Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Santorumized for Your Protection

So it turns out the Rick Santorum won all three contests yesterday. What does it all mean? I don't know, but I have a few guesses:

  • Social issues aren't necessarily going to be the prime mover in this election, but two things have happened in recent days that help Santorum. First, the decision that Obama and his minions have made in dictating to the Catholic church concerning insurance mandates has raised a lot of eyebrows. There are a lot of people who are only nominally Catholic in this country, but those who are committed churchgoers are getting an earful right now. And Santorum, as a committed churchgoing Catholic, has likely received some benefit.
  • Second, the gay marriage decision from the 9th Circuit might have helped Santorum's cause. To be honest, the conservatives I talk to aren't really thinking that much about gay marriage in this cycle, but the  way it's being jammed down our throats is not helping. The process has become a slow-motion version of Roe v. Wade. Santorum is quite forthright on this issue as well, so those conservatives who worry about this issue know he will champion that cause.
  • The message I got from Romney this week, as he turned attention to our state, has been a very negative one. He doesn't tell you why he's the better alternative; instead, he carpet bombs his opponents with negative advertising. I got a lot of mail from Romney's organization that told me of the many sins of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, but I never got a sense of why Mitt Romney is a better alternative. The man has been running for 6-8 years now. You would think he'd have honed that message first. Because he has the money and the muscle, Romney stands a good chance of being the last man standing, but he won't have earned much goodwill for the general election if he continues on his current path. It's long past time for Romney to start making an affirmative case for his campaign. That he hasn't provided such a case up to this point suggests he might not have one. That's a good thing to discover in the primaries. 
  • Maybe Newt Gingrich has another comeback in him, but at this point I don't see it. He clearly didn't have much support in Minnesota and while he came here late, it didn't help him much at all. As much fun as he is to listen to in small doses, especially when he's excoriating the MSM, he doesn't wear well.


GabbroGuy said...

How is gay marriage being jammed down your throat? Nobody is forcing you into a marriage you don't want. What business is it of yours, or especially the government, where other people find love? We need less government intrusion into private lives, and that would be a good place to start.

Mr. D said...

Nobody is forcing you into a marriage you don't want. What business is it of yours, or especially the government, where other people find love? We need less government intrusion into private lives, and that would be a good place to start.

I’m already in the marriage I want, GabbroGuy. So we’ll dispense with that straw man argument at the outset.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. I used the Roe v. Wade comparison because what I’m talking about is imposing rules by judicial fiat. I realize it’s difficult to be patient, but winning the hearts and minds of people, over time, will ensure a better result.

My own view on this issue has been the same for a long time — I’d prefer to have the state out of the marriage business entirely. As far as I’m concerned, I’d make the distinction between civil union (for purposes of the state) and marriage (which has a cultural and religious meaning of long standing). If it were up to me, my own “marriage,” for purposes of the state, should be a civil union and have the same legal weight as a civil union between two gay individuals. If two gays want to make a life together, that’s fine with me and I have no desire to deny them a civil union in the eyes of the state. How someone else lives his or her life is none of my business.

Marriage, as it is traditionally understood, is about a lot more than “finding love,” too, but that’s a different argument.

Mr. D said...

Let me give you an example of the difference, GabbroGuy.

Consider what happened in New York. There, the elected legislature approved gay marriage and the governor signed it into law.

Now consider what happened in California. A statewide vote took place and Prop 8 was enacted. A single federal judge struck down the will of the people. Two other judges confirmed that judgment. So what you have in California is 3 individuals overruling a statewide referendum.

Both approaches get you the same result. Which one is more likely to last?

Anonymous said...

The gay marriage issue costs the Republican party votes.

Many adults are fairly ambivalent about the entire issue of homosexuality: they don't necessarily understand it, but they don't feel that gays should be treated as a "outcasts" or second class citzens with a second set of rights that apply to them. This would be unfair discrimination which most moral people view as unfair and wrong.

I think that, at this point, gay marriage in all 50 states in evitable, at least from a government position of acknowledgement. The sooner we can all get beyond this topic, the sooner we can all focus (including conservatives who happen to be gay) on issues of more importance.

Anonymous said...

I'm the other way around– i.e. NO to civil unions. The state has a vested interest in the continuation and the vigor of the society, culture and economy via the conception and rearing of children in stable, heterosexual, two-parent households. That they choose to establish benefits for such unions is entirely reasonable. Demands that the state recognize non-eligible unions ought to be ignored. The State's interests have not changed, though considering the current state of affairs perhaps MORE incentives are needed. The government will only give you a drivers license if you are over 16 years of age and can pass the test. A gay person can get legally married right now, so long as they are over 18 years of age and can pass the "test" of marrying someone of the opposite sex (and not related).

The church, on the other hand, can and does operate with different considerations, so that two gay people who only want to make a lifelong commitment to one another can easily find a church to solemnize such a commitment, and the government doesn't, and shouldn't, have anything to do with that. Most marriage ceremonies blur the two, and that is what gay marriage proponents are trying to do, so they can access the government benefits and force the rest of us, by the government's imprimatur, to accept their marriage as equal to ours. That is not acceptable.

Mr. D said...

I don’t disagree, anon. Gay marriage is way down the list of issues that matter to me at this point. The only reason I brought it up is that I imagine it did matter to a significant percentage of the people who voted for Santorum. And as I noted elsewhere, I was not one of the people who voted for Santorum.

GabbroGuy said...

Call it a straw man if you want, Mark, but when you say "jammed" it implies that some action is being required of someone. So unless people (not you specifically) are being required to marry someone of their own gender, there is no such coercion involved. You may have meant being in a society that recognized gay marriages, but you set up the more coercive scenario with the language you chose.

As far as the civil union issue, we agree. But I don't see any drive by the Right or the Left to amend constitutions that replace the term "marriage" with "civil union" across the entire range of a states legal structure.

"Judicial fiat" "or judicial activism" is just another way of saying that judges decided something in a way you don't like. The judiciary interprets the law, responding to questions brought before it. You are welcome to disagree, but try to recognize their proper role in our society without the demeaning language. When a majority tries to deny equal rights to a group just because they find them icky (your "will of the people"), it is the proper role of the courts to intercede.

Yes, the whole "traditional" marriage is another conversation.

Mr. D said...

"Judicial fiat" "or judicial activism" is just another way of saying that judges decided something in a way you don't like. The judiciary interprets the law, responding to questions brought before it. You are welcome to disagree, but try to recognize their proper role in our society without the demeaning language.

I'll use the terms I see fit. By your leave.

GabbroGuy said...

So Anon, you would support legislation providing the legal and financial benefits of a civil union only to those families with one mother, one father and children? Where such benefits are only recognized while those conditions are met? I can't see much support for that, but at least it would be a legitimate requirement IF enforced without discrimination. Children out of the house? No more recognition of the union. No children yet? No recognition until a positive pregnancy test has been reviewed by the state.

Anonymous said...

Living in Illinois, I'm much less knowledgeable about the intricacies of caucuses than most on this blog, but the magnitude of Santorum's victories caught me completely off guard. It seems to turn the Romney Inevitability Theory on its head. Santorum's combined vote share in the three states was 140%; Romney 75%. That seems significant. The pro-Romney argument this morning seems to be that caucuses aren't representative; The last person I saw make that argument was Hillary Clinton. I believe she was riding a wave of inevitability too. See where that got her?

Similarly, with Romney riding the (alleged) same wave of inevitability, blowing out a marginal candidate like Santorum in an arbitrary event like a caucus should be a piece of cake. That Romney himself got blown out, not once but three times, is probably the best signal one can find about how much the party, far and wide, hates the guy. How much clearer could it possibly be?

And your point about his massive amounts of negative advertising is interesting too. With Citizens United in effect, maybe we will actually find out there is a law of diminishing returns on negative advertising.

This is getting interesting.


Anonymous said...

Also, two of the 'guesses' I think you missed in your analysis of last night's results are, a few weeks ago, Evangelical leaders met in Texas to settle on one candidate to back. They chose Santorum. I am gussing that last night, we saw some of the first results of that decision. Additionally, I would speculate that there is a Mormon bias at play. No one likes to admit this, but I am guessing that there is a Bradley-Effect corollary at play here. I am sure it weighs, at least partly on some folks decisions.

I don't think Santorum can win the nomination, anymore than Huckabee could 4 years ago. But I do think we're about watching a test of the strength of the religious right in the GOP.


Mr. D said...


First, thanks for getting this thread back on topic.

I don't know if the evangelical leader meeting in Texas made that much of a difference. I don't know that my precinct is necessarily representative, but my sense is that Santorum won here primarily because (a) he made an effort and (b) he did benefit from some of the nastiness emanating from the Romney campaign.

Your point about diminishing returns for negative advertising is a good one -- I think negative advertising is useful, but only if you provide a positive message as well. Romney isn't close to making the sale yet and people need a reason to pull the lever for him. If his only reason is that his opponents suck, it won't work.

Where it gets interesting is if Santorum wins in a few more places. You might see someone else get into the race if it looks like Romney is going down. If I had to make a guess, it might be Mitch Daniels.

Anonymous said...

speaking of diminishing returns, something else that probably came to an end last night was any chance of TPaw being anybody's running mate in August. Romney and his minions spent a lot of quid pro $quo paying down Pawlenty's campaign debt for his endorsement (mostly spent on the Iowan starw poll...I have to assume Bacmann is still chuckling) and they didn't get much for it.

I doubt you can lay this at Pawlenty's feet, but it is gonna be a tough sell to convince anyone that this guy is gonna help you in Minnesota.

Any insights?


Mr. D said...

I agree, Rich. TPaw wasn't a factor. He always ran better in the general election than in a primary or caucus situation, because with movement conservatives he's viewed with a certain amount of suspicion.

A little history -- back in 2002, when TPaw first ran for office, the conservative favorite was a businessman named Brian Sullivan, who was (and still is) a rock-ribbed conservative. Sullivan and TPaw had an epic battle for the nomination and TPaw eventually outlasted Sullivan, but not before Sullivan really forced TPaw to become more conservative. To his credit, TPaw mostly governed in the way he promised he would after 2002, but apparently the moderate streak never completely left him.

I like TPaw, but he has not acquit himself well at all in the two years since he left office. It's an odd thing, because he mostly did a good job.

I suspect TPaw be back in 2014 for a shot at running against Franken, but there's no guarantee he'll get the nod. Norm Coleman may want another shot, as might one of the Republican congressmen in the delegation. John Kline, who represents the southern suburbs and the agricultural areas south of the Twin Cities, would also be a strong contender. 2014 will actually be very interesting here, because Dayton will be up, too.