Updates to the Elderblog List
Ageism at the Oscars

Santorum's Extremism

category_bug_politics.gif One of the nicest things that has happened in response to The New York Times story I was quoted in last week is that I have heard from about a dozen old friends I had not been in touch with for a long time.

Today's post came about when I thought over a two-hour-long phone conversation I had with one of them on Sunday.

Do you get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you consider the possibility of President Rick Santorum? I sure do. Although some of his detractors' half-jokey suggestion that he would return the U.S. to the 13th century is amusing, hatred of President Barack Obama runs so deep and strong in certain circles of the population that it's not a laughing matter.

Here is a shorthand overview of Santorum's atavistic positions: He has labeled a college education “indoctrination” and thinks President Barack Obama is a “snob” for promoting higher education.

He said reading President John F. Kennedy's speech on the separation of church and state made him want to “throw up.” He would, he says, outlaw abortion in all circumstances, end all use of birth control and most pre-natal testing.

He equates homosexuality with bestiality, questions Obama's “phony theology,” wants federal and state government out of education (thereby, I suppose, abolishing public schools altogether).

He would cut crucial safety net programs – Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment benefits. He believes intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught side-by-side with evolution.

He would privatize Social Security, he thinks global warming is “junk science” and he supports a “drill everywhere” oil policy.

If all that is not enough to frighten the bejesus out of anyone listening, he has also invoked Hitler/Nazi imagery in an attack on Obama thereby proving that Godwin's Law is not confined to the internet.

More, it is not the first time Santorum has casually made such analogies. He himself says he has done it “hundreds” of times – and apparently does not understand how offensive, repugnant, contemptible and noxious – not to mention, stupid - playing the holocaust card is.

If you don't count a major supporter's awful aspirin joke, Santorum mostly stayed out of the recent attack from legislators and religious leaders on women's bodies and health but if you think that means he is not in agreement, back up and read that list of positions again.

As frightening as the idea of a Santorum presidency is, so is the media treatment of him. It is baffling that they accept him as a serious contender and not as a member of the tinfoil hat brigade where at any other time in American history, he would have been consigned – and ignored.

Today, there are primaries in Michigan and Arizona. As of Monday, Santorum and Mitt Romney were essentially tied in the Michigan polls, 37 to 35 respectively. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has endorsed Romney and latest polls show him ahead of Santorum 43 to 27 percent in that state where the winner takes all the delegates.

The Republican nomination will not be decided tomorrow although it may happen next week on Super Tuesday when ten primaries are held in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia vote.

Back when Santorum was at the bottom of the Republican pack behind Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, etc. I found him, like most of them, laughable - just another self-important yahoo out of his depth.

It's different now that his turn as front runner is lasting longer than that of those who have dropped out.

It is hard to respect anyone in the Republican field of candidates but there is one, Santorum, to be feared because he is an extremist, a religious zealot and given power, they are always dangerous.

That and the deeply embedded hatred of Obama among tens of millions of Americans mean no one should be dismissive of Rick Santorum's possible nomination.

UPDATE 6:30AM: President Bill Clinton's Labor Secretary, Robert Reich, has also published a blog post about Santorum today. Or, rather, the imminent danger from the "loony right" that Santorum represents. Reich believes the Republican Party will end up on the "dust heap of history." Eventually.

"In the meantime, though," writes Reich, "we are in trouble. America is a winner-take-all election system in which a party needs only 51 percent (or, in a three-way race, a plurality) in order to gain control.

"In parliamentary systems of government, small groups representing loony fringes can be absorbed relatively harmlessly into adult governing coalitions.

"But here, as we’re seeing, a loony fringe can take over an entire party — and that party will inevitably take over some part of our federal, state, and local governments.

"As such, the loony right is a clear and present danger."

I agree. Go read more here.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Chopped


I have read comments elsewhere that people hope Santorum gets the Republican nomination because they believe it would ensure the election of Obama. I would hope that's true, but like you, I feel a shiver of horror when I consider the possibility of Rick Santorum as president. He is a frightening person, terrible in his moral certainty.

Thank you and Yikes!

Mr. Santorum is every bit as dangerous as the zealous religious fanatics we are fighting in other countries. He takes the same position: "I am so certain of my positions that I will force them on you."

He makes George W. Bush look like an intellectual giant.

If I could be granted any wish in the World, I would ask to be shown the front page of the New York Times dated November 7,2012.

If it read :
I could relax and enjoy this clown show the republicans are putting on.

I am almost positive that will be the result but,like you, I worry about some of the hatred being displayed toward the President along with the religious zealots
and their extreme ideas of how our Country should be governed.

Our main challenge will be to NOT get overconfident. Keep the race tight so NO ONE stays home on election day because Obama is 20 points ahead of his opponent. I think the President will need all of our votes....

People who "hope Santorum gets the Republican nomination because they believe it would ensure the election of Obama" are being extremely cynical, and dangerous. Let's hope for an Obama vs. Romney contest. Obama will win. And we'll all be better for it.

I had read one opinion that it would be better for the GOP to get this craziness out of their system by nominating Santorum. They are so convinced the average American agrees with them that they won't begin to cooperate on anything until they get a chance to put a crazy up there and see what happened to Goldwater. Then they will go for more realistic options. I tend to fear the possibility of it being Santorum for the radical views he espouses but also how he says it then denies he said it. It's like a kind of mental illness and his ego is expanding with the chance to get the nomination. With someone like him, a religious bigot, a big ego is a natural but also makes it all highly dangerous. The problem is with it as it stands, we have a GOP unwilling to be realistic on working toward any goals for the American people. What will it take to get them past that and make them face reality? When someone is nuts, what is reality...

What article in the New York Times? I seem to have missed that one. Can we get a link so we can read that one??

And you are right, zealots and yahoos are dangerous. They are the type that form the KKK and the Nazi party! How can some humans scream that they are "Christians" and then hate other people like that?! It makes me sick.

You write a bunch of Democratic party hogwash. I want LESS government control in my life, LESS deficit, LESS control of our school, etc.

"As frightening as the idea of a Santorum presidency is, so is the media treatment of him. It is baffling that they accept him as a serious contender and not as a member of the tinfoil hat brigade where at any other time in American history, he would have been consigned – and ignored."

This had had me just pulling my hair out!! I cannot believe NPR now treats total wackos with such acceptance. Why?? How can they do that??

It was the story about living alone I mentioned and linked to twice last week. I didn't link to it today since it's kind of embarrassing to keep touting a media appearance, but here it is just for you .

Here in Michigan, everyone can vote in today's presidential primary election no matter his or her party affiliation. I'm listening to a radio program that has had some Michigan Democrats calling in to say they have already voted, or will be voting, for Rick Santorum in the hopes of preventing Mitt Romney from winning here.

I understand the strategy, but what if Santorum wins here and then in other states and then becomes the nominee for president and then becomes the president. As the radio host just now said, "This is playing with fire," referring voting for Santorum as a strategy to prevent a Romney win.

I just read a short, nonpartisan eBook entitled How Do You Kill 11 Million People? by Andy Andrews. He urges thoroughly researching our leaders and then getting out there and voting for whom we think can best lead us. That's nothing new of course, but what he underpins those statements with is chilling.

Oh, by the way, he answers the book's title by saying, "Lie to them."

Rick Santorum, on the other hand, seems to be telling us his raw truth. He's putting it right out there, and if he were to become president because those who don't like him didn't get out there and vote against him, then those who didn't vote have only themselves to blame if and when things turn out badly.

Mitt Romney is slippery. What IS his truth? Which is more dangerous, Santorum's truth or Romney's weather-vane views?

The only consolation if Santorum were to become president is that no president gets everything he wants. The presidency isn't a dictatorship (yet). Nonetheless, he is definitely scary.

Newt Gingrich said this is the most important election in our time. He's right, it is.

We can't take anything for granted, so in addition to voting next November, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I think Bill Mahler has it right with his donation to the Obama campaign of one million dollars. He says that complacency of the Democrats will be the thing that loses the election for Obama. He is trying to show the Democrats that they must continue to contribute to Obama's campaign because 5 or 6 super wealthy men will buy this election for the Republicans if we let them.

If we don't get behind Obama 100% by contributing and voting we could end up like Germany in the 1930's. Would the American Inquisition be far behind? In times of economic hardship the masses lose all sense of reality and vote for someone who promises them something better than they have now.

If the masses elected George Bush a second time knowing what they knew about him when times were good, what is to stop them from electing a religious zealot who appeals to the lowest denominator of their nature?

You didn't mention the Santorum position that angered me the most -- that a fetus resulting from a rape is "a gift" from God and that the pregnant woman must just "make the best out of a bad situation." This man's callous disregard for the rights and feelings of others is horrifying. Equally horrifying is that anyone other than his immediate family supports his candidacy. We are electing a president, not a pope.

I'm hoarding birth control pills just in case.

I wish people like Kenneth would explain how they can consider a nominee like Santorum to translate to "less government control in my life." I can only assume he means less government of heterosexual men's lives.

Thank you for this post. I have been peppering my Facebook and Twitter accounts with how scary this man is. Thank Goodness we're not alone. Op-ed pages galore echo our fears.

A deeper question, because of the rise of Santorum, is "How did we get here?"

With Dubya's election, Karl Rove tapped into something I just didn't think existed; a substantial population in our country who think it's perfectly okay to ignore facts and throw logic in the dumper!

What are Santorum's real motivations? Is he the reincarnation of the Florentine zealot of the Renaissance, Savonarola? Or just another opportunistic political hack, using the "back to Jesus" pose to gather support from the extreme right wing-nuts who constitute a minority of the Republican party but are making so much noise at the moment. Is it insecurity and fear of change that is driving his followers? If so, how can it ba addressed?

A lot of food for thought, not just about defeating this man but how he expresses the beliefs of a dangerous minority of Americans.

He does seem to get more extreme and vitriolic as each day passes. It's no wonder when his inane comments about a higher education convey enmity and the audience erupts in applause.

What Darlene said.

I share your concerns, Ronni. What's more disturbing to me than Santorum himself is that there are enough people who think like he does to have pushed him to the top, or near the top of the GOP ticket. They've always been around I suppose, but with all of the encouragement from republican politicians they're like a swarm of soldier ants coming out of their burrows now to attack an invader, full of venom and hate - not to mention really radical ideas.

P.S. I really like your new photo.

Chilling, well-written and thoughtfully stimulating column. I do feel comforted when I read blog posts that confirm that I am not the only one doing more than shaking my head over Santorum. To repeat another post - how did we get here?

You've probably inspired others to write about what is happening where the hardest battles are going on to secure a woman's right to choose.

"Don't Tell Me What To Do!" is my post today on the issue. Elderbloggers, if you live in states under siege in state legislatures--Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Alabama--and Washington,D.C., please send links to your posts so I can add updates to mine. Thanks!

You are right, Ronni, he is a religious zealot and I've got a sneaking suspicion that he is more zealous than he lets on.

He certainly is scaring a lot of people including me. I, like you and naomi, wrote about him today. My post is entitled, "A Fanatic By Any Name Is Still A Fanatic."

Saints preserve us! --- ;)

When I was a young person growing up in Minnesota I had many relatives who were dyed-in-the-wool Republicans. I was a Democrat and have remained so my entire life. We argued with the Republican relatives but we also respected their points of view. They argued for individual freedom and responsibility. We agreed with them but what about social justice we asked? What good is freedom if it means being free to starve because you weren't born in the right family with the correct pedigree? The current crop of Republicans, including Mr. Santorum, have no conception of social justice or what might be called the common good. They are too busy serving their wealthy masters, the one-percent, to have any concern for the rest of us. I live very close to Michelle Bachmann's congressional district in central Minnesota and I can hear her peculiar craziness wafting my way at odd hours and unprotected moments. Makes me nostalgic for Dwight D. Eisenhower.

It's occurred to me that the only Republican running for President is Ron Paul. Santorum, Newt and Mitt are running for Ayatollah.

Found your post by accident, but I'll be back

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