Rick Santorum and the Republican Convention
August 31, 2012
Due to reasons beyond my control, I was (a) forced to watch a lot of the Republican convention and (b) forced to watch it on Fox! Now that was an interesting experience. One of the more memorable moments for me was when Juan Williams commented that Anne Romney’s speech did not persuade him that she actually cared about women and then, miraculously, he disappeared from the panel he was on – after a commercial. That was revealing.
My impressions were that the speakers were amazingly uninteresting and notably vague. It seemed they were more interested in trying to come across as epitomes of “the American dream” than as competent politicians who knew how to address our issues these days. None to my memory said anything much about foreign policy but then they did not actually say anything much about domestic policy, except of course that theirs would be different than Obama’s. Of course they played fast and loose with the facts, so fast and loose that even I noticed while some of them were speaking. For example, I knew that Paul Ryan, when he criticized Obama for not acting on the conclusions of the committee dealing with the deficit, had also done nothing by way of acting on those conclusions – although I had forgotten that he was actually on that committee and voted against its report.
I think one of the most interesting speeches was given by Rick Santorum, surprisingly enough. The last part about his daughter, Bella, was moving and the kind of speech we need more of in this country. This does not mean I agree with Santorum on the legal status of abortion; his remarks were about being pro-life, not legislating against choice. If Santorum would make this distinction, he would carry the day and, moreover, do something worthwhile for the republic while advancing the pro-life agenda. But then it is not clear that Santorum actually can make this distinction, as it requires moving beyond the simplicity of his pro-life ideology. Further, I believe although I cannot check it, that Santorum never once mentioned Mitt Romney. He certainly did not play the cheerleader – the rather bulky cheerleader – that Chris Christie played in his keynote. Again, though, Christie’s speech was a bore generally and did not come close to comparing favorably to other convention addresses over the years such as Reagan’s for Goldwater at the 1964 Cow Palace in San Francisco that brought Reagan into the national spotlight for the first time. And I mention this speech because it seemed it was Christie’s intent to seize the national spotlight so when Romney loses – as many Republicans hope he does – he can step up as the next Republican nominee for the presidency.
Anyway, in a sea of nondescript speeches, Santorum’s was the best I heard and one of the few to admire. His pro-life agenda comes from the heart; it is not, as it is for so many politicians, a political prop to be used to rally “the base.” What Santorum does not recognize is that being pro-life does not require being anti-choice. It only requires that we speak about life the way Santorum spoke about it, that life is to be honored and cherished, and that those who are alive but have “special needs” should be loved as the Santorums love Bella. The difference between being pro-life and being anti-choice is understood by most Americans. If only some politician would rise to the occasion our republic would be better off.