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The Grilling of Rick Santorum

Posted By Ben Shapiro On February 23, 2012 @ 12:40 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 55 Comments

This week, the press has had a field day with Rick Santorum. It’s taken this long mainly because Santorum has only been relevant for the last five minutes or so – or at least since the forces of Mitt Romney carved up Newt Gingrich like a turkey dinner.

Once the digging started, it didn’t stop for Santorum. Matt Drudge headlined a 2008 speech in which Santorum spoke in fiery terms about the cataclysmic spiritual battle being fought in America: “Satan has his sights on the United States of America! … Satan is attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition …. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country – the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? He attacks all of us and he attacks all of our institutions.”

This is the kind of material that reinforces the popular perception of Santorum as a religious extremist focused on restoring American morality via the unbridled power of the state.

Does Santorum really want to use state power as a tool in his arsenal? Probably not. But it’s difficult to tell, since he’s been a big government conservative who has voted in favor of bigger government over and over again.

And then there’s his Washington insider status. This is a campaign of Washington outsiders.  So far, Santorum’s been able to escape the scrutiny that sunk Newt Gingrich over his Fannie Mae lobbying work. But Santorum was a big time lobbyist in his own right – he was the point person for the so-called K Street Project, an effort dedicated to getting conservatives into high ranking lobbying positions. The motives behind the K Street Project were good – liberals dominate lobbying, and conservatives had to compete – but the effect was to make Santorum the key figure in a lobbyist-legislator revolving door. Santorum has pulled down an inordinate amount of cash for quasi-lobbying since leaving Congress, making nearly a million bucks per year each of the last two years.

And then there’s Santorum’s record on the unions, which is squishy at best. He voted for a 1993 bill protecting union members from being fired over strikes. He also backed the Davis-Bacon Act, requiring government contracts “to pay workers the local prevailing wage.” He opposed the National Right to Work law in 1996.

So is all of this criticism fair? It’s certainly as fair as any of the material the media dug up about Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and the rest of the non-Romneys. Gingrich, you’ll remember, was raked over the coals for supposedly bashing Reagan back in the 1980s. Rick Perry was hit by the other candidates on the immigration issue, although they basically agree with his entire immigration agenda (with the exception of the DREAM Act).

Strangely enough, the race has come down to the two candidates (three, if you count Ron Paul) who seem to attract a holier-than-thou segment. Mitt Romney supporters have long looked down their noses as the benighted conservative base that doesn’t trust their man. Ron Paul supporters have always intimated that only Ron Paul is a truly conservative candidate. And now, Rick Santorum’s supporters suggest that attacks on Santorum are attacks on conservatism.

This is sheer and absolute nonsense. Conservatives had better vet these candidates before the liberals have a chance to do so.  If the liberals find damaging material you can bet they will hold it until right before the election and then spring it as an October Surprise that suddenly changes everything.

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