Yesterday, on the same day he stepped down from the podium, he stepped up to the pulpit for a scheduled appearance with James Dobson at his latest "Focus on the Family" smack-down. I'm not surprised. Just as George W. Bush's wishful true calling wasn't really as President of the United States but as baseball commissioner, Rick Santorum's true calling is as Grand Fundamental Firekeeper.
Being president would have been a feather in his tri-corner cap, but it's probably just as well it didn't happen. If he had been chosen, he surely would have found himself governing an entire country full of surly sinners, most of whom would likely balk at having to practice his peculiar brand of holy paternalism. It would be a full-time job, just keeping those ingrates under control.
Odds are his first priority would have been to hammer away at our constitution (a document almost as vague and open to interpretation as a certain Holy Book), attempting to turn the "dem" in democracy into a "theo" forevermore, or until the next secular coup, or until the world went up in flames, whichever came first. But there are only so many hours in the day, and even if the West Wing had been turned into the Right Wing, there are demands on a nation's president that are. . .well, let's just put it out there. . .purely secular.
Santorum's rise to second place in the Republican primaries, based on nothing more than a series of sermons outlining some truly archaic and increasingly out-of-touch religious beliefs, caused real consternation in some circles expecting the more traditional, run-of-the-mill, I'll-promise-you-anything-if-you'll-vote-for-me campaign.
The man was a tiger when it came to social crime and punishment, and he wasn't afraid to snarl his disapproval at whole segments of the population who might, for example, use artificial birth control. Or who might think for even a minute there could be some wisdom in separating government from the church. But it turns out there were whole segments of primary voters who were looking for answers to questions about our economy, our environment, our crumbling infrastructure, our place in foreign affairs. They were questions Rick Santorum either couldn't or wouldn't answer. It was as if he didn't know or care what office he was running for. The sermon was the thing and he was reaching crowds in the millions.
Now that part, milked to the extreme, is over, but I predict we haven't seen the last of Mr. Santorum. He'll take his Faith and Values show on the road and crowds will follow. At every turn, when religion and government collide, Rick will be there. But he will not be president of the United States.
|Sign at Rose City Park Church, Oregon|