17 September 2012

September 2012 Idiot of the Month nominee: Rick Santorum

This nomination is self-explanatory: the former Republican presidential candidate nominated himself. He did this at last weekend's Values Voters summit, where he said:

We will never have the elite smart people on our side, because they believe they should have the power to tell you what to do.  So our colleges and universities, they’re not going to be on our side.

"Smart" people, that is, want to tell "you" what to do. Who are "you," in this case? From the overall context of his speech, Santorum presumed himself to be addressing an audience of grass-roots entrepreneurs, the people who, in his vision, build the country from the bottom up rather than from the top down, as liberal bureaucrats propose. Entrepreneurs, of course, aspire to be employers. That is, they seek to tell people what to do. But they're entitled, I suppose, because they buy the right to do so when they hire a person for wages. Santorum didn't draw that distinction, however. What he did, implicitly, was tell his audience that they weren't smart. His defenders will attempt to distinguish between "smart" and "elite smart," but while his constituents have historically distinguished between "book learning" and practical know-how, I don't think Santorum meant this. I think he, as a man of deep religious conviction, deeply distrusts intellect precisely because he fears its empowerment of people to tell others what to do, when everyone already knows what to do because that knowledge was revealed to them. In any event, hair-splitting distinctions count for little when Santorum relegates the entire higher-education system to the enemy camp. Mitt Romney must love this. Romney defeated this man decisively in the primaries, but is obliged by the nature of American party politics to encourage Santorum to speak on his behalf, on the assumption that he must have the votes Santorum won in the primaries, but can't take them for granted despite winning the nomination of their party. Such is fate when Bipolarchy forces the Romneys and Santorums into one party. Romney doesn't even get the satisfaction of silencing this idiot; instead, like the mariner who shot the albatross, the candidate must wear Santorum round his neck.


hobbyfan said...

Santorum is quickly becoming the political village idiot. It's amazing Oven Mitt Romney opted against him as VP.

Proletkult said...

"But they're entitled, I suppose, because they buy the right to do so when they hire a person for wages."

BINGO! Therein lies the one big major falacy in the idiotological premise that is called "conservatism" in the US. That everything is a commodity. That everything has a price and that those on top are "entitlted" to make the rules, to change the rules at whim, to operate under different sets of rules, because they can afford to.

Samuel Wilson said...

hobbyfan, Santorum is lucky. The Romney videotape blew his off the radar, so he probably won't have to live that down so much.

Prole, given how much a Democrat probably has to spend to get elected you'd think Republicans would concede him the purchaser's right to tell people what to do. It's no more "other people's money" than the money other people give to the entrepreneurs for their products, so there's no room to split hairs.