David Brooks finally finds a candidate that he thinks is the one…for now: Rick Santorum.
He is not a representative of the corporate or financial wing of the party. Santorum certainly wants to reduce government spending (faster even than Representative Paul Ryan). He certainly wants tax reform. But he goes out of his way in his speeches to pick fights with the “supply-siders.” He scorns the Wall Street bailouts. His economic arguments are couched as values arguments: If you want to enhance long-term competitiveness, you need to strengthen families. If companies want productive workers, they need to be embedded in wholesome communities.
It’s hard to know how his campaign will fare after a late surge that he is experiencing in Iowa. These days, he is a happy and effective campaigner, but, in the past, there has been a dourness and rigidity to him. He’s been consumed by resentment over unfair media coverage. As his ally in the AIDS fight, Bono, once told a reporter, Santorum seems to have a Tourette’s syndrome that causes him to say the most unpopular thing imaginable.
But I suspect he will do better post-Iowa than most people think — before being buried under a wave of money and negative ads. And I do believe that he represents sensibility and a viewpoint that is being suppressed by the political system. Perhaps, in less rigid and ideological form, this working-class experience will someday find a champion.
Add to it that Sen. Santorum is deeply homophobic and has said some amazingly stupid things about any number of topics (including this doozy about black people on welfare), and apparently has no more of an understanding about things outside of his little world made up of the Baby Jesus and creationist home-schooling than a block of cheese… why, he’s the perfect Republican candidate to defeat Barack Obama.
I love it when David Brooks tries to defend the white working class as if he knew something about it. Through his one visit to Ottumwa, Iowa — the home of Radar O’Reilly — and his visit to the Applebee’s salad bar, Mr. Brooks knows what the white working class needs. As it is, he couches it in TV sit-com stereotypes that hark back to Archie Bunker and Ralph Kramden — “[t]hey sense that the nation has gone astray: marriage is in crisis; the work ethic is eroding; living standards are in danger; the elites have failed; the news media sends out messages that make it harder to raise decent kids. They face greater challenges, and they’re on their own” — and so he thinks they’re looking for a candidate like Rick Santorum that will reinforce and feed their fears and justify their little bigotries.
The sardonic hilarity is that the modern Republican Party and people like Rick Santorum have done more with their family values fearmongering to demoralize and decimate the white working class than all the gays getting married or the women seeking abortions ever could have in their wildest Kenyan Socialist wet dreams. If that’s the kind of “sensibility and a viewpoint that is being suppressed by the political system,” than perhaps there’s a good reason why Rick Santorum is the perfect candidate for the white working class: he’s a sanctimonious bigot with a Torquemada complex. Who better?