If a recent poll is accurate, Rick Santorum is now the top dog of the Republican pack with 38 percent approval amongst GOP voters nationwide in contrast to 23 percent for Mitt Romney, 17 percent for Newt Gingrich, and 13 percent for Ron Paul. Whether Santorum can maintain this lead is another matter. Until now, the former Pennsylvania senator has not endured the kind of media scrutiny that Romney and Gingrich have received, although this is beginning to change.
The grandson of an immigrant coal-miner, Santorum employs the somewhat dorky appeal of his sweater vests and earnest man-of-the-people manner to attract blue-collar Republicans, who are put off by Romney's patrician stiffness. But Santorum's Mister Rogers looks belie a demagogic social message which makes even Newt appear like a pillar of reasonableness and moderation."Everybody is guilty of some transgression somewhere against conservatism," Rush Limbaugh has observed, "except Santorum."
But the views that make Santorum a favorite of the controversial radio host may not endear him to the majority of voters. In playing to the fears and resentments of some Americans, the candidate has felt free to routinely offend most of the rest... women for example.
Responding earlier this month to a Pentagon announcement relaxing the ban on women serving in combat, Rick Santorum said that he was concerned because "of other types of emotions that are involved." Wait a second, does he mean that women are too emotional, or who knows tenderhearted, to be trusted with guns and other emblems of macho power?
No, that's not what he was saying, Santorum clarified in an interview with ABC News. It isn't woman's emotions that he's worried about, but men's: "My concern is that being in combat in that situation, instead of being focused on the mission, they might be more concerned about protecting a woman in a vulnerable position."
Right, the protective instinct that soldiers don't feel for other guys in their unit, God forbid, but only for members of the weaker sex -- got ya! But wait, Santorum felt impelled to stick the proverbial foot still further in mouth with an assurance to Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin that, "It's not a matter of not putting women in dangerous roles." For example, women are "fully capable of flying small planes."
Wow, that's a relief, small planes are OK. What about helicopters, Rick? The B-1B bomber?
On the environmental front, Santorum called anti-fracking activists, (the people who don't want methane gas to explode from your tap every time you turn it on) a "reign of environmental terror." Ouch! What he neglected to mention is that -- as Salon reported -- senator Santorum was one of the top recipients of drilling company largesse, and he continues to rake in the big oil bucks in his campaign for the Republican nomination.
Flying in the face of the nearly unanimous scientific consensus on the manmade causes of climate change, Santorum has repeatedly dismissed global warming as a "liberal myth," "bogus," and "a hoax."
'One of the favorite things of the left is to use your sentimentality, and your proper understanding and belief that we are stewards of this earth and we have a responsibility to hand off a beautiful earth to the next generation.' Santorum opined. 'They use that and they have used it in the past to try to scare you into supporting radical ideas on the environment. They tried it with this idea, this politicization of science called man-made global warming... I stood up and fought against those things. Why? Because they will destroy the very foundation of prosperity in our country.'
Well, that certainly sets the record straight! Those Bible verses advocating stewardship in the Book of Genesis and elsewhere were anti-capitalist agitprop all along. No doubt Santorum's evangelical supporters will be relieved to learn that God never really intended for us to love and care for the world, but only to maximize corporate profits.
And while we're on the subject of religion, Rick Santorum made an odd comment about the Crusades during a campaign stop in South Carolina:
The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom... What I'm talking about is onward American soldiers. What we're talking about are core American values.
Now there's something we haven't heard from a politician in a while -- a forthright defense of the Crusades, those bloody and ultimately quixotic campaigns of medieval armies to take back the Holy Land from the "infidels" (read Moslems and Jews.) Any thoughts on the Inquisition Rick?
Santorum prides himself on being a defender of religious values. Commenting on president Obama's idea that insurers should cover the costs of contraception, the candidate predicted ominously:
What's left in France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentlemen, we're a long way from that, but if we do and follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, then we are headed down that road.
Whether Obama will "crush religion," as Santorum darkly warns, and push for the decapitation of opponents of contraception is yet to be seen. But there are some folks that the Republican hopeful himself might wish to behead (or maybe castrate is more to the point.) That's right, gay people, whose sexuality Rick Santorum has famously compared to bestiality, "You know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."
Not that Santorum has anything against homosexuals, mind you. "Is anyone saying same-sex couples can't love each other? I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?"