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“He’s Gone Far Enough”: Why The Republican “Establishment” Can’t Stomach Rick Santorum

While winning big in Alabama and Mississippi, Rick Santorum has also swept some other important primaries of late—the magazine primaries—picking up the enthusiastic support of Bill Kristol and other conservative editors and writers who think the former Pennsylvania senator is the real deal.

I am a conservative who has worked for Republicans in the Republican National Committee, Senate, White House, and California governor’s office. I guess that makes me an “establishment Republican.” To paraphrase Samuel Goldwyn, if Rick Santroum is what you want, then include me out.

Why do so many Republicans with political experience shudder so at the thought of Rick Santorum as our party’s standard-bearer?

After all, Rick Santroum is prolife. But then, so am I.

He’s prodefense? So am I.

Skeptical of the regulatory state? Check.

Budget-cutter? True, Santorum was an earmark enthusiast, but he makes an articulate case against the budgetary incontinence of the Obama administration.

Moreover, he generates real enthusiasm with his base and can connect with blue-collar folks in the Midwest we used to call Reagan Democrats.

Why, then, can’t I go there?

I couldn’t define it until I recently read Mark Twain’s account of his return to Hannibal, Missouri, in Life on the Mississippi.

Twain wrote:

The Model Boy of my time—we never had but the one—was perfect: perfect in manners, perfect in dress, perfect in conduct, perfect in filial piety, perfect in exterior godliness; but at bottom he was a prig; and as for the contents of his skull, they could have changed place with the contents of a pie, and nobody would have been the worse off for it but the pie.

As for the contents of Santorum’s skull, I see not pie-filling but a zest for culture war. Launching a culture war now would fracture the Republican Party, while striking independent voters as massively beside-the-point with near 9 percent unemployment and an international situation pregnant with danger.

In the face of such a simple political target as President Obama, Santorum simply cannot stay on message. He and his people feel compelled to go beyond the issue of religious liberty to let us know that he believes contraception is morally wrong. I respect his right to that belief—and I join him in passionately upholding the right of the Catholic Church not to be coerced into acting against its doctrine on contraception. But that doesn’t mean I embrace that belief itself. I don’t. And I sure don’t want to hear about contraception from the bully pulpit of the White House—neither do tens of millions of other Republicans, many of them Catholics.

Or take Santorum’s strange denouncement of President Obama as a “snob” for wanting people to go to college. Or his odd diatribe against John F. Kennedy over his classic speech on separation of church and state. Both statements may contain many yeasty issues and fine distinctions—all of them are irrelevant to beating Obama.

And really, how tone-deaf do you have to be to launch an out-of-the-blue attack on JFK?

Like the Model Boy, Santorum is divisively pure. Such purity cannot win because it cannot command a coalition. And the key to a coalition is acceptance of people who share your basic objectives but who are not like you.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt repeatedly won the presidency by stitching together a coalition of Northern liberals and segregationist southerners who shared a belief in a stronger role for government. Ronald Reagan won two terms with his “big tent” of southern conservatives, blue-collar voters in the Midwest, and Western libertarians. Some avid Reagan supporters wanted to change the Constitution to re-establish school prayer. Other avid Reagan supporters legalized prostitution in Nevada.

The Reagan coalition may have frayed, but it remained together because everyone in the tent wanted smaller government and an end to Communism.

A winning Republican campaign today would have to bring together evangelicals, libertarians, defense conservatives, economic conservatives, and Tea Party enthusiasts united against Obama. Then it would have to move independents disaffected from Obama—but not if they are scared away by Rick Santorum.

Santorum, chastened by the loss of Ohio, is visibly struggling to stay on the economic message. But there always seems to be yet another strange observation suppressed behind those pursed lips. He can’t keep it under wraps. Count on it. A Santorum nomination would be guaranteed to blow up the party by focusing on the wrong issues at the wrong time.

Twain ended his riff on the Model Boy thusly:

This fellow’s reproachlessness was a standing reproach to every lad in the village. He was the admiration of all the mothers, and detestation of all their sons. I was told what became of him, but as it was a disappointment to me, I will not enter into details. He succeeded in life.

Santorum has already succeeded in life. He’s gone far enough.

By: Mark W. Davis, U. S. News and World Report, March 16, 2012

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP “Ultracraziness”: Experts On “Lady Stuff”, Ultrasounds And Contraception

If the state of Arizona excels at one thing, it’s passing laws that make people angry. Today, an Arizona senate panel voted to give all employers the right to refuse coverage of birth control on their health-insurance plans. The bill is awaiting approval by the State Senate. Arizona Representative Debbie Lesko, a supporter of the bill, explained her rationale to the Arizona Star: “I believe that we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union. So government shouldn’t be telling employers, Catholic organizations or mom-and-pop employers to do something that’s against their moral beliefs.”

In other contraception news, the controversial “Women’s Right to Know” Act, which would make it mandatory for women to have ultrasounds before getting abortions, made some more enemies today.

Republican Virginia State Senator Ryan McDougle, who backs the bill, received a barrage of posts on his Facebook page today from women who oppose the bill, asking McDougle for gynecological wisdom. One woman, complaining about her period, wrote, “frankly, I’ve had enough of this inconvenience — the costs of pads and pain reliever and all the mess — well YOU know how it is. You’re an expert on this lady stuff.” McDougle’s staff promptly removed the comments, but not before a screenshot was taken.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett also chimed in about the ultrasound bill. When asked if he thought it was going too far to make a woman look at her ultrasound before having an abortion, he replied: “You can’t make anybody watch, okay? Because you just have to close your eyes.” All in all, a rough day for Republicans and ladies.

By: Eliza Shapiro, Daily Intel, March 16, 2012

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Women's Health | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Talking In The Bathroom”: Abstinence-Only Education May Well Come To Wisconsin And Utah

Here’s a way to save time debating women’s health. Rather than allow people to fight and debate the issues around birth control and access to healthcare, simply don’t tell them key facts about contraception and sexual health. That way, rather than fighting, kids will be blissfully ignorant. Or, you know, rely on the wisdom of my sister’s best friend’s cousin who says you definitely can’t get pregnant if it’s a full moon.

Legislatures in both Wisconsin and Utah have passed abstinence-only education bills. It’s now up to governors in both states to determine whether or not to make the measures law.

Utah’s proposal is significantly more stringent. It would actually ban schools from teaching about contraceptives—and, for that matter, homosexuality. The Deseret News reports that hundreds of protesters have flooded the capitol, asking Governor Gary Herbert to veto the bill. The governor has said the public efforts against the measure won’t sway him; according to the News, a survey at Brigham Young University showed 58 percent of Utah residents believe contraceptives should be part of the curriculum in sexual education. Herbert is expected to decide on the bill next week. In the meantime, parents may want to stock up some Judy Blume books.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker is already a fan of the measure, and is expected to sign it into law. The Green Bay Gazette explains that the bill, passed, 60-34 in the GOP-dominated House this week, would require schools “to teach abstinence as the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.” Abstinence-only education has been banned since 2010, but if this measure passes, schools won’t have to mention contraception, though according to HuffPo, they do have to get into “the socioeconomic benefits of marriage.” (Presumably LGBT kids can sit out that day, since the party isn’t big on letting them get married.)

Last year, the New York Times Magazine featured a fascinating story on what would happen if we actually taught children sex-positive education, dealing with questions not only about sexual health but also about sexual pleasure. The article made a key point—that many of today’s adolescents rely on internet pornography for much of their knowledge around sex. Kids get exposed to sex at younger and younger ages. Regardless of one’s opinions on that, it’s disturbing that those same kids will lose potential adult mentors who could have offered accurate information to counter the many falsehoods that come, either from the porn industry or simply talking in the school bathroom.

By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, March 15, 2012

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Women's Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Path To Second-Class Citizenship”: Marco Rubio Takes The Dream Out Of “DREAM Act”

Senator Marco Rubio missed the mark on the DREAM Act today when he said that he’d consider offering a path to legal status, but not citizenship, for undocumented students. As a Latino Republican, Rubio has been criticizedfor his stance against the DREAM Act, which in its original form would permit students who had completed high school and either gone to college or joined the military, a path to eventual citizenship.

During a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera today, Rubio teetered between defending his current opposition to the DREAM Act and trying to find a way to appease Latino voters who will prove an important demographic for Republicans during the election season. Rubio delved into his new position on the DREAM Act:

The DREAM Act, as it is currently structured, has a series of problems that not only denies it the support that it needs, but I think would be counterproductive to our goal of having a legal immigration system that works. … It could be expanded to millions of people, which is problematic. But I do think that there is another way to deal with this. And I think that one of the debates that we need to begin to have is there is a difference between citizenship and legalization. You can legalize someone’s status in this country with a significant amount of certainty about their future without placing them on a path toward citizenship. And I think that is something that we can find consensus on and it is one of the ways to address the issue of chain migration.

Rubio’s suggestion for a DREAM Act would mean that potentially millions of kids who grew up in the United States without the right papers would be forced to be non-voting residents of their home country. Rubio may be using the rhetoric of defending Latinos against right-wing attacks, but the Republican policies don’t play out well for Latinos, specifically on the DREAM Act. The Republican presidential candidates are running on extreme immigration policies, and it would take a lot for Latinos to regain trust in the party. Offering a path to second-class citizenship is not exactly the olive branch Latinos are looking for.


By: Annie-Rose Strasser, Think Progress, March 15, 2012

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Immigration | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP: “We Don’t Consider Violence Against Women To Be An Important Issue”

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is up for reauthorization this year, and for the first time since its original passage, it’s facing pushbackfrom Republicans.

Female senators are not happy about the sudden resistance to a usually uncontroversial bill. A few new provisions in VAWA add protections for undocumented people, the LGBT community, and Indian reservations, which have prompted a change of heart from anti-immigrant Republicans like Jeff Sessions, who said, “there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition.”

In a Senate floor speech today, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) argued that our values should demand that everyone deserves protection from domestic abuse:

The bill includes lesbian and gay men. The bill includes undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse. The bill gives native American tribes authority to prosecute crimes. In my view, these are improvements. Domestic violence is domestic violence. I ask my friends on the other side: If the victim is in a same-sex relationship, is the violence any less real, is the danger any less real because you happen to be gay or lesbian? I don’t think so.

If a family comes to the country and the husband beats his wife to a bloody pulp, do we say, ‘Well you’re illegal, I’m sorry, you don’t deserve any protections’? 911 operators, police officers, don’t refuse to help a victim because of their sexual orientation or the country where they were born, or their immigration status. When you call the police in America, they come regardless of who you are.

Feinstein added, “To defeat this bill is almost to say ‘we don’t need to consider violence against women — it’s not an important issue.’ It is.” Indeed, with all the recent attacks focused around women’s issues, Feinstein had a larger suspicion about blockage of the bill: “I hope that this bill is not part of a march. And that march, as I see it, over the last 20 years, is to cut back on rights and services to women.” Watch it:

In a show of general strength and support, the women of the Senate took to the floor today to fight for passage of the bill. Among the floor statements were both Democrats and Republicans, though no men spoke.


By: Annie-Rose Strasser, Think Progress, March 15, 2012

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Domestic Violence, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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