Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is this really what we want the campaign to be about?

I like Rick Santorum, but I think he'd be a disaster as the GOP candidate. If he were the nominee, we'd end up having the campaign be about some rather startling comments that he has made on cultural issues. I respect his sincere views that he's willing to enunciate even when he knows they're not popular. I don't happen to agree with him about these issues, but then I don't usually vote based on cultural issues. I mostly vote on economic and foreign policy questions or on the candidate's basic approach to addressing the nation's problems. Santorum is mostly strong on those questions so I could support him.

I just fear, however, that if he were the candidate we'd end up having the entire focus on some of the statements he's made on issues such as the role of women or how contraception has cheapened social relations. That might be fine as a philosophical question, but it shouldn't be a question for a political campaign for president when Republicans are trying to oust a man who has done more to transform the power and scope of the federal government than any other recent American president. If Santorum were the nominee Obama could ignore economic questions and focus on the role of modern women in America while challenging some of Santorum's statements. Ace is similarly nervous about having Santorum's past statements coming back to be the basis of the fall campaign.
Glad we've gotten all the Big Things squared away so we can now focus laser-like on the sin and moral emptiness of people having sex while avoiding pregnancy.

And if you say "gee he's just talking about this stuff:" Um, if a plumber starts talking about the bad rap iron pipes have gotten over the years, and how they're really pretty safe, I assume he's open to the idea of using iron pipes in my house.

He is a plumber, speaking about what he considers to be his area of expertise.

So when a presidential candidate starts talking about the importance of the president taking the lead on the evils of birth control, yes, I assume he believes this to be within the proper functions of the executive.

And I do not think he wants to limit it to "just talking." You know how people typically introduce ideas that are currently unpopular and outside the Overton Window? They first suggest "talking about" them. As we saw with Entitlement Reform.

Plus, he himself says these are important "public policy issues."

Not personal morality issues. Public policy issues. In other words, the public, voting, or expressing its will through its chosen legislators, gets a say on these "issues."
The opposition will have field day with some of these quotes. It will be a distraction from what Republicans should be talking about 24/7 Obamanomics and Obamacare. Remember when George Stephanopoulos asked Romney that weird question about the state having the power to regulate contraception. Well, the predicate for that question came from things Santorum had said about the right to privacy and the Griswold case. Romney avoided that trap, but it will be there again waiting for Santorum, especially now that the whole HHS mandate on birth control has brought contraception back into the limelight. The media love to ask Republicans about these sorts of issues because they think it shows the Republicans as backwards Elmer Gantrys and turns off a lot of Americans. And if Santorum is going to go off on riffs about how women shouldn't be using contraception because sex should be for procreation within marriage, you can write off whole swaths of the voting public. And Santorum is too honest of a guy not to answer these questions that the media will surely ask him.

I've been surprised that Romney has attacked Santorum on such a distraction as earmarks when these quotes from Santorum's interviews and his own book are out there. Perhaps Romney is afraid of attacking Santorum from the left and irritating social values voters. Time Magazine is already reporting on Santorum's statements so maybe Romney can depend on the media to carry his water for him. If not, he's going to have. If Romney or Gingrich don't make these arguments, we know Obama will. And it will be a disaster for the Republicans.