Go tell it on the Hill

Moses may have parted the Red Sea, Jesus graciously transmuted water into wine, but Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania's junior Senator, is gearing up to convert blue states into red ones. So would sports writer Michael Sokolove have you believe in his New York Times Sunday Magazine article 'The Believer.' But Sokolove's assertions shall not remain untested articles of faith in this illumination manuscript brought to you courtesy of the blogosphere. Let us prey.
 
Rick Santorum's conservative Catholicism informs his life, his politics and the policies he promotes.
 
'Conservative Catholicism'? What happened to the 'Christian Fundamentalists'? Is the Times all done holding them up as straw men? Let's add conservative Catholics to the list of radical right—wing neocon conspiratorial cabalists, shall we?

'... informs his life, his politics and the policies he promotes'? Why would it be otherwise? Should we fear this? Guess so. Wait a second! I haven't even gotten to the article yet. This is just a lead—in under the picture of Mr. Rick with hands folded and an angelic look on his face. Let's get farther in before saying anymore.
 
Oops... first sentence, first paragraph:
 
Rick Santorum, the boyish—looking 47—year—old senator from Pennsylvania, could not, in more decorous political times, have risen to a position of much power in Congress.
 
Followed by first sentence, second paragraph:
 
Santorum has not so much accommodated himself to Washington as the city, stylistically and politically, has moved in his direction.
 
So the Honorable Santorum has come to prominence as a result of being an indecorous person in a city that has stylistically transmogrified itself into his likeness. Washington has now been recreated in the image of his holiness, Pope Rick I.
 
At a time when overt expressions of religiosity are increasingly a part of politics, Santorum is, with the exception of President Bush, the nation's pre—eminent faith—based politician —— a devout Catholic so valued by religious conservatives of all faiths that Time magazine recently included him on its list of America's ''25 Most Influential Evangelicals.''
 
So, Santorum is second only to President Bush in evangelical scare factor. Hmmm. Does that make him the equivalent of Himmler? Or would that be Goebbels? This is, of course, a concern only if you consider Dubya Amerika's embodiment of Herr Hitler — a Frankenfuhrer, I suppose.
 
Let's check with someone who knows him personally:
 
Sean Reilly, a former aide to Santorum in the Senate and now a political consultant in Philadelphia, said that he has come to view his former boss in other than political terms. ''Rick Santorum is a Catholic missionary,'' he said. ''That's what he is. He's a Catholic missionary who happens to be in the Senate.''
 
I searched the article for another instance of 'Reilly' and found none. Guess he didn't have too much to say about his former boss. Incidentally, would be nice to know for whom he consults. It wouldn't require more than a couple of descriptive words to eek out the motivation behind this very political statement — be it promotional or otherwise.
 
Santorum 'is a man of convictions, not doubts.' Funny, but I've never considered Senator Teddy to be riddled with doubt. To the best of my knowledge, limited as it may be, he's never questioned anything he's ever said — or done. EMK sounds fully—convictioned to me — even if his initials aren't yet as famous as those of some other Democrats. Wonder why they have a penchant for that?
 
Santorum has a 'reputation as one of Congress's most partisan and polarizing figures.' Notice he has a reputation as such, not that he necessarily 'is' most partisan and polarizing.
 
Santorum has never entirely shed his image as someone not quite fit for polite political company —— he is the senator as hyperactive political pugilist, quick to engage in combat, slow to yield the floor, a little too eager to crush opponents.
 
After Sokolove concerns himself with Santorum's reputation, he then focuses on consideration of the Senator's image. Here's where Mr. Sokolove's sports writing experience comes in handy. With his having terms such as 'pugilist' and 'crush opponents' readily available with which to pepper his description, we are in for a journalistic treat. To help reassure the anti—war protestors  that they really are on the right side of the geopolitical fence, he felicitously includes the phrase 'quick to engage in combat' as part of Santorum's 'image.'
 
But the Senator may have to pay the price borne by all those who hold to their convictions and waiver not in the face of polls or unfavorable articles. For:
 
A poll taken more than a year and a half before an election may not be particularly meaningful except to confirm what was already known: Santorum will have no easy time staying in office.
 
Then why mention the poll? This whole article seems about things 'already known', id est, the Christian Fundamentalist litany of fear mongering buzzwords and phrases — either employed by or applied to them — such as 'bigamy, polygamy and incest'; 'specter of bestiality'; 'faith—based'; 'devout', 'people of faith'; 'missionary'; 'convictions'; 'promote fatherhood'; 'strengthen families'; 'true believers'; 'moral code' and so on, and so forth. I don't think Sokolove missed any, but I've not compiled a complete glossary.
 
The Senator 'projects a kinetic rather than a contemplative aura.' A senatorial colleague of Democratic persuasion, who insists on remaining anonymous,  is quoted as saying,  'I'm shocked to see him in leadership, because of his comportment and general disdain for everybody else. There have to be moments of compromise, but with him, it's his way or no way. He really is doctrinaire and sanctimonious.' Not a Democrat was there ever to be found that fits that description. Well, maybe the Grand Pooh—Bah, or whatever, from West Virginia.
 
But most, rather than opt for quotable anonymity, preferred to hold their tongues.
 
A long list of Democratic senators declined to talk, in most cases, I was told by staff members, out of a sense of senatorial civility; if they had nothing good to say, they preferred not to be quoted.
 
But here's the real problem — and it's not Santorum's
 
But there is another reason, perhaps, for their timidity: Santorum is associated, above all, with faith, an issue the Democrats are struggling to put words to. Taking him on would require talking about faith as forthrightly as he does; it would mean defining its place in public life without seeming to oppose religion itself.
 
So that's it, folks! The Dems don't know how to deal with 'Faith.' If they let slip their support amongst blacks, Hispanics or any other constituency possessed of that oh—so—antiquated quality called religious faith, who will they have left?
 
Christopher Hitchens?

Dennis Sevakis is a regular contributor.

Moses may have parted the Red Sea, Jesus graciously transmuted water into wine, but Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania's junior Senator, is gearing up to convert blue states into red ones. So would sports writer Michael Sokolove have you believe in his New York Times Sunday Magazine article 'The Believer.' But Sokolove's assertions shall not remain untested articles of faith in this illumination manuscript brought to you courtesy of the blogosphere. Let us prey.
 
Rick Santorum's conservative Catholicism informs his life, his politics and the policies he promotes.
 
'Conservative Catholicism'? What happened to the 'Christian Fundamentalists'? Is the Times all done holding them up as straw men? Let's add conservative Catholics to the list of radical right—wing neocon conspiratorial cabalists, shall we?

'... informs his life, his politics and the policies he promotes'? Why would it be otherwise? Should we fear this? Guess so. Wait a second! I haven't even gotten to the article yet. This is just a lead—in under the picture of Mr. Rick with hands folded and an angelic look on his face. Let's get farther in before saying anymore.
 
Oops... first sentence, first paragraph:
 
Rick Santorum, the boyish—looking 47—year—old senator from Pennsylvania, could not, in more decorous political times, have risen to a position of much power in Congress.
 
Followed by first sentence, second paragraph:
 
Santorum has not so much accommodated himself to Washington as the city, stylistically and politically, has moved in his direction.
 
So the Honorable Santorum has come to prominence as a result of being an indecorous person in a city that has stylistically transmogrified itself into his likeness. Washington has now been recreated in the image of his holiness, Pope Rick I.
 
At a time when overt expressions of religiosity are increasingly a part of politics, Santorum is, with the exception of President Bush, the nation's pre—eminent faith—based politician —— a devout Catholic so valued by religious conservatives of all faiths that Time magazine recently included him on its list of America's ''25 Most Influential Evangelicals.''
 
So, Santorum is second only to President Bush in evangelical scare factor. Hmmm. Does that make him the equivalent of Himmler? Or would that be Goebbels? This is, of course, a concern only if you consider Dubya Amerika's embodiment of Herr Hitler — a Frankenfuhrer, I suppose.
 
Let's check with someone who knows him personally:
 
Sean Reilly, a former aide to Santorum in the Senate and now a political consultant in Philadelphia, said that he has come to view his former boss in other than political terms. ''Rick Santorum is a Catholic missionary,'' he said. ''That's what he is. He's a Catholic missionary who happens to be in the Senate.''
 
I searched the article for another instance of 'Reilly' and found none. Guess he didn't have too much to say about his former boss. Incidentally, would be nice to know for whom he consults. It wouldn't require more than a couple of descriptive words to eek out the motivation behind this very political statement — be it promotional or otherwise.
 
Santorum 'is a man of convictions, not doubts.' Funny, but I've never considered Senator Teddy to be riddled with doubt. To the best of my knowledge, limited as it may be, he's never questioned anything he's ever said — or done. EMK sounds fully—convictioned to me — even if his initials aren't yet as famous as those of some other Democrats. Wonder why they have a penchant for that?
 
Santorum has a 'reputation as one of Congress's most partisan and polarizing figures.' Notice he has a reputation as such, not that he necessarily 'is' most partisan and polarizing.
 
Santorum has never entirely shed his image as someone not quite fit for polite political company —— he is the senator as hyperactive political pugilist, quick to engage in combat, slow to yield the floor, a little too eager to crush opponents.
 
After Sokolove concerns himself with Santorum's reputation, he then focuses on consideration of the Senator's image. Here's where Mr. Sokolove's sports writing experience comes in handy. With his having terms such as 'pugilist' and 'crush opponents' readily available with which to pepper his description, we are in for a journalistic treat. To help reassure the anti—war protestors  that they really are on the right side of the geopolitical fence, he felicitously includes the phrase 'quick to engage in combat' as part of Santorum's 'image.'
 
But the Senator may have to pay the price borne by all those who hold to their convictions and waiver not in the face of polls or unfavorable articles. For:
 
A poll taken more than a year and a half before an election may not be particularly meaningful except to confirm what was already known: Santorum will have no easy time staying in office.
 
Then why mention the poll? This whole article seems about things 'already known', id est, the Christian Fundamentalist litany of fear mongering buzzwords and phrases — either employed by or applied to them — such as 'bigamy, polygamy and incest'; 'specter of bestiality'; 'faith—based'; 'devout', 'people of faith'; 'missionary'; 'convictions'; 'promote fatherhood'; 'strengthen families'; 'true believers'; 'moral code' and so on, and so forth. I don't think Sokolove missed any, but I've not compiled a complete glossary.
 
The Senator 'projects a kinetic rather than a contemplative aura.' A senatorial colleague of Democratic persuasion, who insists on remaining anonymous,  is quoted as saying,  'I'm shocked to see him in leadership, because of his comportment and general disdain for everybody else. There have to be moments of compromise, but with him, it's his way or no way. He really is doctrinaire and sanctimonious.' Not a Democrat was there ever to be found that fits that description. Well, maybe the Grand Pooh—Bah, or whatever, from West Virginia.
 
But most, rather than opt for quotable anonymity, preferred to hold their tongues.
 
A long list of Democratic senators declined to talk, in most cases, I was told by staff members, out of a sense of senatorial civility; if they had nothing good to say, they preferred not to be quoted.
 
But here's the real problem — and it's not Santorum's
 
But there is another reason, perhaps, for their timidity: Santorum is associated, above all, with faith, an issue the Democrats are struggling to put words to. Taking him on would require talking about faith as forthrightly as he does; it would mean defining its place in public life without seeming to oppose religion itself.
 
So that's it, folks! The Dems don't know how to deal with 'Faith.' If they let slip their support amongst blacks, Hispanics or any other constituency possessed of that oh—so—antiquated quality called religious faith, who will they have left?
 
Christopher Hitchens?

Dennis Sevakis is a regular contributor.