Rick Satanorum [Updated]
Rick Santorum is easily the most likable candidate remaining in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination.
Just dwell on that opinion for a moment.
Leaving aside the ecumenical matter of damning with faint praise, “likability” is obviously in the eye of the beholder. But even James Joyner, who dreamed that sentence up, typed it out, didn’t go “Nah” and hit delete, then decided to broadcast it to the world via Outside the Beltway, feels driven to qualify that “likability” in the face of a speech the New Not-Romney gave in 2008 at Domino Pizza’s “saint factory,” Ave Maria University (“Excellent. Affordable. Catholic.”) in Florida (mercifully audio only).
To summarize the Tanktop Torquemada’s address, unearthed by Right Wing Watch: You’re all—those of you “smart people” who’ve been exposed to academe, you Protestants, heck the whole damned lot of you—Hellbound Godless heathens in thrall to the “Father of Lies,” except Ricky and his ilk in the Catholic Church. And he’s not so sure about his ilk. (Transcript after the fold for the recently breakfasted.)
Let’s be fair. Maybe Ricky’s evolved a little from these extreme views? Ah. Here’s Ed Morrissey, twisting himself into semantic knots to blame President Obama for injecting theology into the public debate:
Normally, I would advise presidential candidates to avoid getting caught in arguments over the relative merits of the faith of their opponents. Americans typically don’t respond well to politicians claiming that they have a superior theology, especially when it comes to translating that into public policy. In this case, though, Rick Santorum didn’t start that fight yesterday in Ohio:
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum challenged President Barack Obama’s Christian beliefs on Saturday, saying White House policies were motivated by a “different theology.”
A devout Roman Catholic who has risen to the top of Republican polls in recent days, Santorum said the Obama administration had failed to prevent gas prices rising and was using “political science” in the debate about climate change.
Obama’s agenda is “not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology,” Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel.
Well, Satanism’s a theology, I guess. You wouldn’t want an atheist in the White House, would you?
Morrissey’s conclusion? There are some things a presidential candidate just shouldn’t say out loud.
Partial transcript of Rick Santorum’s remarks to an audience at Ave Maria University (which is apparently not part of academia):
This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country - the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost two hundred years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.
He didn’t have much success in the early days. Our foundation was very strong, in fact, is very strong. But over time, that great, acidic quality of time corrodes even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.
He was successful. He attacks all of us and he attacks all of our institutions. The place where he was, in my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. He understood pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest, that they were, in fact, smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different. Pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they’re smart. And so academia, a long time ago, fell.
And you say “what could be the impact of academia falling?” Well, I would have the argument that the other structures that I’m going to talk about here had root of their destruction because of academia. Because what academia does is educate the elites in our society, educates the leaders in our society, particularly at the college level. And they were the first to fall.
And so what we saw this domino effect, once the colleges fell and those who were being education in our institutions, the next was the church. Now you’d say, ‘wait, the Catholic Church’? No. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic, sure the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. So they attacked mainline Protestantism, they attacked the Church, and what better way to go after smart people who also believe they’re pious to use both vanity and pride to also go after the Church.
After that, you start destroying the Church and you start destroying academia, the culture is where their next success was and I need not even go into the state of the popular culture today. Whether its sensuality of vanity of the famous in America, they are peacocks on display and they have taken their poor behavior and made it fashionable. The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency is now on display whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set.
The fourth, and this was harder, now I know you’re going to challenge me on this one, but politics and government was the next to fall. You say, ‘you would think they would be the first to fall, as fallible as we are in politics,’ but people in political life get elected by ordinary folks from lots of places all over the country where the foundations of this country are still strong. So while we may certainly have had examples, the body politic held up fairly well up until the last couple of decades, but it is falling too.
Even the righty blogs are whistling in embarrassment and trying not to dwell on this as they slug it out over bashing reproductive rights (shorter Dan Riehl: “B-b-b-but REVEREND WRIGHT!!!!”), with the notable and ever-reliable exception of Jim Hoft, who takes umbrage at Ed Kilgore’s reporting of the speech at Political Animal:
So where does Santorum say that Protestants are “Satan’s Spawn’? He doesn’t. What an awful misleading headline. This story is complete BS. Even the Washington Monthly should be ashamed about this hit piece.
Shamed by Jim Hoft. How much lower can The Washington Monthly go?
Update: Ricky backtracks on this morning’s Face the Nation, thereby managing to piss off the wingnuts who’d dutifully lined up behind him while retaining the purity of his bodily fluids:
Bob Schieffer asked Santorum exactly what he meant with his remarks. Santorum explained he was criticizing Obama in the context of “going after radical environmentalists” and one of the “phony ideal[s]” he was railing against was the idea that humans have to be at the service of the planet. And, naturally, Santorum believes President Obama has succumbed to this ideology.
When Schieffer referred back to Santorum’s comment that the theology in question was not from the Bible, Santorum was quick to clarify that he was not calling the president’s Christian faith into question. He said, “I accept the fact that the president’s a Christian.” But the larger point he was trying to make is that environmentalists are making completely unchristian, unscientific arguments about issues like global warming that he only believes can come from a false ideology or belief system.
Fans of spin may like to compare the transition from talk of “theology” and “not a theology based on the Bible” in the earlier quote to “unchristian, unscientific arguments” and “a false ideology or belief system” in the latter.
He’s just Sarah Palin with a better command of grammar and a nattier wardrobe.