Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Santorum questions Obama's "phony" theology

Sometimes I  like respect people that are unafraid to stand up and tell you what they think, right or wrong. Many people can't always do that, whether it's because we'd like to keep our job or because we realize that maintaining a good relationship with a loved one is more important than sharing exactly what is on our mind.


There is a big difference between saying what you think or believe and insulting someone else's beliefs. There is also a contrast in stating that you believe that someone is wrong on an issue and saying that someone is a bad person. Unfortunately Rick Santorum seems to find it constitutionally impossible to make those distinctions. These are really important distinctions to make in a country where there are a multitude of beliefs about God, sexuality, reproduction and any other hot button issue you care to list.
"It's not about you,' Santorum declared."It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible -- a different theology."
"I can't help but think that those remarks are well over the line," Senior Obama Campaign Adviser Robert Gibbs said Sunday on "ABC This Week." "It's wrong. It's destructive."
LINK
This isn't just a dog whistle to those who are convinced that the President is an Alinskyite/Atheist/Muslim/Kenyan/Socialist/Communist/Ghetto Crackhead who hates America. (though it certainly appeals to that crowd)  It is also a tell that Santorum doesn't realize that he's running for President of the United States, not Grand Inquisitor. Those two jobs require different experiences and personalities. For President, I want to know that someone understands this BEFORE I hand him the keys to a massive national security apparatus and a military might unmatched by any other nation. But if I were hiring for Grand Inquisitor I would definitely call Santorum back for the second round of interviews. He certainly has the smug moral certitude needed.


I'm on a mission. A mission from God.
Santorum's attack also reveals a reductionist religious view. If I told you that there was a religious organization whose leaders regularly issued pointed broadsides against the death penalty, povertyracism, free-market capitalism, war, and the increasing concentration of wealth, you might be surprised to learn that Santorum was a member. Evidently, as many people do, Santorum struggles with those teachings which he finds inconvenient and embraces those which he likes. The Roman Catholic Church is about more than opposition to abortion, gay marriage and contraception. Both Santorum and his detractors should remember that. The call to share and help the poor is just as important as the sexual proscriptions. It doesn't look like Santorum is heeding that call


Santorum also revealed that he was opposed to prenatal testing because he thinks it leads to abortion. 
"Yes, prenatal testing, amniocentesis does in fact result more often than not in abortion. That is a fact," Santorum said.
Okay. I almost never think that more knowledge is in and of itself a bad thing. That sort of arrogant know-nothing attitude is in direct opposition to what middle school Jesuit teachers taught me. If doctors discovered that an unborn child might face challenges, the new parents could use the time before birth to research those issues. They might consider adoption. They might alter their plans so that one parent provides full time home care. They might purchase more insurance. They might ask an extended family member to assist. One or both parents might change their career path to something more lucrative so that they could afford the additional medical costs. Everyone won't automatically seek abortion. And even if 99 out of 100 couples did, that doesn't mean that 100th couple doesn't have the right to prenatal testing.

The problem here is that increasingly, too many people across the political spectrum seem to believe that their opponents are not just wrong or misguided but bad and downright evil. Our system features divided government and limits on federal power precisely to ensure that you must work with detractors. So this doesn't bode well for Santorum's ability or interest to get things done if elected President.
I write this not as someone who thinks that partisanship is necessarily a bad thing or that some people on the opposite side of the political spectrum from me aren't truly malicious whack jobs. But if you assume that everyone with whom you disagree is evil or has "phony theology", purely as a pragmatic point you blind yourself as to their true motivations. You make mistakes, costly ones.

Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.
-Michael Corleone


QUESTIONS

  1. There is no religious test for political office. Why is Santorum acting as if there is?
  2. Were he to become the nominee, would Santorum's beliefs and attitude find support in a general election? Am I overreacting to a poor choice of words?
  3. Could a President Santorum reach across the political divide?
  4. Will attacks on President Obama's authenticity continue to be part of the political landscape?
  5. Are you surprised at the sudden rash of social issues getting play this year?
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