David Horsey finally put up a new cartoon and post. Both went up yesterday before the results of the Michigan primary were gathered and it appears that Mr. Horsey is a bit prescient. Rick Santorum didn't quite beat Mitt Romney in the popular vote, which might slow his surge.
What fascinated me about Horsey's column was his comparison of Santorum to another conservative Christian's run for the presidency several decades ago, back when the Religious Reich had its first blossoming in the GOP. Pat Robertson didn't succeed back then, but he certainly plowed the field for such as Santorum.
The former Pennsylvania senator has been speaking in the kind of apocalyptic terms that have long been the mainstay of Robertson’s highly politicized ministry. Santorum has not quite matched Robertson’s most provocative statements -- blaming the 9/11 attacks on pagans, abortionists, feminists and gays; calling Hurricane Katrina a punishment from God for America’s abortion policy; and predicting the world would end in the autumn of 1982 -- but he’s getting close.
In recent weeks, Santorum has echoed Robertson's belief that a second term for Obama would be calamitous for Americans, especially for people of faith. He has condemned secularism and talked about how the French revolutionaries' humanist philosophy inevitably led to the guillotine. He has warned Americans not to repeat the mistakes of the 1930s when the malevolence of Adolf Hitler was not taken seriously. He has insisted that "radical environmentalism" is a pseudo theology that displaces humans as the biblical stewards of the Earth.
Of course, all of the pious talk aside, Santorum also has the benefit of modern technology and some seriously wealthy backers which enabled him to take a page out of Karl Rove's playbook. His campaign funded a last minute "robocall" to Democratic voters in the state, urging them to vote in the GOP primary "against Romney." The calls were designed to at least sound like it came from traditional Democratic supporters, but there was no doubt of the source. Santorum admitted as much. And the calls had the desired effect. Exit polls indicated that up to 10% of the voters were Democrats. Presumably Santorum got some of those votes.
Heckuva way to treat a fellow Republican, eh?
Romney's win was not decisive enough to seal the deal for him. Republican voters still are not thrilled by his candidacy and Mitt keeps sticking his foot in his mouth when he strays from the script. The race will continue to be a rocky one and an expensive one for him and the other candidates.
In the mean time, however, Santorum has been slowed, hopefully for the reason that Horsey leaves as his conclusion:
Right now, Santorum is appealing to a lot of people who see him as more genuine than Romney, more of a straight arrow than Newt Gingrich -- just a regular guy who believes in faith and family. Will they still love him when they discover he's as full of fevered ideas as kooky old Pat Robertson?
We'll see. Super Tuesday is the next test, and it's just around the corner.