Jan 15, 2004 10:07 am


Senator Rick Santorum was in a pedagogical frame of mind:

A Republican senator delivered a blistering attack yesterday against Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards, describing North Carolina’s junior senator as an “empty suit” who lacks understanding of how government works.

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania made his remarks yesterday afternoon, in an interview with senior editors of The Union Leader. His lengthy attack against Edwards came in response to a question asking about Santorum’s impression of the Democratic primary field and particularly his three Senate colleagues in the race. ...

“The basic perception in the Republican caucus was that [Edwards] is just an empty suit, that he just simply doesn’t understand,” Santorum continued. “My feeling is that he’s a nice guy, he makes a very nice appearance, but I don’t think he has the understanding, and the depth of understanding, of how government works and how these kinds of things affects the everyday person."

I assume this is the same Rick Santorum who said the following:
[I]f the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold - Griswold was the contraceptive case - and abortion. And now we're just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you - this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it's my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that's antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, where it's sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family. ...

The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we're seeing it in our society.

Well, that's certainly one"understanding" of"how government works" -- a theocratic one in Santorum's case, as I discussed here.

Not that I care for Edwards' version of nanny-state liberalism. But if I had to choose between these two alternatives, Santorum's version of a theocracy is significantly worse, in terms of the way it would"affect[] the everyday person."

But one of these days, perhaps we'll have another choice -- someone who champions strictly limited government, and individual rights. One of these days...but probably not any time soon.

(Cross-posted at The Light of Reason.)

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More Comments:

Ralph E. Luker - 1/15/2004

If Rick Sanctorum keeps talking long enough, even the voters of Pennsylvania are likely to realize what an "empty suit" really is.

dhex - 1/15/2004

in a way, yes. at least in the sense that sexual decency and morality are a larger concern of the state than the individual's self-determination.

i think it's difficult to separate even secular liberalism from the crucible of punishment and external judgement in our political culture. it's nearly impossible in the case of someone like santorum, who has gone so far out of his head as to ascribe non-local magico-religious powers to sodomy. the private sex acts of two men in texas, santorum goes, affects the private married life of a straight couple in illinois, a realm of thought generally left to occultists and paranoid schizophrenics. which says a lot about american conservatism (of this nature) as far as i'm concerned, as well as theocracy in general.

R. Reid McKee - 1/15/2004

Are Santorum's comments really evidence of "theocratic" designs? Or are they merely informed by the Senator's religious beliefs? Lastly, is it possible for a government leader who is also religious believer to act in a manner that is consistent with his beliefs without verging on "theocracy" as you define it?