After Rick Santorum's surprise showing in Iowa, the world is getting a quick introduction to the former Senator from Pennsylvania. Santorum is still a long-shot, but he's a serious candidate who has run, from a policy perspective, the most complete campaign of any Republican in the running (Romney has really only emphasized jobs and economics. Santorum has emphasized jobs + nat'l security + a smattering of social con earnestness). So, naturally, the first thing we must discuss whether the manner in which the Santorum family mourned the death of their baby was "weird."
Over on RealClearPolitics, they have video of Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post bringing up the Santorums’ deceased child and labeling the family’s handling of the matter “very weird.”
“He’s not a little weird, he’s really weird,” Robinson said of Santorum. “And some of his positions that he has taken are just so weird that I think that some Republicans are off-put. Not everybody is not going to be down, for example, with the story of how he and his wife handled the stillborn child. It was a body that they took home to kind of sleep with it, introduce it to the rest of the family. It’s a very weird story.”
(The child, by the way, was not stillborn; he lived for several hours.)
Alan Colmes brought it up last week, earning a well-deserved stinging rebuke from the boss. (Video of that exchange and Santorum explaining why his family handled the infant’s death in that manner can be found here. Asked about it on the trail in Iowa, he explained that it was important for his other children to “know they had a brother.”)
Certain liberals cannot help themselves but to bring up this intensely personal incident and showcase it as evidence that Santorum is somehow unfit for the presidency. This is who they are. When they cite the old phrase “the personal is political,” they mean it; no personal act, thought, or moment is off-limits in the name of their agenda. Pundits opine on all kinds of topics, but God help the newspaper columnist who believes his purpose in life is to decree which forms of mourning the loss of a child are okay and which ones are too “weird” for a potential president.
That is, of course, disgusting. Just as disgusting as that guy who showed up on Bill Maher's show and said he wanted to have hate sex with Santorum. And, for all the "sorry if anyone was offended" apologizing out there, I think we all know that there are a lot of people among the enlightened left who would have no problem with the Santorums aborting the child minutes before his birth, but are scandalized that his family mourned the death of a baby who lived just a few precious minutes. That's life in the post-modern era: even if you are someone with a sterling first-rate character, you are not immune to character assassination because your very rectitude will be held against you.
For the moment, the Santorums are alone in fighting off these sorts of attacks. I realize that there's a campaign going on, but I don't think that should stop, say, Mitt Romney from offering a full-throated defense of Santorum on this matter. Indeed, there ought to be some sort of 12th Commandment: thou shalt defend any Republican candidate who comes under intensely personal attack from the left, even if that candidate is your direct rival. You see, once the "weird" stigma attaches to Santorum, it will be on to Romney. And regardless of what we might think of him, we absolutely need to defend him (and anyone else) from that sort of base character assassination.