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Either way, it was another of those persistent "who gives a shyte" moments that gives weight to former Florida Democratic congressman Alan Grayson's claim during the debate over health care reform in 2009 that the GOP's version of such reform should be described as: "Die quickly !"

The chicken hawk's roar

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Meanwhile, another episode -- noteworthy from the standpoint of the Tea Party conservatives' flag-waving inconsistency on the issue of "supporting our troops" -- included an encounter between Santorum and a gay soldier via video from Iraq during the Fox News/Google-sponsored debate.  

"In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq," said the soldier , "I had to lie about who I was because I'm a gay soldier and I didn't want to lose my job. My question is: under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress we've made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military."

At that point of the exchange, the audience -- abandoning the entire pretense that permeates Republican "concern" about "undermining the troops" or providing the enemy with "aid and comfort" -- unleashed an admonishing round of boos at the serviceman as if saying:   "How dare you sully the uniform and good name of our U.S. military by defending this country while gay."

Santorum's initial response, however:   "Any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military," may have prompted anyone listening to figure that Santorum either didn't hear or understand the question.   In any event, he probably needed to stop.

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Instead, to the increasing applause of the debate audience Santorum pulled what some might call a Joe Biden, following up with:   "We need to give the military, which is all-volunteer, the ability to (carry out its mission) in a way that is most efficient in protecting our men and women in uniform.   And I believe (eliminating Don't Ask; Don't Tell) undermines that ability."

Quite frankly, Santorum's non-sequitur of a rejoinder -- priggishly focused toward, of all people, an active duty soldier currently deployed a hot zone -- seems the nauseatingly deceitful roar of a chicken hawk.  After all, it came from a guy whose campaign slogan states: " THE COURAGE TO FIGHT FOR AMERICA ," despite that same guy having never provided a single nanosecond of military service on behalf of his country.   It's hard to get around the tacky absurdity of such a politician lecturing an active-duty soldier -- stationed in what Santorum has called "the central front in the war on terror" -- about respect for military service.

Meanwhile, considering the target of Santorum's reply -- a gay soldier -- that clumsy retort also came endowed with a disproportionate level of satiric irony to those familiar with the results of any Google search of the name Santorum:

"The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex."  

The "virtue" of selfishness

Thus, we now have the spectacle of some Americans raining boos down on active-duty U.S. military personnel; openly cheering for the deaths of other Americans; and calling for an "everyman to himself" approach to the public health, welfare, and education of other fellow Americans.   From this vantage point, these attitudes seem to spell out a naked appeal for social Darwinism.

All hat and no cattle? Rand died dependent on Social Security and Medicare

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Photo: Leonard McCombe/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

But there's a familiar piece of irony encased within the underlying aspects of social Darwinism that reverberates inside the extreme right's timorous cultural outlook, with again, much of it connected to Ayn Rand.  Her persuasive condemnation of "ethical altruism" and her equally convincing arguments in favor of "the virtue of selfishness" offer concise, scholarly justification for the advocacy of cultural norms designed to forge a society in which only the strongest can survive -- in other words, textbook social Darwinism.  

Since the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943, and her 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, generations of so-called "anti-big-government-conservatives" have been enraptured by Rand's stringent expressions of laissez-faire capitalism .  "Government "help'," she famously stated, "is just as disastrous as government persecution.  The only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hand off."

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Anthony Barnes, of Boston, Massachusetts, is a free-lance writer who leans toward the progressive end of the political spectrum. "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to (more...)

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