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When I was about eight or nine years old I decided to cook dinner for my parents. We had a really nice, old school, gas oven. At the time, I had also watched many hours of Julia Child and was deep (or so I thought) into the study of the culinary arts. My palate was ready. I knew that I could make mom and dad a nice meal.

Subsequently, I took some of my allowance money and went to the local butcher. There I spent about thirty or so dollars on ingredients for stuffed peppers. I got the best cuts of ground beef, peppers, spices, and other necessary items. I cooked all day long. I stuffed the peppers generously, used some orange sewing string to secure the pepper tops back on, and cooked them at a high heat in the oven.

I was proud of the result. For thirty dollars--1980s bucks, a not insignificant amount of money at the time--I made a meal that could have been far better prepared for about 5 or so dollars. My mom praised me. My father, who was quite good in the kitchen (as his father was a cook on a tramp steamer), kindly suggested that I needed some breadcrumbs and olive oil to "wet" the dish and bind it together. They ate it. Smiled. And encouraged me to keep trying. In reality, my dinner was horrible. My parents really loved me: they ate this putrid dinner without complaint.

Rick Santorum's speech to his supporters on Super Tuesday was the equivalent of my childhood effort to cook for my parents. His speech was full of red meat for the Tea Party GOP base; it was comfort food for his public. However, Santorum's feast was gag worthy to those of us with a more refined palate.

Working through the entirety of Rick Santorum's speech (and Romney's was pretty close in its level of offensive rhetoric as well) is unnecessary. In all, Santorum's Super Tuesday address to his supplicants was a ham-fisted job that hit all of the obligatory Culture War talking points: Obama is a usurper; the United States is under siege by the President; "small town," "white" America is the "real America"; the strong wall that is the separation of church and state is fictitious, and the Constitution, the framers, and the United States are divinely inspired. Even allowing for these rhetorical flourishes, Santorum offered one utterance that is particularly worth highlighting:

But the greatest generation was the greatest generation not because they had greater -- greater character or courage or perseverance than those of us today. The greatest generation was great because, when freedom was at stake, they rose to meet the call to defend this country.

We’re at a time in this country when freedom is at stake and you are all blessed, as I am, to be here at a time when your country needs you, to be here at a time, like the original founders of this country, who signed that Declaration of Independence, to be here at a time when freedom was at stake and people were willing to go out and do heroic and courageous things to win that victory.

This passage reveals the deepest sentiments felt by the Tea Party GOP and the reactionary Right in the Age of Obama. The use of the words "courage" and "courageous" are pregnant with meaning. Courage implies risk, harm, the moral and ethical high ground, as well as danger. In this speech, Rick Santorum is signaling that the simple act of handing out fliers, calling potential voters, or canvasing a neighborhood with posters, puts his boosters in existential peril. Normal politics is made a crusade because the Obama administration are thugs.

Moreover, the most risk free political actions--Santorum's supporters are in bed with Power and not resisting it--are elevated to the heights of martyrdom. For outsiders looking in, this premise is absurd; for those who support Santorum, are Tea Party types, or reactionary conservatives, this rhetoric creates community and resonates as a type of common sense. The supporters of the New Right see themselves as the equivalent of sojourners, freedom fighters, and/or as abolitionists freeing slaves. The pundit classes use the language of the "enthusiasm gap" to both summarize and obfuscate a simple idea: Santorum's Christian Nationalist conservative brigands believe that they are on the right side of history; the facts can be damned.

 In their eyes, the differences between Left and Right, Democrats and Republicans, are not marginal, coincidental, or negotiable. For Santorum and his folk, defeating Barack Obama is a call to arms, one rooted in the apocalypse, and an eschatological narrative that is heavy with political and existential gravity. Quite simply, Barack Obama is the devil: he must be beaten at any cost.

 Santorum's channeling of the "Greatest Generation" is integral to his brand of religion infused conservatism, nostalgia, and Right-wing American Exceptionalism. As seen in movies such as Saving Private Ryan, the notion of the Greatest Generation is a lie based upon its own self-sustaining truth, one that does not have to be subjected to critical inquiry. Many Americans accept the idea of a Greatest Generation just because it is--what "real" American could ever challenge the historical myth of those great veterans who fought the Nazis and made the world safe for democracy?

 People like true lies. Why? Because they make them feel good, safe, and comfortable (and isn't feeling good the whole point of politics in an age of spectacle and illusion?)

 Some basic facts about World War Two are helpful as we try to reconcile Rick Santorum's appeals with the historical record. Consider the following:

World War 2 was a global military conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945 which involved nearly all the nations of the world;
World War 2 involved approximately 50-70 million casualties worldwide on both sides of the conflict;
The Soviets lost almost 25 million military casualties;
The United States lost almost half a million people;
About 3 million or so people were killed in the death camps;
300,000 people were killed by the Japanese in Nanking;
About 2 million people were killed during the Battle of Stalingrad;
Approximately, 185,000 people were incinerated instantly, and/or either died later, from the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Does Rick Santorum really want to suggest that defeating a popularly elected American President is akin to defeating the Axis powers? What leaps of faith are necessary to sustain such a premise? And why does the mainstream media continue to give Rick Santorum and his fellow Republicans a pass for such ill founded and specious rhetoric?

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Comment Preferences

  •  We both know what Santorum's analogy means (9+ / 0-)

    That doesn't make it any less sickening.

    My forthcoming book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity will be published in Summer 2012 by Potomac Books.

    by Ian Reifowitz on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 12:08:31 PM PST

  •  Obama has teh black, and that's bad. (8+ / 0-)

    That's the shorter message from Sen. Santorum.

    Couple that with calling children of single women criminals and mandating marriage.

    Rick Santorum doesn't want contraception, he doesn't want abortions and he doesn't want children with single mothers. I can't wait to hear his 'final solution' for those issues.

    Thank you for yet another great diary.

    Please Vote for the Democratic nominee for President in 2012.

    by mungley on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 12:24:05 PM PST

    •  teh blacks are coming to get you! (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mungley, tytalus, Rogneid, nokkonwud, Avila

      or at least that is what he and Romney are signaling to.

    •  There would be a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mungley

      some sort of conference of some kind.
      To sort it out.
      Single mothers who were always single,
      single mothers who are now widows,
      single mothers that left their husbands, (separated )
      single mothers that are divorced,
      single mothers who's husbands were killed in war,
      mothers who's husband's were sent to prison and still married,
      mothers who's husband is in prison and want a divorce,
      single mother's who are lesbian.

       

      "Well Mr. Santorum, it's just that you're an evil, boring, creepy, piece of cardboard." "You're not being very nice." "Have some soup."

      by nellgwen on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 05:04:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Enthusiasm gap (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nokkonwud, Avila

    That's one way to fix it. Santorum wants to sew up the evangelical voters, and they prefer to imagine themselves as oppressed underdogs. David vs. Goliath and all that.

    There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death. -- Isaac Asimov

    by tytalus on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 12:37:57 PM PST

  •  It is ironic, that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    Rick Santorum blows the cover of the Republican`s game plan to attack Barack Obama with his Nazis and World War 2 propaganda. We all know that Rush Limbaugh is thier leader of their propaganda machine just as Hitler had his in Joseph Goebbels propaganda machine.

    Just like the Repugs attack Obama for being a Black President using its number one pit-bull attack with Limbaugh` propaganda, the Nazis used Goebbel, head of the Nazi propaganda machine to spew that the Jews were kidnapping German children to take them and kill them as sacrifices to their God. Republicans have used the same strategy of Goebbel`s teachings for as long as I can remember --  that if a lie is repeated often, it becomes true. That was the trade mark for Nazi Goebbels, passed on to the Repugs and Karl Rove. Republicans are experts on inciting hate, (Read "Kristallnacht") and see how Santorum matches with Nazis.

    Old men tell same old stories

    by Ole Texan on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 02:08:22 PM PST

  •  Well, yes and no. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, SkylarkingTomFoolery
    Does Rick Santorum really want to suggest that defeating a popularly elected American President is akin to defeating the Axis powers?
    Yes, he is drawing a comparison between Obama and Hitler.  

    But, no, this isn't exactly like defeating the axis. It's much more serious than that.

    The Real America is actually under much greater threat than it was during WWII. The Nazis weren't REALLY going to take over America and run it as a colonial holding, the way they could Poland. That was a distant enemy that was going to stay distant.

    THIS is a matter of a tyrant who has usurped righteous American governance and has his hands on all the necessary levers to plunge Our Nation into a state of slavish oppression unimagined by our glorious [white] forefathers.

    I am telling you, this IS what Santorum is preaching. We don't quite hear it because we don't have the same ears as his followers. But to those of us who grew up surrounded by paranoid, conspiracy-driven white supremacy, it's an old familiar song he's singing.

    "The notion that a majority must have its way, whether in matters of opinion or in matters of personal conduct, is as pestilent and anti-democratic a notion as can possibly be conceived" Columbia University president N. M. Butler on the Scopes trial

    by teachme2night on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 02:20:08 PM PST

  •  I can explain why (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spacecadet1

    Santorum compares defeating Obama to fighting against Nazis.

    Santorum isn't the only one still infected by stale, wrong ideas of the early to mid 20th Century.

    Brief summary:

    Anyone who believes in Evolution instead of Biblical Creationism must be something like a Nazi.....a believer in the superiority of the Aryan race rather than a follower of Jesus, and surely an atheist. All unbelief leads to the end of civilization as we know it.

    Anyone who believes in solutions to healthcare, health insurance which are government-based rather than absolutely free market, private market must be some kind of extremist of either the Nazi or Communist type. Anyone who believes in government solutions is an extremist who is willing to crush individual rights the way Nazis did.

    I don't have time to dig up the references but Google is your friend. Try "William Jennings Bryan" and Darwin.
    Also Google "Operation Coffee Cup"....

  •  There's a fundamental difference (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JoanMar, wilderness voice

    between you as a young chef and Rick Santorum. Your parents wanted to encourage your cooking because they knew with experience you would grow as a cook and improve. That's a good thing.

    Rick Santorum will not grow out of his incendiary and ridiculous rhetoric if we don't reject it, and forcefully. He will only escalate it (although once you've gone Godwin, where else can you go?).

  •  Some Statistical Corrections, If I May (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    volleyboy1, JoanMar, wilderness voice
    •It is estimated that 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust. Six million of these were Jews.

    •In addition to Jews, the Nazis targeted Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the disabled for persecution. Anyone who resisted the Nazis was sent to forced labor or murdered.

    •The Nazis killed approximately two-thirds of all Jews living in Europe.

    •An estimated 1.1 million children were murdered in the Holocaust.

    Source.

    "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything even remotely true." -- H. Simpson

    by midnight lurker on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 02:32:13 PM PST

  •  Raise top tax rate to 90% and enact war profits (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    tax, if one thinks this is like WW2.  Because they had both of those back then.

    Until then, oh, how shall I say it?  Santorum can just shut his yap.  Was that disrespectful to the former senator?  I hope so.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 03:01:06 PM PST

  •  They are all suffering from severe (0+ / 0-)

    cases of ODS.
    The idea that a black man - with his beautiful black wife and kids - occupies the WH is enough to drive them stark raving mad. They have left off all pretense of class, diplomacy and civility. They outright lie as Gingrich did, they distort history as Santorum did, and they deny his citizenship as Romney did.
    What had me marveling that nobody bothered to comment on was that I saw only one! black face in attendance for all three speeches.
    One of our two major parties had three rallies and only one black person in attendance.
    That says all there is to say as far as I am concerned.

  •  Santorum is right (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    This fight IS like fighting the Nazis....

    Problem is, HIS SIDE is the one that draws swastikas all over the place, and worries about racial issues...

    Sounds like some projection to me.

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 05:59:28 PM PST

    •  I think conscious pre-emption (0+ / 0-)

      rather than unconscious projection.  They want to bandy this about to pre-empt the accurate accusations that could be leveled at them.  Remember all the "outrage" when Levin (IIRC) dared breathe this term in relation to one of them?

      Scientific Materialism refuted here

      by wilderness voice on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 06:08:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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