Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Growing Sympathy for Rick Santorum

I'm not a big fan of Rick Santorum. I don't dislike him, but - despite my being what most would call 'socially conservative' across the board - I've not been all that enamored with him for a while.

First, because I always get a little bit leery of social conservatives who make their social conservatism their main platform. Part of that is cynicism on my part - if they don't have the detached presentation of a Bill Buckley or at least the intellectual passion of a Pat Buchanan, I start to worry that it's largely a lark. You know, "I'll be the social conservative because those guys need someone to vote for, so that's a great ticket to power". If I'm not leery of their loyalty, then I'm worried about their presentation. I'm exceptionally picky about how social conservative causes are presented - I strongly dislike the approach taken to 'gay rights' and more, even if I agree with many of the resulting policies. The communication sucks.

Second, because Santorum did something I found how to forgive: he backed Arlen Specter in a tight race, when a better man was challenging him. The problem there is, Specter was - on the issues - the political nemesis of Santorum. The RINO pro-choice liberal to Santorum's social conservatism. Pragmatically, I can see why Santorum would do it - Specter was from his state, he was a long-standing Republican (though, ha ha, look how he ended up), I can see Santorum wanting to prove to the GOP party bosses that he was willing to put the party ahead of all things when it came down to the wire. Of course, once he showed himself to be that pragmatic (and frankly, I have not liked Specter for the longest time), it just put the cynicism in overdrive.

Add in that Santorum favors the neocon war agenda, and really, you get a recipe for a guy I'm no big fan of. I don't dislike him too much, really. I just regard him with a shrug. However, I've had growing sympathy for him for two reasons.

First, the reaction to him by the... what should we call them. I don't like saying 'gays' because I reject referring to people with same-sex attraction as some distinct species. But I'm not going to get cumbersome with words. So let's call 'em "Anal Avengers". By the way, this is going to get a bit graphic, so if you're eating lunch or something, go away. Anyway, the AAs hated Santorum with a passion. So much so that they decided to associate his name with something disgusting, and of course the most disgusting thing they could come up with is something related to sodomy: the mix of feces and sperm that comes after anal sex. (Let's use it in a sentence: "Wow, Hillary Clinton had a lot of santorum to deal with after Rush Limbaugh went to town on her last night!" Don't try picturing this. Oops, too late, right?) Then they proceeded to work Google over so searching for 'santorum' ranks that high on the search engine - and I wonder if Google's minions had a hand in that.

That got my attention, because if they hate Santorum enough to cooperate to that level, it suggests that they fear him. And if they're afraid of him, I can guess why - it suggests he will be effective if he isn't countered, and they can't really respond to him directly. You don't need to make something up about say... Richard Dawkins to show he's a jackass. You can just quote him. Santorum? Clearly that won't work. More than that, that kind of push (and the celebration it prompted in various quarters) added more sympathy, because it became clear to me that this meant we've reached a point where having certain opinions meant your ideas wouldn't even be aired for discussion. Sometimes I get sympathy for the guy being unfairly jumped on.But the second reason? They - those idiotic, party-monkey powers that be - are going after Santorum's wife, claiming she had an abortion. Better yet, a 'late term' abortion.

Here's the gist of the story. Santorum's wife was pregnant. There was a complication at around 20-some weeks. Labor was induced to deliver the child early, right on the cusp of what would be considered the earliest viable stage. Apparently, everything was done to save both the mother's life, and the life of the baby. The risky move didn't work out - the child died.

So, the popular move is to say "Santorum's wife had an abortion!" Anyone who looks at the facts on the ground know this isn't true, anymore than a pregnant woman who exerts herself running from a burning building somehow induces a miscarriage is 'having an abortion'. But of course, that doesn't matter. What matters is the myth, the lie, the talking point and the soundbite, because Santorum is against abortion in a very strong sense - and he apparently means it. He's the sort of guy who was more than willing to play point-man against pro-choicers. So, he has to be stopped by any means necessary - and if that means accusing him or his wife of aborting their child, well, that'll do.

As a result, I find myself saying - in no small part because of the nasty, media machine slander, I have to support him. I have to holster my cynicism and disappointment and say no, I back this guy, and more than that I oppose the nasty little twerps doing whatever they can to take him down. It pushes me out of the "I'm ambivalent" column and into the column where I'm willing to work phone banks if it means helping him win. If they hate the guy so much that they're willing to lie and slander him this much, then he must be a legitimate threat to the very people who need to be threatened.

Edit: Yeah, I wrote the whole thing in the edit html tab instead of compose, only just now realizing that it meant everything was a huge unspaced block. Whoops.

19 comments:

Ephram said...

"Wow, Hillary Clinton had a lot of santorum to deal with after Rush Limbaugh went to town on her last night!" Don't try picturing this. Oops, too late, right?

Crude, you owe me lunch. I just lost mine.


Re: Santorum. I admire his social conservatism, but can't really forgive his fiscal liberalism (e.g. his Senate voting record for bigger gov., desire to start more wars), especially during a time of economic hell. I mean, the global economy is collapsing, and these trigger-happy candidates (save Ron Paul) want to start a constitutionally undeclared, multi-trillion dollar war with Iran, probably kicking off WWIII in the process? That seems like a sure path to having us swirl down the plughole of virtually every kind of chaos imaginable, since one the economy goes, pretty much everything goes, particularly national security.


What do you think of Paul, by the way? Being more of a paleoconservative than a libertarian, I disagree with him philosophically on several counts. But as Vox Day has noted, he's the only guy running that gives the US any fighting chance of surviving the collapse of the global economy, and I'd support him for that reason alone.

Crude said...

Hey, I warned you! Too late, but I warned you anyway.

I agree exactly about his fiscal liberalism (oddly enough, everyone's going to call that conservatism.) I note some of that in the post of where I'm turned off by his ideas - he's got a Bush-like approach to national security and government spending, and that's pretty wretched. What pushed me into his corner is exactly what I said - the particular kind of desperate slander that's thrown at him makes me want to defend him. So, I will.

I like Ron Paul. On international policy I agree with him, though I don't think he articulates his positions the right way - he allows himself to be painted as the worst kind of liberal on those subjects, when in reality he's talking common sense. People seem to really think that some muslim groups and terrorists are fighting the US 'because they hate freedom', and believe that US involvement in the Middle East had nothing to do with it. I like Paul's consistent small-statism, I like his approach to the economy, and I like his principles. I think he gets some of Santorum's treatment, but not nearly as rotten. Wintery Knight tried to suggest that Ron Paul wasn't really pro-life on the grounds that he believes abortion law should be decided at the level of the state, and pointed out how a possible majority/large minority of states would have legal abortion. I just find that ludicrous reasoning.

I'd be excited about either Ron Paul or Santorum winning the nomination, for different reasons.

Ilíon said...

"Social conservative" generally means traditional/conservative on matters of sex-and-abortion ... and "liberal" when it comes to taxation. "Social conservatives" are prettu much the mirrot image of "fiscal conservatives"; which is to say, neither is really conservative.

As Ann Coulter recently put it, "Santorum is more a Catholic than a conservative" -- and, keep in mind, that Official Catholicism is explicitly socialistic.

Ilíon said...

I hadn't heard that slander about his wife's miscarriage ... and it's quite in keeping with the leftist mind.

Crude said...

It's the new party line, the 'abortion' thing. It's spreading fast - amazing how rapidly lock-step you can get some people with the power of the internet.

I disagree about Catholicism being 'officially socialistic', with one major caveat. I think Catholic teaching - and Christian teaching generally - demands values which people habitually interpret as socialism, especially if one views a direct line between moral teaching and government policy. It's part of my old complaint - did Christ say we should give to the poor? That doesn't mean that we're commanded by God to found a welfare state. People seem to forget that you can have an utterly capitalistic system where private individuals and organizations still do tremendous heavy lifting - even all of it - when it comes to caring for the poor.

That's a failing on the capitalist end too, by the way. There's a tendency to forget the human dimension of all things in favor of the legal dimension.

Ephram said...

Yeah, lately I've been watching a few personal interviews of Santorum, and he seems like an honest, passionately moral guy -- definitely not deserving of the kind of invective thrown at him and his wife. It would appear that most people, when they inject themselves into political disputes, can't differentiate between "Candidate Y's positions are wrong" and "Candidate Y is a complete scumbag." But that's nothing new.

And I agree about Paul. A real shame he doesn't have the oratory skill he had a couple of decades ago. I'd go so far as to say that sometimes his fast-food statements during debates and interviews make him come across as an old, babbling homeless person.

Regarding the distribution of hate, I think that the mainstream of both parties hate Ron Paul, whereas liberals loate Santorum and self-styled "mainstream conservatives" adore him at the moment. In the end however I think Paul gets the shorter end of the stick, since the media uniformly hates him and will jump at every opportunity they get to ignore him or (when that doesn't work) attack him over inconsequential things ("racist newsletters," "Huntsman tweet," etc.).

And hey, even though I wouldn't want a Santorum presidency, you gotta admit that one silver lining to it would be the reactions of AA's and staunch, anti-God, anti-Christian leftists like P.Z. Myers.

Crude said...

I admit, the reaction alone is, at this point, enough to get me supporting him. I'd say it's wrong to support a candidate out of spite, but it's not like I'm bypassing great options otherwise.

I'm not so sure who gets the worst treatment between Paul and Santorum. The deal with Paul is that he's kind of a wild card, and you can find rather liberal people and rather conservative people liking him for different reasons. He's in favor of pot legalization, he's against the Bush wars, and he has an outsider rep - that alone buys him sympathy in some liberal quarters. He's a strong states rightist, he's against big government in the strongest way possible while still remaining an election option - that buys him sympathy on the right. He's downplayed, even written off as extreme, but not really demonized. At least not yet.

Santorum, on the other hand, is just a universal liberal social nightmare, and social policy is where people get particularly animated and it becomes important to thoroughly, utterly demonize him. The AA success to date wasn't borne out of being fair, much less reasonable. Like you said, Paul is hated politically, but Santorum just provokes a different level of reaction. I'd actually expect Santorum, if he became front runner, to have to deal with maniacs wanting to off him.

Speaking of which, I'm using the AA term here specifically with regards to the maniac political sorts involved with that culture. I think it's of dire importance to differentiate between 'a person who experiences whatever amount of same-sex attraction' and that bizarre social-political monster-thing we see today.

Ilíon said...

"I think Catholic teaching - and Christian teaching generally - demands values which people habitually interpret as socialism, especially if one views a direct line between moral teaching and government policy."

By "people habitually interpret" you mean Catholics, and other Catholics (see one recent article), and, of course, other Catholics, right?

==
the WV was "tomyot", which, for a moment, looked like "tomyrot"

Ilíon said...

Paul is a fool, in many senses of the word; and his supporters -- for instance, Vox Day, who turns more dishonest that regularly when he has a raging Paulie-on -- are frequently even worse.

Ilíon said...

"I think it's of dire importance to differentiate between 'a person who experiences whatever amount of same-sex attraction' and that bizarre social-political monster-thing we see today."

It is, indeed.

"Gay" is a political position ... and many persons who 'experience same-sex attraction' despise "gayhood".

Crude said...

I think Vox's RP attachment is over the top. But a fool? Because he's against middle east involvement? I'm sure you have a list of reasons, though.

And yeah, I actually did mean Catholics. Man, you see Bob Prokop. You think I meant 'Oh, only protestants interpret Catholicism this way'? Liberation theology didn't come from the freaking baptists.

Ilíon said...

'Fool' doesn't mean 'stupid'; 'fool' contains an element of moral judgment/condemnation, whereas 'stupid' does not.

Ilíon said...

Yes, I could have mentioned Prokop ... who is so far gone into leftism, and who so equates his leftism with Christianity, that he calls my desire for liberty -- my liberty and his -- "the constitution of Hell".


Due in part to this little exchange between us, I've had a (probably non-unique) minor insight into why "liberals" so hate the free market and free market capitalism ... which is to say, why they hate human liberty.

I'll try to write and post this weekend a lengthier article about the idea; in a nut-shell, "liberals" hate free market capitalism because it induces people to do the right thing "for all the wrong reasons".

Crude said...

I wonder if Bob is even 'so far into leftism' so much as 'so far into party politics'. I give Bob credit where it's due - he's a liberal Catholic, but he's got all the hallmarks of being a sincere Christian. He's not, to my knowledge, pro-choice or even pro-AA. He believes in the resurrected Christ. That's various stuff, but not very liberal in the way that term is used. I respect that. It just seems that when, specifically, political parties become the topic of conversation, he completely loses his freaking mind. I always stipulate that he's a nutjob on politics specifically, not in general. Talk to him outside of that topic and he can actually be pleasant.

Anyway, I'll look forward to that list.

The Deuce said...

My thoughts on Santorum exactly. This is the same reason I have repeatedly found myself liking Sarah Palin, even though I don't like Sarah Palin. Gross injustice provokes sympathy.

As for Ron Paul, I really don't like his foreign policy, and I disagree that he just presents good opinions poorly. I think his idea of the world outside America, and what drives other peoples, is fundamentally naive and out of touch with reality. Karl Denninger summed up the same position as mine pretty well here. At the same time, I think that Paul might possibly end up doing the right thing for the wrong reasons in practice (since I do think we are seriously overextended internationally and need to shrink our presence, and that our neocon "democracy project" in the Mideast is fundamentally wrong-headed, even though I don't think that all our problems are caused by avoidable "foreign entanglements" or that Iran doesn't pose a serious threat).

Crude said...

My understanding of Ron Paul's views on foreign policy amounts to 'he claims that our involvement in the middle east is the primary reason for hostility towards us from that region'. I have serious trouble understanding why this is controversial. Denninger claims it's wrong because Islam as a whole has always been a religion spread by war. But Denninger also goes on to allude to our support of Mubarak, the Shah of Iran - Paul could add on how many other recent acts? This strikes me as saying that the reason Iran really has it in for Britain is because they're muslims and muslims hate anyone who isn't muslim, and that the whole "colonial occupation" has nothing to do with it and is just some kind of weird revisionist history. That would be hard to swallow. In the Al Qaeda case, they specifically mention our presence in Saudi Arabia as a major point of complaint - are they lying?

I think Paul would argue Iran poses a serious threat, just not to us. Israel? Sure, but I'm also betting Paul would think our involvement with Israel is wrong-headed too. Either way, I agree that the neocon project is wrong-headed, and we need to reduce our international presence (I thought this long before I even heard of Paul - part of my reason for initially liking Bush was that he was talking about closing some of our bases in Europe and reducing our presence. That didn't turn out so well.) And I'm not quite as zany for Paul as other people are.

Still, that Denninger article is interesting. I've not seen someone speak out in favor of isolationism explicitly while still disliking Paul.

Ilíon said...

"I think Vox's RP attachment is over the top."

The man isn't merely "over the top" ... he is a fool: he is intellectually dishonest on several fronts, one of which is Ron Paul.

Ilíon said...

"Anyway, I'll look forward to that [more lengthy exposition]"

here

Ilíon said...

Here is something on-topic that you may enjoy: Rick Santorum, Moderate Libertarian?