If you have been a benchwarmer on a championship team there are two ways you can talk about it. You can revel in the glory and overstate your role in victory or you can tell of your respect for the players who won and the privilege of supporting their effort. Rick Santorum has chosen to overstate his role in the accomplishments of the Reagan Revolution and and Newt Gingrich's Contract With America. To hear Rick tell it today he was the quarterback who threw the winning touchdown and Gingrich was a third string bench warmer. If Rick Santorum were a statesman, he would drop out of the race and go back the bench where he was when Reagan and Gingrich were on the field fighting and winning.Jeffrey Lord has an excellent piece in the American Spectator that is a first hand witness to Gingrich's pivotal role in the conservative victories of the 80's and 90's. It is well worth the read. Try as you might you won't find anything comparable about Rick Santorum. He just wasn't a real factor because he just isn't a real conservative.
Rick Santorum likes to claim that he is the only true conservative in the race. As Ron Paul pointed out that depends upon what is meant by conservatism. Santorum is a social conservative. He believes that abortion and contraception are wrong. He believes marriage is between one man and one woman. He believes homosexuality is immoral. He believes people should not use certain agricultural and pharmaceutical products. As a matter of wisdom and morality I agree with these positions. It is perfectly well and good for those who share these beliefs to use the power of persuasion to influence the culture around them. Rick Santorum goes beyond that. Rick Santorum wants to give power to the federal government to cajole and coerce conformity to his views. He wants our federal government to wield power that is not given it by the constitution. This desire to expand the power of the federal government is not at all conservative. It is also foolish.
It took Newt Gingrich to point out the bigotry of the federal government forcing Catholic hospitals and schools to close down or violate their morals by conforming to the mandates of the federally required health coverage. It took Newt Gingrich to point out the bigotry in forcing the Catholic Church to close it's adoption services in Massachusetts because it opposed placing children with homosexual couples. It took Newt Gingrich to raise the issue because he has been playing on the first team for a long time. Rick Santorum didn't bring up the question of bigotry because he isn't on the first team. Rick Santorum didn't bring up the issue because he doesn't think there is anything wrong with government coercion. In his mind government coercion is fine as long as it is used to force compliance with his point of view. He doesn't understand that his willingness to give the federal government power that the constitution doesn't is what enables it to oppress the values he would like to advance. That is why Rick Santorum should go back to the bench.
Rick Santorum is not a real conservative and that is one reason why he wasn't a factor in the 80's and 90's. In 1994, after just two undistinguished years as a member of the House of Representatives, Santorum rode Newt Gingrich's Contract with America wave to win election to the senate. The next year, he abandoned Newt and his fellow republican's to join with democrats in filibustering the National Right To Work Act of 1995. Today Santorum justifies that betrayal by saying he had to represent his pro-union constituents. That is all well and good but directly contradicts the claim he makes today that he is the one candidate who stands on principle. Santorum tells that story as a way to explain his landslide loss for re-election in 2006. He blames that loss on his “principled” stand for reforming social security and supporting the war in Iran.
Whatever the merits of those positions, it cannot be said that Santorum was driven by principle over politics. In the following election, in 2008, Santorum endorsed the pro-abortion incumbent Arlen Specter over the pro-life, and eventual winner, Pat Toomey. His reason? Political considerations. Principled conservative Rick Santorum supported pro-abortion Senator Arlen Specter over pro-life candidate Pat Toomey because he thought Specter provided the best chance to retain republican control of the Senate. It is a good thing that Santorum's political acumen is as weak as his commitment to principle.
In one respect Rick Santorum is the man Newt Gingrich wants to be. By all accounts he is a decent man who has remained faithful to the wife of his youth. In other respects Gingrich is the man Rick Santorum wishes he were: a man of vision and the intelligence and dedication to make the vision a reality. When Newt Gingrich lead a revolution and recaptured congress Rick Santorum went along for the ride and furthered his ambitions - and then betrayed his principles and sold out the people who got him there. Newt Gingrich gave into carnal desire and betrayed two wives. Rick Santorum gave in to political ambition and betrayed the republican party, the nation, and the unborn.
Rick Santorum is not a genuine conservative. He didn't really fight the fight he claims to have. He didn't lead a successful revolution and he didn't stand on principle. He should stop claiming the credit due to those who were really in the game. He should get out of the race and go back to the bench were he belongs.
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