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Rick Santorum hates religion but he hates puppies even more

What a silly over-the-top thing to say. It’s the sort of rhetoric that is ruining this country, damnit, and this is the greatest country on earth.

Why, it’s a little bit like saying that the whole separation of Church and State thing we have baked into our constitution is out-dated, like Rick Santorum said on This Week:

I don’t believe in an America where the separation between church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and visions of our country.

This is stupid on so many levels.

Obviously the church is just one of many special interest groups that really does have some say over matters of state. That’s simply a reality of representative government, whether we like it or not. But more importantly I really don’t think that Rick Santorum understands what he’s saying here, and the implications for freedom of religion.

It’s almost as though social conservatives think that religion and government were kept separate because effete liberal elitists wanted a hedonistic society unfettered by the moral constraints provided by religious institutions. But nothing could be further from the truth. It was the Baptists and Thomas Jefferson who really lobbied hard for the initial cleaving. They saw the political power of the Anglican Church as a real threat to religious freedom and decided that the best way to preserve that freedom was to keep government out of church business, and vice versa.

Fast-forward a few hundred years and you have guys like Santorum who apparently don’t understand the first thing about the point of keeping the two institutions a healthy distance apart from one another. This is either straight-up opportunism dressed in religious drag or it’s one of the dumbest things to have fled a politician’s mouth in, well, days.

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America is one hell of a country, according to Rick Santorum

“The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”

~from Paradise Lost

“This is not a political war at all,” Rick Santorum told Catholic students at Ave Maria college. “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.”

More of the transcript here.

Santorum’s 12th century rhetoric is par for the course when it comes to the conservative movement during culture war season. Blending religiosity and politics is as old as either, but one still can’t help but cringe a little when you listen to the former Senator from Pennsylvania and his alleyway doomsday sermons. Perhaps it’s because we’ve had such a long bout of fiscal conservatism that the emergence of good old fashioned culture war trash-talking is a shock to the system.

So I won’t talk about the culture wars. I’m more interested in the right’s incoherence than in its issue-arsenal at the moment.

What I don’t understand – what just baffles me endlessly – are these dueling notions of America as the greatest, most super-fantastic nation on Earth and America as an immoral, decayed society under assault from all sides. We are God’s people but we’re also so vulnerable to Satan himself that we need a super-hero, super-holy president like Rick Santorum to save us.

The cult of American exceptionalism is, perhaps unsurprisingly, comprised by the same people who make up the cult of American decline. There’s an insecurity about it that I think shines a little light onto the conservative movement and the Republican Party. The pretense of toughness; the rah-rah-rah nationalism; the sense of victimization, of being endlessly put-upon. These are all forms within the language of American conservatism, or at least mainstream movement conservatism, that give shape to the broader dialogue on the right.

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Santorum calls Foster Friess’s Bayer aspirin comment a “bad joke”

Rosie Gray, writing at BuzzFeed, chatted up Rick Santorum about the unfortunate comments his SuperPAC backer, Foster Friess, made about contraception earlier:

Rick Santorum wasn’t very amused by his friend and super PAC backer Foster Friess’ comment today about using aspirin as birth control.

Today on MSNBC, Friess said “Back in my days they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives,” adding, “The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”

Asked about the quote outside the Oakland County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner here in Novi, Santorum wasn’t at first aware of the incident — but when it was described to him, he told BuzzFeed “I’m not responsible for every bad joke one of my supporters makes.”

Friess will be appearing on MSNBC again at 10 tonight to “set the record straight” on his aspirin remark, he tweeted earlier.

Speaking with Lawrence O’Donnell this evening, Friess played dumb, saying: “Back in my days, they didn’t have the birth control pill, so to suggest that Bayer Aspirin could be a birth control was considered pretty ridiculous and quite funny. So I think that was the gist of that story, but what’s been nice, it gives an opportunity to really look at what this contraceptive issue is all about.”

Right, the part about putting the aspiring between girls’ knees had nothing to do with it.

“I have been blessed by contraceptives,” Friess went on, inexplicably. “It’s an important thing for many women. it’s allowed them to advance their careers and make their own choices. That’s what’s special about America. People can choose. That’s what’s so annoying about this idea that President Obama forcing people to do something that is against their religious beliefs and that’s what the issue’s about, where Rick Santorum, as I said earlier, you know what his position is, but yet he’s never had any attempts, in fact, has even funded contraceptives to fight aids in Africa.”

What an odd shuffle. It’s almost as though Santorum and Friess are coordinating their message, and when Santorum expressed his distaste for Friess’s joke, Friess backed away from it. Not surprising, really, given Santorum’s meteoric rise in the polls and his need to start appealing to larger swaths of the American public. One can only play the far-right social conservative card in so many settings. After a while you need to diversify.

The problem for Santorum is that he really can’t shake his social conservative bona fides. That’s his strength and his weakness. Despite what Politfact might say, a majority of Americans are not hardcore so-cons, and most Americans are pro-birth control. 2011 was the first year that most Americans voiced a favorable opinion about gay marriage, for that matter. Santorum’s politics are a dying breed.

I hope he wins the nomination, even though I’m pretty sure he won’t.

(cross-posted)

 








What Obama’s Up Against

Not-Romney is one candidate with two heads, one of which is very large.

 

 

Nate Silver thinksthe GOP primary is going to be a long, protracted race, noting that it bears a “resemblance to something like the 1984 Democratic contest or the 1976 Republican race.” Mondale won in 1984, and Ford beat Reagan in 1976, but both primaries were close calls, and neither Mondale nor Ford inspired their respective parties.

Still, I’m not sure either one had as abysmal an outlook as presumed front-runner Mitt Romney does in this race:

Meanwhile, the two not-Romney candidates – Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum – are nipping at Romney’s heels making sure that neither one has any real chance at stealing the nomination.

And of course Ron Paul has his base of support which will likely neither grow nor dwindle in the coming months.

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