Give Santorum His Chance

December 5th, 2011 at 12:00 am | 59 Comments |

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Well the punditry has pretty much come down to determining that Republican choices are Gingrich or Romney. Here’s the big Kahuna of Conservative Commentary on that very subject.

In my quest to avoid voting for Romney I have pretty much picked through the remainders of announced candidates this year. In that piece I ruled out Perry and Huntsman and my criticisms are only more justified now. The best candidate for my money left early. In that piece I dismissed Bachman as unelectable and so she remains. I left Herman Cain before he claimed to be a man who, unbeknownst to his wife, paid the monthly bills of a woman he never slept with. Newt is not my guy either. Paul is obviously not for me.

But I never came back to Rick Santorum.

Senator Santorum, after a successful run in the House knocked off Harris Woford in a Senate race in 1994 to represent Pennsylvania. Woford had upset a former attorney general two years earlier to give a boost to the health care Democrat-style. The ruin of Hilary’s plan was his ruin. In domestic and foreign policy Santorum is easily the closest to the views I hold and has been fearless in fighting for them despite vitriol and slander that would cow other Republicans (see Romney, Mitt).

Pennsylvania is a state where President Obama is not doing to well, even with Scranton’s own Joe Biden at his side.

Senator Santorum has done well in debates. He is articulate and can defend conservative positions well—and he actually appears to hold those positions from conviction. He is excellent on foreign policy and on the threats this nation faces. He has an impeccable family life and walks the walk on marriage and family. As David has pointed out he has a good message to the Republicans who don’t sit in board rooms.

Why is he not the perfect Republican antidote to RomGrich? Sure, he has no obvious executive experience but neither do many on the stage. The real reason is because he lost his last run by double digit figures and because he is no longer a happy warrior. That run was the perfect storm against a Republican. It was 2006 before the surge worked in Iraq. He was pledged to reform social security in a state with more seniors than most. He had supported Arlen Specter against Pat Toomey alienating conservatives, and, in Bob Casey he was running against the son of a pro-life legend in Pennsylvania. George W. Bush was in his 6th year.

When Santorum ran against Woford he was young and charged up. In these debates he seems annoyed and peevish. When you are going to make a long shot campaign for President as a conservative Catholic you have got to have a spring in your step. In comparison I give you two Irishmen from opposite ends of American life. Pat Buchanan, who entered a primary against a sitting President, discovered middle class grievance and had the time of his life. A far as politics goes you’d be hard pressed to find an angrier politician than Buchanan but when he went into a fordoomed race his joire de guerre was palpable. It was also infectious.

On the other end of Hibernian politics is Senator Chris Dodd. He ran a quixotic campaign for President where he camped out in Iowa and had a ball. He thundered in patented Irish liberal style against the malefactors of great wealth, laughed in town halls and restaurants and seemed pleased to be taking a flyer in the big leagues even if he was never going to get a ticket to Manchester from Des Moines.

Whatever happens in Santorum’s life he has a big family, people who love him, and he’s fought the good fight for his country and his Church. When you do that, even if it is the “Long Defeat” you don’t have cause for sourness. Politically he has nothing to lose and can make a difference for those things he believes in. A glimpse of the glee of Newt Gingrich even when he was written off, or the joy of Herman Cain when he was known by no one would give Santorum a shot at lightening in a bottle in Iowa. They say there are three tickets out of Iowa. Whose to say Rick Santorum shouldn’t have one?

Recent Posts by John Vecchione



59 Comments so far ↓

  • hisgirlfriday

    I find myself mystified by Rick Santorum this election cycle.

    First of all, mystified at how alien Rick Santorum seems when on the debate stage with the 2011 Republican Party field as if he was placed in a time capsule in November 2006 and been unearthed 5 years later to reveal the same values, rhetoric and policy positions he had 5 years ago while everyone else has changed so much that it’s as if 50 years had passed and not 5. Maybe the better analogy is the SNL unfrozen caveman lawyer sketch.

    But secondly, I am mystified at myself for how much I find myself liking Santorum better than I did in 2006. While in the past I would automatically recoil from listening to a word he had to say because of how bigoted I consider his views on homosexuality, now it seems the bigots have so thoroughly lost that argument in the culture that he’s not very threatening any more on that score. So I can just view him as misguided on that point and listen to what he has to say on shaping an economic policy that’s geared more toward the manufacturing sector than the financial sector and talking about the way that the disintegration of the family has impoverished our society which is something both devout religious folks like him and secular humanists should be very concerned about and so it’s nice to see someone in the Republican Party addressing that systemic reality that needs to be addressed rather than painting all economic woes as the result of Obama or government regulations. But even more than what Santorum has to say, I suppose what makes me appreciate him now in a way I never would have before is that he actually comes across as a serious person when being serious is a liability in present-day Republican primary politics.

    • balconesfault

      You’re being too generous to Santorum.

      Some of his stump statements:

      “The federal government kills jobs. We don’t need more programs and bureaucrats telling business how to operate.”

      Climate change is A ‘Beautifully Concocted Scheme’ By The Left.

  • drdredel

    They say there are three tickets out of Iowa. Whose to say Rick Santorum shouldn’t have one?

    Anything we can do to make it a match-up between Obama and Santorum… I’m game.

    • balconesfault

      I like the Barney Frank quote the other day:

      “I did not think that I’d lived a good enough life to be rewarded with Newt Gingrich being the Republican nominee”

      • jquintana

        That’s all we need to know about a Gingrich nomination.

        Gingrich 2012 = Dole 1996

        • balconesfault

          Nope. I believed that Clinton was a better President than Dole would have been, but Dole was an honorable man.

        • indy

          Dole was an intellectual lightweight, but I liked him.

  • EngineerScotty

    There’s just a few problems with Santorum, from the GOP’s point of view (ignoring the alternate meanings of his surname).

    1. He isn’t all that bright. He’s not as dumb as a Sarah Palin or a Rick Perry, or as ignorant on public policy as Herman Cain (Cain is a smart fellow, but simply is clueless when it comes to knowing the things that a prospective POTUS ought to know), but he’s nowhere in the same league as a Mitt Romney, a Jon Huntsman, or even a Newt Gingrich. Or, for that matter, Barack Obama.

    2. On the subject of homosexuality, he’s a vile bigot–pure and simple. He doesn’t bother trying to split the difference on the subject with “compassionate conservative” or “hate the sin, love the sinner” type rhetoric that other conservatives employ in public discourse–Santorum doesn’t like gays, and makes no bones about it. Santorum’s rhetoric on gays is akin to George Wallace’s rhetoric on blacks. There’s a reason that Dan Savage visited his Google-bomb on Santorum, as opposed to the many other GOP politicians who have expressed negative views on homosexuality. This position may help with conservatives, but will not endear himself to moderates.

    3) He’s not terribly popular in his home state, having recently lost an election there. If the GOP is considering a candidate on how likely he is to carry Pennsylvania, I’m not sure Santorum is your best bet.

    Probably the most telling thing, David, is that your own endorsement of him, such as it is, is so weak–he’s less flawed, in some ways, than the other remaining viable candidates–who are all either gadflies or bomb-throwers, or have more distinguished careers in public service (and thus more detailed records to run against); but you haven’t really articulated anything that makes Santorum stand out. If the idea is to nominate the next Goldwater or McGovern, to fight the good fight and be crushed in the general election, Santorum would serve as well as anyone in the GOP primaries. If you want to see the reactionary elements of the GOP hoist on their own petard by a devastating defeat by Obama, in the hopes that the party will come to its senses, likewise. But Rick Santorum will neither beat President Obama, nor does he represent the reform to the party of Lincoln that you seem to desire.

    • balconesfault

      nor does he represent the reform to the party of Lincoln that you seem to desire.

      Where did you get the idea that Vecchione thinks the GOP needs to reform?

      That’s clearly the desire of some of the pundits here – but Vecchione simply wants to see the Democrats defeated. He seems to care little about what mechanism it takes to actually do this.

      • jdd_stl1

        I think the commenter was directing his/her comments to DF instead of Vecchione.

    • Graychin

      When someone is as obsessed with the “evils” of homosexuality as Santorum is, I can’t help but wonder if he isn’t wrestling with some private demons.

      Consider Ted Haggard, for starters.

      • Nanotek

        exactly … his gay obsession now seems a fetish

        “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Queen Gertrude

    • Ray_Harwick

      Santorum and Bachmann signed the anti-marriage equality pledge BEFORE the authors eliminated the part in which the pledge declared that African-American children were better off during SLAVERY than they are now.

      Even serial-adulterer Newt, the newly endorsed “champion” of that “pro-family” pledge group wouldn’t sign the pledge. So JV is down on Santorum? That keeps his string of commentaries too unserious to be taken serious intact.

  • rbottoms

    Old Foamy is still in the race?

  • baw1064

    For the earlier column:

    “I am going to vote for whoever the Republican nominee is.”

    Even if it’s Michele Bachmann or Ron Paul. This doesn’t give you a lot of leverage.

  • dante

    Lol, Santorum loses to Obama. In PA.

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/11/obama-romney-tied-in-pennsylvania/1

    Santorum’s done because he’s just not that likeable. At all. It’s like he never learned that people have to like you if they’re going to vote for you…

  • Nanotek

    “Whose to say Rick Santorum shouldn’t have one?”

    the conservative movement has come to this? not ‘why should someone be their presidential nominee’ but ‘why not?’

    FF won’t clear the traffic-cliff ahead while carrying dead weight like this … crony commentariatism comes with a cost

  • lilmanny

    Ha! This column is a weather vane pointing to “crappy”. Santorum’s name in any discussion is a sign that you are either a) making fun of him b) desperate to hide your panic.

    Also, I’m glad we are at a point where The Surge worked. But since Vecchione and his ilk blamed the unrest in Iraq on unfair media coverage and nothing else, it’s still unclear exactly what The Surge worked on. I was told repeatedly that the problems in Iraq circa 2004-06 existed only in the minds of defeatists, traitors and liberals to begin with. How did it work on my lying eyes from so many thousands of miles away?

  • Frumplestiltskin

    JJV answered his question in his own article: In these debates he seems annoyed and peevish.

    Has he ever even once winningly smiled? Or made a really funny quip? Policy issues aside, he just ain’t coming across as likeable.

  • Secessionist

    JVV: “Well the punditry has pretty much come down to determining that Republican choices are Gingrich or Romney.”

    Gingrich said he would challenge Obama to several Lincoln/Douglas debates. I would love to see that. Gingrich is Obama’s intellectual equal, quick on his feet and in that format Obama wouldn’t have the benefit of biased moderators asking dumb questions and shaping the debate to Obama’s advantage. Gingrich would embarrass Obama in the Lincoln/Douglas format which is why I predict that if Gingrich gets the nomination, Obama won’t rise to the challenge.

    • icarusr

      Sec: you are always good for a laugh :) … You start from a ludicrous position (“intellectual equal”, “biased moderators”), draw an entirely speculative and largely stupid conclusion (“embarass Obama”), and make a prediction that is as loopy as it is risible.

      Here is my prediction: the first three-hour debate the two of them have, will be the last one. Not even Gingrich’s ego will be vast enough to live through the humiliation.

      • Secessionist

        Your response is nothing but speculation as well that would be good for a laugh in many places outside center-left havens like FF. So I speculated. So what? People speculate and make predictions all the time. Gingrich has to win the nomination first. Then, he has to follow up on his challenge, and Obama would have to accept his challenge for us to find out who is right.

        I’m not a Gingrich supporter for president. In fact, I think the GOP would destroy itself if it nominates Gingrich and Gingrich wins. I believe a Gingrich presidency would be a disaster for the country.

        The man is not stupid, however, and suggesting that he is not a match for Obama is well both loopy and stupid to use your language. He fought his way to the top of the US House of Representative and wrested control of the House from the Democrats after 40 years. Obama, in contrast, benefited from being the right man at the right time. After the 8 Bush years, any competent candidate could have won that election.

        Gingrich definitely has some intelligence — what he does with that intelligence is a separate question.

        • Graychin

          Being intelligent is not the same as being an intellectual. Newt’s “intelligence” is a mile wide and an inch deep.

          Newt’s successes in the House (and in recent debates) come from his two outstanding characteristics:

          1) Ability – and willingness – to use his glib tongue to spout outrageous nonsense without seeming loopy (as Bachmann does), and

          2) Raising the “politics of personal destruction” to an art form. Newt has the morals of a Mafia boss. (Remember Jim Wright?)

        • kuri3460

          The problem with Gingrich is that he is so very intelligent, yet he says utterly dumbfounding, irresponsible things:

          “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together” his actions? Gingrich said. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”

          Gingrich added, “This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president.

          “I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true. He was authentically dishonest.”

          This coming from somebody who has a doctorate in history, of all things. I “only” have a B.A. in history and can rip his logic and re-telling of past events to shreds!

        • Nanotek

          Gingrich’s intellect seems as dizzying as that of Vizinni

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_eZmEiyTo0

        • medinnus

          The big issue with an Obama/Grinchy debate is that many of the talking points Grinchy has are flat-0out wrong, and designed to appeal to the Obama-hating crowd; that plays out fine when you’re tossing out red meat for the base, but would sink him in short order in front of the general public (which does not have the reflexive “Anyone But Obama” bigotry).

        • LFC

          Secessionist said… “The man is not stupid, however, and suggesting that he is not a match for Obama is well both loopy and stupid to use your language. He fought his way to the top of the US House of Representative and wrested control of the House from the Democrats after 40 years.”

          Followed by… “After the 8 Bush years, any competent candidate could have won that election. “

          Let’s look at Bush by your own metrics. He “fought his way” to the governorship of one of the largest states in the nation. He then “fought his way” to Presidency of the United States after 8 years of relative peace, prosperity, federal fiscal responsibility. So using your own metric, that means Bush is more accomplished than Gingrich.

          As to being a match for Obama, he hasn’t really had to perform all that often in a debate forum. Making pronouncements is not debate. Obama showed he was actually quite good at it. Maybe Gingrich is up to a Presidential level debate, but he certainly hasn’t shown us anything so far. All we’ve seen is his ability to drive some talking point, which isn’t necessarily consistent with his previous talking points.

        • Secessionist

          LFC: As to being a match for Obama, he hasn’t really had to perform all that often in a debate forum.

          Keep in mind that Gingrich sparred with some real masters in the 90s. When it comes to debates in particular, Gingrich has already formally debated the best of the best, Bill Clinton.

          Who did Barack Obama go up against? A doddering John McCain.

          Obama has not debated anyone since then, and he has made mostly scripted comments using teleprompters the last three years.

        • LFC

          I read your link. It didn’t sound like any Presidential level debate I’ve ever watched. It sounded actually fairly fluffy. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t memorable.

          Reading about his last debate performance at the Huckabee forum it seems like his replies to his prior stance on the individual mandate and his commercial on global warming with Nancy Pelosi were little but stammer and tap dancing. If he’s not ready for those questions which anybody should have know were coming, could he really handle Obama one on one?

          And Frump already brought up Hillary. Obama truly debated a highly seasoned political veteran who was viewed as the nearly inevitable front runner.

        • Secessionist

          I think Gingrich is smart enough to moderate his rhetoric fast if he wins the nomination. With his moderate stance on immigration (relative to the GOP base), he has already shown signs of doing that. He throws out the red meat, but also knows how to play to (manipulate?) an audience in more subtle ways as well. When he criticized and subtly mocked the debate moderators for their questions, he took a small step to rhetorically separate himself from the pack. More importantly, however, he scored points in the eyes of his audience, because he knows the GOP base despises the media.

          If someone tries to bring up his Colonial Kenyan statement, he would probably just respond by bringing up Obama’s notorious statement that “rural White people like to cling to their guns and religion,” or do something else to disarm the attack.

          Again, I don’t support Gingrich’s policies, most of them anyway.

        • Frumplestiltskin

          Who did Barack Obama go up against? A doddering John McCain.

          And you completely ignored the Democratic debates when he went up against Hillary Clinton, who was no slouch herself. And Gingrich never debated Bill Clinton, so why make up history?

          Gingrich was a serial adulterer, he is a supreme narcissist and a sociopath, even if he could hold his own against Obama in a debate his vile self will out and he would be crushed in the general.

        • lilmanny

          Secessionist – I’m not sure how the Santorum message board got hijacked into a thesis on the Obama-Gingrich debates to be, but whatever, I’m glad it’s somewhere.

          If in fact Obama and Gingrich do debate, meaning that Gingrich is the nominee, meaning that your deathwish for the Republican party has come true, the debates won’t matter a lick. If they did John Kerry would have been president.

          Trust me when I say this: the debates would be uneventful and Obama would be leading by 9 points in September. If that’s what you want, which is your right, by all means work for it.

        • Secessionist

          @Frumple:

          Try looking up the answer before accusing me of making up history.

          @lilmanny

          I will close my contribution to this sub-thread with this. I didn’t think my original comment was a big deal. I made an offhand remark about one of Gingrich’s strengths in taking on Obama relative to Santorum and Romney (his intellect and debate skills). incarusr then responded, I responded, and a few other people responded. No intent to highjack; that’s just how it worked out. I have no control over who responds to my comments.

          ==

          Clinton, Gingrich Make Debate, Not War, On The Issues — Two Agree To Work On Lobby Reform

          CLAREMONT, N.H. – A handshake summed up what many had expected to be a divisive debate between President Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Before their answers to the first question from the audience were finished, the two had agreed to form a bipartisan commission to reform laws on special-interest lobbying.

          http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19950612&slug=2126062

  • icarusr

    Vecchione supporting Santorum reminds me of Oscar’s quip about fox hunting: “the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.” Take it away boys.

  • Carney

    Well said, but I find myself annoyed by his immigration booster-ism. He seems to buy in fully into the stupid notion that just because you yourself or your parents are immigrants, you are somehow obligated to support endless mass immigration, especially of low-IQ Third Worlders. No.

    • sweatyb

      low-IQ Third Worlders

      I can’t decide if this means you want make high IQ a requirement for amnesty or if you’re just a racist.

      • Carney

        Non-whites (other than “Orientals” that is north/east Asians) have, on average, lower IQs than whites. Since that’s just an average, there are high IQ blacks, South Asians, Arabs, Amerindians, etc., but they are proportionately rare. Screening for IQ would mean an immigrant pool that skews heavily white and Asian, with drastically smaller proportion (but not zero) of Hispanics, blacks, and traditionally Muslim ethnic groups than is currently the case. NOT screening for IQ, as is done currently, means that our immigrant pool, given its demographic makeup, has an average IQ that is substantially below our current national average. A more unnecessary and damaging policy is hard to imagine, but given current egalitarian taboos it is very difficult to alter it other than via indirect means such as educational requirements.

        • Crime Dog

          And no dirty Irish either!

        • Carney

          The data on race and IQ is absolutely crushing.

        • Graychin

          Wow, Carney! I haven’t heard the race-and-IQ argument for the superiority of white people since about 1963.

        • think4yourself

          SweatyB to Carney: “I can’t decide if this means you want make high IQ a requirement for amnesty or if you’re just a racist.”

          Carney’s response: “Non-whites (other than “Orientals” that is north/east Asians) have, on average, lower IQs than whites”

          Answer: Racist.

          Questions for Carney: (1) Do IQ tests measure intelligence or scholastic experience? (2) Please show us those tests that Whites and “Orientals” have higher IQ’s than other people? (3) Which Asians are you identifying as “non” North East (i.e. of inferior intelligence)? Would that be Chinese? How about Indians? I’m assuming you have evidence that people of Thailand have less intelligence than Japanese?

          The real problem with hardcore Conservative philosophy is that it has people like you to defend it.

        • think4yourself

          BTW, given Carney’s statements, he makes a perfect Rick Santorum voter.

  • LFC

    I live in Pennsylvania. Santorum won before he opened his mouth too often and too publicly. Once the people of the state really saw who he was, they decided he was an idiot too far and dumped him.

    JJV is clinging to a moron. Almost makes me wonder if he was ever one of those who tried to support Palin by saying she had more “executive experience” than Obama … which, while technically true, didn’t make her any less stupid.

    Here’s a fun quote from the whining sack of santorum himself…

    9/11 families and everybody else in America should be furious at this president that he’s walking abound taking credit for, you know, getting Osama bin Laden. He didn’t get Osama bin Laden! … The president of the United States simply said — courageous act, give him credit for saying yes — but that’s all he did, is say yes. He didn’t do the hard work. The people he’s going after did the hard work. And that is an outrage.

    • Rockerbabe

      NO one and I mean NO one would have taken that tone with either of t he two Bush Presidents! If President Obama can take the blame for that which he did not do, he certainly can take credit for that which was accomplished during his watch. This is petty crap and belongs in the trash.

  • Graychin

    So you’re down to Rick Santorum in your quest to find someone acceptable to vote for against Obama? It must really suck to be you. It must really suck to be any tribal Republican in 2011.

    That’s not all that sucks. Your French sucks too. You must have meant “joie de guerre.”

  • TJ Parker

    Santorum is a bigot. He is the candidate of old ladies and Jesus fetishists. Get over it. His career was over 4 years ago.

  • LaLupa

    The problem with Santorum is that that he is running to be the Pope and voters realize that. Mr. Vecchione should realize it too.

    • Carney

      No he isn’t. Listen to his responses on Romney’s Mormonism. He clearly expresses his understanding of the distinction between secular and religious office.

  • Rick123

    Republicanism, in its current form, represents 40 percent or so of the general electorate. To win, a candidate needs to attract 5-10 percent of moderate and independent voters.

    Santorum can’t even sway the base. How would he have any chance of getting independents?

    • balconesfault

      How would he have any chance of getting independents?

      I’m sure he’d be relying on what’s been the primary GOP vote-getting strategy for years now … convince voters to be scared of not supporting them.

  • Rockerbabe

    Rick ole boy was not reelectable to the citizens of PA as their Senator; why should the general citizenry put him into the Presidency?

    Where he can continue the war on women and destroy what few rights women have to their own bodies and future?

    Where he can continue to destroy what little progress has been made on getting another 35+ million citizens into private medical insurance?

    Where he can continue to disrespect single people and gay people?

    Where he can inject his brand of hateful religious belief into our general society?

    Where he can continue to get t he rich, richer than they are now?

    Where he can continue to republican assault on public education, public employees, unions and the very people needed to carry out the government’s mandates for this and t hat?

    Where he can continue this spending spree that t he Republicans started back again when Dubya was in the wH?

    Oh, we do not need Rick S. for anything. He needs to go back to PA and leave the rest of us alone!

  • Crime Dog

    Will he be able to build the gay (sorry…homosexual!) concentration camps through executive order alone, or will we need an act of Congress?

  • NRA Liberal

    Veeetch! The Vetchinator! Vectchoccio! Makin’ blog posts in the Forum! “Why Not Rick Santorum??”

  • chephren

    What’s with FrumForum and its uncritical soft spot for Rick Santorum?

    A couple of weeks ago, David Frum wrote a post wondering why the Bush administration hadn’t found a safe job for the former Senator after he was defeated in 2006 – a nice, cushy gig at a conservative DC law firm, or perhaps an ambassadorship. Santorum, Frum claimed, should have been “looked after” – he was owed a “safety net” for some reason. Which begs the question: what on earth for?

    Santorum is an uninspiring spouter of bromides, talking points, family-values fluff and harsh, anti-gay bigotry. He’s a marginal man in an increasingly marginal party, who can’t even excite his own marginal constituency.

  • think4yourself

    On Rick Santorum’s website under “Where I stand” he lists three things in this order.

    1. “Champion of Faith & Families” – anti-abortion, anti-embroyonic stem cell research, anti- nontraditional family.

    2. “Defender of the Taxpayer” – including voting for Bush tax cuts, proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment, privatizing social security.

    3. “Believer in American Exceptionalism”

    These are the only things listed on his website that he stands for and clearly the most important things.

    Plus he’s homophobic.

    Can you imagine what his priorities would be his first 100 days as President?