Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How to Annoy the Media: Vote for Rick Santorum

 

Today, Rick Santorum appears perched to do very well in the Iowa caucuses.  Indeed, the betting markets suggest that his chances are better than even to finish among the top two.  And the markets say he has about a one-in-four chance of finishing first.  Almost no one, I believe, would have said this a month or two.

I am very pleased by this.  One reason is that of all the Republican candidates, he’s the only one whom I’ve actually ever met.  Another reason is that over the past couple decades, out of almost all American politicians, he has received the most unfair treatment by the U.S. media.

One of the most egregious cases occurred in 2003.  In an interview with an AP reporter, Santorum criticized the Supreme Court’s reasoning in the Lawrence v. Texas case.  The court had overturned a Texas anti-sodomy law.  Specifically, it claimed that a right to privacy made the Texas law unconstitutional.

Santorum noted that if such a right really exists in the Constitution, then it must also be unconstitutional for a state to forbid any kind of sex in the home, including incest, polygamy, or sex with animals or minors.  Specifically, he noted:

And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does.

His point was a specific one about the overreaching of the Court–whether the Constitution really grants such a strong “right of privacy.”  Santorum argued no, and one way he illustrated this by pointing out the absurd logical implications of the Court’s argument.

Instead, the media portrayed his point as if he were “comparing”  homosexuality to “man on child” and “man on dog” relationships.

In my book Left Turn, I document another case where Santorum has been treated extremely unfairly by the media.  It involved the Senate’s passage of the ban on partial-birth abortions.   The Senate bill allowed an exception for cases where the life of the mother was in danger.  However, many pro-choice senators wanted a stronger exception, one for the health of the mother.  On the Senate floor Santorum explained why proponents of the bill did not want to give a health-of-the-mother exception:

The interesting point is, why are they pushing so hard for this health exception, and why are we resisting it so much?  …

[W]hen Roe v. Wade was decided, there was a companion case called Doe v. Bolton, and in that case “health” was defined as: “Medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors: physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age relevant to the well-being of the patient.”  …

So what this provision did, and that is what the Court wanted to do, was to give absolute latitude to the doctor… So the health exception bars the bill, stops the bill from having any effect. 

So that is why we resist.

However, none of the national mainstream outlets explained the difference between health and life exceptions.  Instead, they portrayed politicians such as Santorum as calloused to the dangers that pregnant women face.  Here, for instance, is a partial transcript of NBC News’ report of the Senate’s vote.

TOM BROKAW, anchor (San Francisco):

In the already emotional debate over abortion, this is the issue that takes the passions on both sides to new levels. It is what some are calling partial birth abortion. Others call it late-term. Today those who have campaigned long and hard against the procedure won a major victory in the Senate. But even with President Bush’s expected signature, the battle may not be over. NBC’s Chip Reid tonight on Capitol Hill.

CHIP REID reporting:

In a debate filled with graphic words and pictures…

Senator RICK SANTORUM (Republican, Pennsylvania): They place a vacuum hose…

REID: …proponents of a ban on so-called partial birth abortion argued that however one feels about abortion generally, this particular late-term procedure should never be allowed.

Senator JOHN ENSIGN (Republican, Nevada): This procedure is so grotesque that when it is described, it makes people shudder.

Sen. SANTORUM: These abortions are performed on healthy mothers with healthy children, so these are healthy children–otherwise would be born alive.

REID: Opponents say that’s not accurate and criticize the ban for undercutting the right to abortion and for failing to make an exception for the health of the mother.

Senator BARBARA BOXER (Democrat, California): She could have blood clots, an embolism, a stroke, damage to nearby organs or paralysis if this particular procedure is not available to her.

Senator TOM HARKIN (Democrat, Iowa): America’s women are now second-class citizens.

Unidentified Woman: The yeas are 64, the nays are 34.

REID: In the end, the ban was overwhelmingly approved. President Bush has promised to sign it into law. With the fight in Congress over, the battleground now shifts to the courts, in all likelihood eventually right across the street to the Supreme Court. In fact, opponents of the ban say they’ll file lawsuits to overturn it on the very day the president signs it.

Note the cheap shot on Santorum.  “Opponents say,” according to Chip Reid, Santorum’s words are inaccurate.  He doesn’t say who the opponents are or what the evidence is that Santorum’s words are inaccurate.  Further, if he would have given the context of Santorum’s statement, it would have revealed that Santorum was only saying that under current law (i.e. before the ban), at least sometimes the aborted fetuses and their mothers were healthy, not necessarily always.  Given this context, his statement is absolutely true.

Note also that Chip Reid says nothing about the life exception in the bill—an exception, which, under many reasonable interpretations, would make Boxer’s words inaccurate.  Reid declines to mention that “Opponents say” that her words are inaccurate.  That treatment was reserved only for Santorum.

Addendum  (posted at approximately 6:15pm Pacific, approximately three hours after my original post):  In my original post I implied that when Santorum uttered the phrases “man on dog” and “man on boy” he was using them only as a device to illustrate the absurdity of the Supreme Court decision.  I think I should backtrack from that position.  I’ve now read notes that the AP reporter released.  It seems that at least part of the reason Santorum used those phrases was to argue the moral wrongness of homosexuality, not just the bad judgment in the Supreme Court decision.   Consequently, the media’s treatment of Santorum might be slightly less unfair than I originally described.  But I stand by my broader point:  Their treatment of him is very unfair.  And the media’s treatment of him is about the most of unfair of all treatment of any U.S. politician. 

(I owe this addendum to a conversation I had with a liberal colleague, whom I respect greatly and who occasionally changes my thinking after some heated political discussions.  The colleague happens to be the same colleague I called “Byron B. Bright” in my book.  In this Powerline post, you can read a description of him.   Unlike most mainstream journalists, I work in an environment that contains many people whose political views differ from my own.  As my conversation today illustrates, a benefit of such a diverse political environment is that it occasionally corrects and sharpens one’s thinking.)

There are 23 comments.

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  1. Frozen Chosen Inactive

    So Santorum practically lives in Iowa for 4 months and visits all 99 counties forty times each just to get maybe 20% of the vote. My question is this – realistically, where does he go from here? He has no money, no organization and isn’t even on the ballot in several states.

    Sound like a classic one-hit wonder to me…

    • #1
    • January 4, 2012, at 3:47 AM PST
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  2. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    I don’t know that Santorum was uniquely ill-used by the media (though I might if I read your book!) My perception of the situation is that he was merely the easiest target as he had spoken up the loudest. He also has a tendency to speak clearly on the moral issues, and that is something the press simply cannot allow.

    • #2
    • January 4, 2012, at 3:48 AM PST
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  3. Crow's Nest Inactive

    Tim—you’re quite right that Santorum drives the media crazy, and some of the aftermath of the 2003 situation, let’s call it the urban dictionary factor, really is quite vile.

    Though I strongly disagree with Santorum’s views on the issue (and I think he’ll be out of the race shortly, so let’s not all hyperventilate) I think it is important to understand that his position, even as articulated in this reporter’s notes, is a coherent worldview. He’s not an irrational bigot—his views are very much coherent, traditionalist (if hardline) and in line the Catholic church’s long-held teaching on the subject: in this view, all sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage are inherently sinful, and within heterosexual marriage not every sexual act is permitted.

    That the court, therefore, proclaimed a right to privacy that does not exist in the Constitution is merely incidental. Santorum rejects that argument on what I’d call a “process” objection. But that’s not where the critic stops, he has a “metaphysical” objection behind it.

    • #3
    • January 4, 2012, at 3:50 AM PST
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  4. Mel Foil Inactive

    If Santorum wins Iowa, the press will probably just start “investigating” (talk to the experts that already agree with them) how Iowa Republicans got so “irrational and misinformed” about what issues are truly important (climate) and which are old news (abortion.)

    • #4
    • January 4, 2012, at 3:56 AM PST
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  5. Crow's Nest Inactive

    So, having said everything I said in #19, you have to understand that Santorum carries this metaphysical conception from the religious realm into the political realm of positive law via the family.

    Anything that can be said to undermine the family–including, anything that can be said to undermine the above description of married couple making love in accordance with the Church’s traditional teaching on the subject–is, for Santorum, a valid ground for the State to use coercive power against a citizen.

    Whether or not Santorum himself–and he is on record as saying that he would not have voted for the Texas Law–would pass this kind of legislation is, to this extent, irrelevant. He is comfortable within an America in which the state has the coercive authority to jail its citizens for sexual acts that violate his metaphysics.

    This, I think, would be making a revolution against the present. It would require a transformation of America’s Constitution that, far from fostering the commercial republic we now inhabit, would send us back to the puritan conception of government in 17th century America.

    Whatever one’s position there, is that what we want 2012 to be about?

    • #5
    • January 4, 2012, at 4:05 AM PST
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  6. Tim Wright Inactive

    I don’t doubt Santorum has been treated unfairly. He is a Republican isn’t he?

    What I don’t often see discussed is the degree to which he is a “big government” spender, worse than GWB. He is more than a little dismissive of small government conservatives.

    Tim

    Edited to add link to Cato piece on Santorum —

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/rick-santorum-v-limited-government/

    • #6
    • January 4, 2012, at 4:07 AM PST
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  7. David Williamson Inactive

    He is a conservative, so he will get the Palin treatment from the media ( oh, wait – he already is).

    I’ll probably vote for him in AZ at the end of Feb, if he is still standing by then.

    • #7
    • January 4, 2012, at 4:12 AM PST
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  8. Stuart Creque Member
    Stuart CrequeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Frozen Chosen: So Santorum practically lives in Iowa for 4 months and visits all 99 counties forty times each just to get maybe 20% of the vote. My question is this – realistically, where does he go from here? He has no money, no organization and isn’t even on the ballot in several states.

    Sound like a classic one-hit wonder to me… · Jan 3 at 2:47pm

    It depends on who else drops out of the race and how their voters, donors and volunteers move when they do. Santorum may well pull in money and organizational resources, and apparently not being on the ballot in a few states doesn’t present an insurmountable deficit in delegates.

    An equally good question is, for all his money and organization, Mitt Romney manages 20 or 25 percent in Iowa. Is that his ceiling for states outside the Blue Northeast? Is he destined to be the Pepsi-Cola — or even the Royal Crown Cola, a favorite only in a single region — of this contest, as the voters flock to some other Coca-Cola candidate with broader appeal?

    • #8
    • January 4, 2012, at 4:27 AM PST
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  9. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Stuart Creque
    Frozen Chosen: So Santorum practically lives in Iowa for 4 months and visits all 99 counties forty times each just to get maybe 20% of the vote. My question is this – realistically, where does he go from here? He has no money, no organization and isn’t even on the ballot in several states.

    Sound like a classic one-hit wonder to me… · Jan 3 at 2:47pm

    An equally good question is, for all his money and organization, Mitt Romney manages 20 or 25 percent in Iowa. Is that his ceiling for states outside the Blue Northeast? Is he destined to be the Pepsi-Cola — or even the Royal Crown Cola, a favorite only in a single region — of this contest, as the voters flock to some other Coca-Cola candidate with broader appeal? · Jan 3 at 3:27pm

    Stuart, I will gladly abstain from posting on Ricochet for one month if this ever comes to pass.

    • #9
    • January 4, 2012, at 4:45 AM PST
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  10. KC Mulville Inactive
    • Senator TOM HARKIN (Democrat, Iowa): America’s women are now second-class citizens.
    • Unidentified Woman: The yeas are 64, the nays are 34.

    Funny how the vote result call was placed directly after the assertion that the law makes women second-class, as if making them second class was what the vote was about.

    No, that couldn’t possibly have been intentional. I suppose that would give them too much credit for cleverness.

    • #10
    • January 4, 2012, at 5:00 AM PST
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  11. Stuart Creque Member
    Stuart CrequeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Frozen Chosen
    Stuart Creque

    An equally good question is, for all his money and organization, Mitt Romney manages 20 or 25 percent in Iowa. Is that his ceiling for states outside the Blue Northeast? Is he destined to be the Pepsi-Cola — or even the Royal Crown Cola, a favorite only in a single region — of this contest, as the voters flock to some other Coca-Cola candidate with broader appeal? · Jan 3 at 3:27pm

    Stuart, I will gladly abstain from posting on Ricochet for one month if this ever comes to pass.

    Well, here’s the sign that should worry any Mitt Romney supporter: Newt Gingrich imploded his own candidacy right out of the starting gate. He made a disparaging comment about Paul Ryan’s plan (“right-wing social engineering”), he seemed unserious by taking a cruise vacation, he lost his campaign staff. But in the wake of all that, he got a big second look in Iowa — and he currently leads in the polls in South Carolina and Florida.

    Romney never imploded in nearly so spectacular a fashion — but he hasn’t substantially built on his 20 to 25 percent base of support.

    The Newt That Refreshes?

    • #11
    • January 4, 2012, at 5:01 AM PST
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  12. Stuart Creque Member
    Stuart CrequeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    By the way, I once met Newt, at a function where Pat Caddell and Arianna Huffington were both present (this was before Arianna went full-tilt lefty but after she broke with Newt somehow over something — her contempt for him was palpable).

    • #12
    • January 4, 2012, at 5:15 AM PST
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  13. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Stuart Creque: By the way, I once met Newt, at a function where Pat Caddell and Arianna Huffington were both present (this was before Arianna went full-tilt lefty but after she broke with Newt somehow over something — her contempt for him was palpable). · Jan 3 at 4:15pm

    What do you think of Newt’s crying like a school girl over all those nasty attack ads from Mitt-friendly PACs? Do you think his whining will help him when Obama unloads with both barrels in the general election?

    • #13
    • January 4, 2012, at 5:26 AM PST
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  14. Adam Koslin Member

    Perhaps the media has been unfriendly to Santorum, but it’s not just a media problem; Santorum expresses attitudes towards sex and childbirth which, though not unique, are radically different from the status quo that Americans are used to. Moreover, he expresses his views in stark and unsubtle language that is often interpreted as an attack on the humanity or virtue of those he opposes. It’s not possible to be against same-sex marriages in blunt language anymore. It’s not possible to be against abortion in such blunt language anymore. The discussion has shifted leftward on those issues, and to ignore that shift is to doom one’s political career both in the media and in the minds of the populace.

    • #14
    • January 4, 2012, at 5:33 AM PST
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  15. Stuart Creque Member
    Stuart CrequeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Frozen Chosen
    Stuart Creque: By the way, I once met Newt, at a function where Pat Caddell and Arianna Huffington were both present (this was before Arianna went full-tilt lefty but after she broke with Newt somehow over something — her contempt for him was palpable). · Jan 3 at 4:15pm

    What do you think of Newt’s crying like a school girl over all those nasty attack ads from Mitt-friendly PACs? Do you think his whining will help him when Obama unloads with both barrels in the general election? · Jan 3 at 4:26pm

    We’ll see, if and when he becomes the nominee.

    • #15
    • January 4, 2012, at 5:42 AM PST
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  16. Locke On Member

    This Erick Erickson post at Redstate is a good synopsis of my issue with Santorum: He’s a statist. While I’d vote for him over Obama – he does pass the syphilitic camel test – no way I can support him in the primary season. His instincts are not about liberty and smaller government, they are about control.

    I don’t need a socialist nanny. I don’t need a green nanny. And I don’t need a religious nanny, either.

    • #16
    • January 4, 2012, at 5:56 AM PST
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  17. Glenn the Iconoclast Member
    Glenn the IconoclastJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Crow’s Nest: It would require a transformation of America’s Constitution that, far from fostering the commercial republic we now inhabit, would send us back to the puritan conception of government in 17th century America.

    Whatever one’s position there, is that what we want 2012 to be about?

    Have you read the Puritans? (genuine query, not snark) If you don’t have the time or inclination to get into the main body, you might enjoy Worldly Saints as a teaser. Quite a lot about the Puritans that people “know” is untrue.

    And no, that isn’t what I want 2012 to be about.

    • #17
    • January 4, 2012, at 7:31 AM PST
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  18. James Of England Moderator
    James Of EnglandJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Frozen Chosen: So Santorum practically lives in Iowa for 4 months and visits all 99 counties forty times each just to get maybe 20% of the vote. My question is this – realistically, where does he go from here? He has no money, no organization and isn’t even on the ballot in several states.

    Sound like a classic one-hit wonder to me… ·

    No, really, the media is unfair to Santorum. Google him a little, not at work, or after eating. I don’t just mean the chief attack site, but the bile on more, uh, traditionally political sites is just unreal…… Holy cow, Perry’s resigning the race.

    Really sorry, Prawn.

    Just to be clear, he didn’t say this, but I think it’s clear. I guess maybe tonight was a Newt win

    • #18
    • January 4, 2012, at 9:59 AM PST
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  19. Stuart Creque Member
    Stuart CrequeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    (cross-posted from the Troy Senik thread)

    Rick Santorum now has to see if he can move the needle appreciably in South Carolina and Florida. New Hampshire is too soon and too close to Romney’s adopted home state of Massachusetts to be the test of Santorum’s momentum. But South Carolina and Florida ought to be friendly territory for a “full-spectrum conservative” like Santorum, so if he can gain vote share in those states, he’s on a good trajectory. Gingrich is polling strong in both those states, and he’s not going to cede them easily to Santorum. It seems like it’s rapidly turning into a three-prong race: Romney, Paul, and a battle for the third spot on the stage between Gingrich and Santorum. Romney still hasn’t demonstrated that he can add the former supporters of anti-Romney candidates to his own base of support. If Santorum and Gingrich end up in a two-man race to split 65 percent of the GOP vote, one or even both will end up with more than Romney’s 25 percent share.
    • #19
    • January 4, 2012, at 10:20 AM PST
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  20. Crow's Nest Inactive

    I have read the major works that inspired puritans (both theological and political) and the puritans themselves were a great deal more tolerant than would ever be projected by the treatment they receive within the mainstream media or within our public education system today. There is much to admire within the puritan spirit, but there are things of which I am critical.

    There’s no way I can summarize thought on an issue this large in a quick post, but let me merely add this: the puritan worldview (which is, I hasten to say, different from the Catholic one at parts in its social thought, and certainly in its theology) had a supporting structure of intermediary institutions–most especially the local parish–that enforced these ethical norms. The fabric of puritan society in this sense hardly required government action because the “little platoons” of that society mutually reinforced their Biblical interpretation. Government didn’t consider these questions because the values were shared already.

    Much of the structure of those intermediary institutions is absent from the present social landscape (more’s the pity), and moreover the religious and ethnic homogeny that made that social model successful has been overcome by events.

    • #20
    • January 4, 2012, at 10:32 AM PST
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  21. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive
    James Of England

    Holy cow, Perry’s resigning the race.

    Really sorry, Prawn.

    Just to be clear, he didn’t say this, but I think it’s clear. I guess maybe tonight was a Newt win · Jan 3 at 8:59pm

    I’ll work up a suitable lament, perhaps in verse, for tomorrow. Parting shot, though, at least it shows Perry much more realistic than others.

    • #21
    • January 4, 2012, at 11:25 AM PST
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  22. Stuart Creque Member
    Stuart CrequeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Perry is entirely responsible for his own failure to prepare for a Presidential race. He did not demonstrate his own merits to the people whose votes mattered.

    Santorum spent his time and effort demonstrating his own merits to the people of Iowa, the people whose votes mattered in this contest.

    Because Perry failed both in front of Iowans and in front of a national TV audience, his poll numbers in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida are dismal and offer him little hope of winning in those states as a springboard to Super Tuesday.

    Because Santorum succeeded in front of Iowans but got little opportunity to shine in front of a national TV audience, his poll numbers in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida are dismal. However, unlike Perry, Santorum now has the national attention of a win in Iowa to help him get traction in South Carolina and Florida. He may or he may not, but he still has a shot, which Perry does not.

    Goofy or not, the process was well-known to the candidates going in. Santorum understood it and made it work for him. Perry failed to understand it and ended up fouling himself up.

    • #22
    • January 4, 2012, at 11:39 AM PST
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