Tuesday night was big for Rick Santorum. He won the Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri primaries handily, leaving Mitt Romney to pick up second place in two contests and a distant third in Minnesota. You'd think it was possibly an opportunity for Santorum to use his time in the spotlight to highlight his differences with Romney.
Alas, no. Rick deluded himself into thinking he might actually be running against President Obama, and delivered a speech that was full of dog whistles and resentment toward our current President. Here are some select quotes:
He's someone who -- well, let's just go look at the record. If you look at when it came to the -- the Wall Street bailouts, did the president of the United States listen to you when it came to bailing out the big banks?
So here we have the same old tired trope about bank bailouts, with absolutely no acknowledgement that they originated with George W. Bush, who signed TARP into law before Barack Obama was ever elected to the Presidency after the House and Senate voted for it by overwhelming majorities. When have facts ever stopped zealots, though?
But Rick was just getting warmed up.
When it came to the problems that were being confronted on Obamacare, when the health care system in this country, did President Obama, when he was pushing forward his radical health care ideas, listen to the American people?
Why? Because he thinks he knows better how to run your lives and manage your health care.
I imagine that if he and the Congress had listened closer to the American people we might have a public option or better yet, single payer. That fact nothwithstanding, this rather sweeping pronouncement comes from a man who has absolutely no problem looking people in the eye and telling them it's just too bad they don't have access to affordable health care because they were unfortunate enough to be born with a pre-existing condition.
The crowd is being worked into a frenzy -- all 100 of them -- over this rising proclamation of the President's "otherness", however. And so he plays the next card.
When it comes to the environment, did the president of the United States listen to the American people, or did he push a radical cap- and-trade agenda that would crush the energy and manufacturing sector of the economy? Did he listen to you? No, because he thinks he knows better.
Yeah, it's not about science or anything like that. Just a black guy in the White House who happens to think we need to take some steps to save the planet for the next generation.
Can you imagine the crowd frenzy at this point? The utter contempt for That Man in the White House who is uppity enough to think he might know better? Yeah, well, Santorum doubled and tripled down, calling for a theocracy to replace our current republic.
And I -- and Americans understand that there is a great, great deal at stake. If this president is re-elected and if we don't have a nominee that can make this case and not be compromised on the biggest issues of the day, but can make the case to the American public that this is about the Founders' freedom; this is about a country that believes in God-given rights and a Constitution that is limited to protect those rights.
The president does not believe that. The president over the last few years has tried to tell you that he, in fact, the government, can give you rights. The government can take care of you and provide for you. They can give you the right to health care, like an Obama care.
But look what happens when the government gives you rights. When the government give said you rights, unlike when God gives you rights, the government can take them away. When government gives you rights, the government can tell you how to exercise those rights.
Suffice it to say, my first impression of this speech was to ask just who the hell Rick Santorum thinks he is. But this is the language of dog-whistle politics, and it calls those motivated by fear and resentment to attention. You might wonder if CNN's commentators said anything about it, pointed it out, or considered the possibility that our political discourse is no better for it. Rest assured, they did not.
In fact, one of their commentators was Ari Fleischer, who had absolutely no business commenting on anything after his involvement in the Komen Foundation mess last week. And just look what he said:
FLEISCHER: It's very natural. I think it's very natural. And he came up with a way against Obama that is potentially more telling than what Romney has been arguing. Romney has been arguing he's wrong headed.
What Santorum is saying is he's basically a snob. And he's not listening to you because he thinks he's smarter than you. And he's associated with people who are looking at Obama and say I respect him, but who the hell does he think he is for lecturing me about this, that, and the other? It's an interesting turn of the argument, and I would argue that Republicans may find that a more potent argument than the one they have been making.
How do you suppose those "sovereign types" feel about being told that the black President of the United States looks down on them? Fleischer basically affirms Santorum's strategy of separatism and resentment in this race, but I'd submit that's likely because he wrote the book on that kind of strategy.
Just to review, Rick Santorum has remained in the race because of Foster Friess' largesse. He plays to racial fear and stereotypes wherever it benefits him to do so. Remember his
"black people" "bleh people" remark? Even Catholic Church leaders have called him on that, particularly with how he characterizes the poor. He's virulently homophobic, thinks same sex marriage doesn't benefit society and should therefore be banned, and believes Americans have an obligation to make the country a Christian theocracy. Mr. Santorum is definitely making the case that Republicans want to be an exclusive party of white, wealthy, straight people. All others need not apply.
But Rick Santorum thinks Barack Obama is a snob. Alrighty then.