IS SEX LIKE SOCIAL SECURITY?
Maureen Dowd finds that the potential Santorumization of the Republican Party strikes fear even in Republicans:
IT'S finally sinking in.
Republicans are getting queasy at the gruesome sight of their party eating itself alive, savaging the brand in ways that will long resonate.
"Republicans being against sex is not good," the G.O.P. strategist Alex Castellanos told me mournfully. "Sex is popular."
I see Castellanos's point -- I'm no longer worried that Santorum could appeal to enough voters to win if he somehow became the GOP nominee -- but I still wonder why he isn't being blown out by Obama the way Gingrich is, according to the polls. You'll say, well, most of the public isn't paying attention to him yet, but you can't really say that the public is ignoring Santorum while also arguing that Gingrich's woeful numbers, and Romney's slippage, are the result of their current public image. Either people are paying attention to these clowns right now or they aren't, right?
Is sex popular? Well, sure it is -- but I think there are a lot of Americans who like sex but like to think of themselves as not liking sex, at least not to an unseemly degree. I think, and you probably think, that premarital sex and sex using birth control and non-procreative sex in general are just fine, and nothing to feel guilty about, but I think a lot of Americans engage in those behaviors but feel that they should have a problem with them, even though deep down they don't. Their feelings about sex are the feelings you find in classic country music and R&B and blues: I want to do this but it's sinnin', and on Sunday morning I'll be in church saying, "Forgive me, Jesus," even though the following Saturday night I'll be back in the honky-tonk, and the cycle will endlessly repeat. So these people lie to themselves and say they wish America were more moral. They hear Santorum and nod in agreement, even though they don't really agree with him at the gut level.
It's more or less the way Americans feel about government social programs -- they use them and they lie to themselves about using them. Then a Republican demagogue -- but I repeat myself -- says government programs are evil, and they pump their fists in agreement.
I think there are enough Americans who are sufficiently level-headed about sex to keep Santorum from ever reaching the White House. But I still don't think he'd be blown out as badly as Gingrich would. Most people hate Gingrich. Far too many people are too guilt-ridden to hate Santorum.