Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller is trashing Rick Santorum again in her Saturday Washington Post “On Faith” column. Her loathing is so intense she is bizarrely claiming he has “zero qualifications” to match his “prehistoric” views. Well, for starters, Santorum has 16 years in Congress (12 in the Senate) compared to Obama having two years in the Senate before he started running. Apparently, being religious erases all your experience.
“It’s impossible for some of us to understand why and how former senator Rick Santorum, who has zero qualifications to be president of the United States and whose positions on family and social issues are prehistoric, continues to survive and even thrive this Republican primary season,” she complained. “His victories in Alabama and Mississippi this week only further our astonishment.”
She is not alone in her confusion and panic, she says. Check out the old-guard Republicans:
This is not purely the blue-state bewilderment of urban elites. Even the Southern Republican establishment is surprised. I called Clarke Reed, who helped transform the South from a Democratic stronghold to a Republican one in the 1960s, to ask him what, exactly, Southern voters saw in Santorum. This is what he said: “Well, I really don’t know.”
They both suspect voters are going against the “practical” idea of going with more-electable Romney and voting their heart for Santorum, who moderates and liberals think is Goldwater 1964 the Sequel.
Miller’s contempt for traditionalists (nostalgic for heinous racism and homophobia) pretty much drips like acid through the rest of the column:
The people who voted for Santorum in Tuesday’s primaries called themselves “very conservative” and also “born-again Christian.” They said they voted for him because of his “strong moral character.” These voters do not share with Santorum their religious beliefs, for Santorum is a Catholic and they are Protestants. But they share with Santorum what might be called a faith-based nostalgia: They believe that things were better before, they’re going to hell right now and only a strong commitment to Jesus Christ will turn America around.
Santorum is a traditionalist in all things....Santorum voters are traditionalist Americans. They yearn for an age when America was run by white Christian men, when husbands went to work and wives stayed home and raised as many children as they could handle. (One Ohio blogger, explaining his choice for Santorum, called him “a real man.”) In that America, abortion was illegal and gay marriage was a schoolyard joke. In that America, everybody went to church.
Mitt Romney’s problem, Lisa Miller believes, is that he has a sense of modernity, while Santorum voters are stuck in a bad rerun of “Leave It to Beaver.” Or something like that:
Romney — despite his five strapping sons and his professed love for “cheesy grits” -- fails to convince these voters that he’s like them, not because he’s Mormon (though that’s part of it), but because he doesn’t share their determination to turn back time.
Romney, whatever his faults, likes to move forward. But conservative Christians’ sense of crisis is so deep, they don’t want to make a pragmatic choice. Romney wants to roll up his sleeves, organize some focus groups and apply some algorithms to their problems. What they want is to pray.
The vote for Santorum amounts to a Hail Mary pass, a last-ditch, desperate attempt to uphold values over the quotidian business of politics. It’s valiant in principle (though impossible not to note that the past that Santorum’s supporters idealize contains injustices too heinous and many to mention).
“You can’t go home again,” Thomas Wolfe said. Modernity is here, with all its progress and imperfections, and no matter how hard they pray, Santorum and his flock will never be able to turn back time.
Doesn’t that sound like someone who’s trying to comfort herself as Santorum keeps winning enough primaries to make her crazy?
Previous installments of derision: