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The rehabilitation of Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum will end his bid for the White House with a higher standing among conservatives than that he enjoyed when he launched what once appeared an entirely quixotic quest.  Unless Newt Gingrich concedes defeat with grace, he may will leave the contest a pariah on the right.

What a change this campaign brings; after Santorum’s landslide loss in 2006, few conservatives looked to him for leadership.

I’m no fan of the former Pennsylvania Senator, indeed, have mocked him on more than one occasion on this blog, but do acknowledge that, by and large, he has conducted himself with class on the campaign trail, earning the respect of one Romney-supporting blogress and the endorsement of another very highly-regarded conservative blogress and of a similarly regarded blogger.   Stacy McCain has been beating the drum for Santorum at least since Herman Cain dropped out.

Maybe Santorum is doing well because he comes across as a nice guy.  He enjoyed that reputation when he served on Capitol Hill.  Although, to be sure, the Senator has said some strange things about gays, he has treated the one member of his staff who has been publicly “outed” as gay with dignity.  Indeed, his one-time spokesman Robert Traynham said “was open with Santorum about his sexual orientation” and that he had “never heard Santorum voice an anti-gay or bigoted comment” in the ten years he had worked for him.

In addition, conservatives have been impressed with his determination, campaigning on a shoe-string and traveling to all 99 counties in Iowa in the run-up to that state’s caucuses.

Perhaps, the main reason Santorum has increased his standing on the right relates to his ability to articulate conservative ideas.  As Ed Morrissey, the aforementioned highly-regarded blogger, put it today in announcing his support for Santorum:

In my estimation, Santorum is the last consistent conservative standing, and the only one both promoting the conservative agenda and campaigning as a conservative in the race.  That doesn’t make Santorum perfect; he lacks the executive experience I’d like to see, and some of his positions in the past and present give me pause.  However, compared to the heterodoxies of his competitors in the GOP race, Santorum has a superior record on promoting conservative policies and values.

Read the whole thing.  Given that the 2010 CPAC blogger of the year has regularly supported including gays in the conservative tent, I trust that among the Senator’s positions which give him pause include his comments on gay people.

Were it not for such commentary, I might consider following Ed’s lead.

Given Newt’s tantrum last night, expect to see Santorum to, like the former Speaker, emerge a second time as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.  He will likely not win the nomination, but he may be able to burnish his reputation — at least among conservatives.

Even if Santorum is still competing when the campaign comes to California, I will not vote for him, just wish we had had a principled conservative with the executive experience he lacks — and who had not made the statements he has about gay people.

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17 Comments

  1. Santorum has grown on me recently. Considering Gingrich’s behaviour and just that I’ve always been unimpressed with Romney, Santorum has become relatively appealing. I hope he does regain some momentum and become the “not Romney” again, just so he can put some pressure on Romney. Gingrich did a good job of that before South Carolina, and I think Romney, as a result, has perhaps become a bit more aggressive. If it hasn’t been such a bizarre campaign, I would say Gingrich is a lost cause as he seems to have figuratively shot himself in the foot with his recent behaviour. Hopefully Santorum can now take his place and force Romney to the right a bit. And maybe Romney can learn some class from Santorum. There is a fine line between being aggressive but also classy and positive; it is imperative that Romney learns how to balance the two before the general election.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — February 5, 2012 @ 11:21 pm - February 5, 2012

  2. Santorum doesn’t seem to be a hateful homophobe at all, I imagine he does treat any gays he knows personally with respect. The fact that he can do that and still say the strange things he says about gays and not give one inch on any legislation dealing with gay-specific issues is disturbing and, frankly, shows a character trait that I’m all too familiar with. One that is set in its ways and will never ever change no matter how many facts are shoved in its face to dispute his beliefs. My dad is exactly like that.

    Comment by Eddie — February 5, 2012 @ 11:33 pm - February 5, 2012

  3. Santorum should remain anathema to gay Republicans now and in-future. I shudder at the concept of him anywhere near the West Wing as POTUS or VPOTUS ever.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — February 6, 2012 @ 2:11 am - February 6, 2012

  4. Ted, he won’t be either. He’ll rally in the coming week, may snag a primary victory or two, may take Gingrich’s mantle as the anti-Romney, but he’ll fade in his own time.

    He may be able to articulate the conservative vision, but he’s just not presidential.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — February 6, 2012 @ 2:19 am - February 6, 2012

  5. Rick Santorum is a good family man, and a man who takes his religious faith seriously. As such, he represents everything the left despises.

    It’s unfortunate that so many otherwise conservative gheys have let the rantings of vile attention whore Dan Savage color their opinions of a pretty decent man (for a politician, anyway).

    Comment by V the K — February 6, 2012 @ 5:41 am - February 6, 2012

  6. [...] Arizona) still two weeks away. Finally, while this isn’t quite an angel-wings endorsement, Dan Blatt of Gay Patriot offers some words of respect for Santorum:Maybe Santorum is doing well because he comes across as a nice guy. He enjoyed that reputation when [...]

    Pingback by Ed Morrissey, Phyllis Schlafly, Michelle Malkin, David Limbaugh, Tom Tancredo: Gosh, Everybody’s for Santorum Now! : The Other McCain — February 6, 2012 @ 7:12 am - February 6, 2012

  7. Setting aside his choice of words, Rick Santorum was absolutely right. There is no Constitutional basis for the Federal Courts to overrule the elected legislatures of the states when it comes to sodomy. When you establish the precedent that the courts can arbitrarily overrule a legislature solely on the basis that they enact laws that are contrary to the social views of elitists, that puts a very dangerous amount of power in the hands of people who are neither elected nor accountable. Sodomy laws may be dumb and unenforceable, but they are much less a threat to liberty than a court that can arbitrarily overrule a legislature without any constitutional authority.

    Also, you can’t say “leave it to the states” when it comes to gay marriage, and then support the notion that the states can’t enact sodomy laws. It’s intellectually inconsistent.

    Comment by V the K — February 6, 2012 @ 8:09 am - February 6, 2012

  8. Lawrence v Texas in 2003 struck down sodomy laws in the 14 states that still had them. (Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia).

    Taking Santorum’s lead that Lawrence overreached in overturning a state issue, I wonder which of the 50 states would now enact a sodomy law?

    It is easy enough for a state to not enforce a law, but leave it on the books for window dressing to appease a certain constituency.

    It is another thing entirely to enact legislation that would raise the hackles of many citizens.

    Comment by Heliotrope — February 6, 2012 @ 8:31 am - February 6, 2012

  9. [...] Stacy has a report on some of them, including Michelle Malkin, David Limbaugh, Phyllis Schlafy, etc. Hell, even one of the Gay Patriots has nice things to say about Mr. Santorum: …Finally, while this isn’t quite an angel-wings endorsement, Dan Blatt of Gay Patriot offers some words of respect for Santorum: [...]

    Pingback by Nomination Excitations: I’ll See You On The Dark Side Of The Moon « The Camp Of The Saints — February 6, 2012 @ 11:19 am - February 6, 2012

  10. V the K
    Points well taken. Consistency has never been a hallmark, especially on matters controversial. Those on the left who tout respect for human life, call capital punishment for murderers barbaric, cruel and unusual. Yet they have no problem defending abortion of a creature whose only crime is existence. It is unfortunate that the Founding Fathers never anticipated a situation that would allow Roe v Wade on the books. I admire the Constiturion of El Salvador, wnich in the first article states ¨Like wise it is recognized as a human person like all human beings from the moment of conception.¨ I doubt that we could pass an amendment to the Constitution that would respect the sanctity and respect for human life from the moment of conception.

    All my choices have disappointed me, Trump, Cain, and now Gingrich. By the time i receive my absentee ballot I´ll have to hold my nose and vote for Romney. Maybe Mitch Daniels will jump in before the convention. I guess that´s too much to hope for. Romney just seems plastic to me. His flip-flops are a concern to me. I fear that he is more of an Obama lite than a conservative. It seems like 2008 all over again. The only thing that McCain had in his favor was not having taken earmarks and his promise to nominate strlict constructions to the SCOTUS.

    Comment by Roberto — February 6, 2012 @ 11:20 am - February 6, 2012

  11. #7

    That’s one reason I argue for the removal of those ‘unconstitutional’ laws. Don’t forget Lawrence overturned precident less than a decade old, IIRC. To take the FL adoption law for example, Charlie “Oompa-Loompa” Crist said he’d stop fighting for the bill. But it’s still on the books. What’s to keep a future governour/court system to start enforcing the law again, and to uphold it this time?

    This is why the cours should not be playing with legislation like that.

    Comment by The Livewire — February 6, 2012 @ 11:21 am - February 6, 2012

  12. [...] The Other McCain: Ed Morrissey, Phyllis Schlafly, Michelle Malkin, David Limbaugh, Tom Tancredo: Gosh, Everybody’s for Santorum Now! Santorum will speak Friday morning at CPAC, and his supporters are hoping to get a big boost as the campaign moves forward, with the next debate (Feb. 22 in Arizona) still two weeks away. Finally, while this isn’t quite an angel-wings endorsement, Dan Blatt of Gay Patriot offers some words of respect for Santorum: [...]

    Pingback by Mitt’s Big Guns Now Trained On Santorum « Nice Deb — February 6, 2012 @ 11:23 am - February 6, 2012

  13. Speaking of CPAC, is anyone going?

    And what about GOProud and the LCR? I haven’t heard anything about if they are going to be represented, …or if they’ve been banned.

    It’s this weekend.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — February 6, 2012 @ 4:30 pm - February 6, 2012

  14. Santorum is the only blue-collar candidate in the race. He’s done well for himself, educationally and professionally, but his roots are blue-collar and thrifty/white-collar – and it shows. It shows as its own quality, and it shows in contrast to Romney.

    Comment by Jeremayakovka — February 6, 2012 @ 9:03 pm - February 6, 2012

  15. What “blue-collar”? …Santorum’s parents were both Medical Professionals; his father was a Clinical Psychologist and his mother a medical administrator….both very white collar upper-middleclass in my book. And he graduated High School in the affluent North Shore suburbs of Chicago and attended excellent universities for his undergraduate (Penn State), graduate (Pitt) and law degrees (Dickinson).

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — February 6, 2012 @ 11:04 pm - February 6, 2012

  16. [...] The Other McCain: Ed Morrissey, Phyllis Schlafly, Michelle Malkin, David Limbaugh, Tom Tancredo: Gosh, Everybody’s for Santorum Now! Santorum will speak Friday morning at CPAC, and his supporters are hoping to get a big boost as the campaign moves forward, with the next debate (Feb. 22 in Arizona) still two weeks away. Finally, while this isn’t quite an angel-wings endorsement, Dan Blatt of Gay Patriot offers some words of respect for Santorum: [...]

    Pingback by Mitt’s Big Guns Now Trained On Santorum | FavStocks — February 7, 2012 @ 3:24 am - February 7, 2012

  17. @Ted: his grandfather coal-miner, in his stump speech I think.

    Comment by Jeremayakovka — February 7, 2012 @ 12:24 pm - February 7, 2012

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