Where, I asked in January, “is the conservative candidate at this conservative moment?” “In the current contest, . . . no candidate has emerged to take on Reagan’s mantle.” In their search for a charismatic and principled conservatives who could rally the party faithful, many Republican voters, dissatisfied with the frontrunner and eager to find an alternative, have embraced, at various points during the campaign, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and now Rick Santorum.
Unlike Bachmann, Cain or Gingrich, however, Santorum has never really embraced the libertarian economic policies which defined the Gipper’s domestic policies — and now form the basis for the Tea Party’s agenda. Moreover, as Ace observes, echoing John Podhoretz, Santorum lacks Reagan’s sunny disposition:
Santorum’s problem, again and again, is that he doesn’t want to make apositive uplifting case for things. He might have given a speech encouraging a newfound, recovered respect for the trades. He might have given a speech about the positive virtue of sweat. And it’s importance in America.
Instead he just brands those who wish their kids to go to college “snobs.”
Taking issue not with Santorum’s tone, but with the content of his recent robocall (faulting Romney for supporting TARP while opposing the auto bailouts), Jay Nordlinger seems dumbfounded, “And this is our guy? Santorum is the conservatives’ guy?”
Many conservatives supported the bank bailout and opposed the auto bailout. You can look up arguments within NR editorials. Conservatives all over the country, in all sorts of forums, made arguments for and against — for and against either bailout. Those arguments continue now, retrospectively.
But is there any thinking or respectable conservative who uses Rick Santorum’s language — the bank bailout was for Mitt Romney’s “Wall Street billionaire buddies” while Michigan workers got their faces slapped? (Santorum opposed the auto bailout, too. Was he slapping workers’ faces?)
Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t conservatism. It’s more like street-corner Marxism. What a strange and tragic pass we’ve reached.
So eager are some conservatives for a conservative alternative to Mitt Romney that they have embraced a candidate who is far from the “full spectrum conservative” he claims to be.