Rick Santorum

I saw Rick Santorum speak to a small group today in Chicago. He has announced that he is running for President. He spoke to a group of mostly Conservative Catholics, some of whom I believe would be able to help a candidate financially in a meaningful way. I am not in that category, but I was invited anyway, and the little snacks were nice.

I came away, to my surprise, favorably impressed.

I went to the meeting disinclined to be supportive. I generally agree with Santorum on the “cultural” issue. For example, I am 100% Pro-Life 100% of the time, and will never vote for a serious pro-abortion candidate. But in our current circumstances, I want the GOP candidate to be focused on taxes, spending, entitlement reform. We will be destroyed as a nation if we do not get those issues under control. My sense is that Santorum has been pre-labelled as a one-note social conservative. Whether that is unfair or not, I went to the meeting believing this was too steep a hill to climb, and that we don’t need the distraction in 2012, thus disqualifying Santorum from serious consideration. (Further, I am from Chicago, and Mayor Daley, Senior advised, “don’t back no losers” and Santorum’s failure to win reelection to the Senate in 2006 is a red flag.)

Santorum is obviously aware of this type of thinking, and spoke accordingly. He focused his remarks on the money issues. He was rock solid. Further he was intensely realistic about the situation, meaning pessimistic until Mr. Obama is voted out. He noted that the GOP House majority can only do so much, and that many activists will be disappointed. We need a GOP president who is committed to getting the budget under control. He described his own record on these issues, and he made a compelling case for himself, particularly on opposition to HillaryCare, and now to ObamaCare. He also addressed the strictly political side, explaining in some detail that mobilizing the base is at least as important as reaching into the center, and that he can certainly do the former. A facially plausible argument.

His comments on defense and the danger or Islamic radicalism were solid. His criticism of Mr. Obama on these scores was tough but fair.

His discussion of American exceptionalism was moving. He said that he loves the Constitution but “I’m a Declaration guy.” He spoke about the rights granted by our Creator, and the how the point of America is for each individual person to have the freedom to develop into the person they were meant to be. I am not doing justice to these comments, which were powerful.

He was challenged on his support for Arlen Spector over Pat Toomey, which was a question many of us wanted answered. He gave a completely convincing, and somewhat indignant, response to this, which you will hear at some point if his campaign carries on very long. Before this meeting I had considered his support for Spector to be a defection, and I would have told you I would never vote for Santorum as a result. He changed my mind, and he disposed of that issue for me. I told him afterward that if that question and answer had been preserved to became a video on YouTube (there was no video) the Spector issue would be neutralized.

Personal back-pat: At one point he said, here is a trivia question, when is the last time the Republicans nominated someone from East of the Mississippi for President, not counting Ford? I correctly and quickly answered it: Thomas Dewey. He noted that the states of the Midwest and Northeast are in play and will decide the election and being from Pennsylvania will help the GOP carry those states. Maybe so.

I don’t know what fortune Sen. Santorum will have in this race. As of this minute, I like Santorum better than any of the front-runners: Romney, Gingrich, Pawlenty.

Sen. Santorum will be a red flag to the legacy media. They will try to make his candidacy an all day, every day discussion about abortion rights, intelligent design, gay marriage, Terry Schiavo, etc. They will be absolutely rabid in their attacks on him, and he has given them plenty of ammunition.

On the other hand, the legacy media is going to be over-the-top, psycho-vicious to whoever the Republicans put up. I don’t know how much difference it makes. If he survives the primary process, and got the nomination, the public will have gotten a good look at him, and may judge him on the totality of his positions and his record.

Sen. Santorum came across as sincere, very well prepared, smart and serious. In fact, his seriousness about the current dangers we face was impressive. He did not put a smiley face on anything.

I still like Mitch Daniels, and I hope he runs.

I liked what I heard from Rick Santorum today, too.

And I wish him luck, and look forward to hearing more.

(Oddly, I cannot find his campaign website. He must have one. He should fix that.)

32 thoughts on “Rick Santorum”

  1. Well this is good news. You are correct it really doesn’t matter who the R’s put up there, the attacks will be vicious and never ending from the MSM. Santorum will be a “gay hater” from the get go.

    I highly doubt that Santorum can get the $ behind him like a Gingrich can. At this time I wnat a Chris Christie for president campaign with Sarah Palin as his vice. Screw the MSM, we know what will happen, take it on hard and fast. I fear Romney the most. Stillborn campaign against Obama if he gets the nomination and I would probably vote Libertarian or Constitution party.

    On a personal level I really like Newt but I don’t think he would ever win against the zero.

  2. Too bad Rumsfeld is so old. I am finishing his book and what a candidate he would make ! 25 years in business plus all the government experience he has. Too bad. I think the candidate has to be a governor and would suggest Kasich if he can get Ohio under control; Daniels, if he would grow a couple of inches; maybe Pawlenty if he can start to get his message across; and, in the final analysis, it may have to be Christie. I could see Scott Walker as VP, too.

  3. The key to carrying the next election will be to carry the right and center. Whatever your personal preferences, short of amazing charisma and communication skills, I doubt he can carry the center, where the cultural issues WILL have influence.

    Gingrich I like, but I suspect he’s too much the policy wonk and carrying too much baggage from the past to win the election. He’d be a good choice for chief of staff or secretary of state.

    Oddly, I think secretary of defense, Bob Gates, would be an outstanding president. He understands the budget problem, he understands the international political and security situation and knows the key players, and has lots of experience running and working inside of vast government bureaucracies. He reminds me a bit of Ike Eisenhower.


  4. Santorum said Romney cannot be nominated, and went through why he believes that. I hope he is right.

    I don’t think Gingrich can get elected. But if he can hack his way to the nomination, I would have to change that assessment.

    I don’t like Pawlenty. He seems like a squish. We need someone in there with room-sized balls, who is willing to be hated, like a monster version of Scott Walker. A GOP president will be a mighty warrior, or he will be roadkill. Things are that bad.

  5. For all the great things Walker has done so far, the fat lady has not sung yet. He has been governor for only a few months. Yes he is taking the bull by the horns, but time will tell. He is not ready for the national scene yet, but the general agument that we need someone with giant steel balls to GO FOR IT on the national scene seems to be correct. I really like Palin as VP for either Daniels or Christie – or anyone – as I think she would relish the attack dog role and be very good at it and drag along a bunch of female votes.

    As of late Daniels has been pretty quiet but he is stil my man Mitch.

  6. Lex:

    “I don’t like Pawlenty. He seems like a squish. We need someone in there with room-sized balls, who is willing to be hated, like a monster version of Scott Walker. A GOP president will be a mighty warrior, or he will be roadkill. Things are that bad.”

    National Review had the guy on the cover—I don’t like him because he is a squish. I’m quietly hoping Daniels will get off the dime and run.

    Newt is a creature of Washington; but Perot nailed it when he said of Clinton, “if your wife can’t trust you, no one can.” I don’t mind the fact that he’s divorced, it’s the fact he’d picked out a replacement before he divorced (twice!). Gingrich and Clinton are cut from the same cloth; deadly smart, with no moral core. (complete disclosure: I believe I have bought and read all of Newt’s policy books.)

    Romney is a disaster, so is Huck.

    MK might be right about Rummy—he would be tough enough, it would be interesting if he threw his hat in the ring—-God have mercy, can you imagine the media’s reaction?! Gates is a good man, but I’m not sure he has the room-sized balls Lex mentioned. Christie or Daniels would get my vote, and until I read this post Santorum wasn’t possible for me—so thanks, Lex; I’ll keep an eye on him.

  7. J. Scott – I think you might be on to something. Maybe if the GOP tossed some money Rummys way and he ran in a few states that would keep the MSM machine off of the real candidates for a bit. I like Rummy too, and I love the thought of him debating Obama but I don’t think it will fly. Perhaps as VP though, talk about attack dog.

  8. Lex,

    Could you please expound a little on his foreign policy remarks? I have, in general, been little impressed with the defense remarks of most Republican candidates. They have an investment in the Iraq War (well, more like “the concept behind the Iraq War”) that they seem unwilling to walk away from. There’s always talk that some confluence of historical circumstance will turn the Iraq War into a great long term strategic victory. I have my doubts.

    I believe that you have said in the past that the Iraq War was a strategic disaster for the United States, so I think we have some commonality of opinion on this matter. So, I’m heartened that you left with a positive impression. I would like to see some evidence from our party’s candidates that they have a) thought about the war and why it has turned out to “juice not worth the squeeze,” and b) have thought about a grand strategy for the United States.

    As for Rumsfeld, uh…seriously? I was a huge Rumsfeld fan. I loved the Donald Rumsfeld of the SNL sketches. I am pre-disposed to like George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. But, when I come back to many Republican leaders of this recent era, I have to look past my tribal affinity for them. I remember something William Slim wrote in his “Defeat into Victory”–“A soldier in defeat can console himself with the thought that he did his duty. A general cannot, for Victory is his duty.” George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld…I have a hard time saying that they did their duty.

  9. Chris, you really have to read his book. He is too old (He is even older than I am !) but his policy background is astonishing. Cheney ditto !

    I am prepared to spend hours debating the policy choices in Iraq. Rummy doesn’t. He does not strike me as heavily invested in specific policy choices on foreign affairs. He salutes and takes orders. His thing is management and domestic policy. I suspect that, if he were being VERY candid, he would have chosen to beat Saddam flat and leave, the same preference that Tommy Franks had.

  10. “I like Rummy too, and I love the thought of him debating Obama”

    I’d like to see that too. I’d PAY to see that. Rumsfeld strikes me as being just about as clear headed and direct as Obama is muddleheaded and conniving.

  11. Santorum did not talk about Iraq. He talked about the ongoing threat of Islamic terrorism in a knowledgeable way. He said Obama wasted a priceless opportunity to support the opposition to the Iranian regime.

    Good quote from FM Slim, one of my all time favorite books.

    Once Santorum had a website up (!) I am sure he will have some detail about his foreign and defense policy.

  12. Mr Green:

    “…I had considered his support for Spector to be a defection, and I would have told you I would never vote for Santorum as a result. He changed my mind…” For God’s sake, give us some hints. I am still in the benighted position of thinking anyone who can support Spector the Mother of All Tergiversators will never get a vote of mine. Please, enlighten.

  13. The book is incredible. If you’re a military professional, Slim’s discussion of Commander’s Intent (he refers to it as “the intention”) is worth the money right there.

    Michael Kennedy, you are correct. Rumsfeld’s resume (and Cheney’s) is astonishing. It is exactly the kind of resume (extensive public service, together with success in the private sector) that I would love in a president. “The business of America is business.” I think it’s about time that someone who has actually worked in the private sector has that job.

    That said (and neither of us probably wants to really get into Iraq War arguments), was not Rumsfeld strangely passive as Iraq teetered upon unmitigated disaster? All the Generals took their appointed turns; no one was relieved. It took a 2006 election beatdown to break everyone out of their stupor (and even then, GWB didn’t have the guts to fire Casey–he promoted him, like Elaine did to her psycho, fatigue-wearing protege in Seinfeld).

    I do think that Rumsfeld would have gone down as a great SecDef had 9/11 never happened. I think he had a great vision for what he wanted to do at Defense, particularly with regard to acquisition (he had a few big scalps early). But, if I can wax all “Godfather-y,” he was just not a “wartime consigliere.”

  14. Romney will lose, again, just like his father. He is the candidate of the corporatist oligarchy and an airhead.

    No POTUS will be surnamed “Pawlenty”.

    My personal favorite is Gingrich. He cannot be elected, though he could be appointed to something really good by a GOP president and do some useful things for the country prior to self-destructing.

    I wish Robert Gates would run. He won’t.

    Neither will Jack Kemp, as he is dead, but I would vote for a deceased Kemp over most of the living ppl who will run.

    Mitch Daniels seems to have the intuitive sense to know how to win on an issue without going so far as provoking a backlash that does enough damage to outweigh the victory. That’s Reaganesque. Or at least Bismarckian.

    Rick Santorum does not appeal to me because I am not very socially conservative nor am I a hothead, though that he impressed Lex tonight means he is trying to get it together. His running is at least a useful distraction for the MSM who hate him as much as they do Palin.

    Sarah Palin is a goof. She is good at enraging liberals into doing asinine to psychotic things though which helps the Party and harms the Left. Useful quality.

    Bottom line, the country needs vibrant economic growth for years in the 5-7 % range while restraining spending to climb out of the mess we are in or slide into a serious and possibly irreversible decline.

  15. daniels already screwed the pooch. newt has 0% chance.

    i am thinking giuliani’s time has arrived. if so, the parallels with the dinkins election would be amazing :)

  16. Any of you who think of Newt Gingrich in favorable terms need to read then Representative Tom Coburn’s “Breach of Trust.”

    Senator Coburn does not mince any words when it comes to Newt. Basically says that once Gingrich got power, Gingrich became part of the problem.

    Gingrich also appeared in global warming ads with Nancy Pelosi. (can you say “opportunist”?)

    I don’t care how solid Gingrich’s conservative credentials may be, I will not vote for him. Voting for Gingrich looks very much like what FDR Secretary of state Cordell Hull reputedly said about a despot a few decades ago: “We know X is a SOB, but he’s our SOB.”

  17. Lex wrote:
    We need someone in there with room-sized balls, who is willing to be hated, like a monster version of Scott Walker.

    That’s Palin, and it’s one reason why she remains popular with the kinds of Republican voters who dominate primaries. For this reason and despite the polls, I think she is still the front runner until either she drops out unambiguously or someone comes along to supersede her. (Christie and Walker aren’t there yet. We don’t even have a good handle on Christie’s views on numerous issues other than spending.)

    There are lots of people out there who could be good presidents. The problem is that our current electoral system tends to select for mostly the wrong qualities. But any of the Republicans mentioned in this thread would be better than Obama.

    Wasn’t it Milton Friedman who said that Reagan’s biggest mistake was to select Bush as VP rather than Rumsfeld? Rumsfeld probably would have been superior but he’s too old now.

  18. Gingrich is doing what people say Palin is doing, but he rarely gets called on it. He has a lucrative media career and promotes his books by decrying the Left’s “secular socialist machine” (he is religious?), he collaborates with Pelosi, he collaborates with Sharpton, etc. His behavior is consistent with self-promotion rather than running for office, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Certainly he is brilliantly articulate but how many voters think he would be a good president? And surely he has a good idea of what his chances are.

    Palin also has a lucrative media career but is consistent in supporting conservative causes and candidates and her personal behavior seems unobjectionable or even admirable. She looks much more like a candidate than Gingrich does.

    OTOH, given Gingrich’s history of poor political judgment and Palin’s (IMO) better judgment, maybe he will run and she will not.

  19. None of the names mentioned above excite me at all not even our own governor, My Man Mitch. What to do?

    Here’s my opportunity to put in my plug for a truel conservative dark horse candidate (pun intended) Herman Cain. The more I see of and listen to Herman the more I am impressed and inspired by his realistic common sense.


    So tell me, what’s not to like?

  20. But any of the Republicans mentioned in this thread would be better than Obama.

    We already made a mistake voting per this consideration in last election.

  21. I like Herman Cain but he has little chance.

    To get a candid take on Gingrich, read “Prince of Darkness” by the late Bob Novak. He is scathing in his criticism of Gingrich who paused to loot before pursuing the enemy (The classic error of lost battles in antiquity.

    Rumsfeld was asked to complete a VP questionnaire by four presidents. None selected him. He had opposed Reagan and supported Ford so that was not an option. We could sure use him now if he were not 79. I think he was not enthusiastic about Iraq but pulled his punches in his book because he liked Bush (But not his father).

    Another potential candidate I like is Bolton but he also has little chance to get past the media hatred.

  22. MK,

    I agree with your conclusion on Cain—he is a good man, but he couldn’t run the media gauntlet. Bolton doesn’t have the temperament.

    You know, after reading this thread, the list of viable candidates/shallow bench stands out like sore thumb—there is almost a vacuum. I noticed that Bobby Jindal wasn’t mentioned by anyone—guess the oil spill got him? Let’s hope Jeb Bush resists the lure (let’s skip a few generations of that family:)).

    Tatyana: AMEN!!!

  23. Bolton’s father was a Baltimore fireman. Like Rumsfeld, he was a scholarship student. His roommate at Yale was Clarence Thomas. He is very conservative economically but he has been pushed into foreign affairs.

    I think it will have to be Christie or Kasich for lack of an alternative.

  24. One thing I do like about Bolton is his realistic world-view—-very similar to that of Ralph Peters. If you have opportunity, google Peters’ essay Constant Conflict from the US Army War College quarterly Parameters.

    In a toss-up between Christie and Kasich, I’d go more for the big guy—he fits Lex’s “tough guy” requirement.

  25. None of the above can or will win, not withstanding that Obama will be vulnerable.

    Paul Ryan is young, smart and appealing. He is knowledgable and articulate on the fiscal issues, and could put the “Fear of God” into the electorate, which will be the motive force. Unfortunately, the rote candidate pecking-order of the GOP pushes him out of any early consideration. Although, much of his prospect will hinge upon his “performance” in the presently evolving budget debates.

    He could communicate and point (in paraphrase) “Après lui le deluge.” Of course, he’ll need a veep with foreign policy experience and gravitas and a fiscal conservative as well.

  26. What no one mentions is that the stock market is inching up and unemployment is inching down. What is happening is what happened in 1995 and 96. The “Clinton economy” was the Republican economy. Obama could very well end up being re-elected as a harmless cipher while Republicans run the economy. The problem is that foreign policy is much more important now. It is not the end of the cold war but the middle of the war with militant Islam.

    If the Republicans will approve drilling, build nuclear power plants, built a 500 ship Navy and gut the EPA, we could have a prosperous decade with Obama never coming home from Costa Del Sol.

  27. MK, I hope you are right. Your scenario looks like a good outcome and more likely than President Santorum. But I agree that foreign policy is a big difference between now and 1996. Also, we are starting to have real inflation again (this may be part of the reason why stocks are rallying).

  28. Let’s wake up food prices are going up, gas prices are going up, tens of millions have dropped out of the search for work, You want to see what happens to a prospective candidate, Walker is a good proxy. He’s doing the job that’s needed, yet his tactics are being second guessed, and even Rasmussen, is spinning the polls against him.

  29. Two words … “President Trump”

    ha … he actually has said several things that sounded pretty good to me, but he’s likely pushing a TV show. Obama said he’d put negotiations on C-Span (liar), but trump would put them on a major network for cash … call it “You’re Fired” as “The Hair” cans agency after wasteful agency.

    I know little about Trump, but he’d seem more serious than “Ahnold” was in CA, and could hardly do more damage than Obama. Rather than float Romney out there, I’d push for “The Donald”. He’s got name recognition and celebrity status. Not sure he’d be any more trustworthy than the Goldman Sachs boys that seem to pull so many strings, but as serious as this is, most voters still seem to be in a Charlie Sheen/Justin Bieber world.

    Anyway … thought I’d throw that out there, since the current picks seem mostly less than inspiring even to conservatives. Maybe there’s a some other character out there just waiting for the right coming out party. It seems they need some business and TV experience.

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