It had to happen! It was Rick Santorum’s turn to rise to the top of the Republican heap. This political season the Republican electorate has been as fickle as the proverbial teenage schoolgirl, so why should it not have turned to kiss yet another frog. (My apologies to my female readers for being so sexist.)
The anybody-but-Romney crowd has had this insatiable need to test out every candidate as a substitute for the putative front-runner. The only potential nominee who has not had his turn is Ron Paul, but that too may be coming.
As for Santorum, he is a decent sort. Sincere and moral, he is clearly a better choice than Newt Gingrich. And yet, I doubt that he is presidential material. Terminally sanctimonious, and lacking in gravitas, he is well suited to being the class valedictorian, not leader of the free world.
My guess is that the electorate is about to discover this. Until now Santorum has been at the far end of the stage—well out of the line of fire. Indeed, not long ago he was complaining that he did not get enough questions during the debates. But this was because few in the audience cared what he thought.
Yet times change, and people will be listening more closely. And when they do, they will find a strident moralist who is too hidebound for the position of chief executive. Rick has been demanding absolute conformity to the current conservative orthodoxy in order to burnish his own conservative credentials, but is this what voters really want?
Many conservatives do, in fact, seem to be seeking the perfect conservative archetype, but they should realize that even Santorum falls short of this ideal. After all, he was big on earmarks and taking care of the labor unions when he was in congress.
It pains me to say this, but a great many of my fellow conservatives are demonstrating a childish idealism of the sort that I have associated with liberals. They say they want a candidate who can get elected, while they keep demanding that whomever they back be the equivalent of politically correct (i.e., with respect to the right side of the political spectrum).
Well, let’s leave political correctness for the folks who invented it. We do not need a rigid nominee who can match Barack Obama in ideological purity. What we require is someone who can solve our governmentally created problems.
That is what voters should be seeking. That is the standard by which they ought to be measuring the various contenders.