Monday, January 9, 2012

Guestpost: The Singular Obsession of Rick Santorum

When I was told that Rick Santorum had rising poll numbers in Iowa, I did not pay any attention. As far as I was concerned, he wasn’t at the bottom of the barrel of Republican Candidates. Herman Cain was the bottom of that barrel. Santorum was, in my estimation, a fetid pile of shit unassociated with any barrel. He is little more than a political has-been who barely was.  

Until recently, Santorum was sitting inertly at a paltry sub-percentage point support. He had no support and it accurately reflected his performance. Regardless of your opinion on the issues, Santorum was—politely—underwhelming. He provided a few laughs. I caught this clip and had a good laugh when he spazzed out and lost his cool on a few high school kids. And I was absolutely perplexed by his attempts at deep philosophical discussion of the philosophy of language:

I can say that marriage is — Marriage existed before governments existed. This is a napkin. I can call this napkin a "paper towel." But it is a napkin. Why? Because it is what it is. Right? You can call it whatever you want, but it doesn't change the character of what it is. Sort of the metaphysical. Right?

Marriage is what marriage is. Marriage existed before there was a government. It's like, you know, handing up this and saying this glass of water is a glass of beer. Well, you can call it a glass of beer, but it's not a glass of beer. It's a glass of water. And water is what water is. Marriage is what marriage is.

It's like going out and saying, "That tree is a car." Well, the tree's not a car. A tree's a tree. Marriage is marriage.

This is Santorum. By all accounts and in any light, Santorum is a joke. He is a shallow thinker, a poor debater, and someone who has spent his political life as a non-entity at best and an embarrassment at worst. No matter how short the increment, time has value and it should then not be wasted on anyone or anything that has no value. Ergo, until very recently, if time is going to be allotted to any real discussion or real analysis, Santorum should be excluded. But now Santorum appears to be, at least temporarily, a political entity.

Now, Santorum would contend his message is finally resonating with the people. I contend his rise is the sole result of the mathematical fact that, no matter how bad the choices are, the sum total of percentages in the end must equal 100. Most thought that after the meteoric rise and subsequent immediate decent of a parade of right wing candidates; Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Gingrich the far right would be ready to eat their vegetables.  Sadly, their spoon went elsewhere. The spoon made a last ditch effort to avoid the inevitable and went for the last thing on the plate it hadn’t attempted to shovel into an open mouth. But the final remaining item looked viscous, brown, and slick. It didn’t look like food. The vegetables would probably be better, but vegetables just aren’t that good.  Maybe, just maybe there is one alternative left.  just in case...why not? It would work. it might not be as awful as it looks. So in a final spastic move of avoidance, they are attempting to choke down a thick throatfull of Santorum.  

So here we sit as outside observers, each of us going through some iteration of the same thought process. “Why didn’t you just go with Romney? He isn’t exactly what you are looking for, but its clearly the best thing left on the table. Why would you try to swallow Santorum? You had a good look at that. You should not have put that in your mouth.”

So now, the inane rantings of this mentally muddled dullard will get airtime. And as he is now getting attention, I turn my attention to Rick Santorum.

For those who are even slightly familiar with Rick Santorum, it is an obvious statement to make, but Rick Santorum is patently anti-homosexual. He has famously compared homosexual sex to pedophilia and bestiality. He specifically stated:

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.

This led, if not to the beginning, than to the full blossoming of the ongoing feud between Dan Savage and Rick Santorum, in which Savage successfully ran a campaign to assign a new definition to the word “santorum.” If you are not familiar with this political subplot, you would do yourself a great disservice by not at the very least, Googling “santorum” and doing at least a cursory review of the results.

While the above is worth noting, it alone does not distinguish him much from the majority of the Republican field. And thus far, few people have been discussing the degree to which Mr. Santorum is absolutely obsessed and fixated on homosexuals and what they do in their own private lives.

As a point of clarity, when Rick Santorum discusses homosexuality and gay marriage, he is talking about gay sex. When he refers to gay marriage, his actual target is gay sex. As he artfully said, “I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts.” For Santorum, it is sodomy itself that erodes the family structure. As he stated “We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family.” Even in his most famous quote, he equates marriage to sexual intercourse. I’ll repeat it to drive home the idiocy by which he operates. He stated “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.” Clearly, his focus here is not the relationship, but only the sexual acts that are taking place.

If you follow Wikipedia articles backwards, they all lead to philosophy. You can trace anyone in Hollywood back to Kevin Bacon. And with Rick Santorum, every issue can be traced back to gay sex. The difference is, there are not six degrees of separation or even three. With Rick Santorum, there is seemingly one degree of separation between every issue that faces our nation and whether we as a nation should use the full force and resources of the government to dictate where men consensually put their penises and whether women are rightly using one.

But certainly this is some strange and likely un-artful hyperbole, right? It is not as though Santorum is out there saying homosexuality is, in fact, an economic issue and that the best way to help the economy is for the government to take a firm stand against homosexual sex, right? When it comes to terrorism, he isn’t saying that the way to provide for homeland security is to persecute the gays, is he? In fact he has. He didn’t even bother to take a break after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. At that time in our nation’s history, he declared, in the wake of the attacks, that the single most important issue facing our nation was gay marriage. To help solidify why this was the case, he later compared homosexuals to the 9-11 hijackers, bringing their war on an unsuspecting population who must now defend itself against this evil.

On the economy:

Letting the family break down and in fact encouraging it and inciting more breakdown through this whole redefinition of marriage debate, and not supporting strong nuclear families and not supporting and standing up for the dignity of human life. Those lead to a society that’s broken...if you look at the root cause of the economic problems that we’re dealing with on Wall Street and Main Street I might add, from 2008, they were huge moral failings.

On Homeland security:

I would argue that the future of our country hangs in the balance because the future of marriage hangs in the balance. Isn't that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?

On the subject of September 11th, and equating homosexuals to the 9-11 terrorists:

I know it may sound like a huge exaggeration, particularly in light of the recent attack on America, but this may truly be the most important letter I ever write you… For the last year, Matt Daniels has been working behind the scenes with conservative legal scholars well as conservative leaders in Congress like myself and Congressman J.C. Watts to draft an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the holy sacrament of marriage from those who would legalize same-sex ‘marriage.’… Our opposition, the Gay Rights Movement, is organized.

This is an issue just like 9-11… We didn’t decide we wanted to fight the war on terrorism because we wanted to. It was brought to us. And if not now, when? When the Supreme Courts in all the other states have succumbed to the Massachusetts version of the law?

So the gay community said, "He's comparing gay sex to incest and polygamy, how dare he do this," and they have gone out on a, I would argue, jihad against Rick Santorum since then.

The distinguishing point then is not that Santorum hates the gays or that he is willing to espouse his antiquated views as though they were some Divine Revelation. It is the fact he puts gay sex at the core of all he believes that distinguish him from the other Republicans running.

For Santorum, homosexuality is at the core of his politics, his thoughts, and his life's work. His views on homosexuality are almost the sum total of this man as a public figure. And this obsession is, almost assuredly, the primary focus of his private thoughts as well. It is, for lack of a better term, his own personal Gesamtkunstwerk, or all encompassing form of art. Or - as the Earth revolves around the Sun, Santorum’s mind revolves around gay sex.

If it turned out Rick Santorum was himself a homosexual, his obsession would be understandable. If he was torn at his very core about who he is versus who he wanted to be, I believe we could all empathize with his struggle, at least to a degree. But there is something deeply disturbing about a straight man who spends the bulk of his waking hours obsessing over homosexual sex.

Thankfully, Santorum has taken a few rare moments as of late to pull his head above the waterline of his singular obsession, draw a deep breath, and remind us that if he wasn't singularly obsessed with homosexuals he would be quite a well rounded bigot.

He has recently provided us with the following remarks, letting us know, when it comes down to it, he is willing to take some time to show he can also be a well rounded bigot. He recently let us know that “The political base of the Democratic Party is single mothers running households that ‘look to the government for help.’”

And introducing his newest contribution to the seemingly endless pile of bigoted drivel: “I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money."

Santorum has denied saying this. He has taken the official position that he said “blaaahh people” and not “black people.” In fact, according to Santorum, he doesn’t use “black” but instead uses “African American.”  In his explanation, he likely forgot that he said of Obama I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, 'we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.”

Rick Santorum has made a political career out of his hate. While he has thus far focused his hate on the targeted group that is his sole obsession, it is not surprising that when the time comes to broaden his appeal he decided to broaden his hate. It’s all he knows. This is a man who has convinced himself that his hatred of homosexuals can explain every problem the United States faces. In his puerile brain, he has formed a world view that gay sex is the sole source of all of our nation’s problems, whether economic or social; whether home or abroad.

But it is nice to know that, while his obsession is gay sex, he leaves a little room to be a racist bigot as well, if that is what it takes to garner support from a conservative base in order become President of the United States.