MORE

Surgin' Santorum! Rightbloggers Not So Frothy for This Week's Next President of the United States

The wheel of fortune has spun once again, and the GOP Next President of the United States of the Week is now Rick Santorum.

Mind you, no one thinks Santorum will actually be the nominee. He's just running third in some optimistic polls -- of the Iowa caucuses, which is no bellwether. Yet all the world declares a Santorum Surge.

In rightblogger world, where everyone gets to be the NPOTUSOTW for a couple minutes at least, that's usually good enough for some rah-rah. Yet the brethren are surprisingly neutral to negative on Santorum. Why?

Before last month, Santorum's low-polling Presidential run had hardly raised a whisper among the brethren. In November, The Daily Caller's Jamie Weinstein explained that though Santorum is a "true blue conservative... articulate and a strong debater," he "remains overlooked by voters as a serious contender" because, experts told him, Santorum got beat in his 2006 Senate reelection campaign by 18 points -- a more humiliating fall than most of the other Republicans defenestration that year.

There may be other reasons, though -- first among them, we should think, that Santorum is mainly known, to the extent that he is known, as the Gay-Hating, "Man-On-Dog" Candidate -- so ferociously against gay marriage, gays in the military, and indeed any gay rights at all that homosexuals and their sympathizers retaliated by making Santorum's name synonymous with an anal discharge.

Still, Santorum has his defenders -- few more loyal than Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post. When no one else was listening to him, Rubin was all ears.

In August Rubin praised Santorum's "strong finish" in the Ames, Iowa straw poll (fourth place). She told us Santorum was "encouraged by a noticeable uptick in calls to his campaign" and that he "is nothing if not fearless," and predicted he would "cause his competitors fits in the upcoming debates by attacking their positions and style from the right." In September, when Rick Perry gave his infamously bad debate performance, Rubin headlined, "A strong night for Santorum as Perry fades."

In November Rubin covered a Santorum policy speech "calling on Congress to abolish the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals," "advocating for a personhood amendment to the Constitution," etc. "Some of this may be a stretch," admitted Rubin. "...Santorum doesn't much care about that or about the ridicule he'll receive in the media. In fact, he thrives on it."

When she got the word that Santorum had received the endorsement of "Chuck Laudner, the former chief of staff for Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)," Rubin headlined it, "Santorum's Big Get," and did not appear to be joking. After the lackluster November 22 GOP Presidential debate, Rubin posted an "Exclusive: Post-debate interview with Rick Santorum." "It remains a bit of a mystery," she added, "that Santorum has yet to show progress in the Iowa polls."

Santorum's also got a friend in rightblogger Robert Stacy McCain, who's been pumping out posts like "SANTORUM EXPRESS UPDATE: Pulls Even With Bachmann in New Iowa Poll, Gains Endorsement by Influential Pastor," "God-Hating Feminist Blogger Denounces Iowa Republicans and Rick Santorum," etc.

Hate to say it, dude, but that sweater vest? Hella gay.
Hate to say it, dude, but that sweater vest? Hella gay.

Now that Santorum's number has been called, so to speak, and the mainstream press has rushed to his side ("Rick Santorum is so hot right now, you'd think he was the cure to something" -- John Dickerson, CBS News), more rightbloggers are speaking up about Santorum -- and a surprising number of them are not enthused.

For example, CNN commentator and RedState boss Erick Erickson has displayed a consult-your-physician hard-on for Santorum in several posts.

Erickson has denounced Santorum as a "pro-life statist," a term he got from fellow RedStater Ned Ryun who, back in May 2010, used it to denounce Mark Souder, a GOP Congressman who'd resigned after an extramarital affair. The affair didn't seem to bother Ryun as much as the fact that Souder voted for TARP and Cash for Clunkers. Ryun concluded that "someone who is pro-life, but votes to expand the state and state spending, is in fact not a conservative, but a pro-life statist."

Thanks to Pennsylvania voters, Santorum never had a chance to vote for or against either TARP or CfC. Still, Erickson felt Ryun's elderly post "sums up every issue I have with Rick Santorum," because while in the Senate, "along with Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum led the K Street Project, which traded perks for lobbyists for money for the GOP funded with your tax dollars through earmarks and pork projects."

Thus, Erickson said, the 2006 wipeout "was not a defeat for Rick Santorum. It was punishment." Given that 2006 was the year of a great Democratic sweep, that the voters of Pennsylvania had no reason to expect less tax-and-spendy policies from the Democrats, and that normal people are not as prone to "punish" apostate conservatives as the famously retributive Erickson, this seems like a clumsy retrofit at best.

Still Erickson has kept at it. He later posted on Santorum's appointment to the board of directors at healthcare management company Universal Health Services, which has been the subject of some lawsuits, as if Santorum had been crowned kingpin of a crime syndicate. And here's Erickson's latest stop-the-presses dispatch: "Universal Health Services, on whose board [Santorum] sat until he left in June of this year," Erickson breathlessly reported, "runs a PRIDE Institute in Minnesota. It's the 'nation's first and leading provider of mental health service to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.'"

Okay, that's funny. But it's not the sort of thing you expect Santorum's fellow conservatives to use against him. And, in fact, Universal Health Services hasn't made it onto the rightblogger radar -- not because they're carrying water for him, it would seem, but because they don't care that much.

 

"Santorum: flavor of the weak," said Don Surber. "You need more than having the right positions. You need charm and leadership skills. He is surging only because conservatives have nowhere left to go."

"I feel sorry for all the journalists assigned to the 2012 campaign who've got so little to write about now and in the next few months," meh'd Ann Althouse. "They need to act like something is happening, and after the Perry, Cain, Gingrich, and Paul surges, it must be time for a Santorum surge. And there's nothing else to talk about today."

"If Santorum is surging, so is Perry," said Pundit and Pundette. "Santorum is an odd choice to 'fight the man,'" said Timothy P. Carney at the Washington Examiner. "As a member of Senate leadership, Santorum literally was an agent of the GOP establishment... If he wins Iowa, his record will be picked apart. Likely, he'll wither, too."

At Hot Air, Allahpundit scoffed at Santorum's claim that Chris Christie wasn't a real conservative, and noted that in 2004 Santorum had backed [cue sinister music] Arlen Specter -- at the time, a fellow Republican Senator -- over Pat Toomey.

"Five years later Specter swicthed parties and became the key vote to give the nation Obamacare," complained Conservative Times, "whereas a Rick Toomey in the U.S. Senate (two years too late) would not have done this. Thanks for nothing Rick... You can sum up Rick Santorum this way: It's more important to him to blow up Iranians than it is to stop abortion." Let that be his epitaph!

Santorum received a few chivalric defenses. Jonathan S. Toobin of Commentary pleaded that "in a race where some, like Michele Bachmann, speak as if getting things done in Washington is merely a matter of asserting the correct policy and demanding that others bow to that dictate, Santorum is a man who understands how difficult it is to get anything done." It's the system that's to blame!

Hey, as long as they spell the name right.
Hey, as long as they spell the name right.

Besides, said Toobin, Santorum has "made concern about Iran and its nuclear program a prominent part of his campaign" -- that is, he wants to blow it up. "Foreign policy is actually his greatest strength, even if he is better known for his uncompromising stances on social issues." Come for the pro-life politics, stay for the War with Iran!

Some Jesusy bloggers have been more excited by Santorum's surge ("Santorum has a firm understanding of Biblical principles as he vehemently stands against the homosexual agenda saying, 'It's not personal, it's about policy'"). But most others content themselves with bland horserace posts ("Could Rick Santorum Pull an Upset in Iowa?"), or off-hand ass-pats like Verum Serum's: "Honestly, I'm not sure what I think of Santorum the candidate, but I guess I am a little excited that this might not be the Mitt coronation I both expected and dreaded."

Rich Lowry of National Review affected to find Santorum's case "the great paradox of the Republican field: At a time when primary voters say they are desperate for a candidate of conviction and consistency, Santorum is both on a range of issues, yet he hasn't had a proverbial moment." Why so little love for Santorum?

We have an idea why: Campaign season is about to launch in earnest, and the GOP has no more time to dick around.

It's been fun for them -- and for us! -- to fawn and fantasize over all the flavorful Next Presidents: the Black Wingnut, the Gold Bug, the Old Hack, the More Retarded George W. Bush, Donald Trump, et alia. But Iowa's on Wednesday, and the primaries come in a rush thereafter.

Santorum has only one significant point of difference from the rest of the GOP field: He's a tested, proven gay-hater. But this is 2012. Straight acceptance of gays is on the rise; TV is positively swimming with homosexual characters. And voters, even evangelical ones, are more concerned with the crap economy than with social issues.

Whatever their personal beliefs, rightbloggers understand that unreconstructed bigotry (and Santorum's is unreconstructed -- he hopes to render current gay marriages "invalid") might get a candidate through the primaries, but in the general election it can only be a liability. So sorry, Rick -- glitter and be anti-gay, but your turn in the spotlight will be brief. Start working now on your "Congratulations, Mitt Romney" speech.


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >