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Right Turn
Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 02/19/2012

Santorum adds fuel to the culture wars

Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed reports on Rick Santorum’s assertion that abortion doctors should be criminally prosecuted for murder:

“Just so you know, if it’s against the law, yes they should be criminally prosecuted, because then it’s against the law and the country would have made a decision that it’s against the law. And I would suggest that once we — if we make it against the law that there should be penalties, otherwise if there’s a law when there’s not an enforcement of the law, it’s not much of a law, is it?
Santorum also addressed concerns over his views about women’s roles in the workforce, telling the assembled media that “My comments about women in the workforce, the left likes to make a big deal out of it.”
“I’m very comfortable with professional women,” Santorum said. “I just want to make sure that women who choose not to be in the workforce are given equal credit as those who do.”

As for his comments regarding working women, the problem is that what Santorum says now is NOT what he wrote. The media covering Santorum should read his book and press him on the passages making clear he isn’t cheering all women’s choices. To the contrary, he tells parents that they are working too much (that’s fine if he were running for family therapist in chief). And he focuses his gripes that children aren’t receiving enough time on women, who, he claims, are greedy or have been snookered by “radical feminists.” Some enterprising reporter or moderator should read Santorum’s words back to him and ask him if he thinks modern American women agree with him. And by the way, was his mother delinquent since she worked outside the home?

As for his comments on prosecuting abortion doctors, this would, I assume, concern the death penalty in states that impose capital punishment for murder. After all, it would be contrary to his views (that unborn children are people under the Constitution) to decide for criminal law purposes that an unborn child is any less a person, and deserving of less protection, than any other person.

Moreover, if Santorum is going to prosecute doctors for murder there is no logical reason to exempt women from prosecution for conspiracy to murder, right? If she conspired with a doctor to kill a live child, she would not be spared (“otherwise if there’s a law when there’s not an enforcement of the law”). So what exactly is the rationale — that it would be too outrageous to articulate this legal predicament? Well, that’s where his reasoning leads us.

Santorum likes to say that he is principled, but in fact he’s vividly demonstrating day after day that his strongly held social views, when uttered aloud in dogmatic tones, sound outrageous to voters who aren’t hard-core social conservatives.

After all, why does he even need to comment on this issue? Abortion is currently legal, and if the Supreme Court were to reverse itself and if states characterized abortion as murder and if doctors were to be prosecuted, this still would be a state matter. So Santorum makes a distant hypothetical into a comment that makes even pro-life voters wince. This, in a nutshell, is his problem. Ironically, he is the worst possible spokesman for social conservative views that are within the mainstream because he intersperses them with stances that make him sound extreme.

He either can’t (because they put them in his book) or won’t run from his frequently stated views, and those views are so controversial and in some case so outside the mainstream that they will inevitably swallow his campaign. He and his blogospheric spinners are absolutely wrong when they say it’s the “left” that is interested in this; actually, it’s the moderate swing voters who will most likely be affected and turned off, by this rhetoric.

The idea that he will merely be able to limit the debate to nice, cozy sentiments about the importance of the family is farcical. He can’t help himself from wading into these controversies — and he sure won’t be able to muzzle either the Obama campaign or the press.

By  |  10:00 AM ET, 02/19/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign, Culture

 
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