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