The State of the Race

Thursday, December 8, AD 2011

We need to rewind a little bit before we address the madness engulfing the presidential primary season.  During the runup to the 2010 midterm elections and in its immediate followup there has been some internal GOP strife between purists who want to select only the most ideologically pure candidates and those of a squishier stripe whose primary concern is electability.  This has been an ongoing warfare, and has continued on into the GOP presidential primary.

So now Newt Gingrich is atop of the polls.  A mere few months ago Newt had been written off as a candidate, especially by the purists.  Gingrich reviled the base right at the start of his campaign by deriding Paul Ryan’s budget reform plan as right-wing social engineering.  This was just the latest in the string of rhetorical and other slights against the right.  He had endorsed Dede Scozafava, sat on the couch with Nancy Pelosi for that silly global warming PSA, and had otherwise served as a negative symbol of the establishment.  But a few great debate performances – and I emphasize the word performance here – plus the flameout of various other non-Romney candidates managed to put Newt at the top of the polls.

So now the same establishment voices that urged moderation are attacking Gingrich in full voice.  Pundits like Charles Krauthammer and others are questioning Gingrich’s bona fides.  George Will went so far as to suggest that Newt is some kind of Marxist, and Mark Krikorian implied that Newt’s heart belonged to the French Revolution.  This, in turn, has angered the conservative firebrands, who perceive that the establishment is attacking the new conservative hero.  In other words, for questioning Gingrich’s conservatives purity these writers are basically being written off by purists who think that these commentators are manifesting a clear lack of purity.  The anti-purists, meanwhile, are writing off a candidate because of his, umm, lack of purity.  So the anti-purists are clearly RINOs because they think someone who the purists themselves thought was insufficiently pure not that long ago is not in fact pure. On the other hand the purists are upset that the non-purists are questioning the bona fides of a previously heretofore believed to be impure candidate, and in doing so are demonstrating that they are tools of the impure establishment.

Yeah.

I am convinced that if National Review wanted to derail the Gingrich campaign all it has to is endorse Gingrich.  As I have written before there seems to be a contingent of the GOP electorate that is motivated by spite, and they will flock to any candidate that the establishment criticizes.

It’s an astoundingly insane situation.  Frankly, I think that Gingrich is neither a Marxists-Leninist, nor is he the modern embodiment of Ronald Reagan.  Gingrich is a conservative technocrat.  He thinks that we can achieve conservative outcomes through just enough social and government tinkering.  He’s not quite a big government conservative, but I think Jonah Goldberg has a pretty good feel for Gingrich’s political instincts.

Gingrich probably agrees with the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan more than any other leading conservative. “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society,” Moynihan observed. “The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” A constant theme of Gingrich’s career is a desire to use government to fix the culture. Indeed, there’s no Republican in the field with a more robust faith in the power of government.

So in this crazy, upside down primary season the segment of the Republican party that agrees with Gingrich is trying to eliminate him from the race, and the segment that is turned off by this sentimentality is outraged that anyone could question Gingrich.

Personally, I am ambivalent about Newt.  He’s a better candidate than most, and think that he’d ultimately make an adequate president. And while I don’t that it is unfair to dig deeper into a candidate’s philosophy and question his fitness for office, some of the assaults on Gingrich are a little absurd.  When John Sununu is on the attack against a candidate and questioning his conservative record, well, let’s just say Sununu is probably not the best judge of conservative character.

But to me the race has come down to two men named Rick.  Which one will I ultimately vote for?  If it were purely about ideology it would be Santorum, but other factors – including executive experience – ultimately matter as well and weigh in Perry’s favor.  I’d be perfectly content with either candidate.  Neither is looking particularly strong in the polls right now, but considering all that has taken place over the past few months, we should expect either to be the party’s nominee.

In all seriousness, neither is as much of a longshot as they appear right now.  You see, there’s this election that takes place in Iowa.  Despite the fact that Iowa is a rather small state and has a method of voting that is one of the dumbest and most confusing methods of selecting a candidate known to man, the Iowa caucus is crucial.  And so, this completely outmoded and overrated caucus may very well cause a darkhorse candidate to jump to the front of the line.  Both Santorum and Perry appeal to the socially conservative element in the state, and victory is obtainable in a state where the election hinges on non-traditional forms of electioneering.  I’m not suggesting that Perry or Santorum will in fact win, but if either does – especially in the case of Perry – then it will fundamentally alter the narrative of the campaign.

Of course, if either takes (or in Perry’s case, reclaims) the lead, then expect the establishment to get the knives out.  But then at least the battle lines will make sense.

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13 Responses to The State of the Race

  • Intrade has Santorum and Perry in 5th and 6th respectively in the Iowa Caucus. In 2008, Fred Thompson was polling much higher than either of them in Iowa and still won zero counties.

  • America must be saved from Obama.

    Obama ist kaput.

  • America must be saved from Obama.

    Obama ist kaput.

  • Have you heard Mrs. Newt’s very authoritative use of the first-person plural? Clearly she means to be a co-president following the Michelle model, and that just won’t do. No more empresses.

  • “Intrade has Santorum and Perry in 5th and 6th respectively in the Iowa Caucus.”

    Yeah and Intrade in December 2007 gave Obama a one in ten chance of being the Democrat nominee in 2008. The predictive ability of Intrade is nil, except when the result of an election is obvious to all.

  • At this point in 2007, Intrade accurately predicted the Iowa Caucus results for both parties.

  • No surprise there RR as most political prognosticators at the time expected Obama to beat Clinton in Iowa.

  • Don, you raise an important point. Iowa is a lot more moderate than people think. 2008 was the only time the more socially conservative Republican candidate won Iowa.

    Any Republican will nominate pro-life judges so I’m in the “let’s get an electable nominee” camp. Going with anyone but Romney or Huntsman is gambling on abortion. Romney is the better politician but Huntsman has less baggage so I think it’s more or less a draw on electability.

  • If (God forbid) Obama wins in 2012, we will be partying like its 1012 AD.

    In 2012, the choice is not Obama or Bachmann/Gingrich/Huntsman/Paul/Perry/Romney/Santorum/Trump.

    In 2012, the choice is Obama vs. America, one nation under God.

    “You can’t maintain a civilization with 12-year-olds having babies and 15-year-olds killing each other and 17-year-olds dying of AIDS and 18-year-olds getting dipolmas they can’t read. The welfare state has just plain failed because it reduces human beings from citizens to clients, because it . . . subjects them to rules . . . that are anti-family, anti-work, anti-property, and anti-opportunity. The challenge of our generation is to replace the welfare state.”
    Hon. Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.) 11-10-93

    “The wealthiest Americans are paying the lowest taxes in over half a century.” Obama 12/5/2011

    In fact: the federal income tax code is now more progressive than it was in 1979, according to the Congressional Budget Office. IRS data show the richest 1% paid almost 40% of federal income taxes in 2009, up from 18% in 1980.

  • Rick Santorum is the best candidate, and I wish more Catholics and all Americans would take a serious look at Mr. Santorum. If people base their opinion and vote on poll numbers, Rick Santorum has no shot. However, if people vote on principles and who is the best person to lead this country, Rick Santorum is the man. Rick Santorum has my vote!

  • Sadly, Rick Santorum has no chance. Santorum has admirable social conservative views, but no hope of winning.

    Both Pittsburgh newspapers – the socialist rag and the libertine rag – spent his entire second term savaging him. Santorum lost to an empty suit Democrat by almost 20 points in 2006. Santorum has a career as a lobbyist or a lawyer, but not in elected office.

  • You guys may be happy to know that Santorum just surged past Newt in Iowa in both the latest CNN poll and Intrade. He’s in double-digits for the first time.

Why Aren’t More Conservative Catholics Supporting Rick Santorum?

Thursday, December 1, AD 2011

Most of you have an immediate response to the question posed in the title of this post, but please indulge me for a moment.

In this seriously flawed Republican presidential primary field is a candidate who is a Roman Catholic.  He is a man who clearly lives his faith.  He has no skeletons in his closet (that we know of, naturally).  He is the father of seven children, and has demonstrated a devotion to the pro-life cause in a manner that is second to none.  He is unapologetically conservative, and is willing to take stands that go against the grain.

In other words, we have a candidate who it would seem should be drawing a large chunk of the conservative and Catholic vote.  Yet he regularly polls somewhere in the 1-2 percent range.  Considering the number of Catholics in the country and within the Republican party, this suggests he can’t even win the support of even a fraction of the most conservative Catholics.  Heck, even the conservative and Catholic author of this post has not really fully supported Senator Santorum.  I oscillate between the two Ricks, but have generally leaned towards Governor Perry.  So what gives?

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59 Responses to Why Aren’t More Conservative Catholics Supporting Rick Santorum?

  • “His 2006 loss looks bad, but it was a difficult environment for any Republican, particularly in a leaning blue swing state.”

    True, however he lost by the largest margin ever for any sitting senator in the state of Pennsylvania, 59%-41%. Any Republican running that year for the Senate in Pennsylvania would have lost that race, but I would have expected a veteran Pennsylania politician running for his third term to have made a stronger race of it. That gives me a lot of pause in assessing the political skills of Santorum.

  • Sorry to be a bore on this point, but we have been for nearly three years learning the hard way what happens when you put someone with no administrative experience atop a public bureaucracy with 3.4 million employees. Mr. Santorum is appealing for a host of reasons, but he is unsuitable (at this time) for the position he is seeking. If he had had a tour as Allegheny County executive and some time as a federal bureau chief, he would not be unsuitable.

  • People should vote for the most conservative electable candidate. Santorum might have the highest negatives outside the right of any candidate. People really hate the guy. I’d prefer him to Gingrich but at least Gingrich can conceivably beat Obama. The candidates in order of electability from most to least: Huntsman, Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Paul, Santorum. I think it’s a fair assessment of electability without the wishful thinking. The last 4 can be regarded as unelectable. Gingrich and Bachmann have an outside shot. If you want a Republican president support Huntsman or Romney. If you’re willing to take risks, support Gingrich or Bachmann. If you want Obama to serve a second term, support one of the others.

  • I don’t think anyone as socially conservative as Santorum could’ve done any better in the 2006 Senate race. He had no base. The left hated him and Casey ran as social conservative with the name to back it up.

  • You’re not being a bore, Art. It’s an absolutely legitimate point, and I can’t believe I missed pointing that out myself.

  • I should add that though I agree it’s a negative, I wouldn’t say lack of executive experience is an absolute disqualifier.

  • I did not vote in the US elections, but, if I would, my candidate would be Santorum for sure. He is the best clearly for me.

  • As a southern baptist I can say I intend to vote for Santorum , he is the true conservative in this race. Time will tell but I believe he’ll do much better then expected, he’ll carry the South and become our next President. He is the best man for the job.

  • My parents used to live in his district and they HATED him. They are liberal, but they lived in a very conservative district and everyone hated him. I’ve asked them a couple times what was so bad about him, but they just say he was terrible. They told me they used to ask their friends why they voted for him if they thought he was so bad… I guess they stopped doing that, didn’t they?

  • Santorum is a diehard supporter of the Bush doctrine and this seriously turns me off. I don’t want a president who thinks it’s responsible to send soldiers to die in war against an abstract noun.

  • There was nothing abstract about either 9-11 or the menace to his own people, neighboring states and the US posed by the regime of Saddam Hussein. That Santorum understands this increases my regard for him greatly.

    Santorum predicted the on-going disaster in Egypt back in June in the well-written, and prescient, piece linked to below:

    http://www.eppc.org/publications/pubID.4479/pub_detail.asp

    He has a series of these types of analyses of foreign policy issues:

    http://www.eppc.org/scholars/scholarID.88,type.1/pub_list.asp

  • As the article clearly indicates, Mr. Santorum is unelectable. Defeating President Obama in 2012 must be THE top priority. Mr. Santorum may have the best policy positions of any of the Republican presidential candidates . . . but he is unelectable.

    Zach, the majority of Democrats in the Senate voted to authorize the war in Iraq and “. . . send soldiers to die in war against an abstract noun.” Leaving the 2008 election rhetoric aside, President Obamas’ policies to date in Iraq and Afghanistan are virtually indistinguishable from the policies that would have been pursued by a Republican Administration.

    And based on early signs of a parliamentary election victory in Egypt by Islamists/the Muslim Brotherhood, as Mr. Santorum predicted, the political situation in Egypt may soon get much worse.

  • Defeating President Obama in 2012 must be THE top priority.

    This is wrong for a couple of reasons. Merely defeating President Obama. He must be replaced by someone who will be willing to enact significant changes. A placesitter who is merely better than Obama is insufficient.

    Second, as stated in my post, predicting who is electable at this stage is an exercise in folly.

    The rest of your post I totally agree with.

  • He must be replaced by someone who will be willing to enact significant changes.

    You will need in addition:

    1. A secure plurality in the House of Representatives with like inclinations; and
    2. The same in the Senate conjoined to the abolition of the filibuster.

    Not holdin’ my breath.

  • Paul, my point was that beating President Obama in 2012 must be the top priority in choosing a candidate. A candidate who is unelectable does not meet that key criterion. This does not mean that you nominate “anyone” regardless of their policy positions, because you deem them electable. It means that unelectability is an automatic disqualifier for the nomination. In my mind, losing to now-Senator Casey in Pennsylvania by 20% in 2006 is a pretty good indicator that Mr. Santorum, as much as I respect him, is unelectable.

    Many Americans, myself included, would like to see significant changes in our politics and policies. Given our present political balance-of-power realities, however, it is hard to envision many significant changes becoming reality in the near term. If only for future judicial nominations, the top priority for selection of the Republican nominee must be that he/she is electable. Whether a candidate is electable or not is part of the vetting process that Republicans are currently engaged in.

    Given the importance of defeating President Obama in 2012, non-electability must be at the top of the list of qualifications that disqualifies someone from being the nominee.

  • Again, Tom, who are you to decide who and who is not electable? Each person that has jumped to the head of the polls within the GOP primary has also led Obama in polls. Newt Gingrich, who most people (including yours truly) wrote off months ago now edges Obama out in polls. President Obama is at sub-40% favorability in the polls, sitting on 9+ percent unemployment, and several swing states that voted for him last time are all but written off for him. I don’t necessarily think that every one of the candidates can defeat Obama, but I think whoever gets the nomination has a very good chance.

    As for this:

    Whether a candidate is electable or not is part of the vetting process that Republicans are currently engaged in.

    Is just plain wrong. The only reason Mitt Romney continues to do as well as he does is his perceived electability. Time and again on other conservative blogs I’ve seen Romney supporters mention his electability – and only his electability. If anything GOP primary voters are overly concerned with this aspect of the election.

    Given our present political balance-of-power realities, however, it is hard to envision many significant changes becoming reality in the near term.

    If that is really the case then we might as well write off this republic of ours.

  • Why do we think we know who can or cannot beat Obama… Is not God in charge?! God can and does do mighty things with the least of His children. In acts such as this – we truly see the glory of God. Should we not work, promote and vote for the candidate who most clearly keeps Gods laws?! To me that is what we are called to do… and then, let God be God. We are not in charge of anything beyond our own actions. I for one am supporting Rick Santorum, I could do no less – as I try my best to live out my faith. It is Rick Santorum who defends the sanctity and dignity of Life, and of Marriage.

  • wow Spector, Casey and tone? These three “reasons” are flaky and flimsy. Especially the tone one… I think people who have met him and spoken with him personally may have an edge on seeing that sunny side that is not portrayed to people who look up information about him on the internet, or from liberal or conservative neighbors who can’t articulate why they hate him.
    I wish I lived in Iowa! I would caucus for him. We have to stand up for the truth, not for who is politically correct with the masses… at some point we have to trust God. …think Lepanto do the right thing. and trust that people will vote for the best person.
    Just defeating Obama is not enough– we should be replacing him with someone who is good.

  • With all due respect Paul, I will not “decide” who is electable or not . . . I ultimately have one vote in this process, just like you do. And one voice in this very important discussion, just like you do. Others will have to judge the merits of our opinions.

    I agree, President Obama is very vulnerable – there is no doubt. All the more reason that we must defeat him in 2012. That the Republican presidential field as it is currently configured is, shall we say, less than perfect – there is also little doubt. Just consult the polls concerning the opinion of the current Republican field, even by Republicans. And Newt’s electability would take more discussion than there is room here to provide.

    Ultimately, if we do not defeat Obama in 2012, having fielded the “nearly perfect candidate” will offer little consolation.

    I think it is a bit much to say that the “only” reason for Mitt Romney’s standing in the polls is his electability. It is one key component, but certainly not the only one. I understand that many conservatives do not like him as the candidate in 2012. I have not yet decided whether Romney is the best nominee. Like many other Republicans, I personally would like to see someone else enter the race.

    I, for one, will never “write off this republic of ours,” no matter how dismal the political realities may be on the ground. We must stay in the fight, expending most of our efforts united toward the goal of defeating President Obama in 2012. Now let’s all focus our efforts on defeating President Obama, respectfully voicing our opinions and making the substantive case for each of the current nominees, taking all the important aspects of this election into consideration.

  • Whiny and arrogant tone? Stomp up and down and throw a hissy fit? Who have you been watching? That’s not Santorum at all. What I’ve seen for months now are debates in which he is consistently and purposely ignored, while all the attention and questions are directed at the media’s anointed “leaders.” I can recall more than one debate where Santorum did not get asked a single question for over an hour. He has every right to point out the bias and lunacy of that treatment, and to interject himself and demand an opportunity to be heard. If you call that whiny, then you need an afternoon with a roomful of preschoolers.

    In Santorum I see a man of much grace and steadfastness. I see a highly intelligent and thoughtful man, who walks the talk every single day. I see a man who does not back down when push comes to shove, and when the arrows start flying he doesn’t duck under his desk. He is the only candidate who is willing to speak the moral truth and defend it without apology. I see a man with integrity; a man who has been personally tested and has the inner mettle we need in a President.

    If Catholics do not put their support and their vote behind such a man, then we absolutely deserve the mess our cowardice will create for our country. Shame on us if we once again throw our votes at the candidate deemed to be more “electable” or God forbid, Obama again. The fact is, we have President Obama now only because of Catholics, and that means we have much to answer for.

  • For those of us living in Pa during the republican primaries in 2004, I think many of you are really underestimating the impact that supporting Spector over Toomey had. It was nothing short of devastating for the “grass roots” loyal pro-life republicans. It took the wind out of our sails.

    In my opinion it was the beginning of the end for Santorum in Penssylvania. The “base” never recovered to support him with any strength against Casey. Casey can barely pat his head and rub his stomach at the same time but he just ran all over Santorum. Santorum.

    Say what you will, but that is the truth. I remember many of us were in shock over that endorsement. To date I have never heard him recant that endorsement, or say something like “boy, I really blew it on that”.

    What I have read from various sources was just his reasons for defending that endorsement. I am sure he regrets it, but because it hurt him politically, not because it was a bad endorsement.

    Say what you will, but he wouldn’t even win Pennsylvania against Obama in a general election.

    He would be a good appointment to HHS or some other federal level position.

  • Paul – There’ve been five waves of he’s-not-Romney candidates: Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Gingrich. All of them have been grassroots surges. If people who write columns in Washington had their way, none of those candidates would have stood a chance, and Romney would be running against Huntsman. It seems like most every second-tier candidate has had a moment on the first tier. So, while most years I would agree with you about not dismissing someone on the basis of percieved unelectability, if a candidate never got noticed this year, it says something. Lots of debates, lots of opportunities.

    I was sure that Pawlenty was going to find his footing, as sure as I was of Thompson four years ago.

    Now, if memory serves, you’re a fellow Marylander, right? I think it’s great that the US cordoned off the worst decision-makers in the country into one state with a late primary and few electoral votes, just so they couldn’t do much damage. They let us drive, which is clearly a mistake, but otherwise the better 49 are unaffected by our stupidity. I think that living in Maryland is affecting the way I follow politics. I still love it, but I’ve been zapped by the Skinner box so many times that I don’t expect a treat when I pull the lever.

  • Jennifer:

    Even though I’ve learned to look past it and think that it’s really not that consequential of an issue to me, it is a recurring theme among people who have either written off Santorum or have not supported him. At times I do think he has come across as petulant, particularly when he has pestered other candidates and did, at one point, even suggest to another person speaking that their time was up and that he should stop speaking. Others see that as aggressive and something to be applauded, others think it comes across as bullying.

    I do agree he’s been overlooked and that frustration has seeped out. Rightly or wrongly, people take superficial concerns about tone and other behavior seriously. I mean Rick Perry’s candidacy just about tanked because of “heartless” remark, as well as his otherwise emotionless appearance during the debates. Don’t underestimate people’s ability to be impressed by style over substance. Like it or not, it’s how a lot of people determine the “winners” of these debates.

  • Pinky,

    Yes, I am a fellow Marylander. What’s funny is that not only is our general election vote of little consequence, but even our primary vote is fairly meaningless because of how late our primary is being held. As you say, that’s a good thing for the rest of the country. And at least we’re better drivers than Virginians, if nothing else.

  • Who is it that is a great supporter of Romney then?

    No one here has said they like him or want him to be President. No Republican I know wants him as their candidate and this is true of even the “nominally republicans” I work with.

    How can it be that this guy is the front runner likely candidate when all I hear, whether in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Coastal Georgia, is “I just can’t vote for him”?

  • G-Veg:

    I really don’t get it. The man is actively reviled by 75 percent of the party. I’m not talking about an unwillingness to vote for him, I’m talking about deep revulsion. This is a guy who four years ago couldn’t beat out John McCain, and yet now he is supposedly the only human being alive who can beat Barack Obama. Sometimes conventional wisdom is based on nothing more than wishful thinking repeated often enough.

  • Paul Zummo, I read your criticism of Ramesh Ponnuru @NRO and thought it was a pretty devastating take. I disagree with him, too (that Romney’s victory is likely, so let’s get excited about it), but still think Ramesh is a thoughtful & conservative thinker. So, hopefully you will reconsider at some point.

  • Ramesh actually responded to me over at my personal blog, and I wrote him back.

  • To Chris from PA: I’m not downplaying at all the betrayal pro-lifers felt by Santorum’s support for Specter. But I can assure you, Rick definitely regrets the decision, and not merely because he lost re-election. He understands it was a bad move. He’ll readily say he should have listened to his wife, who was adamantly against it. He did it for two reasons: Roberts and Alito. His intentions were good — truly. But he will acknowledge that it was a mistake and he is sorry.

  • Jennifer,
    Fair enough. I don’t agree with the intentions, but at least I know where he was coming from.

    I still remember for the first time watching him on WNEP raising Spector’s hand with a big smile on his face at some campaign rally while thinking to myself “I feel like I need to vomit now”…..

    Ultimately I agree with TomD who I will quote
    “Defeating President Obama in 2012 must be THE top priority.”

    For what its worth, in my mind it’s between Romney (who after a couple of endorsements I feel is genuinely pro-life now) and Gingrich. What I really like about Gingrich is he “gets” radical Islam and has spoken out about the plight of the Coptic Christians in Eqypt.

  • Jennifer, you are right on! I interviewed Santorum in 2007 and he told me that Guiliani was the only viable candidate, as most establishment Republicans said. He defended his support of Specter based on the same wisdom.
    Then his daughter Bella Maria was born, in 2008, with trisomy 18, and his world was turned upside down. Trust, me I had the same thing happen when my daughter was born with Down syndrome. He admitted just before beginning his presidential bid, that she has caused him to re-order his priorities. He contributed a wonderful article he wrote about her on her second birthday “Two Years Worth Every Tear” to my book “A Special Mother is Born”.
    Last Monday, I presented a copy of the book to him in a Town Hall meeting in New Hampshire, he seemed genuinely flattered by my calling him a pro-life hero. He had a conversation that day with a virulent defender of abortion, remained calm and reasonable as he staunchly defended the right to life of the unborn.
    He has my vote, and my prayers that Catholics will see his pro-life convictions and believe in his deepening of faith.

  • The only reason Mitt Romney continues to do as well as he does is his perceived electability.

    1. He is a familiar name;
    2. His domestic life has not caused any embarrassing distractions;
    3. He has notable experience as an executive in the public and private sector;
    4. He has experience with commercial and industrial restructurings and will have some critical engagement with what is told him by and about the financial sector, something none of the other vigorous competitors for the presidency could have said at any time in the last fifty years. This sort of understanding is regrettably salient at this time.

  • Santorum’s foreign policiy is essentialy Bush Redux. If you like that, then he’s your man. If not, then that is a perfectly substantive reason for not supporting him.

  • c matt
    you want to explain what you mean by bush redux?

  • What’s the alternative to ‘Bush Redux’?

  • Who would have thought that an inexperienced community organizer with no work history would become President? Santorum is consistant and principled. He is a true conservative. He knows foriegn affairs, he can get things done in Congress, he will protect life, why isn’t he the choice of the people? The country club republicans want a big government guy, the liberals can’t argue morality with him, so he loses out with those groups, but if the everyday hard working church going gun toting folks out there would listen to him they might change their minds. It shouldn’t be about who can beat Obama, because he is doing a good job of that on his own. It should be about who will support us and who best represents our morals and beliefs.

  • Paul Zummo says about Romney, “The man is actively reviled by 75 percent of the party. I’m not talking about an unwillingness to vote for him, I’m talking about deep revulsion.”

    If the measure of “actively revile” is 100 minus your poll numbers then Gingrich is actively reviled by a similar percent of the party. Polls show Romney viewed favorably by over half of Republican voters.

  • I’ve forgiven Santorum for the whole Specter debacle; it’s his current support for waterboarding that bothers me.

    His foreign policy positions don’t really bother me, given my strong interventionist streak; while I don’t think we have the resources to militarily overthrow every tyranny on earth (nor perform the post-overthrow nation-building adequately), the “traditionalist” and “non-interventionist” foreign policies seem to say, “Your tyrant not affecting us/our national interests? Well then, screw you!” Not a sentiment I share, to say the least.

    I haven’t really been following the primaries, but the candidate I somewhat have been “rooting for” is Perry, as he seems to be (or at least “seemed” – I don’t know now) the most electable and sensible “social conservative” candidate that has a chance of winning.

    I do think a Romney win in the GOP primaries would be disasterous for the nation, as it would indicate to Republican politicians that issues like abortion and gay marriage are no longer important, and thus the political atmosphere would be even further into the culture of death even more than it already is…

  • Don’t be obtuse, RR. Romney’s poll numbers haven’t budged an iota despite the fluctuation in the rest of the campaign. It’s clear that lines have been drawn in the sand between his supporters and critics, and he is not moving any higher in the polls. Perhaps not every single one of the 75% of his non-supporters revile him, but he is clearly and deeply unpopular.

  • Santorum is at least as pro-life as the other candidates. His aggressive foreign policy does bother me but that’s not a major issue this election cycle. His economic plan which creates a special carve out for manufacturing is too interventionist for me but there are worse ideas out there. His emphasis on the middle-class should have very wide appeal and is a winner in the general elections. His demeanor is off-putting but the Gingrinch is even worse. His perceived hostility towards gays is a major problem for him, especially because it’s so well known. Fairly or unfairly, he’s defined by it. His position on DADT makes no sense. It’s one thing to oppose repeal, but he says repeal targets gays for special privileges not enjoyed by heterosexuals. That goes far beyond rational argument and warrants suspicion of unjust discrimination and that’s one thing voters will not forgive.

  • Santorum is a very good man & was a solid senator, but I have read the comments of other readers who are correctly critical of his neo-conservative, nation-building policies. I agree with those critics and believe that Rep. Ron Paul is correct in his overall assessment. Both George Washington and Ike Eisenhower offered powerful farewell addresses that reflected the Constitution wisdom of the U.S. being wary of foreign intrigues as well as the military, industrial, congressional complex. Once Rick jumps off of the neo-conservative bandwagon, he’s got my vote.

  • National defense. Santorum.

  • “No Republican I know wants [Romney] as their candidate”

    I really believe that he, and maybe Perry, would be good presidents. I suspect that the next president is going to have to implement some serious austerity – necessary in the long run, but recessionary in the short run. He’s going to take a lot of heat for it and be considered a failure. Right now, Romney’s the one I trust most to be able to do it.

  • I have the complete opposite feeling about Romney, Pinky. He is precisely the type of individual who would be unwilling to use any of his political capital in order to advance difficult measures.

  • Both George Washington and Ike Eisenhower offered powerful farewell addresses that reflected the Constitution wisdom of the U.S. being wary of foreign intrigues as well as the military, industrial, congressional complex. Once Rick jumps off of the neo-conservative bandwagon, he’s got my vote

    1. George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower could not have faced more dissimilar configurations in international relations.

    2. There is no constitutional provision which prescribes a specific foreign policy.

    3. His commentary on the ‘military-industrial complex’ notwithstanding, annual military expenditures during the Eisenhower administration averaged in excess of 10% of domestic product and incorporated conscription to boot. Mr. Bush and the ‘neo-conservative bandwagon’ made do with 5% of national product and a professional military.

  • My favorite Eisenhower quote, from his state of the union address in 1959:

    “America’s security can be assured only within a world community of strong, stable, independent nations, in which the concepts of freedom, justice and human dignity can flourish.

    There can be no such thing as Fortress America. If ever we were reduced to the isolation implied by that term, we would occupy a prison, not a fortress. The question whether we can afford to help other nations that want to defend their freedom but cannot fully do so from their own means, has only one answer: we can and we must, we have been doing so since 1947.”

  • “The United States ought not to indulge a persuasion that, contrary to the order of human events, they will forever keep at a distance those painful appeals to arms with which the history of every other nation abounds. There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.”

    George Washington, Fifth Annual Message, 1793

  • Also, Washington’s farewell speech originally called for no foreign entanglements – for twenty years. He wanted the US to get on its feet so it could be an equal in its agreements.

  • We seem to be missing the point about Santorum. He is a staunch conservative, he is not Bush redux except for the fact that he is steady, consistant, and does not waiver. His opposition to DADT is right. We have now created a special protected class within the military and are attempting to undermine the Chaplain’s role in the military. If you have every heard Santorum discussing homosexual issues you will hear a person who is Christian/Catholic to the core and truly loves his fellow man. He is demonized by the radical left because he takes a moral stand that our Church dictates. The reasons some people give for not supporting Santorum is his support of Spector and his strong national defense stand especially against Iran. The other candidates have more skeletons in their closets(with the exception of possibly Ron Paul). Newt has supported embryonic stem cell research and is/was a proponet of “climate change” legislation, has cheated on two wives, but is probably the most intelligent candidate(intelligent does not always equate to being correct) . Romney has changed his stance on abortion through thoughtful investigation and is accused of being a flip flopper, and lest we not forget Romneycare. Cain is being lynched by accusations and has but one theme, 9-9-9. Perry can’t speak intelligently in a debate. Bachmann comes off as shrill. Paul has great ideas but personally I don’t like alot of his foreign policy stands. Huntsman, et al are hanging around. Why is Santorum laggin in the polls?

  • Thank you for your many insights and points of persuasion – Mr. McClarey, Pinky, Sid, etc. From Mr. Zummo’s 3 reasons: 1) Sen. Santorum’s ill-advised support of Spector is a minor factor; 2) his thumping lose to Casey, again, it carries some weight in PA, but is still relatively a small factor; 3) the “arrogant, whiny” factor may well have more to do w/ the media’s politically correct posture in favor of the liberal agenda. And now that sodomy and bestiality are okay in the military, we can see just how “professional” our troops are will become. Many of our fellow Catholic readers & thinkers have made excellent, thought-provoking points concerning the need for a top-notch military, ready both to defend and fight. However, the question of America’s role to a significant degree – as a “policeman-of-the-word” must be weighed both on the scales of our laws as well as on the financial ledgers. Are we following both the spirit and the letters of our Constitution by trying to build democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are we responsible stewards to present and future generations by spending vast sums of money for such aims and enterprises? The bottom line on Sen. Santorum for me remains one of considerable admiration and respect for his skills, courage, fervor, honesty, goodness, and judgment. My sole objection is his view of America as some messianic, military savior who is obligated to be the perennial enforcer on the international playground whenever significant political-military-economic-&-cultural issues come to a head. During one of the debates I heard two young men say in so many words, “That Santorum dude would be a-okay, but he needs to tone down the war drums on Iran.” Fellow readers, I realize that the issue with a nuclear Iran is serious and complex, but I think that all of our politicians could learn from the pastoral attitude of our Holy Fathers who pleaded with nations – before the conflicts in Iraq – to seek diplomacy unceasingly, while remaining well aware of duplicitous and deceiving tactics of real and potential enemies. The bellicose tone of Sen. Santorum and other quality candidates needs to be tempered. Congress must be engaged fully – as required by the Constitution – be the U.S. involves itself in wars. We remain on a trajectory of selecting Presidents who exercise unilateral powers. We, the people, must demand a return to a more balanced approach, which includes the needed funding for intelligence and an honest assessment of each situation, but is governed by the denominator of the voice of the voters in the House and Senate. Representative Ron Paul – a military veteran and a superb defender of pro-life policies and liberty – understands those distinctions well. It would be encouraging to see Senator Santorum to reassess his stance in the aftermath of the primaries because he is so vigorous a champion with much potential for future office. The latest Newt flip-flop on life begins at implanation – not at conception – is something that Santorum would never do. Like Rep. Paul, Sen. Santorum is a true-believer in that sense. And for that – despite his neo-conservative position – I could vote for him, knowing his honesty and his vast superiority over President Obama. Alas, barring a series of nearly impossible developments, neither Sen. Santorum nor Rep. Paul will garner enough electoral support. But, of course, we should be focused on the task of selecting whom we believe would be best, not selecting or predicting the ultimate “winner”. Oremus.

  • hard to imagine any “Holy Fathers”, esp since Leo XIII being libertarians.

  • “maybe people should actually just vote for who they like best”

    There in is your answer. People do vote for who they like the best. Rick, for all of his good points, is not likeable. However, he’d be a good V.P.

  • Sarah Palin said: “It is RICK SANTORUM”:

    http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/02/sarah-palin-lavishes-praise-on-rick-santorum/

    I love this woman. She is fantastic.

  • I watched Santorum last night on the Fox forum. This man has obviously thought a huge deal about the issues, knows them cold and knows what we would do as President. Even though I do not think he has much of a chance, I am going to support him.

  • Now that Cain is basically out, it should be interesting to see if there is any movement in Santorum’s direction as his voters defect to various candidates.

  • Have any of you been polled? I ask because I harbor doubts about the validity of polling.

    I’m over 40 and would expect to have been tagged at some point. The subject came up at a birthday party a couple of months ago and no one in my extended family has been polled in at least 20 years.

    “Statistics lie and liers use statistics” and all so, other that to steer elections, what validity do the polls actually have? Do they actually represent the support of rank-and-file Republicans?

    Maybe the answer to Paul’s query above is that the party really doesn’t support Romneyand the polls are garbage.

  • Like most others who fail to see the big picture of the Spector endorsement, you do not mention that the GOP held the slimmest 51-49 margin at the time. Toomey, less conservative in 2004 than the 2010 version, would have never beaten the Democrat that year. Spector was the chair of the juduiary committee and pledged to Santorum that he would vote for any Bush juducual appointee. Roberts passed thru with no opposition, Alito not so much. So, no Spector, no Alito. Could Toomey had delivered that? You know the answer. Santorum was looking at the long term not political expedency. Isn’t that what has been missing in our leaders for so long? Get over Spector. Support Rick Santorum.

  • So, no Spector, no Alito.

    The final vote on Alito’s confirmation was, I believe, 58-42. The GOP held a 55-45 advantage after the 2004 election. So your math does not hold up.

    And if Specter had lost to Toomey, contrary to what you said, Toomey very well could have won his general election contest. And with a Senator Toomey instead of Specter, no 60th vote for health care.

    Also keep in mind that Snarlin Arlin was one of the main reasons Bork was defeated, but let’s not bring up really old news now.

    Get over Spector. Support Rick Santorum.

    I kind of said that (minus the blanket endorsement for Santorum).

  • I was a Cainiac, now I’m a Santorumite! Rick Santorum is the most Conservative in the race. His record is solid Conservative. His efforts to protect the unborn are well-known and go back to his first position in the Congress. He is smart, thoughtful and unafraid. I think he is the best candidate for POTUS and I will be voting for him in my state’s primary in March!!

Shape Shifter

Thursday, November 3, AD 2011

Just so we’re clear, if this guy wins the Republican nomination, I walk:

Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws.

Then, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion.

He would be a “good voice in the party” for their cause, and his moderation on the issue would be “widely written about,” he said, according to detailed notes taken by an officer of the group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.

“You need someone like me in Washington,” several participants recalled Romney saying that day in September 2002, an apparent reference to his future ambitions.

Romney made similar assurances to activists for gay rights and the environment, according to people familiar with the discussions, both as a candidate for governor and then in the early days of his term.

People can change their minds on an issue, and if Mitt Romney has had a genuine change of heart on abortion, then that’s great.  But how can anyone possibly trust this man?  He’s a chameleon who changes his tune to suit his audience.

On the other hand, though Rick Santorum is not my first choice at the moment, he’s the only candidate who puts social issues first on his website.  He’s by far the most passionate defender of the unborn we have in this race, if not the country.

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33 Responses to Shape Shifter

  • Romney’s primary objective is be get elected and reelected. At least in his first term, he should be reliably conservative. Dump him in 2016 if you’re still not convinced.

  • Rather than see Obama re-elected I would vote for the Weather-Vane although it would make me physically ill to do so. My distrust for Romney is immense and any man who can flip-flop as easily and as regularly as he does deserves not an iota of trust from any voter. If it comes down to Romney and one conservative in the primaries, Romney loses, which explains the rise of Herman Cain. Now as Herman Cain begins the crash and burn phase of his campaign, it is a golden opportunity for some other conservative to make his move. I think Rick Perry has been counted out far too soon. We shall see. The GOP establishment gravely underestimates the opposition to Romney among the Republican base. Republicans had to hold their noses with McCain in 2008 and McCain is the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan in comparison to the Weather-Vane.

  • If it comes down to Romney and one conservative in the primaries, Romney loses,

    I’d go a step further and suggest that he couldn’t survive there being two viable candidates, at least when you work out the numbers. He needs a third candidate (aside from Ron Paul) to be polling in at least the 10 percent range.

  • Windsock Romney’s core political conviction is that he should hold elective office. He’ll never waver on that.

    In the last few days, I’ve actually found myself taking another look at Gingrich. For all of his manifold flaws, he has knowledge of the issues and can articulate his viewpoint in something other than gimmicky soundbites.

    What a field, what a field.

  • Windsock Romney’s core political conviction is that he should hold elective office.

    And that’s what I do not get (and did not get about George Bush – pere, either). He is a man of genuine accomplishment in other endeavours, he has ample skills at organization and fund-raising, and he is not such a fool that he cannot think through for what he actually stands. Why is he abasing himself?

  • Paul Z. wrote, “…if this guy [i.e., Romney] wins the Republican nomination, I walk…”

    Does that mean, Paul Z., that in a race between the Obamanation of Desolation and Mr. Weather Vane (as Donald so aptly describes him), you will vote for the Obamanation?

    Like Donald M., I will hold my nose and vote for Mr. Weather Vane, then promptly vomit afterwards.

  • I would light my eyeballs on fire before voting for Obama. No, I’d probably just sit out the election. Considering I live in Maryland, it is of little consequence who I vote for I suppose. But with any other candidate I’d at least be motivated to volunteer, particularly in the bordering states of PA and VA. If it’s Romney, I’m not lifting a finger to help the man or the party.

  • Because I live in Louisiana, I have the luxury of being able to vote for whomever I choose without helping Obama. So, I can say that if Romney gets the nomination, the Republicans won’t be getting my vote.

    I’d love to love Santorum; but, I’m not sure he can win a national election. Heck, he didn’t even win his last campaign in Pennsylvania. I’m taking a much harder look at Gingrich right now.

  • If God had meant us to vote, he would have given us candidates…

    Yeah, I too am increasingly disgusted with the way this field (never good) has been shaping up. Though living in Ohio now, I’m not sure I’d actually sit out and refuse to vote for Romney if he’s the candidate against Obama. I’d have to think hard about it, though. With Obama in there, at least the GOP is clear on who the enemy is. With Romney in the White House, the congressional GOP might actually allow a more left-ward leaning set of policies to be implemented than would be the case under Obama.

  • Despite my negative tone, as I’ve said elsewhere, I actually like several of the candidates – not just tolerate them. I’m perfectly fine with Perry, Santorum, and Gingrich. Sure, they’re all flawed, but then again you can’t really expect perfection from your candidates.

    In a way it might be good to elect someone that we’re not all praising as the next political Messiah. When we go overboard with a politician we can only wind up being disappointed in the end. In other words, here’s hoping we don’t let perfect be the enemy of the pretty good.

  • With Romney in the White House, the congressional GOP might actually allow a more left-ward leaning set of policies to be implemented than would be the case under Obama.

    To demonstrate your point, would a GOP Congress have passed “No Child Left Behind” with a Democrat in the White House? Probably not.

  • Rubio, anyone?

  • Nope, I’ll not vote for Romney. Someone better set the Republican National Committee straight on this. Romney runs, we all lose. Yes, I would vote Santorum — and you can tell the RNC that, too.

  • Yeah, I too am increasingly disgusted with the way this field (never good) has been shaping up.

    I have a sinking feeling that the major problem is that (collectively) we ain’t the people we used to be.

  • One warning about the “I’ll walk” sentiment: if followed too strictly, it guarantees you will have no political party to speak of.

    Social liberals took over the Democrats in part because too many good people followed the “I’ll walk” sentiment, rather than staying and fighting.

    What if they sabotage the GOP too, relying on their sabotage to boost their enemies’ principled exodus?

    I’m getting the sense that the rich Republicans who backed SSM in New York will be allying with gay groups’ agents to do dirty deeds at the Republican National Convention in 2012.

    I advise Republican Catholics to find out how their state party appoints delegates and to make sure many reliable allies are among their delegation. Organize now, or die in defeat later.

  • I will not vote for Romney UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. NEVER.

    I live in Ohio – a swing state. If I knew with absolute certainty that my vote would be the difference in the election, I STILL would not vote for Romney.

    Of course, I’d never vote for Obama either. I don’t vote for pro-aborts. And that includes Romney.

  • Refusing to vote for Romney doesn’t mean we won’t vote in 2012. I want to see Obama pack his things but we may have to settle for the US Congress and a bunch of state governments.

  • You optimists are assuming that there will be anything left in November 2012.

  • What’s weird to me is how, time and again, parties manage to nominate candidates that nobody wants. That is mysterious to me and I start suspecting that it’s due to some sort of mysterious feature of statistics or math. It’s counter-intuitive that a system that is allegedly about majority rule keeps picking candidates for whom no majority seems to exist and which everybody I know doesn’t want. It reminds of the mysteries of fluid dynamics, where leaves mysteriously float upstream due to hidden eddies. Nobody wanted Dole, yet somehow, he was nominated anyway. Bush seemed to get nominated with shrug. McCain was also somebody nobody really seemed to want. And now Romney. I don’t know of living soul who wants him, and yet somehow everybody is glumly resigned to the fact that, despite nobody wanting him, his party are still inevitably going to pick him anyway. It makes me wonder, in what sense is all this democratic. Very strange to me.

  • “It makes me wonder, in what sense is all this democratic.” That’s the exact problem. It IS democratic. 1st Samuel chapter 8 rings loudly and clearly. The “peepul” get the government it deserves, and until we repent of our baby-murdering, our homosexual perversions, our adultery, our fornication, and our idolary, we can expect nothing but leaders who at best are Weather Vanes. When the “peepul” have lost the principles of morality and virtue, can we expect anything other than that of their leaders?

  • The worst features of our current society have not been caused by elections Paul. Abortion on demand, the rise in acceptance of homosexuality, etc, have been fostered by elites wearing the black robes of judges, seated in academia, at the helm of the media and making barely disguised propaganda in Hollywood. If the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box over the past several decades had not been thrwarted by said elites, our society would be far better off.

  • What’s weird to me is how, time and again, parties manage to nominate candidates that nobody wants.

    Do you get the insurance agents you want?

    People enter and are recruited into the political profession like other professions. Who you get is derived from who is already there and what sort of screens and hurdles are present. Public opinion is a matrix in which these fellows operate, influencing their behavior in some measure and winnowing a few who are beyond the pale. Other elements of the matrix also winnow people, for good or ill. I do not think public opinion has much effect on the supply-side, and the supply-side is where your problem is. The general calibre of the professional-managerial bourgeoisie is a problem, and the degree of regard ambient among them for public office.

  • Simply running in opposition to Obama is not enough to get my vote. I did not vote for any presidential candidate in ’08 and I’m prepared to sitout ’12 if I have to. Romney is unacceptable (for my own reasons) and I am not yet certain who is acceptable.

  • Same situation as many – in a state which will go Republican regardless of who is the candidate, so my vote really won’t matter. Voted QTP (Quixotic Third Party) last time, other than local races. Looks like it may happen again, or maybe I’ll have some Tea.

  • “That is mysterious to me and I start suspecting that it’s due to some sort of mysterious feature of statistics or math.”

    Mark – It’s called Arrow’s Paradox.

  • Most likely I would simply not vote over voting third party. Last time around, as bad as the McCain choice was, the third party options consisted mainly of kooks.

    G-Veg’s comment echoes my feelings fairly well.

    Pinky gets to the heart of the matter with Arrow’s Paradox, explained here if you’re looking for a link. I would add that conservatives tend to shoot themselves in the foot each election cycle. I don’t have time to go into detail, but we can be our own worst enemy.

    Somewhat tangentially, I’d like to address one thing that keeps popping up. I have now seen a couple of pieces written about how Romney was the conservative darling in 2008. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Like many, I saw him as the best of a very bad lot and meekly threw my support to him when Thompson dropped out. Few energetically supported him, and now that there are much better conservative alternatives in the race this time conservatives want nothing to do with him (for the most part).

  • Any support that Romney got from conservatives in 2008 was almost entirely due to a deep antipathy to McCain and a well-founded conviction that McCain was entirely intent on being a good loser in the Fall rather than putting up the type of fight needed to beat Obama. McCain seemed so pathetically eager in the Fall to suspend his campaign for the “good of the country” which I believe he did twice ostensibly due to the economic meltdown. The truth is that McCain’s heart wasn’t in the fight, and he seemed to be running for “Miss Congeniality” instead of president.

  • If John McCain spent 1/10 the energy going after Obama the way he went after conservative opponents like Hayworth . . . well he still probably would have lost. But at least he could have gone down swinging.

  • But, sputter/sniffle, “What about the children!?”

    Soaring food/fuel prices inflict the most harm on low-to-moderate income families and their children.

    So, why are brilliant Obama and his geniuses (Bernanke, Geithner) feverishly striving 24/7 to hike food/fuel prices? I suppose it’s another one of them high-level concepts we ignorant, self-supporting yokels just cannot comprehend.

  • At the risk of being flip, Art, regarding your excellent 8:08am comment: garbage in, garbage out?

  • Donald, maybe you are correct when you said that “The worst features of our current society have not been caused by elections Paul.”

    But I have no confidence in the people’s ability to recognize right from wrong after the last election. Maybe I am just a pessimist. 🙁

  • Poor fallible Man Paul! We are blinded by sin and our intellects feebled by our passions. Yet, by the grace of God we can accomplish so much that is good! As Lincoln said at the beginning of the Civil War we have “the better angels of our nature”. We must have courage and resolution to speak the truth boldly. If we do that, and if we mean it, I have no doubt that there is much in our nation that can be amended.

  • The shallow presidential talent pool today reflects the choices of the people who took part in politics 30-40 years ago (and also the choices of people who refused to take part in politics.)

    The only reason we’re fighting those HHS contraception regs on the national level is because 28 states already passed similar regs.

    Look at your local politics. Start your own little party machine. Convince your neighbors, not some guy 2,000 miles away. Learn to win a neighborhood caucus election.

    These great debates about national issues are fun on the internet, but they often distract from where we can have the most impact.

That’s What the Bully Pulpit Is For

Tuesday, October 25, AD 2011

Peter Wehner’s getting all nervous because certain Republican candidates are saying things that he disapproves of:

One of the GOP presidential candidates (Ron Paul) believes the United States is responsible for triggering the 9/11 attacks. Another (Rick Santorum) has said he would use the presidential bully pulpit to speak out against the dangers of contraception and its role in the moral decline of America (“One of the things that I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the sexual liberty idea and many in the Christian faith have said, you know contraception is OK. It’s not OK because it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”)

Yet another (Herman Cain), has dramatically shifted his positions on negotiating with terrorists and legalizing abortion within a matter of hours, after having said he would (contra the Constitution) impose a religious test on Muslim Americans. And nowGovernor Rick Perry has indicated he’s not quite sure whether Barack Obama was born in the USA, citing Donald Trump as an authority.

Some of this is correct, but the rest is a mess.  For instance, Perry’s comments seem almost totally aimed at tweaking Obama and nothing more.  Even Paul’s 9/11 theories are a bit more nuanced than Wehner suggests.  As for Rick Santorum, I say good for him.  As Mike Potemera points out, it’s rather unlikely that any conservative president will be “calling for the hiring of millions of contraception cops as a solution to joblessness.”  Santorum would be using the office of president to discuss an important cultural issue.  It’s nothing more than what Michelle Obama has done to encourage efforts to fight against obesity.  There’s nothing wrong with using the bully pulpit to discuss social issues and raise awareness so long as you are not actually calling for legislation that impedes personal liberty.

Santorum continues to be one of the few candidates who gets it, in that he understands the nexus between social and economic issues.  While others have concentrated on narrow technocratic solutions, Santorum has really been the only one to explain how the breakdown of the family is one of the contributing causes of our economic rot.  That’s not to say, by the way, that certain tax and fiscal policies are wrong.  In the end, you can’t quite dictate improved sexual mores through executive fiat , so we do need purely economic solutions to the current mess we’re in.  But at least Santorum is willing to engage in conversation about social issues.  Okay, so perhaps he does so in a manner that comes off as just a bit whiny, but that doesn’t dilute the importance of his message.

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2 Responses to That’s What the Bully Pulpit Is For

  • Thank you for saying this! I will take a winy president who understands his country and its root problems over a professional public speaker who thinks everything is about racism any day! I still say, Santorum 2012!

  • Santorum is at least getting the message out there. Myriads of folks have never even considered that contraception may not be healthy, physically, spiritually or emotionally. At least, as long as he lasts, there is no denying his passion and he speaks the truth.

Perry Vs. Santorum on Gay Marriage

Monday, July 25, AD 2011

At this early stage of the game, I’d say that my top  choices for the GOP nomination are two Ricks: Perry and Santorum.  The latter has as much chance as I do of actually getting the nomination, but he’ s also the one who I am most sympathetic to ideologically.

I say this all as a preamble because I’m going to disagree with parts of both of their comments from this past weekend.  Rick Perry had this to say about New York’s decision to permit gay marriage:

Perry, who is considering running for president, at a forum in Colorado on Friday called himself an “unapologetic social conservative” and said he opposes gay marriage — but that he’s also a firm believer in the 10th Amendment, the Associated Press reported.

“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me,” he said to applause from several hundred GOP donors in Aspen, the AP reported.

“That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”

Perry’s argument on behalf of federalism is completely legitimate.  For now I’ll leave that specific debate aside and focus on the tenor of Perry’s statement.  While one can argue that a state has a right to do x, it does not follow that the state should be free from criticism.  This is similar to something that Rudy Giuliani said, and which I criticized last week.  All that federalism means is that individual states have wide latitude to formulate their own laws, free from interference by the federal government.  Federalism does not mean that citizens of other states cannot criticize these decisions.  This idea that federalism entails complete silence on the doings of other states is akin to those who hide behind the first amendment when they say something silly and earn public ridicule.  Just because you have the right to do something or say something it doesn’t mean that you should do something, and citizens of other locales absolutely have the right to speak out against these decisions and perhaps persuade the citizens of the state in question to change their mind.

That said, I have a slight issue with Santorum’s response:

That prompted a response from Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who tweeted overnight: “So Gov Perry, if a state wanted to allow polygamy or if they chose to deny heterosexuals the right to marry, would that be OK too?”

It’s not unfair to employ the logic of  a slippery slope argument.  There are already rumblings from polygamist groups who want to legalize polygamy now that the floodgates have opened.  That said, there are a couple of problems with this rhetorical strategy.  To me the slippery slope argument is the last refuge when all other arguments fail.  It doesn’t really address the actual issue at hand, and in fact there’s a subtle implication that the subject under consideration is not all that serious a concern.

I guess what bothers me about Santorum’s tweet is that it doesn’t tackle the issue of gay marriage head on.  I acknowledge that this is just a tweet, and Santorum has no doubt argued well on behalf of traditional marriage before.  But this smacks too much of a dodge, as though gay marriage isn’t that bad – but polygamy and the outlawing of heterosexual marriage, now that’s bad.  If the issue under discussion had been abortion, would Santorum have raised the specter of something semi-related?  I doubt it.

I’ll admit I might be nitpicking here, and that Santorum is simply mocking the absurdity(in his view) of Perry’s federalist stance.  Again, you’re not going to capture a lot of nuance in a single tweet – which says something about the nature of twitter, but that’s for another rant.  I just fear that too often defenders of traditional marriage rely upon the slippery slope argument too facilely.  If gay marriage is as bad for society as we think it is, we should argue against it on its own merits (or demerits) instead of attacking semi-related subjects.

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22 Responses to Perry Vs. Santorum on Gay Marriage

  • “While one can argue that a state has a right to do x, it does not follow that the state should be free from criticism.

    That’s exactly the idea that I thought when I first read Perry’s remarks. He had an opportunity to display some moral leadership on this issue, and he backed down.

    I know that right now he’s a governor, and he’d like for his state to enjoy the states’ rights that the Constitution calls for. But, for a man flirting with running for POTUS, he needs to show he’s capable of leading a nation.

    As for Santorum’s tweet: I think his response was fine. The institution of marriage is under attack on several related fronts. They need to be linked together in the public’s mind. His tweet might just be the motivation for someone to look more deeply into the matter. I don’t think that it will be a cause for someone to disregard the matter. It was (IMHO) a winning tweet.

  • Sorry about the bold in the above paragraph. 😳

    I wish there was a way to preview the post.

  • Frankly, I think the responses offered by both men don’t fully encapsulate their positions on the matter. Then again, this is a sound-bite culture, and they will be judged accordingly. They need to do better.

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  • The key problem is that it is not a “slippery slope”, it’s a fundamental shift. If marriage is just a legal arrangement, then of course, anything can be legislated and it’s just a matter of jurisdiction. If it of divine origin, then no law can declare that something is a marriage when it is not. There is no slope, it’s one or the other. There is no half way point, only a series of inconsistencies between one end an another. And it’s not the last refuge of the desperate, it’s the key defending wall on the citadel of marriage.

    It’s the very same situation with contraception. Either sex is fundamentally tied to the creation of children within a family, or it is not. If it is not, then anything is permissible. It’s one or the other.The logic is spelled out in Humanae Vitae and all the consequences spelled out in the encyclical have come to pass.

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  • What Anil said. Double.

  • I find Perry’s stance wanting and cavalier at best. ‘That’s fine with me.’ If I were running for the GOP nomination, I’d cut and paste that in every ad to point out Perry’s lack of moral leadership. Santorum’s argument is valid and not slippery slope, it’s more reductio ad absurdum. If so-called ‘gay marriage’ is allowed, then why not marry 3 people, marry your mother or marry your dog?

    And what of the Defense of Marriage Act which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996 whereby the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Even though repeal attempts are under way and court challenges are pending, it’s still the law of the land as far as I know even though the Obama regime is no longer defending it. Perry, who I thought might have been a good POTUS candidate, blew it as far as I’m concerned.

    BTW, governors make much better presidents than Senators. Governors run governments; senators just legislate.

  • Several New York town clerks, all of them Republicans AFAIK, have resigned or have said they will probably resign because of the institution of SSM.

    I understand some Republicans have other priorities. But their fellow partisans are being purged from government in SSM states, thereby shrinking the party’s talent pool for future action. Perry can’t just stand on federalist principles and let his allies hang in the wind.

  • Perry killed any support he might have had from me in the primary. A concern for Federalism I think has nothing to do with whether what a state is doing is good or bad. It is too clever by half and it is dumb politics to boot in a Republican primary election cycle.

  • Imagine a governor — or anyone — admitting that while he wouldn’t marry a bicycle himself, he has no objection if someone else does. Yet ten years ago the concept of matrimony between two persons of the same sex would have rightly been dismissed as a joke, but time and quiet, subtle, incessant propaganda make even the absurd seem, well, surd. Mr. Jagneaux is exactly right, and Governor Perry, whatever his many qualifications, has displayed a remarkable lack of moral core, and thus should not be in a position of authority.

  • When two become one in covenant, marriage becomes a family. Same sex marriage is not possible in covenant or in physical reality. It is not same sex. Homosexual behavior is assault and battery. Persons cannot consent to a crime of assault and battery.

  • Thanks for the comments. I think what bugged me about Santorum’s comments was less the substance and more what I perceived to be a regular pattern of how we discuss this issue. What he said was fine, but I don’t want us to to become over-reliant on that way of formulating the issue. Granted I might be nitpicking there.

    We seem pretty agreed on Perry. I’m not sure it’s a disqualifier in my books. It is apparent that “federalism uber alles” is his big theme. Normally I’m okay with that, but the concept of federalism doesn’t mean you abandon your moral compass.

  • Assorted and unrefined thoughts:

    1) I think Christians started losing the battle to defend the sacred institution of marriage as soon as they entrusted to government for licensing and regulation.
    2) A lot of ground was lost due to 1930 Anglican Lambeth Conference (which permitted Anglicans to use artificial birth control), the legal acceptance of no-fault divorces, and the acceptance of divorce and remarriage in general by Christians.
    3) With traditional marriage so poorly defended already, we look hypocritical when opposing gay “marriage”.
    4) From a legal standpoint, state recognition of gay unions is a matter of equal protection under the law. Thus, Santorum’s tweet is partially a non sequitur. Polygamy is indeed an obvious logical extension of equal protection arguments, but such equal protection makes denying heterosexual the right to marry completely nonsensical.
    5) The Church, and Christians in general, should never accept homosexual behavior as anything but gravely sinful, but defining and regulating is not a proper function of the State.

  • The State has been regulating marriage from the days of Sumer. Until today mankind was never absurd enough to dream of homosexual marriage. The one constant of marriage was that it was between men and women. Now that is all being done away with so that a small group of people ensnared by a serious sin can receive validation from society at large. Perhaps historians will call our age The Silly Season.

  • You can’t win the marriage argument by playing defense only. That’s the problem with the whole “debate” over so-called gay marriage. It’s been given cachet by the media, putting it on a plane of being just another lifestyle.

    Traditional marriage needs no defense. It has stood for milennia as the norm of human behavior. Instead, the so-called gay agenda and all its insidious and evil impacts should be assailed by all who value what is right. Moral arguments may not succeed where legal arguments hold more sway in a secular society but they are stronger and more persuasive to those willing to examine their consciences.

  • “Moral arguments may not succeed where legal arguments hold more sway in a secular society but they are stronger and more persuasive to those willing to examine their consciences.”

    Moral arguments are always the strongest arguments long term Joe. You are absolutely correct on that.

  • If a candidate says something questionable early in the race, isn’t that the perfect time to write him letters asking him to correct his stand? Simply not voting for him won’t send the message, and won’t change the debate in helpful ways.

    The media and other actors obviously have an interest in making GOP opposition to SSM look as weak as possible, so that it will become as weak as possible.

  • but defining and regulating is not a proper function of the State

    Eric, defining and regulating is the most salient thing the state does. Always and everywhere.

  • “Eric, defining and regulating is the most salient thing the state does. Always and everywhere.”

    1) I accidentally left out the word “marriage” after “defining and regulating”. Oops. 😉
    2) The State should define nothing. Rights are natural and inalienable; they do not flow from the State. All the state ought to be allowed to do is acknowledge and defend them.
    3) Regulation is only justifiable when life, liberty, or property of one person is threatened by the actions of another.

  • So, now Perry has said that deciding abortion on a state-by-state basis is okay.

    I understand that Perry supports and defends traditional marriage and the right to life in the State of Texas, and that he’s personally committed to both of the causes, not just out of political expediency.

    I also understand that he sincerely believes that – as it stands today – the Constitution requires that states get to decide these issues for themselves.

    However, he really needs to follow up these statements of his with something like, “This such an important issue that I will actively pursue constitutional amendments to defend traditional marriage and the right to life.”

    Without saying *something* like that, it sounds to me as though he’s happy to have states do whatever they want on these issues. That’s not acceptable to me.

    Kevin J Jones, you are probably right. If I am interested in having him move in the direction I’d like to see him go, I probably should let him know. (As great as TAC is) I doubt that Rick Perry spends much time browsing the articles and comments here. — But maybe I’ll include a link here in my letter to him 😀

  • Okay, I’ll take the credit: One week after I call the Rick Perry for President hotline, he goes public on CBN, saying that he supports a Constitutional amendment for traditional marriage and against abortion. For what it’s worth.

    Now, I guess I need to call Pizza Hut about that “Free Pizza on Saturdays” idea I like to see happen. 🙂