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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

The [Main] Problem with Santorum

As I have said here before, I like Rick Santorum. For being a Senator from Pennsylvania, he was pretty darn good. He’s undoubtedly a very strong pro-lifer, which means that he and I are in tune on the most important political issue to me. I still do not consider him to be a good nominee for President whatsoever.

Let us grant for just a moment that executive experience is not as important as I believe it is for Presidential nominees. Given that all the momentum seems to be swinging his way, it would appear that most voters do not indeed agree that executive experience is a necessary prerequisite for the job or the nomination. Fine. I am still at a loss for what exactly in Rick Santorum’s record commends him to be the right candidate for this place and time in American history.

Santorum likes to point to two particular episodes in his record as evidence that he is a conservative crusader against spending: welfare reform and social security reform. Santorum is right to accentuate his involvement in these two efforts as he was effective in the welfare reform fight and threw himself wholeheartedly into the social security reform fight, despite the fact that it ultimately doomed his electoral prospects in Pennsylvania. What this proves is that when Santorum is pointed in the right direction by GOP leadership, he can be a loyal and sometimes effective foot soldier.

However, the rest of Santorum’s record – which Erick has recounted here on numerous occasions – indicates that Rick Santorum has never been a leader when it came to bucking the party leadership on anything – most especially including spending. On every major spending issue – Medicare Part D, earmarks, etc., Santorum was complicit with the worst aspects of the Bush administration’s fiscal profligacy.

I defy any of Rick Santorum’s supporters to point out to me one instance – even one – of Rick Santorum battling other Republicans on spending. Maybe it happened and I missed it; I certainly don’t pretend omniscience.

I don’t suppose this would matter so much, except that the people who are now flocking to Santorum are the same people I hear constantly telling me that another go-along, get-along Republican is completely unacceptable, and that they’ll stay home if one is nominated. It isn’t enough, I am constantly told, for the nominee to oppose Democrats now and then – we must have someone who will also oppose feckless Republicans. What good will it do us to march toward socialism a little slower than the pace preferred by the Democrats? It boggles that mind that, as an electorate, we rejected Rick Perry because his voice sounded too much like George W. Bush’s, and yet we stand on the verge of nominating George W. Bush’s true ideological successor, Rick Santorum. Bush’s fundamental problem was that he lost his veto pen until the Democrats took control of the Congress and let the Republicans run all over him on spending; who can say with a straight face that Santorum would not have this exact same tendency?

On spending, Rick Santorum has spent his entire career as a follower rather than a leader. In light of this, I am at a loss as to how he has suddenly become the choice of so many who loudly proclaim that only a crusader on spending issues will do.

 

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