Eugene Robinson Grudgingly Laments His Glib Dismissal of Santorum's Response to Death of Baby

This is what passes for a liberal coming clean.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson doesn't regret disparaging how former senator Rick Santorum and his wife handled the death of their infant son in 1996. Robinson just wishes he'd been more clever about it. (video clip after page break).

First, here's what Robinson said on the Rachel Maddow show Jan. 4 --

(Santorum's) not a little weird, it seems that he's really weird and some of the positions he's taken are just so weird that I think some Republicans are going to be off put. Not everybody is going to be down, for example, with the story of how he and his wife handled the stillborn child whose body they took home to kind of sleep with and introduce to the rest of the family. It's a very weird story and his positions on gay people and gay marriage are just, are offensive, objectionable, and so totally wrong, you know, so let's repeat that every time we talk about Rick Santorum, let's be clear, this is a guy who should never become president in my view.

Having conclusively established "weird" as his favorite word, Robinson was challenged on his remarks right out of the gate on "Morning Joe" this past Friday. "I was taken aback by what you said," stated co-host Joe Scarborough. "My wife, who likes you very much, couldn't believe you said it."

"What did he say?" co-host Mika Brzezinski disingenously asked.

Robinson said Santorum was "kind of kooky," Scarborough responded, "for the way he behaved after his infant died." Followed by Robinson's response, a model of incoherence --

Well, you know, what I, what I actually said was, I thought some people would think that was weird. That was a, that was obviously not the right way to say what I was trying to express, but what, uh, so I didn't, I certainly didn't mean to offend anybody, uh, especially, uh, uh, Mr. Santorum. But, uh, look, it was in a discussion of his views, uh, and, you know, which I consider extreme, uh, and Santorum himself who is, uh, a cultural, cultural warrior extraordinaire, uh, whose, whose, whose faith, and, and we all appreciate someone of, of deep faith, uh, but it is, it is extremely deep and, and it's a kind of, of faith that some people I think are going to, uh, be if not surprised by at least, uh, want to know more about.

Fair enough, Scarborough replied, "but isn't the decision about what you do with an infant that passed away a highly personal decision? This was not a stillborn child (as Robinson claimed), this is an infant that was born and that lived for a few hours and there are actually pediatric specialists who say, the family needs to say goodbye to that sort of child, children, if you make that decision, parents could get closure that way too."

"Why touch it?" Brzezinski asked, quickly aligning with Scarborough.

"Yeah, why would you even talk about it?" Scarborough asked. "That's a really personal decision, isn't it?

Robinson veered close to an apology, but couldn't bring himself to do so as liberal radio host Alan Colmes did for similar remarks on the same subject.  "It is a personal decision," Robinson answered, "and I've certainly been educated on the subject since, in the past, in the past day. So I do understand that, that this is not something that's" (Robinson nearly says -- you guessed it -- "weird") in any way beyond the pale or considered inadvisable and in fact, many grief counselors do advise, uh, a period of saying goodbye, uh, uh, to a child who tragically dies in that way."

"You wish you hadn't of said it?" Scarborough asked.

Robinson responded in a manner familiar to anyone who's ever worked with a liberal. "I wish I hadn't said it that way, Joe," Robinson answered, comparing it to the response that followed a column he wrote about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's weight. "And I do think that a columnist has an obligation to write what he or she thinks and to write what he or she sees. Uh, but obviously I did it in, in a, in the wrong way or in a way that, that rubs people the wrong way and that's not what I intended."

Instead, Robinson wants you to believe he meant to offend no one, especially the Santorums, whom he clearly loathes. And let's not forget how much Robinson respects people of "deep faith," providing they are radical Muslims and not conservative Christians.

All of which begs the question -- what did the Santorums do after the death of their newborn son nearly 17 years ago? Here's how Rick Santorum described it during a campaign stop in New Hampshire earlier this month while his wife Karen fought back tears, as reported by CBS News --

We suffered a loss. Many, many families do. We suffered the loss of a child. It was born and didn't live very long. His name was Gabriel. And it was a very difficult time in our lives. We tried everything we could to save his life and we failed. And as parents, when you do that and you fail, it was very difficult. And he was delivered and he lived about two hours. He was delivered at three o'clock in the morning and he lived and he died in our arms. There was nothing we could really do to save his life. He was born too premature. And we decided to keep him in the room and be with him. We called the funeral director the next morning and said we'd like to bury him the next day and we'd like to have a funeral at our home. So we kept little Gabriel with us that night, we brought him home the next day. (Santorum's wife corrects him). What did I say? Oh yeah, we were in the hospital that night. Karen had delivered and we were in the hospital that night. The next day, Karen and we got together and brought Gabriel home with us to bury him, and to have the funeral there and then subsequently bury him. And we brought him home so our children could see him.

We thought, Karen was a neo-natal intensive care nurse. She dealt with really, really sick little preemies. She was a neo-natal intensive care nurse for nine years and she dealt with loss on a daily basis. And one of the things she told all of us was that it was so important to recognize for the family, to recognize the life of that child. And for all the children to know that they had a brother and sister.

Then again, Karen Santorum doesn't have nearly as much experience in punditry as Eugene Robinson.

Later on Friday, the same day Scarborough took Robinson to task, footage was shown on the Rachel Maddow show of its host ... holding a baby in New Hampshire. Wow -- talk about an alleged coincidence. 

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts