Rick Santorum would be the GOP's ideal presidential candidate in 2012. Embracing a moveable moderate like Mitt Romney would be a horrible mistake for today's Republican Party.
Since 2010's off-presidential election, the Far Right-Tea Party-dominated GOP has embraced polar positions, governing - or as us Lefties point out, not governing - accordingly.
It is well within the realm of political possibility that Richard John "Rick" Santorum can outwit, outlast and outplay the flatlined Mitt Romney. While New Hampshire will be a big win for Romney, Santorum will do what he has to do - better than expected - and attract invaluable national attention for himself as he does it.
The man is qualified, charismatic, personable and likes sweaters. Most important, he is positioned firmly atop the social and economic agendas of conservatives across the nation. He is certain to be able to turn out the Republican base.
Richard John "Rick" Santorum is this year's GO TO GUY, Mr. GOP.
Times like these do not call for a moderate Republican.
In the 80's and early 90's, as evangelicals were out attracting converts to their version of conservativism, their strategy was to not run on social issues, sacred as those issues were to them, for fear that would undercut their chances to win elections. So it was a bold move indeed that Bush's Chief of Staff John Sununu engineered ... for "Family Values" to consume the first day of the GOP's convention in 1992.
The Chicago Tribune reported: "... [S]peaker after speaker at the Republican National Convention launched diatribes against homosexuals, single mothers, those who favor the right to abortion and others marked as threateningly different." That evening, keynoter Pat Buchanan gave a firebrand speech some termed "the hate-fest in Houston." A sampling:
"There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself. For this war is for the soul of America. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton & Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side."
Ten days after the 1992 convention ended, a Gallup poll showed the lead of Democratic challenger Bill Clinton increasing ten additional points over the sitting President Bush. And that was one of the narrower gaps reported.
Now, two decades later, we can look forward to an entire convention stirred by evangelical fervor and imagine how the agenda of the Far Right will play out at the GOP's convention in Tampa this August.
Rick Santorum is boldly committed to positions as far out and frequently farther than the other GOP candidates on virtually every issue. (Except for Ron Paul who is, happily, in a league of his own.) Many of candidate Santorum's positions were well recounted last week in RVKU's "A Primer on Rick Santorum" and in other diaries on Daily Kos. Santorum opposes abortion for any reason, opposes even contraception, is virulently homophobic, would take the government out of health care, supports racial profiling for Muslims, inveighs against liberal judges, promises to cut corporate income taxes in half, eliminate all Obama-era regulations with an impact over $100 million, immediately slash Medicare and Social Security benefits ... his drumbeat goes on.
If Rick Santorum can't win the 2012 election for the GOP and carry majorities for the House and Senate in the process, no Far Right candidate can. Risky as his ascendancy might seem, it would be the confrontation the GOP continues to urge that America have. If he won and governed as he promises, huge as the price the American public would pay for the privilege, he could not win re-election in 2016.
Either way, our politics would change for the better.