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6 Things I Learned From Rick Santorum’s Houston Visit

6 Things I Learned From Rick Santorum’s Houston Visit
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Rick Santorum came to Houston. Yes, that Rick Santorum, the guy who ran for president in 2012.

You may also remember him for his comments comparing gay sex to beastiality and pedophilia. This inspired gay columnist and professional doorknob licker Dan Savage to launch a campaign redefining “santorum” to mean “a frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”

Santorum has bounced back after having his name dragged through the frothy mud. He wrote a book, Blue Collar Conservatives, and visited Houston Baptist University last week.

His speech illuminated a couple things. Here’s what I learned from listening to Rick Santorum

He Is Still Mad About Losing the 2012 Republican Primary

Santorum never came out and said it, but he is still unhappy about losing the 2012 primary to Mitt Romney.

“In the last election, 6 million people estimated who were blue collar workers in America didn’t vote,” Santorum said. “They didn’t vote because they didn’t like Barack Obama but they couldn’t vote for someone who in their words, ‘Didn’t care about them.’”

Ouch. Two years after the 2012 Republican primary, and he’s still calling Romney a “Wall Street financier” who is out of touch. In fairness, Team Obama spent all of 2012 trashing him on the same thing.

Class Warfare Is Bad, Except When He Does It

The phrase “class warfare” was in vogue in 2012. Republicans liked to use it against Obama, to say that discussing income inequality was stirring up class-based resentment.

Santorum appropriated the phrase during that year’s Republican primary to criticize Romney for using the term “middle class.”

“There are no classes in America,” he said. “That’s not the language that I’ll use as president. I’ll use the language of bringing people together.”

Unless, of course, splitting them apart is a better political move.

“Where are the wealthiest people in America?” Santorum asked rhetorically during his speech last week. “They live in big cities…

“You ever look at a map of election day? What color are all the major cities in America? Not just blue, navy blue.”

He went on like that for a while, painting Democrats as the party of rich city dwellers and Republicans as the heroes of honest small-town folks from Real America™. He was encouraging class resentment to further his own cause.

It’s good to have consistency in a politician.

His Fans Like Him for Reasons Other Than the Culture War

This one surprised me. All the audience members I talked to cited his overall policy expertise as the biggest draw.

“He spent time studying the situation with the Middle East, and Islam and stuff,” said Karen Davis. “I wanna hear more of that, ‘cause of course the press never played those soundbites.”

She wasn’t alone. For a guy who makes the news mainly for his social stances, his foreign policy turns heads.

“I wanted to hear what he had to say on international relations,” Dale Robinson told me. “And on domestic as well,” he added as an afterthought.

His cousin Judy Karonika agreed.

“I thought he had some of the more forward thinking on terrorism and the war on terrorism,” Karonika said.

He Has an Interesting Concept of Diversity

Santorum spent some time complaining that the Democratic Party is too aligned for elections and doesn’t have any infighting.

“The Democratic Party is a pup tent,” he said. “There’s is no division, there is no diversity at all within the Democratic Party” (emphasis mine).

Gotta give the guy credit. It takes guts to tell an auditorium of 100 old, white people that the Democratic Party isn’t diverse. I spotted maybe five people who looked under 30.

Santorum’s audience was as diverse as a jar of mayonnaise, and the same thing holds true for the Republican Party at large.

Political pollsters Gallup found 40 percent of Democratic voters in 2012 were black, Hispanic, or another minority. Republican voters were 89% white. Diversity!

In fairness, the guy probably meant ideological diversity. In that sense the Democrats are far more united behind Whatever Works than conflicting sets of ideologies.

Gay Marriage Is Bad for Kids

In response to a question about opposing gay marriage in the face of overwhelming gay rights’ victories, Santorum said opposing marriage equality should be acceptable.

“There’s nothing hateful about saying every child born in America has the right to be raised by their natural mother and natural father,” he said. “We know by every study that’s what’s best for children.”

Funny thing about sociological studies- they don’t always say what you want. Here’s a page of studies that found children of gay and lesbian couples fared no worse than those from heterosexual relationships.

The kids were most affected by universal factors like their relationship with their parents and family income. Having gay parents had no negative effects.

He Is Almost Certainly Running for President

When asked about running for president in 2016, Santorum dodged the question, just as everyone I talked to expected. No candidate announces this early.

But let’s be real. This guy is totally running for president. He talked about expanding the base to find new voters in swing states. He spent time trashing libertarianism, a.k.a. the preferred Kool-Aid of fellow presidential hopeful Rand Paul. You don’t do that unless you’re eyeing the ballot box.

Rick Santorum will run for president in 2016. He just hasn’t announced it yet.

 

  • Seamus Patrick

    I don’t know why anyone would take Rick Santorum seriously. He’s full of Santorum. Google it; it’s true.