terms of potential challengers to President Obama in November, none of which seemed overly pleasing to clucking tongues in conservative sewing circles. It always had the appearance of a choice between Mitt “Mr. Inevitable” Romney and any one of a series of cracked, flawed, or otherwise questionable alternatives. Even the latest in this series, Newt Two Point Oh, brought with him worries as to whether his airport caravan sized train of “baggage” might allow Barack Obama’s reelection team to make the race an archaeological dig into the former speaker’s lengthy history rather than a referendum on the wreckage left in the wake of Obama’s first three years in office.

But following his impressive hat trick on February 7th, we are now faced with a different possibility in the person of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. (Or, as he was known through the course of the first 349 debates, “that guy at the last lectern who never gets any questions.”) And if the seas part at precisely the right moment and he somehow becomes the nominee, we may find ourselves with the opportunity to conduct a long-awaited and fascinating experiment in American political theory.

One of the chief sources of internecine scrapping and grumbling among Republicans has come from the ranks of the social conservatives, or Socons as they are frequently known. We have already spent time speculating what would happen if Mitt Romney becomes the nominee. If he loses to Obama in November, the Socons will once again say that it was because cowardly, establishment party leaders failed to push forward a sufficiently conservative warrior who would fire up the base as a champion of socially conservative principles. If he wins, the Socons could quietly grumble that he’d simply gotten lucky against a deeply flawed president running on a failed record and bide their time until the next open seat in the Oval Office came up for grabs.

Similarly, if Newt Gingrich were to lose to Obama, the blame could be heaped on his own shortcomings and extensive, frequently controversial biography. After all, his three marriages and “complicated” history didn’t exactly make him a darling among evangelical Christians. The same excuses could be applied with slight modifications.

But Rick Santorum is a horse of an entirely different color who could serve as the ultimate test of this theory and put the question to rest once and for all. Is the secret to electoral success truly found in a take-no-prisoners, hard-core, rock-ribbed conservative? Is this truly what America is pining for?

We can, for purposes of this experiment, think of conservative values like the volume dial on a musician’s stage amplifier. A totally muted value of one would produce some amalgam of Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, and Fidel Castro. At the top end of the range, a setting of ten would give us an ideologically conservative Cerberus, its three heads being John Bolton on national defense issues, Grover Norquist on fiscal policy, and Pat Robertson on social matters. Many observers, including even some of the media elite these days, seem to feel that America is a “center-right” nation, perhaps carrying a value somewhere in the range of six. But reminiscent of that classic scene from the movie Spinal Tap, Rick Santorum goes to eleven.

If, for example, we’re talking about the issue of contraception – much in the news of late – President Obama has stumbled badly, providing a tremendous opportunity for Republicans to attract Catholics worried about excessive government overreach into matters of faith. But as much as these voters are rightly concerned about the recent HHS ruling and Washington intrusion on the sovereignty of the church, there are still a huge majority of people in the country – including a massive portion of Catholic women – who employ birth control technology. Santorum, on the other hand, has not only said he favors the right of states to outlaw birth control, but is on record saying that he personally feels it is “dangerous” and should be outlawed.

On birth control, Rick Santorum goes to eleven.

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