Rick Santorum Wants to Save Us From Barack Obama

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail

It takes, of course, a pretty big ego and a fair amount of arrogance to run for president — to say that of the 300 million people in America, you and you alone are most qualified to lead the country. Whether Santorum holds himself in such high esteem isn’t quite clear yet. But what is obvious is his 100 percent certainty that Barack Obama poses a danger to America. So if the best chance of stopping Obama is for Rick Santorum to run, then, to borrow a phrase the Senator likes to use, so be it.

“I am … deeply concerned that we have a President who doesn’t love America for what it is, but likes America for what he can transform it into,” Santorum writes me in an e-mail 10 days after I see him on the stump in South Carolina. “This means that he wants to change the free-market system that has allowed Americans to succeed or fail greatly, at the same time not believing that America has a special place on the world stage to lead. As a country we go on believing every day that we will always remain a great power. I’m sure the Greeks and Romans did, too.”

Coming from another conservative — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, Dancing With the Stars mom Sarah Palin — such remarks might sound calculated or cynical, lumps of sugar thrown out to rile up the Tea Partying masses. But not from Santorum. Think what you want about his views — and it’s hard to find anybody who doesn’t think something about him — he has always said what he believed and believed what he said.
And right now, Rick Santorum, sent looking for work by Pennsylvanians four years ago, is saying he is very afraid for our country.

THERE IS SOMETHING not quite of this era about Santorum. In an age of hip-hop and pop, he’s a devotee of classical music. In a time when it’s said that no one reads anymore, he reads prodigiously — not fluff, but difficult things, like political philosophy and the Constitution. And in a country that’s wrapped its arms around the idea of the “modern family,” Santorum’s couldn’t be more old-fashioned: He and his wife are raising seven children (another, Gabriel, died just after birth in 1996), whom they’ve home-schooled. If all this seems, well, hard in comparison to the way many of us now live — seven kids! — that may be the point: To Santorum, what’s worthwhile in life isn’t always easy, or even pleasant.

On Election Night 2006, Santorum stood at a podium in a Pittsburgh hotel with his wife and some of his children gathered around him and gave a concession speech to what was left of his supporters. In another sign of how loathed and ridiculed he’d become, video of the speech — in which one of his daughters bursts into tears — mockingly sped around the Internet, while audio from the speech (which was actually quite gracious) for a time became a best-selling ringtone, a rub-it-in soundtrack for liberals. The electorate, it seemed, didn’t just want Santorum to leave — they wanted to humiliate him on the way out.

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  • James

    I didn’t subscribe to Philadelphia Magazine to get right wing propaganda. If I did, I would have subscribed to NewsMax and National Review.

  • John

    BigCheese…propaganda. This article reads like journalism – very rare these days.

  • Scott

    Philadelphia Magazine, when did you move so far right ? what a disgusting article from a disgusting individual

  • DEBORAH

    What is wrong with Phily Mag wrining a nice article about Rick Santorum!! Does the Left Wing Media have the right to bash any canadate simpley because they have a different political belief. What a re