Sunday, October 23, 2011


I think Herman Cain's struggle to grasp his own position on abortion is going to damage his poll numbers soon, but when I read this story about the Iowa Faith and Freedom Dinner -- where Cain defended himself on abortion, Perry essentially attacked Cain and Romney, and many of the also-rans spoke as well -- I find myself focusing on this:

Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania ... did not mention his Republican rivals by name, but asked the crowd to consider: "Can they be trusted? Did they stand up and fight the tough battles?" He reminded the audience about his support for a ban on partial-birth abortions.

I keep wondering why Santorum never gains traction. The obvious answer is that voters know he's a loser, but he's hardly the first person to run for president despite an embarrassing defeat in his previous bid for office, and some of the past examples did OK: think Jerry Brown in 1992, for instance, who dogged Clinton for months, or, of course, that Nixon guy in '68. I'm not saying Santorum should be a front-runner. But he says and believes all the right things. He's unlikable, but no more so than, say, Newt Gingrich (who also left office in shame and seems to be doing somewhat better in the polls himself lately). What's up?

I think it's that every Santorum debate answer and speech paragraph seems to wind up at the same place: the rest of these wankers talk the talk, but I was actually in the arena fighting on all these litmus-test issues. And that should be a winning message -- except that GOP voters have come to believe that we've been living in a state of utter tyranny in America since, oh, say, the days of FDR or Woodrow Wilson or Teddy Roosevelt or the passage of the 17th Amendment. They'll make an exception for the Reagan years, and for Bush's foreign policy, but that's about it. Santorum tells the crowd how good he used to be and they're thinking, What?! All that time we were on the road to serfdom! We were in chains! We're still in chains! What did you do to prevent that?

Gingrich, at least, attempted a coup. Santorum can make no such claim -- he just promoted a few bills. So it's a loser strategy.