IT'S PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE TO ATTACK THE SANTORUMS' DEAD-BABY DOG-AND-PONY SHOW
I see, via Mediaite's Tommy Christopher, that Alan Colmes was attacked on Fox for comments he made about the way Rick Santorum dealt with the death of their newborn baby in 1996:
In a wild exchange on Fox News' Happening Now, longtime contributor Alan Colmes lost it a little bit when National Review's Rich Lowry pressed him over an attack on Rick Santorum's handling of the 1996 death of his newborn son. Colmes used Santorum's reaction to the death of 2 hour-old Gabriel as an example of "some of the crazy things he's said and done," prompting immediate, sustained pushback from Lowry, and death-stares from Colmes....
Christopher quotes this 2005 New York Times Magazine story about Santorum:
The childbirth in 1996 was a source of terrible heartbreak -- the couple were told by doctors early in the pregnancy that the baby Karen was carrying had a fatal defect and would survive only for a short time outside the womb. According to Karen Santorum's book, "Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum," she later developed a life-threatening intrauterine infection and a fever that reached nearly 105 degrees. She went into labor when she was 20 weeks pregnant. After resisting at first, she allowed doctors to give her the drug Pitocin to speed the birth. Gabriel lived just two hours.
What happened after the death is a kind of snapshot of a cultural divide. Some would find it discomforting, strange, even ghoulish -- others brave and deeply spiritual. Rick and Karen Santorum would not let the morgue take the corpse of their newborn; they slept that night in the hospital with their lifeless baby between them. The next day, they took him home. "Your siblings could not have been more excited about you!" Karen writes in the book, which takes the form of letters to Gabriel, mostly while he is in utero. "Elizabeth and Johnny held you with so much love and tenderness. Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, 'This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel.'"
Christopher is rather appalled that Colmes criticized Santorum:
... I agree with Lowry that the intensely personal arena of human grief ought not be cheapened into political fodder. Within reasonable limits, I don't think anyone should be judged for things they say or do in the face of extreme grief.
The fact that Karen Santorum publicized the event means that, to some extent, it is an appropriate subject for public discussion, but then it should be handled in a delicate, respectful manner.... Colmes' characterization that they "played with" the dead child [was not] fair or particularly sensitive. He probably shouldn't have brought it up at all....
Christopher writes, "The fact that Karen Santorum publicized the event means that, to some extent, it is an appropriate subject for public discussion." To some extent? Gee, Tommy, ya think? She took this supposed moment of private grief and wrote a freaking book about it! And the ex-senator, as I've noted a couple of times on this blog, makes damn sure the tale gets featured prominently when it suits him. This is from a Washington Postprofile, also published in 2005:
Father First, Senator Second
In his Senate office, on a shelf next to an autographed baseball, Sen. Rick Santorum keeps a framed photo of his son Gabriel Michael, the fourth of his seven children. Named for two archangels, Gabriel Michael was born prematurely, at 20 weeks, on Oct. 11, 1996, and lived two hours outside the womb.
Upon their son's death, Rick and Karen Santorum opted not to bring his body to a funeral home. Instead, they bundled him in a blanket and drove him to Karen's parents' home in Pittsburgh. There, they spent several hours kissing and cuddling Gabriel with his three siblings, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2. They took photos, sang lullabies in his ear and held a private Mass.
"That's my little guy," Santorum says, pointing to the photo of Gabriel, in which his tiny physique is framed by his father's hand. The senator often speaks of his late son in the present tense. It is a rare instance in which he talks softly.
He and Karen brought Gabriel's body home so their children could "absorb and understand that they had a brother," Santorum says. "We wanted them to see that he was real," not an abstraction, he says. Not a "fetus," either, as Rick and Karen were appalled to see him described -- "a 20-week-old fetus" -- on a hospital form. They changed the form to read "20-week-old baby." ...
You go to his office as a Post reporter and he makes certain you focus on this incident in his life, and makes sure you know he uses the correct right-to-life shibboleth. Whatever this may have been at the time for Santorum and his family, by now it isn't a tragedy for him -- it's a marketing bullet. He brandishes the kid as a medal he and his wife earned in the culture wars. He's shameless.
My opinion? Colmes isn't hard enough on him.