The Kiss That Defines Santorum's Values

Last Friday saw former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum address a crowd in Arlington Heights, Illinois when two men interrupted the rally momentarily by kissing. They were soon ejected by guards as the crowds chanted “U-S-A”.

Let’s pause for a moment to consider this. Forget about the two guys; they wanted to provoke a reaction and they got it. Forget also about Santorum’s followers; chanting “U-S-A” and thereby spitting on everything their country stands for is certainly bad enough, but expected from this crowd. But independents, moderate Republicans and anyone who believes in the core democratic principles of a society should not forget what Rick Santorum stands for and how he missed an opportunity to defend those values. Perhaps this isn’t the moment, but it would have been genuinely impressive to hear him rise above his simplistic pandering to the base and just defend those guys’ right to protest against him. Still, that’s not the Santorum we know. He has a positive side, as a family man who stands up for some core humanistic values. But there’s also a dark side, a refusal to defend other core values and an almost fanatical attitude to religion, that makes him unsuitable for the presidency – and unlikely to win over any independents or Democrats. In any case, as FiveThirtyEight points out, Santorum doesn’t have much of a shot – and his campaign keeps making the wrong decisions.

The Senator raised an important point today though. One of former Massachusett’s Governor Mitt Romney’s strongest points (in his view) is his business experience, but as Santorum said on CNN’s State of the Union, “If Governor Romney thinks that he is the CEO of America and can run and manage the economy, he doesn’t understand what conservatives believe in”. Or anyone else, for that matter. No one wants to elect a new “CEO”, they want a president who fulfills their idea of what a head of state and government should be. That continues to be Romney’s problem. Nobody in the electorate loves him or roots for him. He did OK on Super Tuesday and lost to Santorum in Alabama and Mississippi last Tuesday. He’s ahead in the delegate count, and Santorum will find it damn near impossible to beat him, at least as long as grumpy old Newt Gingrich stays in the game. But excitement counts too, not just the mathematics… and Romney is starting to look pathetic in comparison with Barack Obama, a president who suffers from high unemployment figures and a weak economy. That’s pretty remarkable. The clip above is an ad released by the Romney campaign that features the Governor’s wife Ann heavily and tries to emphasize his presidential qualities. A nice try indeed… but the problem is not that the American people dislikes President Obama or his family, but that they might not trust his leadership. Why replace a likable leader with another? Likability is not the issue… but at the same time, a lot of voters feel that they don’t know who Romney is. A tricky situation for the Gov.

What’s up next, then? Well, Missouri had a caucus again yesterday. They’ve already gone through this once, but that caucus didn’t award any delegates. This one will, and Santorum is likely to win it – as he did the last time. The delegates won’t be awarded until April, though. Coming up are the primaries in Puerto Rico today, Illinois on Tuesday and Louisiana next Saturday. Since this is a fiercely fought primary season, Santorum even traveled to Puerto Rico after insulting every Latino voter by inventing an English condition for Puerto Rico statehood. Let’s just say that Romney should be able to win that primary. As for Illinois, Romney is ahead by 6.4 percentage points according to RealClearPolitics: the state’s Republican voters seem to be divided between him and Santorum on the issue of religion. As for Louisiana, Santorum looks likely to win, grabbing votes from Gingrich.

This will definitely continue into June.

Published by Stefan Hedmark 2012-03-18 16:05

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