On paper Rick Santorum is not a generous man. He’s the most religious; the staunchest of the moralists; the fastest to the Bible thumpyist; the preachiest of the preachy in this race. He’s the most giant-government-forcing-you-to-be-holy of the small-government-for-corporations-only candidates. Yet according to his tax returns, he gives the least amount to charity of anyone else running. In 2010 Santorum gave 1.75 percent of his nearly million dollars of income. That same year President Obama gave 14.2 percent of his income to charity topping the most giving of the Republican candidates, Mitt Romney. That’s a whopping 12 percent difference with a president who Santorum says doesn’t have an agenda based on the Bible.
Now this would not be notable if Santorum were a godless hedonist who wrote tomes about how well selfishness has served him. But since he’s of the Christian faith and uses God as a personal reference on his resume, well, then it’s quite significant. Especially since the Bible is pretty clear on charity and helping the less fortunate.
But Santorum’s other problem is he seems kind of anti-women. Now when I say “anti-women” I don’t mean he kicks all women in the shins instead of shaking hands, or he’s scared of anything with an extreme waist-to-hip ratio. I mean he’s anti women being anything other than a mother or a soiled dove. “Traditional roles” for women have been either wholesome mom or the proverbial whore: Mother or outcast; Child bearer or streetwalker; Womb proprietor or back alley courtesan. Feminism traditionally has striven for equality regardless of gender. It’s been a cry for women to be able to branch out of the world’s oldest profession into some new ones. And yes, gasp, work outside the home.
In Santorum’s 2005 book, “It Takes a Family,” the Senator wrote: “The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.”
And Rick’s recent declaration that prenatal testing leads to more abortions only solidifies the caricature of him as a shady backwoods holy man in any Timothy Olyphant television show. It’s condescending to women to be told they don’t need to worry “their pretty little head” about the health of their baby because if they had knowledge they’d “ruin their lives with an abortion.” It makes Santorum look anti-women-being-educated-and-properly-informed. Because giving birth is the most important role in life – anything else is worthy of popular scorn.
Santorum’s team has sensed this woman thing could be an issue. So he’s trying to soften the edges with the (ahem) softer sex. Last week when ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked about the anti-women working passages in his book Santorum said his wife, Karen co-wrote those passages. "She felt very much like society and those radical feminists that I was referring to were not affirming her choice ... All I'm saying is ... we should affirm both choices ... That's what the book says, and I stand by what I said." Yes, the book, according to Santorum’s latest explanation, should have been titled “Affirming Choices.” Santorum: pro-affirming-choice. Sure.
I could make all these problems for Rick as a candidate go away. I have one simple solution: Give Karen an author credit. Yes, “It Takes a Family,” admittedly took a family to write, so why not accredit the co-author on the cover? Currently Karen isn’t even in the acknowledgement section – let alone on the cover or in the catalog information. So why not announce that the mother of your children isn’t just your personal incubator but is valued for her mind and opinion? It says your anti-women stance comes straight from the woman happily working in your own home. Do a re-issue of this collection of antiquated ramblings and tell the world she’s the wife who made you the anti-women candidate you are today.
It accomplishes two things: It makes Santorum seem generous (again) on paper, and it makes all of that Neolithic “women need to know their place” rhetoric in his 464-page manifesto seem more this millennium.
Sure it “takes a family” to write a book – but it “takes a woman” to make you look less like a sad desperate relic.