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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tuning Out Santorum

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 8:17 AM

Back during the Depression, Americans used to tune in to the radio and listen to escapist entertainment like, say, Little Orphan Annie and The Shadow. These radio serials created alternate universes, dreams spun of gossamer, that could divert us from the hardship of the real world.

In the midst of our own economic collapse, similarly, we have former Senator Rick Santorum's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. And today brings us another gripping installment of Santorum's craziness.

This time, Santorum spins a familiar fable about how America is a "center-right" country. The evidence for this, I guess, is the massive ass-whooping Democrats put on the GOP a couple weeks ago. Santorum, of course, has an explanation for that: 

Our governing philosophy was not rejected in the last two elections; rather, we could not plausibly explain how our ideas and actions matched that philosophy.

This is of course the story a lot of Republicans have been telling themselves as they clutch the pillow over their heads. "It's not our actions and policies people have rejected -- we just didn't do a good enough job of bullshitting them."

So after eight years of right-wing ideology, Santorum contends, voters rejected Republicans because the GOP wasn't ideological enough.  The party's

problem continues today, as the government considers whether to borrow and print more money to bail out the Big Three auto manufacturers, which are even less worthy of a bailout than the financial sector.

A couple things are worth noting here. First off, let's recall -- again -- that if Rick Santorum had had his way, that financial sector would have frittered away much of our Social Security funds, along with our 401(k)s. 

But more importantly, this just shows how crazy any Republican would be to listen to Rick Santorum. The auto companies -- and the millions of working-class families they support -- are less worthy of support than financial secort? Really? In whose book? Where are all the voters who want to help the Lords of Wall Street, but not the Ford employees of Lordstown, Ohio? In what universe are people more sympathetic to Daddy Warbucks than to Annie herself? 

Delusions like these are the reason Santorum is freelancing for pocket change, while less blinkered Republicans, like local Congressman Tim Murphy, are still drawing a federal paycheck.

Murphy, as you may know, voted for the auto bailout but against bailing out the financial sector. In other words, his preferences were exactly the opposite of those Santorum recommends. 

Now you could argue that Murphy was just playing politics here -- opposing a massively unpopular banking-industry bailout shortly before an election. And then he voted for a measure to benefit an industry that the working folks in his district feel they have a stake in. But if Murphy was just playing politics ... doesn't that prove something?

Murphy's an ideologue, but unlike Santorum, he doesn't assume that the voters are. He may be a weasel, and Democrats like me might dearly love to get rid of him, but that's not the issue here. The issue is that Murphy, whatever his faults, has maintained some sort of connection with political reality -- which is to say he has maintained some sort of connection with the people he represents. His continuing political success puts paid to Santorum's bizarre notion that, in the midst of an economic collapse, what people really want is a purer form of the ideology that caused the crisis in the first place.

But by all means, I invite GOP operatives to continue tuning into Santorum's messages. In a future episode, perhaps he'll be able to explain the setbacks of 2010 and 2012. 

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