The right spins the Santorum surge

Sure, no one liked him when he was down and out, but now he's not-Romney No. 1!

Topics: Rick Santorum, 2012 Elections, Media, National Review, Mitt Romney, Iowa caucuses,

The right spins the Santorum surgeRepublican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (Credit: AP/Chris Carlson)

Rick Santorum’s not-quite-victory in Iowa last night was unlikely but also sort of inevitable — he was “next in line,” and Ron Paul was doomed by the portions of his platform that aren’t horrible — and now we get to watch the anti-Romney conservatives pretend they’ve always liked ol’ Rick, the True Conservative, the only credible standard-bearer, an electable, decent man who isn’t a Washington insider.

(If Glenn Beck, for example, could trust “the reins of power” in any current GOP candidate, it would apparently be Rick Santorum.)

Some are wise enough to bemoan the entire remaining slate, though they of course blame outsiders, and not the actual rank-and-file of their own movement. Jim Geraghty hates Iowa, and says the kooky results (Ron Paul!!!) can be blamed on the lack of a Democratic primary sending unreliable “independents” — presumably baked out of their minds — to GOP caucuses to spoil the entire campaign.

Erick Erickson — a longtime Santorum hater and one of the few pundits brave enough to label the culture warrior a false conservative, because Erickson declares everyone he dislikes for any reason to be Not a True Conservative — was so dispirited that he literally blamed Bush. (Well, Bush and those damned Paul-voting independents: “If you take out the non-Republicans who came into the caucuses last night for Ron Paul, the Republican turnout was less than 2008 — even considering the ratio of independents to Republicans who turned out in 2008.” And if you take out the votes for Santorum, Romney, Paul and Gingrich, Rick Perry won!)

The problem, per Erickson, is that Bush picked Cheney instead of a likable young president-in-waiting. The GOP, he has heard, likes “orderly processes” of succession. If only Bush had shown the foresight to select Marco Rubio as his running mate! In Erickson’s eyes, Bush’s failure to appoint an heir is what led to the John McCain campaign and Mitt Romney’s painful stumble toward the nomination. There is still hope, we’re told, for someone else (unnamed!) to enter the race and build momentum for the really important contests, which are now apparently scheduled for April.



If I were Perry, I’d wake up tomorrow, say I refuse to surrender the Republican Party into the hands of big government conservatives after all the gains the tea party has made, and then announce I’m firing all my political staffers and communications staffers and ask South Carolina to help me reboot to victory. Make it an Alamo stand and, if like at the Alamo Perry goes down, perhaps there’ll at least be a rallying cry for small government conservatism left over.

I can’t for the life of me figure out what makes Rick Perry “more conservative” than Rick Santorum but something something Alamo guns a-blazin’ cowboy Custer etc., etc. (Erickson then promoted a blog from a diarist making the case that perhaps Mitt Romney isn’t such an unmitigated socialistic big government evil.)

Kathryn Jean Lopez, of course, truly has always liked Rick, because they share a religion and a twisted puritanical revulsion for the whole of modernity.

As Roy Edroso noted, Jennifer Rubin’s been a Santorum fan since about August, so with the race now down to her two favorites, I imagine she’s thrilled. She certainly seems pleased — in her usual dyspeptic loathsome way — to stick it to those liberals who hoped vaguely for a Ron Paul victory. (She knows liberals like Paul because of his “bizarre views on Iran” and they hate Santorum for “his robust foreign policy.” She used the word “robust” again later, because it is code for “wants to bomb Muslims.”)

That post was just a warmup to her true defense of Santorum, whom she defends from Ericksonian charges of secret man-on-big government love. The case boils down to the facts that Santorum — like everyone else in the Republican Party — promises to repeal Obamacare and slash taxes yet further on our put-upon 1 percenters. (And let’s be honest — Santorum got into politics solely to be a soldier in God’s war on gays and abortionists. On every other issue he always has and always will just do whatever the think tanks and well-connected interest groups say, making his “record” on something like Medicare Part D entirely beside the point. If the party doesn’t like Medicare anymore, he doesn’t either!)

Ira Stoll makes the entirely unconvincing case that Santorum’s slight victory over Ron Paul was because voters were hungering for “a candidate who was willing to take on Ron Paul on foreign policy,” which, last I checked, was all of them. Those who vote Republican solely on “foreign policy” issues (bomb Iran) will likely continue pretending that the race from here on out will come down to which man can sound the hawkiest, even as the candidates themselves run on which one promises to ban the most abortions and deport the most immigrants.

There is, in other words, plenty for “establishment conservatives” to talk themselves into liking about Mr. Santorum as he takes his Iowa victory lap. Those who consider him an unlikable and decidedly unelectable boob will probably just keep quiet until he begins fading.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>