Rick Santorum Sold His Soul

His arrogance and lack of character will be his downfall

The deceased—successful businessman, political activist, philanthropist, the ultimate family man—had been incredibly beloved. Friends and colleagues from far and wide came to pay their respects to one who had touched their lives. Predictably, the line at the viewing was long that night—more than two hours. But hundreds dutifully stood, passing the time as best they could under the circumstances. Millionaire CEOs conversed with blue-collar workers; reunited grade-school friends embraced.

Standing for hours while barely moving is tough for anyone, but especially the elderly, as many were. And yet all persevered, because that is what’s required when paying final respects to a good friend.

Well, almost everyone.

Turns out one person didn’t feel like waiting in line like everyone else. A person who thought of himself as above the “masses,” someone in a class by himself. Someone to whom the rules didn’t apply.

That person? Rick Santorum.

Instead of honoring his friend by waiting in line, he glad-handed some “politically connected” people in the vestibule while ignoring others who, for some reason, were enthralled to see an ex-senator. After wrapping up his political agenda at that “event,” Santorum proceeded to walk right down the center aisle to greet the widow and her family—completely bypassing the line snaking all the way around the church.

Incredibly, to the astonishment of those watching, he then turned around and strode away, winking and waving to those poor souls stuck in line. Total time in and out: less than 15 minutes.

Good thing too, for he had to fly back to Washington to vote on the all-important appropriations bill and defense budget and … oh wait. That couldn’t have been it, since he had lost his senate re-election by a whopping 18 points several years prior.

Santorum’s behavior offered more insight into his true character than any vote could provide. His selfish actions disrespected every person in that church, but most of all the deceased, who, despite being a big Santorum supporter, apparently wasn’t worth two hours of Rick’s time.

So why would Santorum deliberately thumb his nose at the hundreds in line, many of whom had been his biggest financial and grassroots supporters? They were the same people, by the way, he would later court for his presidential run.

Arrogance. Plain and simple. (That’s the second unofficial definition of “Santorum,” and given the vulgarity of the first, we’ll leave it at that.)

In large part, Santorum’s arrogance led to his shellacking in 2006, yet, as we will see, it was a lesson lost.

It was arrogance that led him to publish his book before that election, despite advisors begging him to wait until later, since many parts, they warned, would be taken out of context by his opponent (which they were).

It was arrogance that led him to become a big-spending, big-government Republican while labeling himself a fiscal “conservative.”

It was arrogance to claim he was a “Pennsylvania” senator while effectively living year-round with his family in Virginia.

And most damaging, it was arrogance that led Santorum to endorse liberal Republican Arlen Specter over conservative icon Pat Toomey late in the 2004 primary election—a move many Pennsylvania Republicans think delivered Specter his razor-thin victory.

For those who claim Santorum had to make that glowing endorsement because of his leadership position, think again. True leaders actually lead because they are following a vision; simply doing the bidding of others makes one a leader in name only.

More significantly, it was Santorum’s portrayal of himself—contrasted with his subsequent actions—that eventually became a sticking point for so many of his supporters. He asked people to believe in him, selling them on the idea that he was not a typical politician, but instead a man of integrity, for whom principle always came before party.

Since political backbone is extremely rare, it’s no surprise that most politicians do exactly what their party tells them to do. But Santorum represented himself as something different. As a result, his repeated failures as a leader—coming up small when he was needed most—run deep, and can be attributed more than anything to an arrogance that playing both sides is a winning strategy.

Nothing has changed.

Lost in the media spotlight of the Iowa Caucuses is the fact that Santorum sold his soul right out of the gate, playing both sides on one of the most important issues to Iowans: ethanol mandates.

Santorum voted against the subsidies his entire legislative career, which included four years as a congressman. Yet because he felt that he needed the Iowa “corn vote” to be viable, he changed his tune and pathetically pandered to the ethanol crowd in the Hawkeye State.

Forget the fact that corn-based ethanol as a fuel is an unmitigated disaster that has led to higher fuel costs, skyrocketing food prices, inflation, and hunger, since a staggering 40 percent of America’s corn crop is used for ethanol production. And disregard the fact that, primarily because of ethanol mandates, the price of corn hit an all-time high just a few months ago. And ignore the painfully obvious fact that natural gas—from the virtually limitless Marcellus Shale under Santorum’s now-adopted home state of Pennsylvania—is the single biggest key to solving America’s foreign energy dependence problem.

The biggest red flag for candidate Santorum is not a policy issue but a question of character. No one held a gun to Santorum’s head to run for president, nor to compete in Iowa. So when he made the decision to run, and campaigned as a man of principle, the very least voters should have expected was a campaign of conviction—not a politically calculated flip-flop right from the get-go on the most important issue of our time.

Rather than speaking the truth and advocating a principled stand—which, ironically, are what voters are thirsting for more than anything—Santorum chose the easy way out by becoming that which he claims to abhor. And once one opens the door of political expediency, rationalizing that it’s the only way to achieve the next level, the door never shuts, and the slope becomes too slippery to ever regain one’s footing.

Rick Santorum worked as hard as any of the GOP candidates in Iowa, but much of his “success” in that state’s archaic caucuses was based on a false premise—that he has the character necessary to be a president of true leadership.

Santorum’s sound bite line after the Iowa results was “Game On.” But as America learns about the real Rick, it will soon be “Game Over.”

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