A few kind words for Santorum

I have been a very big fan of Rick Santorum in the past, but life moves on, circumstances change, nuances emerge from shadows as light shifts — pick your figure of speech.

I’m now very troubled by his bellicosity. It’s very consistent with what GOP voters appear to want to hear, but it’s not what I want to hear. As someone recently put it, war against the abstraction “terrorism” will be endless because there’s no criterion for victory. I probably could say that better, but it’s preliminary anyway.

Where I’ll defend him, though, is when people start pulling flippant, shallow lines like this:

Some of his positions he’s taken are just so weird,” he continued, “that I think some Republicans are going to be off-put. Not everybody is going to be down, for example, with the story of how he and his wife handled the stillborn child whose body they took home to kind of sleep with and introduce to the rest of the family. It’s a very weird story.

(Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson on “The Rachel Maddow Show” Tuesday.) First, the story’s not exactly true. Second, Santorum did what I wish I’d done.

His critics are roughly where I was at the time: insufficiently appreciative of the magnitude of the loss (yes, I think a loss can be bigger than the loser perceives at the time), of the preciousness of life.

I’ve been admiring his forthrightness, too. I think he’s wrong about the non-existence of Palestinians, but respect his effort to engage his interlocutor in dialogue about it, even if he’s more than a little pedantic:

He did the same thing Friday in defending “traditional marriage” (I use the scare quotes to acknowledge that the term is disputed and mocked, not that I recall him using the term) to a hostile student audience in New Hampshire; he tried to engage them in the (il)logic of their position, whereas they merely wanted to boo and bully him. Considering the rigors of the campaign trail, I can forgive a little pedantry.

He’s an authentic social conservative; I can tell you that a lot of GOP figures (e.g., Orrin Hatch, John McCain) are phonies on “the social issues,” and I can hear it in their inarticulate defense of their positions. They really don’t get it. They’re pandering from a memorized list of talking points.

I think he’s an authentically “compassionate conservative,” though that phrase puts me on guard. Another way of saying it might be that he’s an authentic proponent of Catholic social teaching (which I find very attractive),  subsidiarity, mediating structures and “communities” that are not synonymous with “political subdivisions.”

I’m pretty well convinced that what we’ve been doing, and what both parties appear to intend continuing, is broken very badly. Santorum seems to represent a real alternative view that I find attractive in many ways. But the bellicosity may be a deal breaker. I’m tired of voting for lesser evils.

About readerjohn

I am a retired lawyer and an Orthodox Christian, living in a collapsing civilization, the modern West. There are things I'll miss when it's gone. There are others I won't. That it is collapsing is partly due to calculated subversion, summarized by the moniker "deathworks." This blog is now dedicated to exposing and warring against those deathwork - without ceasing to spread a little light.
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3 Responses to A few kind words for Santorum

  1. todd says:

    The quality I would most like to see in a candidate is humility.. I don’t mean a push-over, confidence is good… but just plain humble. Perhaps such a person would not be inclined to enter into the political arena in the first place. But it almost appears that arrogance is the personal quality sought most by the voters.
    I think I could even be tempted to vote for some guy pushing the ‘big government’ agenda, if only his character were marked with genuine humility.

  2. Chris Jones says:

    I disagree that Santorum is an authentic proponent of Catholic social teaching (which I too (though not Catholic) find attractive). His bellicose approach to national security & foreign affairs could never pass muster with respect to either traditional Catholic just war theory or more recent Papal teachings on war and peace; and he advocates a robust role for the federal government in advancing his social agenda, which is not at all consistent with the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.

    In my view it is not just that he is bellicose, but that his whole geostrategic vision of the world — who our enemies (and our friends) are and what the role of the United States in the world ought to be — is deeply wrong and dangerous. For me at least it is an ineluctable deal-breaker.

    • readerjohn says:

      I cannot disagree with your analysis, Chris, perhaps because I (also not Catholic – in the “Roman” version) perhaps have not studied Catholic social teach as closely as you.
      I intended the qualifying italics in “I think he’s an authentically ‘compassionate conservative'” to carry over to “he’s an authentic proponent of Catholic social teaching.” I see that my intent was not clear.

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