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Right Turn
Posted at 10:49 AM ET, 02/27/2012

Santorum is losing it

Is Rick Santorum gloomy? Or “one angry dude”? If you look at the past few days, his increasingly erratic performance reminds you of a basketball team trailing by single digits at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Things then go from bad to worse. The squad gets rattled, arguing with the ref and making silly fouls. Instead of going for the percentage shots, the team throws up a series of off-balance three-point shots that miss wildly. Soon what was a close game isn’t, and what looked a competitive team now looks frazzled.

Santorum went from high-percentage winning issues — bread-and-butter economics and some homilies about the family — to accusing Mitt Romney of being “in bed with Obama” and conspiring with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) to do him in. He fumbled the contraception issue, going from a slam dunk (don’t mess with the First Amendment) to a dead-bang loser (“contraception harms women”). Then he really lost it — telling us college access is a plot and JFK’s vow not to take orders from the pope made him “throw up.” (He seems to have imagined that JFK said something that he didn’t — “religion should be kept out of the public square” — and, with no clue as to the historical context, become sickened by the president’s vow not to impose Catholic dogma on the country.)

It is not so much that the United States is a mess (beset by the devil, who has systematically debased our institutions, according to the Santorum version of American history), it is Santorum who is. He’s lost his focus and his cool. He appears out of sorts and out of his league. A couple of weeks ago, the media was accusing Romney of being negative, but that was all that was necessary to throw Santorum off his game.

What is also apparent is that there is no strong voice to whom he can look to for wise advice. He’s a player-coach who badly needs to concentrate solely on his own performance and find someone else to give direction and lay out a game plan. To the extent that he has assistants, they either are sycophantically encouraging him or do not have gravitas to influence him. (If ever there were an example of the dangers of deficient executive experience this is it.)

Santorum was the ultimate dark horse, who no one (probably including him) imagined would get this far. So it’s understandable that he wouldn’t have top-flight coaching or be prepared to withstand the pressure. But if he doesn’t find qualified advisers fast, get a grip and stop making silly errors, he’s going to get beaten in contest after contest. Right now, the competition is running up the score.

By  |  10:49 AM ET, 02/27/2012

 
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