Charles Krauthammer on Rick Santorum

Human Events: Romney’s Luck

It’s no use arguing that Rick Santorum won an equal number of Michigan delegates. He lost the state. Wasn’t Santorum claiming a great victory just three weeks ago when he shockingly swept Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado — without a single convention delegate being selected?

He was right. It was a great victory. Delegate counts were beside the point. These three wins instantly propelled him to the front of the field nationally and to a double-digit lead in Romney’s Michigan backyard.

Then Santorum went ahead and lost it. Rather than sticking to his considerable working-class, Reagan-Democrat appeal, he kept wandering back to his austere social conservatism. Rather than placing himself in “grandpa’s hands,” his moving tribute to his immigrant coal miner grandfather as representative of the America Santorum pledges to restore, he insisted on launching himself into culture- war thickets: Kennedy, college and contraception.

He averred that John Kennedy’s 1960 Houston speech on separation of church and state makes him “throw up.” Whatever the virtues of Santorum’s expansive view of the role of religion, the insulting tone toward Kennedy who, living at a time of frank anti-Catholic bigotry, understandably offered a more attenuated view of religion in the public square, was jarring, intemperate and utterly unnecessary.

As was his sneering at President Obama’s wanting to open college to all. Santorum called that snobbery and an attempt at liberal indoctrination. Sure, there’s a point to be made about ideological imbalance in higher education and about the dignity of manual labor. But to do so by disdaining the most important instrument of social mobility — one that millions of parents devoutly desire for their children — is simply bizarre.

Finally, the less said about contraception the better, a lesson Santorum refused to learn. It’s a settled question. The country has no real desire for cringe-inducing admonitions from politicians about libertinism and procreative (versus pleasurable) sex.

Yeah, yeah, yeah — so Charles Krauthammer’s excellent piece is more about weak GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney’s success-by-attrition than it is about the troubles surrounding a Santorum candidacy, but I thought the selection above articulated perfectly what I had been trying to say in writing, on the new America’s Right Radio, and in casual conversation for weeks.

While I like Rick Santorum, I am glad that his defensiveness and inability to sequester his more controversial socially conservative views scuttled his campaign. Better now than in October.

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