wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost2

Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Should Congress deal with the immigration crisis -- tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors at the border -- before its August recess?

Submit
Next
Review your answers and share
Post Partisan
Posted at 10:41 AM ET, 02/17/2012

Rick Santorum is no Foster Friess or Barack Obama


So, that whole Bayer aspirin-contraception thing Foster Friess said on MSNBC yesterday was all a big joke. An old and lame ditty the mega-wealthy backer of Rick Santorum thought would be appropriate to repeat on national television and right when the nation is embroiled in a very serious debate over the issue and religion. To his credit, Friess asked for forgiveness on his blog last night.

Today on Andrea Mitchell’s show, my aspirin joke bombed as many didn’t recognize it as a joke but thought it was my prescription for today’s birth control practices.… After listening to the segment tonight, I can understand how I confused people with the way I worded the joke and their taking offense is very understandable. To all those who took my joke as modern day approach I deeply apologize and seek your forgiveness. My wife constantly tells me I need new material — she understood the joke but didn’t like it anyway — so I will keep that old one in the past where it belongs.

I give Friess credit because he’s owning up to his boneheaded mistake, something very few people in the realm of politics who are caught in a vice of idiocy of their own creation ever do. Friess acknowledges the anger his dumb joke ignited. Not in the patronizing “If anyone was offended” vein that has as much sincerity as one of Mitt Romney’s “I’m one of you” speeches in Michigan. But in a forthright manner that leaves no doubt — at least to me — that he understands the mess he’s in. And Friess flat-out asks for forgiveness. Rick Santorum’s reaction to all this, on the other hand, was lacking.

After Fox News’s Greta van Susteren showed him the Friess comment last night, he said, “[L]ook, I’m not going to be responsible for everybody who’s — you know, anybody — any supporter of mine and what they say. I mean, that’s — that’s — that’s — I’m not going to play that game.” Van Susteren then pushed Santorum on the substance of what Friess said.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, let me — let me understand. All right there — let me just sort it out. There are two issues. One is the creepy supporter, you know, the guy who says something really creepy about you and who’s — is a — who’s a huge fund-raiser for your campaign. Will you at least, you know, correct him about — I mean, I think most women don’t think it’s particular funny, his comment.
SANTORUM: Yes. No, look, I mean, Foster is known in political circles as telling a lot of jokes, and some of them are not particularly funny, which this one was not. He’s not creepy. He’s a good man. He’s a great philanthropist. He’s a very successful businessman. You know, he told a -- he told a bad, off-color joke, and he shouldn’t have done it. But that’s -- you know, that’s -- that’s his business. It certainly doesn’t, in my opinion, reflect on the campaign or me because he wasn’t doing it as part of our campaign.

Santorum went one better this morning on CBS by accusing the media of a double standard. According to The Hill, he whined that the media “defended” then-Sen. Barack Obama during the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy.

“Look, this is what you guys do,” Santorum said on CBS. “I mean you don’t do this with President Obama. In fact, with President Obama what you did was you went out and defended him against someone who he sat in a church for, for 20 years and defended him that, ‘Oh, he can’t possibly believe what he listened to for 20 years.’

“That was the double standard this is what you’re pulling off and I’m going to call you on it,” Santorum said.

Santorum’s effort to absolve himself of any kind of responsibility for Friess is unacceptable. His wallowing in victimhood is shameful.

The Wright episode was almost the undoing of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. And rightly so. As I said then, you can’t run for president of the United States and be associated with anyone who dare say, “God damn America!” I believed strongly -- and said so -- that the then-Senator from Illinois had to address the controversy. He did so with a speech that is perhaps the best and most honest oration on race ever given.

Santorum should quit wallowing in victimhood and start acting like a leader. I’m not advocating he emulate Obama. If anything, I’m asking Santorum to emulate Friess, who had no problem taking responsibility for his dumb, ill-advised joke and apologizing.

By  |  10:41 AM ET, 02/17/2012

Tags:  Election 2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company