Rick Santorum: Praise
from abroad is thin on the ground.
Hindustan Times, India
"In a 2003 interview, Santorum expressed his displeasure with gay marriage, placing it in the context of pedophilia and even bestiality. He believes that America is threatened by Iran and Satan - not necessarily in that order. ... The Republican base seems to be suffering a form of schizophrenia that can only be cured with a lobotomy. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s approval numbers keep rising."
It was deep winter in 2007. I
was in New Jersey, the suburban swathes of New York City, covering a story on
an election featuring a controversial right-wing leader. But it had nothing to do
with American conservatives. Rather, this was all about Narendra Modi, as a
collective of non-residents from [the Indian State of] Gujarat were campaigning
online for the Gujarat chief minister’s re-election.
On the drive to the New
Jersey Transit station in Edison, I entered into a conversation with one Modi
supporter, who also happened to be an officer at Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, who he
favored in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
His response was categorical:
“Hillary Clinton.” I was surprised, since she is exactly the sort of liberal
whom right-of-center types supposedly despise. Not really. The VHP official
explained that in fact, he was far more wary of the extreme Christianity of some
Republican Party candidates.
That may sound surreal, but it
is why American social conservatives don’t only manage to lose their fellow travelers
of other faiths, but moderates and independents as well. Their poster boy for 2012
is former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who is enjoying a sudden surge in
support, as presumed nominee Mitt Romney’s passion deficit becomes ever more
Santorum is the prince of
sanctimony. Though he claims he can deliver the "swing state" of Pennsylvania
for Republicans this November, there is the inconvenient fact that he lost his
home state by a stunning 18 percent in 2006 - the last election he contested.
If you’re looking for
biographical details on Santorum, his campaign would probably want to steer you
away from Google. His opposition to homosexual acts has drawn fire from
activists who "keyword bombed" the search engine into delivering a
scatological synonym as the top result when you use Santorum’s name.
In a 2003 interview, Santorum
expressed his displeasure with gay marriage, placing it in the context of pedophilia
and even bestiality. A flustered interviewer told Santorum then: “I’m sorry. I
didn’t think I was going to talk about ‘man on dog’ with a United States
senator. It’s sort of freaking me out.”
He isn’t even particularly
fond of contraception, as he once told an interviewer: “It’s a license to do
things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
Santorum wants that license revoked.
One of Santorum’s financiers [Foster
Friess] recently made a terrible
joke. He said that back in his day, women used "bare aspirin" for
contraceptive. ["Gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that
costly."] Perhaps that’s the reason the majority of this year's Republican
presidential candidates have such large broods. Santorum has seven children, Romney
five, another contender Ron Paul also has five, while among those who dropped
out, Michele Bachmann has five children and 23 foster kids while Jon Huntsman
has seven, including two who were adopted (one from India).
Santorum is the sort of guy
who believes that intelligent design is a “legitimate scientific theory,” and he only
recently converted to the church of evolution. He believes that America is
threatened by Iran and Satan - not necessarily in that order.
He’s also an "Earmarxist."
As a senator, he tacked onto legislation funds for selected ventures in his
home state, thus also making him the prince of bloated bills. In Santorum’s
case, some of were just pet projects. Like the one in which he requisitioned
federal funds for a polar bear exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo.
Santorum’s campaign is now defying
gravity, but his boomlet will expire. Romney’s machine will bring him to ground.
After all, the Romney campaign motto is: "Have mud, will sling." Also,
if no mud, add water to fertile soil, and stir: Voila! Mud, delivered fresh.
The result is a muddied
polity and muddled voters. The Republican base seems to be suffering a form of
schizophrenia that can only be cured with a lobotomy. Meanwhile, President
Barack Obama’s approval numbers keep rising. His campaign staff can grab the
popcorn and snigger at the antics across the aisle.
*Currently in Toronto, Anirudh
Bhattacharyya has been a foreign correspondent in New York for eight years.
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