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Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 02/13/2012

Rick Santorum takes the lead


He only looks like he’s to the left of Romney. (Charles Dharapak - AP)

There are two ways of hating Valentine's Day.

There's writing bitter, lonesome poetry about it — haikú ("Winter departing/I am forever alone/Mm, good chocolate") or limericks ("There was a young man from Nantucket/Who once brought me gifts by the bucket/But of late his affections/Have found new directions/So if he comes ’round, tell him to —” well, you get the idea) or the odd sonnet, which I won't reproduce here.

Or there’s picking Rick Santorum in your national presidential poll.

I am not joking.

Rick Santorum is winning.

Nationally.

Public Policy Polling found that he has pulled ahead of Mitt Romney, both in Michigan and everywhere else. No doubt this comes as quite a shock to people who were expecting to have a nice, pleasant Valentine’s Day to themselves without the government crawling through the bedroom window halfway into the proceedings and clearing its throat loudly.

It doesn't matter if you love him or capital H-I-M, as Lady Gaga would say: Rick Santorum wants to intervene. To quote Santorum himself, on NPR in 2005 — right before, incidentally, he became Former Senator Rick Santorum:

“They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do. Government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulation low and that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues, you know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world, and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can't go it alone, that there is no such society that I'm aware of where we've had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.”

Until we resolve what this means, it casts rather a damper on all the candles-and-champagne-and-strawberries bonanzas lighting up across the country. And that’s not the only invasive prescription Rick Santorum has up his non-existent sweater sleeve.

Egon J. Beaudoin once cynically defined a quotation as “something somebody said that seemed to make sense at the time.” There’s a new category of problem for Santorum — Something He Said In 2005 That Seemed to Make Sense at the Time.

For Santorum, many of these problem pronouncements stem from his book, “It Takes A Family.” It does for families what Hillary Clinton once did for villages and what Mitt Romney’s 2045 book, “It Takes a Crew of Exceptional Competent Robot Nurses” will do for androids.

Of course, that a candidate’s statements in his book might diverge from his present positions would be understandable — it was a while ago, and we thought differently then — but this was 2005. And Santorum hasn’t been so clear about having upgraded any of his views. Grilled, this weekend, by George Stephanopoulos about a passage that both Jennifer Rubin and I flagged as mildly disconcerting, which blames radical feminism for the peculiar notion that work outside the home might offer women fulfillment, Santorum claimed, bewilderingly, that his wife had written it. What? Odd that she’s not cited anywhere.

I look forward to using this excuse. “Did I say that men were not capable of the higher intellectual functions and ought to return to the caves whence they came? Nonsense! My husband wrote that part!” I would pause reflectively. “Seems a bit contradictory of him to say so, but he knows his own mind best.”

Why not give credit? Well, man and woman are one flesh. . .

So remarks like that one stand, with muddled explanations at best. And Santorum's rankings are overwhelmingly positive.

For months, the scrutiny of Santorum amounted largely to “Don't Google him; ask Dan Savage; sweater vests; seven children.”

How much vitriol can you muster against a man in a sweater vest? He reminds you too much of your eighth-grade biology teacher to censure. And he's bought everyone in the country coffee at least once.

He seemed like an intelligent, old-fashioned guy who wanted to return America to its old ways.

But the more we read of him, the more we discover that the ways he meant were the ones where the bailiff came and peered into your bedroom, the elders suggested that we get out the pitchforks and the constabulary inquired what your wife was doing in the neighboring county without some sort of note. I think.

Unless that was his wife again.

There are ways of hating Valentine's Day. This is one I hadn’t heard of yet.

By  |  06:00 PM ET, 02/13/2012

Tags:  election 2012, santorum

 
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