Washington Post political reporter Karen Tumulty explored the dark-horse presidential explorations of former Sen. Rick Santorum on the front page of Friday's paper. It was a fairly respectful story until it came time to discuss the former senator's “notorious” moral statements, and how he still “breathes fire” on occasion:
Santorum was notorious for his moral pronouncements. He contended, for instance, that Boston's liberal culture was partly to blame for the sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church there, and suggested that lifting antiquated state sodomy laws would sanction bestiality -- or as he put it, "man on dog."
Santorum still breathes fire. In his evolving stump speech, he frames the prospect of Obama's reelection in near-apocalyptic terms: "Democracy and freedom will disappear." His agenda consists of stopping pretty much everything that has been set in motion in the past two years, starting with the overhaul of the nation's health-care system.
In 2003, Santorum gave an interview to an AP reporter -- who was also married to a Democratic political activist. She plucked out this part of the interview about the Supreme Court then considering Lawrence vs. Texas, which gave a major push to "gay marriage" in the US:
Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that's what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing.
As for the Obama rhetoric, it may sound harshly anti-Obama and apocalyptic -- but it's also a fairly common conservative sound on blogs and talk radio. (Tumulty seems shocked, but doesn't consider the sound of liberal radio and blogs in the second term of Bush, routinely presenting the president as a dictator.) The aim of reversing most of Obama's agenda is official Republican boilerplate.
Tumulty's piece was tame compared to a rougher Santorum profile in the Post in 2005. But the bias remains: liberals are not "notorious" in their moral pronouncements and their rarely "breathe fire." In the same edition of the paper, essayist Philip Kennicott found radical artist David Wojnarowicz "scarbrous" only when taken out of context. When he was trashing conservatives, he was creating "elaborate, imaginative social vignettes." He was "ferociously brilliant and anarchic." Barney Frank would be the mainstream, but Rick Santorum is a fire-breathing extremist.
And Tumulty also succeeded in finding that elusive anonymous Republican pundit who could trash nearly every other presidential contender in the Republican field as a hopeless disaster. (What a shock that someone saying this would remain anonymous. Who wants to bet Captain Coward will draw a paycheck from one of the people he or she is now trashing?)
Others agree that the old GOP script could be rewritten in 2012. "People are desperate to the point of panic in wanting to get rid of Barack Obama, and increasingly anxious about the prospects of some of our choices," said a prominent Republican strategist, who did not want to be quoted by name suggesting that anything is lacking on the GOP bench.
"Every one of these people is either deeply flawed or irredeemably polarizing, and that's why a guy like Santorum is going to get a look."