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The Right's Great Hope: Rick Santorum

March 4, 2012 ·

The former Pennsylvania senator garners the support of a political base built by charismatic - but imperfect - preachers.

The media’s ability to confuse celebrity "news" with war and economic disaster grows stronger. From the Borowitz Report:

As North Korea ramped up its threats to attack South Korea, CNN reassured its viewers that a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula would have "no effect whatsoever" on its Whitney Houston coverage.

Whitney even in death outranks fighting in Syria, wherever that is. Right wing preachers distract their electorate (congregations) by linking God to political issues.

Bible man for President? Illustration by DonkeyHotey.TV appeals by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell sucked millions of dollars from their flocks. God spoke to them, they said. "God may have allowed what the nation deserved because of moral decay," Falwell warned. "God wants you to succeed in business," he preached. Frank Diamond and I documented it in our 1982 film, Quest for Power: The Origins of the New American Right.

Robertson and Falwell blamed 9/11 on the ACLU, abortionists, feminists, gays, and the People For the American Way. Occasionally, the right’s moral authority pose gets undermined. Leading moral protagonists get caught in dalliances. Swaggart was caught twice with hookers, Colorado New Life Church preacher Ted Haggard had his male masseuse shoot speed up his rectum before entering him; and Jim Baker was with a woman and boys, plus he stole money. The moral, rightwing stalwart former U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond impregnated a 15-year old black girl.

Loyal Republican churchgoers, many of them poor, don’t seem to care about such routine scandals. Bible thumping presidential aspirant Rick Santorum  — hallelujah! — claims he has closer links to two of the holy trio than his rivals.

Santorum’s campaign staff must have pasted that quote to their computer screens when they write his speeches. On February 16 he told the Detroit Economic Club:

“I’m not about equality of result when it comes to income inequality. There is income inequality in America. There always has been and, hopefully, and I do say that, there always will be.”

Does such rhetoric turn poor voters against him? According to Gallup, in 2010 those living in the 10 "most conservative" states  received 21.2 percent of their income in government transfers, while the number for the 10 "most liberal states" was only 17.1 percent. Since the conservative states are also poor their people have fewer income sources and rely on government programs.

Amazingly, many of these recipients don’t concede that the government manages Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; instead, they "don’t want government in our lives." According to Cornell University's Suzanne Mettler "44 percent of Social Security recipients, 43 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits, and percent of Medicare recipients say they have not used a government program."

Santorum accuses Obama of dramatically expanding the government safety net (putting more people in prison?) without mentioning the Bush era recession that produced huge jumps in unemployment and foreclosures. "The safety net is the same, but more people are falling into it," Krugman concluded.

Like the celibate Catholic hierarchy, Santorum alerted us to "the dangers of contraception in this country… It’s not OK. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." Did Swaggart and Baker use protection? Strom Thurmond didn’t.

The Supreme Court decided we can do any kind of sex in our homes, Santorum whined. "Then you have the right to bigamy, the right to polygamy … incest…adultery…the right to anything."

The Bible is replete with the above, so Santorum appealed to a higher source. "This right to privacy doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution."

Fanatic? Listen to his Obamacare complaint:

One of the things that you don’t know about ObamaCare in one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing …because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society… another hidden message as to what president Obama thinks of those who are less able than the elites who want to govern our country.

Santorum’s disabled daughter has had health complications. Doctors understand pre-natal testing can detect problems and prepare parents and doctors to get appropriate care for the newborn.

For Santorum even rape and ensuing pregnancy don’t warrant abortion.

“The right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape…gift of life and accept what God is giving you. You just "make the best out of a bad situation."

On climate change: “No such thing,” says Santorum. Obama had “radical environmentalist” ideas. He doesn’t want us to use more of our country’s natural resources because Obama believes “man is here to serve the Earth.” Coincidentally, in 2010, Consol Energy paid “consultant” Santorum $142,500 to try to stop the Obama administration from tightening limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Henry Decker

“Satan has his sights set on the United States of America,” Santorum told a crowd at Ave Maria University in 2008. A Sanctum victory will restore “God-given rights,” and erase a government that “will tell you who you are, what you’ll do and when you’ll do it.”

Imagine endless media stories on Sanctimonious’ sympathetic family and disadvantaged child! Imagine many democratic voters staying home because Obama has disappointed them! Sanctimonious just lost Michigan to Insincerity.

So, think twice before not voting. H.L. Mencken reminds us “The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”

Saul Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies Fellow. His film "Will The Real Terrorist Stand Up" screens at Berkeley’s Unitarian Church on March 15, 7 PM and his film "Fidel" screens at IPS on March 28.