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Political Bookworm
Posted at 02:17 PM ET, 02/17/2012

Santorum book stirs controversy, again

If anyone should know the power of the word, it should be Rick
Santorum, and right now he’s feeling it in all its glory.

His 2005 book “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good” has leaped back into the spotlight as Santorum heads into a hotly contested primary battle with Mitt Romney in Michigan.

The book, which was partly blamed for Santorum’s resounding loss of his Senate seat in 2006, has stirred controversy, again, for its unabashed hardline conservative views.

The latest flare-up came after Santorum was asked on a weekend talk show to explain an excerpt from the book that targets “radical feminists” for undermining the traditional family by “convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.”

In reply, Santorum suggested that radical feminists were not allowing women a choice to stay at home and he asserted that women should have the choice to work or not to work. He also said that that part of the book was written in cooperation with his wife who is a working woman.

Santorum takes aim at radical feminists elsewhere in the book: “Respect for stay-at-home mothers has been poisoned by a toxic combination of the village elders’ war on the traditional family and radical feminism’s misogynistic crusade to make working women outside the home the only marker of social value and self-respect.”

And in this passage: “What happened in America so that mothers and fathers who leave their children in the care of someone else — or worse yet, home alone after school between three and six in the afternoon — find themselves more affirmed by society? Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism.”

Santorum’s book, for which he received a $10,000 advance in 2003 from ISI Books, the publishing arm of the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute, has known only controversy, even before it was published. It seemed conceived largely as a tool to stoke controversy.

The title “It Takes a Family” was meant as a direct challenge to Hillary Clinton’s earlier book “It Takes a Village.” His publisher called it a “conservative response.” Santorum said: “It is a contrast to how the left looks at structure and order in society and how I look at structure and order in society.”

Clinton remained silent on the book until about a week after its release in July 2005 when she happened to be passing Santorum in the basement of the Capitol.

“It takes a village, Rick, don’t forget that,” Clinton offered as she went by.

“It takes a family,” Santorum replied.

“Of course, a family is part of a village!” Hillary shot back before the two went their separate ways.

In the book, Santorum explains his strong anti-abortion sentiments. He argues that abortion puts the rights of the mother ahead of those of the child and compares the relationship to that of a slave owner and a slave.

Then taking a jab at Clinton, Santorum writes: “The African proverb says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ The American is ‘It takes a villlage to raise a child — if the village wants that child.’’’

Santorum then appeared later that month, on July 25, on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The faux newsman and Santorum found grounds for agreement, on this proposition: “Ice cream is a delicious treat . . . but too much will spoil the appetite.” While the author and the book caused such a backlash, Stewart’s interview was surprisingly softball.

The Stewart interview may well have disappointed Santorum because it generated no flames and Santorum glories in the heat he can create.

And controversy is nothing if not fantastic for book sales, which for Santorum have been modest. So far, the book has sold a total of 16,000 copies in hardcover and paperback, according to Nielsen BookScan.

But as the latest controversy gathered steam on Friday, “It takes a Family” leapt from 12,369th on Amazon’s bestseller list at noon to 5,258th by 2 p.m.

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@SteveLevingston

By  |  02:17 PM ET, 02/17/2012

 
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