I had a real juicy one picked out for this week, too, a gem that I thought everyone had missed. Only now I've come to find that Pericles over at DKos has a missive on the same damned thing I'm about to ramble about.
This business is too fast-paced. The minute something goes over the airwaves you have thirty seconds to gin up an article, proofread, edit and post to see if you can beat the three thousand other hooligans doing the same damned thing you are. It's enough to drive one to drink, but since I'm already heavily into that stuff it took an afternoon with a Sig Sauer over at the local indoor shooting range to cool my nerves. Never underestimate the ability of firearms to improve your day.
Back to the matter at hand. I'm forced to talk about Rick Santorum because, despite the efforts of Mitt's Cocktail Hour Brigade and a fantastic push by Dan Savage via Google, the poor beast stands to be the front-runner for the next month or so. It remains to be seen how long that will last; Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Huntsman and Gingrich have all run through the Mitt gauntlet and been left battered, bloodied and dismayed. It's safe to say that Gingrich is staying in the race out of pure malice for the coiffed cyborg, but does Santorum harbor the same levels of self-loathing and ignorance capable for such a devastating course of action?
If he's a good Catholic, I'm guessing we all know the answer.
Good for us! The race needs more buffoonery and chaos. It is truly the stuff of legends, a good backdrop for the first African-American president winning his second term in a landslide. Every time these candidates open their mouths, the world is reminded of just how horrifyingly backward the GOP has become; they have succeeded in marginalizing themselves even among staunch, lifelong conservatives, pandering more and more to the base of the base of the hideous base.
Case in point: this interview graciously linked to us by Robert Scherer, in which the reincarnation of Pope Innocent III gives us what is widely regarded as a prime example of "alienating nearly all of the electorate at once."
Rick is sitting on the couch reading the paper as the nation comes back from their day at school. The nation walks by, and just as we're about to clear the living room and make it upstairs to the relative seclusion of our room and our teen-heartthrob posters and Tiger Beat magazines, Rick says, "Nation! Come have a seat over here. We need to talk."
One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.”
It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.
Again, I know most Presidents don’t talk about those things, and maybe people don’t want us to talk about those things, but I think it’s important that you are who you are. I’m not running for preacher. I’m not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues. These how profound impact on the health of our society.
We are sheepish, but know that it is unwise to comply. There's an understanding that disobedience begets punishment, and we're in no mood for that. Rick points to the seat just beside him and folds the paper over his lap, his gaze stern yet compassionate, something right out of a Norman Rockwell piece. "Your mother found this in your room today." A condom in his hand. Its wrapper very nearly glistens in the light seeping in from behind the louvered shades, and The Nation feels its stomach turn knots. Christ, we think, how did he find that? It was so safe and secure underneath our mattress. Was he snooping around our room again?
"Now, don't try and say it isn't yours," Rick frowns. "I know it is. And I know it's tough to resist the temptations of the flesh, but you must remember what I've taught you about that, you know? Sex can be a wonderful experience, Nation, but as your farther I know what's best. You'd do best to avoid using these things and sullying the beautiful gift God gave you. Understand?"
We nod. Part of us feels like we just dodged a bullet, and yet another part of us wants to tell him that we're old enough to make our own decisions, to strap that sucker on our hog and fuck the living daylights out of anyone we want. But do we dare say such to his face, or will that talk be reserved for the locker room, another fairytale story about "standing up to Dad?" Come on, we already know the answer to that question.
Rick smiles, pats us on the head (seriously, we're too old for this Andy Griffith bullshit) and tells us to run along and play with Israel. "And if he starts beating up on Iran, you'd better help him out!"
* * * * * * * *
We all know that at his heart, Rick Santorum is a social-issues candidate. When he does decide to pontificate on economics, foreign policy or national defense, there is a very vibrant and very deliberate strain of Santorum morality injected into it. It's not hard to notice, and it exposes a very deep and dangerous crack in Santorum's campaign: outside of being the National Patriarch when it comes to issues he finds morally reprehensible, he has no fucking clue what he's doing.
What is so monumentally dangerous about these kinds of candidates is not their die-hand support of some truly warped religious ideologies, but their admitted ignorance of the more nuanced aspects of running a democracy, most notably the ability to compromise. Barry Goldwater put it best:
Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.Emphasis mine. It's a sad fact but it's one that is instantly recognizable and a very real problem. Rick Santorum does not care whether the condom found under our mattress is really ours or not: it's ours, as far as he's concerned. He doesn't care whether we agree with his views on whether it should be used or not: we won't, because father knows best. He doesn't care that he is vying to be the head of a pluralistic society in which everyone must get along in the commons, and compromise on important issues: father knows best.
Rick Santorum and his ilk don't give a shit if you're using contraceptives for hormonal balance or as a treatment for amenorrhea: you're using it because you're a whore and don't even bother trying to feed your father that bullshit about it being used for medical purposes. How could you even think to disrespect him like that? God placed him at the head of the National household, and it's your duty to do what he says, whether you like it or not.
If there's still any doubt that Rick's running to be Patriarch of the United States, consider this gem from the interview:
(15:20) Under my administration, you would see a lot of the social services pushed back to the states....I would be the head of the faith-based initiatives because that is what I would be focusing on and that is what I would be talking about a lot.There are a couple of ways to approach that statement, whether you think he wants to advocate for faith-based initiatives or actually head some kind of federal program to support them, but the ultimate message is the same either way: Rick is interested in using religious organizations to administer social safety net programs, complete with their moralistic bans on certain types of lifestyles and behaviors.
The "Father Knows Best" current is almost normal in conservative American politics, especially when it comes to sexual issues. I think it amounts to something akin to jealousy that some of us are capable of having it without feeling guilty afterwards, but that's mere speculation on my part. What surprised me though - and this is clearly something far more important than Rick's discussion on contraception - is this delightful little gem about higher education:
(26:10) We're going to repeal all sorts of regulations that inject the federal government into the area of education....I'm amused with the idea - not on primary or secondary, but on higher education - that we'll tie higher education dollars to the new...[useless jabber about titles]...saying that there should be an equal number of conservative professors teaching our kids in college and universities that receive federal funds as liberal. And that we have organizations that are certified organizations, just like we have certified organizations that accredit a college, we're gonna have certain organizations that will accredit conservative professors, that if you are to be eligible for federal funds to provide an equal number of conservative professors as liberal professors so we have some balance when our children come to school and they're not in the process of being indoctrinated by the academy, which is exactly what they are doing right now. And if we do not fight this battle of government control of education - primary and secondary - and the left's control of education post-secondary, that we are not going to have a country that is going to be free, we will have a country that is built and modeled on socialism and a model that approves and condones government control of their life.If the cognitive dissonance in that statement confused you slightly, you're not alone. Nothing says "repeal all sorts of regulations that inject the federal government into the area of education" like creating a federal accreditation program that rates each university professor based on their assumed political ideologies and can deny funding to universities if their faculty don't meet the government's idea of "balance".
The main problem is that I expect nothing less from Santorum and his cadre of supporters; this has never been and never will be about sharing power with the rest of society. Their only purpose in meddling with the political system is to grab and maintain power, to shape the society as they see fit and ensure not only that their right to preach their backwards ideology is kept sacrosanct, but that we're all forced to sit in the pews with them each week.
For people who crow so much about freedom of choice, they demonstrate no understanding of how to actually implement the damned thing. From their perspective, denying you contraception is doing you a service, because they're keeping you from committing a sin. They want to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, because doing so ensures that they are marginalized in society, seen as second-class citizens and further reinforces the stigma that being homosexual is wrong and should be corrected. Whether these actions cause additional pain and suffering for those involved is irrelevant, since it's what God wants.
It doesn't matter what you think, only what Father thinks. Because, as we all keenly understand, Father knows best.