06 January 2012

Rick Santorum: Idiot of the week?

Reporters presumably have known who Rick Santorum is and what he believes for months if not years, dating back to his tenure in the U.S. Senate. None of it was of interest, presumably, so long as the Pennsylvanian was one of the laggards in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. After Iowa, Santorum is a front runner and under fresh scrutiny from the media and the public. The candidate got into a testy dispute with New Hampshire college students yesterday over the boundaries of marriage, and today he finds himself accused of racism for comments made about "dependency" back in Iowa.

Read the accompanying article to understand why the original statement was idiotic enough in Iowa, but Santorum's real claim to the crown comes when he denies the evidence of our ears. He claims that he checked himself and didn't actually speak the damning word "black." To be fair, he does seem to be saying something more like "bligh," whatever that might mean. All this means, however, is that he caught himself at practically the last instant in a Freudian slip, at the point of saying what he really means but shouldn't say. The stupidity of it is his insistence on denying that he spoke the incriminating syllables while admitting the impulse to do so.

I was going to write a post about Santorum's adventure in New Hampshire, since "where do you draw the line?" is a fair question that gay-rights advocates shouldn't dismiss out of hand. But his Iowa utterance really highlights what's wrong with Santorum's Republican worldview. He assumes that politicians provide social-welfare programs only to reduce Americans to dependent clientage -- to get their votes, as the candidate says. He deems "opportunity" preferable to "dependence," which only leaves him unobliged to all those to whom no one answers when their opportunity knocks. His emphasis on "opportunity" makes no guarantees to the needy, nor can he guarantee that they'll get the voluntarily charity on which he'd have them depend in the last resort. It may not have occurred to the former senator -- and always remember that he was repudiated by his constituents in convincing fashion -- that it might, and might well should be a nation's business to keep all its citizens healthy, educated, or at least alive, regardless of whether one faction or another of bureaucrats benefit from doing so. There is an argument to be made against dependency, but it's an argument for separating yourself from society and living off the land as a farmer or hunter. If dependence on the state is suspect, so is dependence on an employer (who is himself dependent), or dependence on society's charitable instincts, or dependence on God.  Stigmatizing "dependence," as American politicians have done from the Founding, is to blind oneself to how society actually works, and to deny one's own obligations to everyone else. That Santorum denies those fundamental obligations is clear from his crack about helping people with other people's money, regardless of the color of any of those people. And this is the Christian candidate in the race? Maybe he goes out of his way to pick fights with homosexuals because that's the only way he can prove it.

1 comment:

Crhymethinc said...

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll be saying it for decades to come; there is nothing "christian" about the right-wing. They may insist on it all they want - just as a person on acid may insist they can fly or a schizophrenic insists they talk to god, but when you compare how Jesus lived and what he preached to how the majority of the right live and what they preach, you'll understand and agree with my criticism.