Christine M. Flowers: Hating Santorum, and why it's wrong

Posted: January 06, 2012

TELL ME, which Rick Santorum do you hate?

The one who compared sodomy to bestiality, thereby insulting the type of people who engage in either - or both? (Not to mention the folks at PETA.)

Or the one who believes that the unborn are more than just disposable masses of protoplasm and deserve the same respect that you'd give to any other creature of God?

Or, speaking of God, the one who thinks that purging any vestige of religion from the public square is an intentional misreading of the Establishment Clause, one that wouldn't even pass muster with the Warren Court?

Or the one who considers a nuclear Iran to be the biggest single threat to our national security since Nikita Krushchev's little temper tantrum in Cuba?

Or do you just hate the fellow who convinced more than 30,000 people in Iowa that Pennsylvania got rid of a good man in 2006?

It's not a very popular thing to support Rick Santorum in these parts. I'd like to think that it's simply because he's from the wrong end of the state, the "almost Ohio" section that roots for the Steelers and looks upon Philadelphia as a cesspool of corruption. (Wherever could they have gotten that idea?)

But I know better. The day after Santorum came within eight votes of winning the Iowa caucuses, some people were attributing his victory to the fact that "lilly-white" evangelicals had come out in droves so that Rick could smite those abortionists and sodomists with his righteous sword. That would be right after he bombed the Muslims out of existence.

And let's not forget the droves of Inquirer readers who were absolutely apoplectic that the paper of record in this here little town gave him column space every couple of weeks. That was before he mysteriously disappeared into the Iowa cornfields. It was almost comical the way philly.com commentators would vie for the vitriol prize, calling him everything from Satan to an idiot to the reason gay people continue to die of AIDS.

Of course, they had to ignore the fact that Santorum was one of the legislators who actually was a compassionate conservative, someone who wasn't afraid to display his credentials without flip-flopping (he was never "for" abortion before he was "against" it) and who actually made a difference during his 12 rich years in Congress.

Don't believe me? Of course you don't. I'm a religious conservative, which in Scrabble would be spelled C-R-A-C-K-P-O-T. So here's the opinion of someone who is as squishy a conservative as they come, a pro-choice, pro-global-warming Republican who writes for that most reactionary of papers, the New York Times.

In a column written around the time that Santorum was fighting for his senatorial life, David Brooks made the following observation about our erstwhile senator: "Santorum has issued a torrent of proposals, many of which have become law: efforts to fight tuberculosis, to provide assistance to orphans and vulnerable children in developing countries, to provide housing for people with AIDS, to increase funding for Social Services Block Grants and organizations like Healthy Start and the Children's Aid Society, to finance community health centers, to combat genocide in Sudan."

What? You thought only cool rock stars like Bono and Oscar winners like George Clooney had any interest in Africa, AIDS and the starving children? You can't believe that a man who thinks fundamental fairness is not synonymous with same-sex marriage or that stillborn infants like his own son Gabriel are as "human" as you or I actually deserves our respect (and, perhaps, our vote)?

Of course you do, because the mainstream media and the political operatives in this state and elsewhere have made a habit of demonizing anyone who strays from the liberal orthodoxy, the one that says that compassion is a liberal commodity and conservatives are fundamentally heartless.

Santorum was destroyed not by his own misdeeds or ethical lapses (I'll raise you a cyber-school controversy for a guns-to-drug smugglers coverup any day) but by a profound desire to shut him up. He was an embarrassment to the powers that be in this purple-trending-blue state, and we couldn't stand to have him around in such a high-profile position. At one point he was the third-most-powerful Republican in Washington. He was smart, savvy, knew his foreign affairs (and didn't have any domestic ones behind his beloved wife's back). And Pennsylvanians just couldn't take it.

So we kicked him out five years ago, and hoped that he just go off into that dark wilderness like a good little exile.

Well, it seems that he found some daylight in Iowa. And whether or not he ascends to the presidency, I'm thrilled that the Keystone haters get a few months to be apoplectic all over again.


Christime M. Flowers is a lawyer. Email cflowers1961@yahoo.com.

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