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Rick Santorum: American Pie

March 19th, 2012 - 11:31 am

The headline to the link reads, “Why the Republican ‘Establishment’ Can’t Stomach Rick Santorum.” Let me add a subhead that says, “And why I can’t, either.” So forgive the lengthy excerpt, but this Mark Davis column is important.

I couldn’t define it until I recently read Mark Twain’s account of his return to Hannibal, Missouri, in Life on the Mississippi.

Twain wrote:

The Model Boy of my time — we never had but the one — was perfect: perfect in manners, perfect in dress, perfect in conduct, perfect in filial piety, perfect in exterior godliness; but at bottom he was a prig; and as for the contents of his skull, they could have changed place with the contents of a pie, and nobody would have been the worse off for it but the pie.

As for the contents of Santorum’s skull, I see not pie-filling but a zest for culture war. Launching a culture war now would fracture the Republican Party, while striking independent voters as massively beside-the-point with near 9 percent unemployment and an international situation pregnant with danger.

In the face of such a simple political target as President Obama, Santorum simply cannot stay on message. He and his people feel compelled to go beyond the issue of religious liberty to let us know that he believes contraception is morally wrong. I respect his right to that belief—and I join him in passionately upholding the right of the Catholic Church not to be coerced into acting against its doctrine on contraception. But that doesn’t mean I embrace that belief itself. I don’t. And I sure don’t want to hear about contraception from the bully pulpit of the White House—neither do tens of millions of other Republicans, many of them Catholics.

Or take Santorum’s strange denouncement of President Obama as a “snob” for wanting people to go to college. Or his odd diatribe against John F. Kennedy over his classic speech on separation of church and state. Both statements may contain many yeasty issues and fine distinctions—all of them are irrelevant to beating Obama.

And really, how tone-deaf do you have to be to launch an out-of-the-blue attack on JFK?

Or as I put it a couple weeks ago, “Santorum is the “See ‘n’ Say candidate.” As if to add just one more bullet point to an already-long list of missteps, this weekend Santorum launched a war on porn. You can imagine the hay they’re making on the left, but even at Forbes they think Rick has stuck his foot in yet another pile of his own doo-doo:

Ultimately, we have bigger problems than restricting what adults can do with other adults. If Santorum really wants to fight obscenity he should focus on limiting the crazy things senators and congressmen do with unconsenting taxpayer dollars.

Indeed. And what’s next — a crusade to strike the word “bitchin’” from the patois of America’s youth? With Santorum, you just never know what triviality is going to earn his ire or where his campaign will veer. If he’s the nominee, each week a gleeful press will set him up and knock him down — all the while enabling Team Obama to avoid talking about jobs or ObamaCare. It’s like the GOP now has a special Kamikaze Wing.

And the worst part? I’ll never be able to look at pie the same way again.

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