GOP attacks on Santorum begin in earnest


Republican insiders seem to have suddenly woken up to something that others have been noticing for years, that their party has been taken over by open cranks. Hence it is hardly surprising that the Republican party establishment has begun attacking Rick Santorum in earnest.

Columnist David Brooks lambastes the party for being asleep while the ‘wingers’ (his own word) took it over. Former senator Alan Simpson calls Santorum “rigid and homophobic”. Rudy Giuliani thinks that Santorum’s and the Republican party’s stance on gay rights makes it not look like a modern party. And these last two are people whom you would normally think of as pretty crazy themselves.

Jon Oliver on The Daily Show explains that the Republican party is so scared of a Santorum candidacy because he has abandoned the strategy that other politicians have perfected that uses ambiguous language while giving a nod and wink to the crazies, thus enabling them to cobble together a winning coalition of voters. The problem with Santorum is that he is quite direct and open, proud even, about his anti-sex, anti-woman, anti-gay, pro-rich, gung-ho-for-Jesus agenda.

(This clip appeared on February 23, 2012. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

One other thing that hasn’t been noted that much is how gloomy Santorum’s basic message is. It is all “We are going to hell” all the time. And he means hell literally. I am not sure that people can take too much of that. All the candidates’ negative message has party insiders worried since that is usually not a winning approach.

If Santorum defeats Mitt Romney in Michigan today, expect to see a full-blown Republican party freak-out as they desperately seek a way to bring him down. It is not that they are scared of losing the presidency in November. I think they are already bracing for that. It is that they are afraid of the long-term alienation of a huge swath of voters who will see their party as representing backward-looking haters.

Comments

  1. slc1 says

    They are also afraid that an Obama landslide in November, which could well be the result of Santorum gaining the Rethuglican nomination, would lead to the loss of the House and a loss of seats in the Senate via his coattails. This would be in addition to losses at the State level (governors and state legislators).

  2. RW Ahrens says

    I would note that if Republicans are that afraid of what voters will think of their party, it’s too late – they should have been concerned with what State governors and legislatures have been actually doing that should worry them.

    This meme about a “War on Women” isn’t an accident, nor is it made up – the Republican Party across the country has been taking off the gloves. Santorum is only expressing what many, many others in his party have been actively doing at the State level for almost a year!

    My own feeling here is that, if the Party elite haven’t realized this till now, the GOP is doomed to either fragment, or to die a well deserved death at the voting booth.

    And it’s about time.

  3. leobutch says

    …the Republican party is so scared of a Santorum candidacy because he has abandoned the strategy that other politicians have perfectedm that uses ambiguous language while giving a nod and wink to the crazies, thus enabling them to cobble together a winning coalition of voters.

    Agreed. The Republicans’ current Konservative Klown Kar has skillfully used dog-whistle terms that are vague enough to broadcast in the media (and to Republicans in general) while being understood by the wingnut audience they hope to target. Santorum isn’t playing by the new rulebook so he risks displeasing those who pull the strings. I doubt those behind the scenes want this to end in a brokered convention.

  4. Todd says

    It is all “We are going to hell” all the time. And he means hell literally. I am not sure that people can take too much of that.

    This is a boon, yet also sad. On the one hand, Santorum’s presidential ambitions will almost certainly be attained, because he is sincerely dedicated to his bat-shit insane religion, and people don’t want to hear about how they’re going to Hell – they don’t want to make the hard choices required to get into Heaven. The sad part is, he’ll lose for the wrong reasons. His kind of Christianity is claimed by a very large percentage of the US population, but they don’t really mean it. If they would just let go of the social stigma, the childhood conditioning, the worries about familial disapproval, many of the ludicrous obstacles religion throws in the way of bettering the world would disappear. No more “debate” about evolution, no more anti-contraception nonsense, no arguments from authority about historical facts, scienctific theories, homosexuality, etc., etc..

  5. RW Ahrens says

    His kind of Christianity is claimed by a very large percentage of the US population,

    I don’t think so. Evangelicals are estimated by some to be as large as 20%, but others say it could be half that. I wouldn’t call that a “large” percentage.

    Not insignificant, but not what they’d like you to think, either!

  6. Todd says

    By “his kind of Christianity”, I meant Christians who believe in a punitive god – who believe literally in Heaven and Hell and strict rules about avoiding Hell. Having been raised in an area where a majority believe that way, I would be completely unsurprised (and more than a little relieved) to find I overestimate their numbers.

  7. ash says

    I agree. I think the evidence is that people would behave very differently if they actually believed what they professed to believe. Like folks who say they have faith that the world is going to end who somehow aren’t able to get themselves around to jettisoning their wealth. That “just in case” clause is very telling

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