Santorum the 'Good Son'? Not So Much.

Much like the good son in the biblical parable, thin-skinned Rick Santorum has shown a fair amount of open resentment over the embrace conservatives have given prodigal Newt Gingrich upon the latter's return to the conservative scene.

And I guess it's understandable.  Human history is full of examples of the good kids resenting the more talented or cooler bad boys who seem to get away with breaking the rules.  What's funny is that across the internet, it seems like Santorum's supporters are also largely the unhappy good kids, while many of Newt's supporters come across as the happy bad kids, just like Newt himself. 

(The Newt-Mitt dynamic is something altogether different, of course.)

There is one problem with this delicious analogy however.  I submit that while it is attitudinally on the money, it actually has flaws at the very foundation.  Upon further review, the only trait that Santorum has of being the good son is his resentment, while he falls woefully short in the purity of goodness department.  And by short of purity, I mean simply applying Santorum's own standards for judging Newt's and Mitt's conservatism.  By his very own standards, the former Senator from Pennsylvania has some 'splainin' to do.

To be sure, the only reason Santorum has gotten away with this is that no one has taken his candidacy seriously enough to bother to look.  He has not been above the fray.  He has been off to the side of the fray.  Ironically, he has been the "look at me" candidate all along, so now perhaps it is indeed time to look at him.  Be careful what you wish for, Senator.

Consider: the main reason Santorum and his supporters put forth to support Rick is because he is "the true conservative" in the race.  Along these same lines, he defines his massive eighteen-point loss in his last Senate race as one where he at least went down swinging and fighting for the right things.  He uses this to chide Mitt and Newt for their past transgressions based on political realities they faced at one time or another.

This is curious, since Santorum is target-rich on his shameless support for unions in the past -- including unforgiveable minimum wage legislation -- which he excuses by his "political realities" in Pennsylvania.  Uh, excuse me, Senator?  On this issue alone, Santorum's sanctimonious purity is destroyed.  But there's more.  Much more.

In the '06 campaign against maybe the least talented Democrat in Congress -- Bob Casey -- the notion that Rick went down swinging deserves scrutiny.  Under said scrutiny, the impression one gets is that of an embarrassed faux conservative who is shuffling off to the left as fast as he can.  This shuffle left was actually a pamphlet put out by the Santorum campaign called "50 Things You May Not Know About Rick Santorum."

And they are right.  You may not.  You should.

Among those 50 things is the aforementioned strong support for legislation raising the minimum wage.  In addition to being a shameless union measure, this hurts the free market.  A sample of the other items include:

  • Sponsoring FAIR CAIR act to force companies to pay benefits to laid-off workers.
  • Working with John McCain on campaign finance reform.
  • Bragging about bringing home federal tax money for clean energy projects.
  • Working with Bono to spend tax money on poverty in the third world.
  • Working with Bono to spend tax money on AIDS.
  • Sponsoring legislation to regulate gas prices.
  • Authoring the Pet Animal Welfare State Bill. (Huh.)
  • Voting for record tax funding of Pennsylvania public schools.
  • Authoring The Care Act: funding for Non Profits.
  • Working with Joe Lieberman on Working Families Act.
  • Supported increased tax funding for Chesapeake Bay.

You get the idea.  In his 2006 race, Santorum was doing all he could to position himself as a moderate, and apparently he had the legislative history to support this position.  Many of these moderate to liberal policies were not only supported by Santorum, but they were sponsored and at times even authored by Santorum.  For someone who piously claims to be the pure conservative, the Pennsylvania senator was pretty darned good at writing liberal laws.

Moreover, the entire campaign piece had the feel and language of the left.  His entire campaign in 2006 had that moderate stench, as opposed to his repeated claims to have always run and governed as a true conservative.  The record does not support that.

What is amazing is that many in the conservative movement seem to be unaware of this.  Many on talk radio and some in the conservative blogosphere continue to buy Santorum as the "true conservative" in the race.  Many support him as such -- and those who do not support him tend to chalk it up to electability or likeability or money.  So few are actually examining the claims he is making as the "true conservative in the race."'

It is time now to examine this premise, since Santorum is now also claiming that "Newt has had his chance" with the implication that it is now Rick's turn.  Frankly, I thought Rick had also been running in South Carolina and Florida and finished well behind Gingrich, but maybe I missed something.  The point is, Santorum's record on non-social issues is not very good at all  -- and his willingness to stand up to liberals is not close to his claimed perfection, either.

If this analysis of Santorum seems harsh, it probably is.  Then again, I am only applying his harsh standards for others onto his record.  Dick Morris recently tweeted of Santorum that he has a "uniquely unlikeable personality."

Maybe.  Or maybe its just the way all "goodie two shoes" come across, especially if you find out they are not that good after all.

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