The Spectacle Blog

Santorum Right on Target vs. Schieffer

By on 2.20.12 | 3:52PM

Unless I missed something, I agree with EVERY.... SINGLE.... WORD uttered by Rick Santorum in his interview on Face the Nation yesterday. Bob Schieffer was remarkably hostile, but Santorum kept his equanimity, kept smiling, didn't back down, but never got peevish (although he did, rightly, insist on correcting a misstatement by Bob Schieffer about his child being "stillborn"). Santorum is right that mandated amnio tests are a horrible idea; right that federal intervention in education is a bad idea; and right that some environmental extremism amounts (in a CLEAR attempt at metaphor rather than direct meaning) to a kind of "theology." Indeed, he took time in his Ohio speech (at issue on Face the Nation) to explain that he was NOT talking about Obama's theology of "the Bible," in other words not talking about his actual religious faith, but instead saying that the belief system in extreme environmentalism was a sort of theology.

This is absolutely standard political discourse. John Pitney explains it here. Of course, the double standard here is the same as the one existing on so many other topics: The Left can use language against the right without any heads being turned, but if a conservative uses the exact same language, the establishment media goes bonkers in a paroxysm of utterly false, utterly cynical outrage.

Look, I have no problem questioning if the black liberation theology to which Barack Obama listened from Jeremiah Wright for 20 years (!!!!) has next to nothing to do with Christianity. In fact, it has nothing to do with love; all it is, is hatred, from a man Obama identified as his mentor. But Rick Santorum did not question Obama's Christianity. He compared Obama's environmental worldview to a "theology," in the sense of deep-seated belief without empirical proof (as the natural sciences consider empiricism).

All of that said, if I were Santorum, I would for now back off any voluntary social-issues discussions other than those currently in the news independently of his comments (i.e. the Obama Admin's assault on religious liberty). Every time he goes there, the establishment media will take his words out of context -- and, worse, since he talks without a prepared text, he often leaves a little room for misinterpretation, just enough to get himself in trouble. (Almost always, even a semi-careful parsing of his words makes absolutely clear what he really meant, even without his subsequent explanations, but the establishment media can't be bothered with being even semi-careful.)  Also, while the substance of his social-issue commentary is eminently defensible even to those who don't agree 100%, the actual language he uses can lend itself to being characterized as extremist. It is NOTHING OF THE KIND, of course, but it is easy to mischaracterize.

Santorum's biggest task now: He needs to start working overtime to broaden his economic message to explain how his plans would help not just manufacturing, but help small businesses across the board, especially small retailers, and how it would help the whole economy. He needs to connect his economic message to the concerns of the suburban professional mom as well as the blue-collar dad. His proposals actually would be quite good for those other audiences, indeed for the whole economy, but he's not really closing the loop in his explanations thereof. Right now he just lists his economic-platform planks; he needs to explain how his policies would be beneficial.

Look, the man obviously is very good at most of this; he wouldn't be leading the field right now if he weren't doing a ton more right than wrong, in terms of communicating. But just a little polishing around the edges could really help increase his electoral upside and stop providing openings for the Left to attack him in ways that really do (unnecessary) damage among some independent voters.  Just because Santorum keeps getting better and better as a candidate doesn't mean he can't get even better still. The man's a winner. A few improvements, and he could become a big winner, rather than an achiever of hair's-breadth victories that leave everybody breathless from the drama.

Send to Kindle

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article

More Articles From Quin Hillyer