Santorum Benefits If Election Becomes Culture War

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“It’s the economy, stupid” was the slogan Bill Clinton used to bash George Bush in 1992. The GOP, which had planned to hammer the Democrats this year over the economy, may now switch to quite a different rallying cry: “It’s the culture, stupid.”

Recent economic good news hurts Mitt Romney’s case that he is the right man to take on President Obama. Meanwhile, Obama’s decision to ignite a culture war by making it illegal for Catholics to obey their own teachings on contraception could persuade Republican voters that Rick Santorum might be the best man to battle the president in November.

The notion of Romney as the most electable Republican has always been contingent on the economy being in the dumps. If unemployment is bad this fall and getting worse, history suggests that the incumbent is nearly a dead duck. In that case, the best GOP play is a safe, inoffensive Republican — and nobody fits that bill better than Willard Mitt Romney. Also, Romney can make the argument (however tenuous) that his private-sector experience will translate into job-creating success as president.

But what if unemployment continues to drop? What if it’s below 8 percent come October and the payroll numbers published Friday, Nov. 2 — four days before Election Day — show things getting better? History, in this case, suggests that Obama would be a strong favorite. New York Times pollster and statistician Nate Silver determined that the trend of unemployment numbers is one of the strongest determinants of an incumbent’s re-election chances.

Imagine Obama presiding over an improving economy, bragging on his assassination of Osama bin Laden and successful withdrawal from Iraq, promising to reduce the deficit, and coasting on the media’s adulation. Suddenly, a buttoned-down former businessman from New England doesn’t have too many favorable contrasts to draw. Compounding the situation, Romney, having mandated, regulated and subsidized health insurance in Massachusetts, is hobbled in his ability to attack Obama’s greatest policy weakness, Obamacare.

That’s why Obama’s decision to use his health care law as an attack on the Catholic Church changes the political landscape. Obama’s decision to force all employer-sponsored health plans to cover contraception is an odd intrusion into both the employer-employee relationship and into the insurance industry. More damaging, his administration tailored a religious-liberty exemption so narrowly that the rule still applies to Catholic colleges and hospitals.

If this were an isolated incident, it might not mean much. But the contraception mandate is part of a pattern of Democrats using government to force religious conservatives to act against their will.

Obama took a firm stand in the budget fights of 2010 and 2011 for federal funding of Planned Parenthood, which amounted to forcing taxpayers to subsidize the nation’s largest abortion provider. As a candidate, Obama promised to sign the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which could force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. The Obama administration has also tried to gut a legal principle known as the “ministerial exemption,” allowing religions to set their own standards for whom they employ as clergy and what conditions they place on their clergy.

The liberal news media reserve the label “culture warrior” for religious conservatives like Santorum who inveigh against societal decline and try to curb abortion. But it’s pretty clear that Obama and his fellow liberals are “culture warriors,” too, and that it’s the activists on the Left who are on the offense these days — with government as their weapon.

So, we’ve got a culture war now, and for the Right it’s not a war of choice, but of self-defense. Romney, avowedly pro-choice in past campaigns, hasn’t quite been a good soldier in this struggle. Santorum is not only a seasoned culture warrior, the issues also play to his strengths.

Santorum lacks many of the traits of effective politicians. He doesn’t have Obama’s or Reagan’s soaring rhetoric. He doesn’t have Clinton’s or Bush’s gregariousness. But anyone who’s followed Santorum on the campaign trail has witnessed his ability to entrance a room with his impassioned discourses on the sanctity of life. When Santorum speaks from the heart on matters of conviction, people listen.

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  • Florin S.

    I’m hoping Rick Santorum will grow stronger and more confident…however, yesterday I saw an interview where he was being asked if he would ban contraception and he kind of laughed and said to remember that he voted to fund contraceptives for Planned Parenthood…perhaps I misunderstood – is this possible coming from Santorum?

  • Peanut7949

    Change me in third paragraph to be. Good article so far—-

  • Peanut7949

    Florin, Maybe he said End instead of Fund

  • voice

    The religious liberty angle won’t ultimately work.   Note how the Obama team has embraced the issue and is rabidly talking about the threat to women being able to choose contraception (i.e., ABC and Abortifacients).   The REAL cause is to express the teaching, the TRUTH about contraception.    The real battle is not seeking the presidency, and therefore, Santorum has a conflict of interest.    Anyone seeking to promote Truth can only expect crucifixion… not the presidency.   Same is true for the bishops.   It’s time to explain WHY we teach what we teach.   Otherwise, folks (both non-Catholics and Catholics) think that Catholics are nothing more than Christians with certain “strange beliefs and practices” like those Christians who won’t permit “modern medical procedures” in time of need or who think “more than one wife” is OK.     Without defending our belief, we are easily marginalized by political professionals (and the evil one).   

  • Pazimm

    Great article.  Keep in mind that the democrates switch from abortion to contraception to win the social debate.  Winning for conservatives may very well mean explaining Catholic teaching.  A tough sell in todays sex saturated culture.  Prayer is definately part of the answer and standing with the Bishops and hoping they don’t cave like Komen is the other part.  If the bishops and priests continue the battle only to look back and see empty pews then Obama will win by default.  Everyone needs to do there part.

  • markeyjoe

    This nation is not ready for Santorum, also I was listening to a very good and orthodox Catholic radio station in SE Michigan and was absolutely shocked when I heard a recording of Santorum Condoning assassinations of foreign scientists. At a campaign stop on Tuesday in Greenville, SC. This attitude is absoulutely in contradiction to Catholic teaching and he needs to answer some questions before he gets my vote, because before I heard this, I was totally behind him as a candidate.

  • blue8064

    Unfortunately, I cannot consider former Senator Rick Santorum to be pro-life. On September 13, 1995, he voted to REQUIRE that states have family caps in their welfare policies, and to REQUIRE that states deny welfare support for minors who bear children out of wedlock. The family cap is a welfare reform provision where if a woman on welfare has more children, her welfare payments do not increase.
     
    In addition, during his 1994 campaign for the U.S. Senate, then-Representative Rick Santorum also said that the federal government ought to REQUIRE states to include family caps in their welfare reforms. That means that he stopped being pro-life before he was even elected to the Senate.
     
    Such provisions send the message that babies conceived out of wedlock by welfare mothers ought to be aborted, will tempt them to abort such babies instead of allowing them to be born, and are therefore pro‑abortion. The fact that they were requirements makes them all the more clearly pro-abortion. On the other hand, working families have dependency exemptions and child tax credits to help them with raising children.
     
    More generally, the family cap made it clear back in the mid-1990s that the claims of conservatives and Republicans in general to be pro-life simply cannot be trusted. The question of family caps in welfare reform policies would seem to disqualify most Republicans and most conservatives from being pro-life. Although there may be a few individual exceptions, the family cap has completely discredited the Republican Party’s claims to oppose abortion.
     
    Therefore, however awful the Democrats may be, the Republicans are simply NOT an acceptable alternative when it comes to moral values. By the same token, most of the other Republican presidential candidates this year besides former Senator Rick Santorum probably support the pro-abortion family cap as well, even if they claim to be pro-life. The same is probably also true of most Republican candidates for Congress, Governor, state legislatures, and other offices on the ballot this year.
     
    Moreover, for some strange reason, mainstream pro-life organizations have failed to recognize that family caps are pro-abortion. Therefore, I cannot trust any endorsements of political candidates that they make either. I find pro-life silence on the question of family caps in welfare reform policies extremely hard to understand.
     
    The abortion issue ought to make it clear that the problem of unmarried sexual activity will have to be solved by some other means besides punishing the woman after she is pregnant. The fact that a pregnancy is out of wedlock is absolutely no excuse for abortion. When it comes to out-of-wedlock pregnancies and childbirths, avoiding the further sin of abortion simply must have priority over punishing any prior sexual sins. In addition, Catholic moral teaching makes it clear that contraception is also an ABSOLUTELY IMMORAL means of reducing the number of babies born out of wedlock.
     
    If all abortions stopped tomorrow, the number of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and childbirths would undoubtedly increase, at least in the short run, since I believe that most abortions are currently being performed on unmarried women. Therefore, honest opposition to abortion requires a willingness to put up with more out-of-wedlock pregnancies and childbirths in return for fewer abortions.
     
    When politicians complain about out-of-wedlock pregnancies and childbirths, it is extremely probable that they favor using abortion and/or contraception as the means of dealing with the problem. For this reason, I must automatically exclude from being pro-life any politician who complains about the number of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and childbirths, unless they make it clear that they completely oppose abortion, contraception, or any post-conception penalties as the means of dealing with the problem.
     
    I must consider any penalties whatsoever for pregnancy, childbirth, or single motherhood to be pro-abortion. Therefore, I must consider any attempts whatsoever to re-stigmatize out-of-wedlock pregnancies, childbirths, and single mothers to be pro-abortion. Our first priority in such cases has to be to minimize the risk of abortion. Abortion is a much greater evil than unmarried sexual activity.
     
    Praying aside, it would seem that we are going to have to rely primarily on abstinence education to deal with unmarried sexual activity, although we may also need to do a better job of protecting women from sexual exploitation. At the very least, aside from praying, abstinence education, and protecting women from sexual exploitation, the problem of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and childbirths may have to wait until after abortion has been successfully outlawed.
     
    Any penalties for unmarried sexual activity need to be limited to cases that do NOT involve pregnancy so as to avoid the danger of abortion, and they need to treat men and women as nearly equally as possible. At the very least, such penalties need to be taken care of BEFORE any pregnancy is known. In most cases, it may be necessary to just let God worry about the penalties for unmarried sexual activity, given the practical difficulties of proving it if there is no pregnancy, and the danger of encouraging the much greater evil of abortion if there is a pregnancy.
     
    At the very least, if working families get things such as dependency exemptions and child tax credits to help them support their children, those same benefits ought to be available to welfare recipients as well. The only way that can happen is if the benefits of the dependency exemption and the child tax credit apply even to those with little or no income. In other words, these benefits MUST be made available even to those who are not working.
     
    The simplest way to do that would be to make the dependency exemption and the child tax credit 100%-refundable tax credits. This also means that I must automatically exclude from being pro-life and pro-family those who favor abolishing the income tax, unless they explain how they would provide the benefits of the dependency exemption and child tax credit without it. The dependency exemption and child tax credit, even in their current forms, are extremely important pro-family provisions.
     
    To conclude, why can’t we use abstinence education to deal with the problem of immoral sexual activity? What is wrong with abstinence education? If an out-of-wedlock pregnancy or childbirth is the only visible evidence of immoral sexual activity, why can’t we iust let God worry about the punishment for such sexual activity, given the risk of abortion if we try to impose penalties? At the very least, why can’t we wait until after abortion is outlawed to address the problem of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and childbirths?
     
    Also, why hasn’t the dependency exemption been made a 100%-refundable tax credit instead of a tax deduction? Why isn’t the child tax credit 100%-refundable?

  • Michelle Marie Allen

    “Casting pearls before swine” and explaining the WHY of the Catechism of the Catholic Church being a morally based teaching have the same thing in common, they both get trampled on ! It is a sad commentary indeed that a majority of voters in the US are  favorable towards secularism being the ONLY way to vote on the issues in matters pertaining to the Federal/ State governments and citizens of the USA. Even some Catholics have slipped into this line of thinking, you know their kind, Pelosi et al.

    President Abraham Lincoln once said that you can’t please everyone ALL of the time !

    It is a conumdrum for any Catholic politician faithful to the teachings of the CCC to be sure ! What is the answer ? Perserverance with the “grace” of God ! Mr. Santorum indeed has a real war on his hands, not just a battle if he is to win the Republican choice as their candidate. I pray that God will guide his words as well as his actions.

    Jesus spoke of many Truths in His Sermon on the Mount. His teachings still apply today. We live in a time where “pursuit of happiness” is the battle cry of the secularist ! Materialism and Hedonistic attitudes prevail in the majority of non-Christians. Hearts as hard as stone can only be changed through wisdom; and the Truth, which is Jesus Christ !

    God Bless America !

  • http://thewhitelilyblog.wordpress.com/ Janet

    You just don’t make any sense to me. You say we have to teach our beliefs and then deny Santorum the bully pulpit of the campaign trail? And he might win! Listen, leave him alone! He’s doing fine!

  • http://thewhitelilyblog.wordpress.com/ Janet

    Dear Blue,  I truly appreciate your extended concern for the unborn. It does seem like a logical conclusion, if you’re pro-life, you’d better be pro-welfare. But it’s a dead-end road. I am speaking now as a former democratic party precinct chairwoman and life-long organizer. The way the whole two-party set up has ended up is that the dems end up using that welfare vote (the fear of losing the benefit) to leverage support for very many other anti-life government initiatives. Euthanasia is only one [if you're following that]. The bailing out the too-big-to-fail guys is actually anti-working class and by that, anti-life, because there was no long-term provision even allowed to be discussed for breaking up that concentrated ownership, a long-term pro-life economic strategy.  Obama and the dems have become so glaringly anti-union it’s pitiful. The working class, the ordinary woman especially, the ordinary pregnant woman, has no more champions on either side. Welfare is the tiniest little pittance in trade for an avalanch of hurt. And most of all the anti-marriage things. Now a black woman has only a one-in-seven-chance of marrying. The Dems seem determined to make that worse, and Romney? Please.

    We have to try something else. For one thing, the Church must start to really push its pro-life Catholics to expect women’s centers and sidewalk counselors to give Catholic material, not ecumenistic stuff, that counsels baptism for the baby and conversion of the mother’s life. Somebody has to teach stop having sex without marriage. It’s wrong and it sends you to hell after a life in hell for most women. We don’t just care about bodies, either saving them from abortion or subsequently feeding them from welfare.

    And then–this took me a long time to get to–if you could re-imagine the options so that the separation between Church and state was loosened? (As several of the Republican candidates have suggested, and nobody had a stroke over it, either!)  It would be different in the US because we never were Catholic (unlike say Hungary, which just took a big step). We’d have to go by steps. Santorum’s take on contraception might be an example (but this is not him speaking, just my take on it). If he were president and if he had a big mandate and if the economic situation were in such a place that the people could suddenly see the connection between the contraceptive mentality and the lack of markets (duh!), he could possibly lay out an agenda that started by making the abortofacients illegal, and the other types no longer funded, but available. I would consider that as great progress, especially if the Church woke up to Her job.

    We could–I don’t know about Santorum, now–by applying Church principles (the principles have to come from some where!) of distributism offer many long-range economic steps (besides protecting our birth rate, which would be a big one!) to break up the monopolies, make health care a –shopping experience, I don’t know how else to put it, I know there’s a term but I have a shocking cold–I mean make the prices available, get insurance out of the way altogether, let charity pick up the rest. Charity picks up a surprising amount of the tab right now, in breast cancer, in diabetis care, in AIDS. If the religious orders were re-ignited, there would be much more. What they call faith-based help. Ron Paul says ‘put the patient and the doctor back in relationship’ or some such gobbldygook, but it means let us know the price and we can shop around. You can’t do that now! I have two sons without health insurance, and just try to get the prices for a hernia operation or a cyst removal! They refuse to give it! Northwestern in Chicago has an explicit policy against giving prices to anyone. Most others just don’t know. Only one lady and her desktop in the basement somewhere runs those numbers. Everybody else just doesn’t care.

    I can’t possibly explain all the options we could have if we just got rid of our Republicat set of reflexes. Welfare is just played. But! There has to be constitutional guarantee of respect for life from conception to natural death, there has to be a recognition of Christ the King at the heart of it all, or absolutely nothing will work. That’s Santorum’s ace. He actually believes this (when even the Vatican doesn’t! Only traditional Catholics and evangelicals do! But it’s such the God’s truth that even muslims can support a religious state over secularism! A Baronness Muslim woman in Europe just told the Holy Father so!)(Sorry for all the !!!  : )

    Anyway, I’m pro-life, not unaware of the point you raise, and I think I’m going to end up pro-Santorum for some new possibilities.

  • Michelle Marie Allen

    Janet, I read your reply to Blue but must object to a point you raised inregards to promoting abstinence while a young woman is on her way to a Woman’s Center to obtain either contraception or worse yet, abortion ! As she is bypassing “sidewalk” counselors with her obvious blindness to them and turning a deaf ear as to what they have to say… she alone is in control( as society has “brain-washed her into that belief system) as she was when she should have said a firm NO to pre-marital sex ! Question is whose responsibility is it to “teach” any child, any religion/non-religion to have a moral conscience?

    Parenting is a hard job to say the least but I think that government should stay out of the “private lives” of pre-teens and teens with this mandated “sexual” education required in ALL public schools. It should be the parent’s duty to see to the welfare of their children’s sexual education and have that “talk about the birds and the bees etc.”

    But as sinners that we ALL are, how many of us were “lucky” we didn’t get caught pregnant before marriage ? The teaching of “chasity” and “celibacy” is the answer in the home life of these children. As it stands now, a young adult/teen woman old enough to be a “mother” physically and a young adult/teen man capable of being a ” father” are being bombarded with the idea of sex as a “pleasure” they are entitled to outside of marriage. Changing society is the key but what is the way to go about it ? Obviously in this “Culture” of Death coupled with the mindset that pleasure seeking activities of the flesh are “rights in the pursuit of happiness”, the young consciences’ of today’s generation have been influenced by, and is, the by-product of the 60′s “liberal attitude” towards sex. Two generations and the legalization of abortion stemming from Roe vs. Wade, started the domino effect. 

    I believe that the reversal of Roe vs. Wade is the “Beginning of the Morally Right Solution”. But like the trains leading to the various “Death Camps” of WWII, who collectively is going to stop this derailment of the sacredness of Life ending up in the trash, like refuse? The US voter who has a moral conscience regarding the Sanctity of Life is who !  Margaret Sanger’s, Planned Parenthood’s founder, personal vision of another “Final Solution” to ethnic cleansing of the “poor” is chillingly, hauntingly similiar of Hitler. Planned Parenthood targets low-income women of various ethnicities

    At this point in American History,I agree with you that those of us who believe in Christianity must firmly try to regain ground; that which we have lost to depravity and the rhetoric of those who shout, “It is our right to choice, it is our bodies!”; as those who aid and abet look on ! Where is the choice of the yet to be born outside their mother’s wombs once conceived ? They have no voice, and their parent’s have turned a deaf ear to their silent cries.

    Excuse me if I have gone around in an emotional circle on this subject. Bottom line, ALL Americans with a conscience and a heart that is not stone, Democrat or Republican, should vote for the candidate that is most likely to reverse Roe vs. Wade. I believe Santorum is that person.

    God Bless America

  • yolandabello@yahoo.com

    Finding God in our surroundings is getting harder and harder these days.
    As I was growing up, God was always somewhere within eyeshot. As a Catholic child, going to an all girl school run by nuns gave me a real good understanding of what my teachers were saying to me, God is everywhere, God is always watching, and my lack of trauma and cataclysms ( I thought) gave me a sense of protection. That is how His omnipresence affected me. I did not like nor dislike Him been there, all the time, watching me always. I just knew He was there and it was ok with me.
    Such apathetic attitude about God did not serve me well. As I grew up, that He was there or He was not there only helped me to forget to know that He was not there. Eventually if He was there or He was not there was the same to me.
    Luckily my Catholic faith remained stuck in the back of my neck like the label on a t-shirt. Eventually what reminded me about God was, interestingly enough, was seeing Him again after so many years of been absent.
    I was visiting Rome and I saw lots of priests and nuns in full habit walking all around. Now that gave me great pause. There He was!… once again He was all around. He was watching me once again!! It was truly deeply affecting to me to revisit that moment in my childhood, that passive feeling of been around God.
    It affected me so much that I became keenly aware that He was NOT around everywhere, He was not anywhere. It forced me to grow up, to search for Him interiorly, in my heart, for His Presence, for His watching me, for His knowledge of me.
    So I learned to look for Him with interior eyes.
    Because I am Catholic, my view of the news is a little different.
    For example, on 31 August 1997 Princes Diana died.The whole world was so shocked, so sad, so overwhelmed!
    She was THE example of charity, she was the first public figure to be photographed with aid patients in the world, her acts of charitable benevolence are said to have changed the world…….!!!
    But at the climax of all those frenzied eulogies, the waling at her door step, something so momentous happened, that again! the whole world took pause…..
     on September 5, 1997 Mother Teresa died also.
    5 days later.

    There!, right there I saw the Hand of God!!!.
    The beloved Princes Diana, so admired, so loved, so missed for so much good she did, she could not hold a candle to the unequaled charity of Mother Teresa because Mother did not do anything because of who she represented, or for her titles, nor in spite of her paparazzi, but for the perfection of the merciful love of God living in her day to day. Mother did not get on the phone to discuss her profound loneliness with anyone , EVER! nor was she speeding to get away from anyone but she sped to someone in life and death need: to the poorest of the poor. God alone could do that. The perfect act of justice.
    The Scales of Justice holding on each balance a life. He showed the whole world, perfect sinless charity, truly, and the facsimile of charity.
    I love Princess Diana, but she did not champion charity.
    A few years later, Mar 31, 2005 Terry Schiavo died during a most publicly committed murder. Her passion and death was seen on TV globally. Millions wailed at the injustice of how she was been starved to death, with policemen flanking her bed, guarding so no one would sneak in a bit of water. She was denied her feeding tube; she was starved to death by civil law. And then, the clouds parted and the thunderous Hand of God became visible again….. On the 2 of April 2005 Pope John Paul II died, with a feeding tube inserted, kept alive by God’s law.
    2 Days later.

    So why am I writing about this??? Because we have Barack Obama going to be standing before us to be voted on again as our president, and I forecast that it won’t be Romney, nor Gingrich but Sanctorum who will be standing before us to be voted on to be our president.

    And there, right there would be the Hand of God
    holding the scales of justice, 2 lives for us to judge.

    He showed us how He weights a life.
    Have we learned how to do it yet??
    Yolanda Bello  http://theoutlawedgod.wordpress.com    

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