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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Santorum Victory in Iowa: Shocked, Just shocked

In November I took apart a Santorum political commercial. At the time, I did not consider him to be a viable candidate. I thought he had no chance to win the nomination. Wow, was I wrong. Santorum virtually tied the Republican caucus in Iowa last night. I could not believe it. I lay in bed this frigid morning stunned. I tried to comfort myself with the the thought he lost by a narrow margin--as in eight votes. This did not help. But my thoughts were not tied to his victory but rather a video I saw of Santorum speak about the birth of his daughter. Since he was a fringe candidate I did not want to take the time and felt he was not worth picking on. This all changed last night. Santorum's daughter was born with Trisomy 18, a condition he describes as worse than Down Syndrome, a characterzation I will not comment on. Santorum correctly notes Trisomy 18 is usually a fatal condition. Again, I will not comment on why Trisomy 18 is fatal. I will instead urge readers to do their own research and hope they keep in mind an inherent disability bias that exists in our society. So, check out the video below:



I dislike Santorum for a host of reasons. He is staunchly anti gay. His views on abortion are extreme. His fiscal policies punitive. In short, for me he is the personification of all that is wrong with conservatives, the Tea Party, Republicans, and Evangelical politicians. But I failed to realize he has a great act going here. He makes Sarah Palin look like a B level actress. The video is a sure fire tear jerker. How can you not cry and laugh. The man is engaging, he has charisma. A number of articles appeared over the Thanksgiving holiday about Santorum's so called confession. It was startling. He withheld his love from his own child. He did this to protect himself, to be the "rock" for his family. Oh, how manly! And who is to blame? Why doctors of course. They encouraged him to "let go", a nice way of saying his child would be better off dead. Worse yet in Santorum's estimation, imagine if their child had been born in a country with socialized medicine. His daughter would have surely died. And who is the savior, the hero of the story? His wife, the child's mother, who fought for a prescription for oxygen when they took their baby home from the hospital. The heroin of the story, the mother, saves her child time after time. She is the personification of motherhood.

The emotional impact of the video cannot be underestimated. I dismissed it as political theatre and was I ever wrong. This is a classic American fairy tale. It touches a primal core within American cultural beliefs. For a politician this story is a veritable gold mine. Santorum becomes bullet proof. I read a comment Santorum was not happy last night, that he had a "rough night". Why? His daughter was sick. Yes, on the biggest night of his political career he was not celebrating his victory but concerned with his daughters health. Hollywood could not write a better script.

The only problem with the Santorum story is it is patently false. Let me be very clear on this point. I do not doubt Santorum and his wife are loving and dedicated parents. Everything I have read about Santorum indicates he and his wife are wonderful parents who have home schooled their children. I consider the story false because my take on what he and his wife experienced with their daughter is radically different. So, forget the tear jerking emotion and examine what took place. Doctors told parents in the United States to let their child go. They encouraged parents to let their child die. This did not happen in a country with socialized medicine. This happened in America. It happened to powerful parents with I assume excellent health care insurance. This leads me to ask why? Why did doctors encourage parents to let the Santorum's child die? This was an institutional response enacted by highly educated doctors. Again, why? And more to the point what would happen to ordinary parents? Would they have won the fight for oxygen for their child? I doubt it very much. And what about Santorum's social policies? Forget the emotional impact the video makes. Under his budget cuts and opposition to health care reform who will be hurt? Children like his daughter. She would be hurt. People with a disability will be hurt. People with a disability will not get a good education, one they are legally entitled to. Children like his daughter will struggle to access health care. Children like his daughter future is grim. But hey, Santorum got teary eyed. Santorum cares. Santorum is a great father, his wife a heroic mother. He is a rock of stability. My hope is voters can decipher reality from emotion. The reality is grim. The emotion a smoke screen. The man is slick, his message has massive popular appeal. I was grossly wrong before. Santorum is a viable candidate. This thought scares me to death. And no, I do not want to die.

9 comments:

GirlWithTheCane said...

Excellent post. I linked to it in the post that I wrote today about Santorum and Iowa. I'm very scared for friends with disabilities that live in the States.

- Sarah

Phil Dzialo said...

You are so right, bill! He's pathologically frightening and people who support him evidence the pathology in our society. I was appalled before, until I read this expose of his 10 most outrageous beliefs:

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/01/04/397355/rick-santorums-top-10-most-outrageous-campaign-statements/

God save us!

Jennifer Fitz said...

I disagree with your take on this one. You can like or not his politics (This is no endorsement of the man, or anyone else on the Republican ticket. Sheesh. Please.).

*But* having watch Santorum share this particular story in public, it's straight-out anti-euthanasia talk. Could have been pulled from your blog.

Yes, you two are utterly opposed on many policy platforms. Yes he's a cheesy politician like all the others. But on anti-euthanasia? You two are in the same camp.

william Peace said...

Girlwithcane, Thanks for your kind words. You are lucky to live in a civilized nation. The assault on the disenfranchised in this country is worrisome in the extreme.
Phil, The link you provided leads me to hope his religious fundamentalist views will come to light and sink his chances of being the republican candidate.
Jennifer. Not sure what you are disagreeing with. The fight for and against assisted suicide creates strange political bedfellows. However, I fail to see how my views have anything in common with Santorum. His views are based on religious fundamentalism and his belief system. My views are based on reason and well established scholarship. I take the separation of church and state as the bedrock of our political system. Religion has no place in how this country is run. As for Santorum's talk, I tried to be very clear--what he evokes emotionally is undermined by a very different reality for people with a disability. He is not an allie of people with a disability but an enemy. His policies and ambitions would cause great harm to people with a disability. Hence he is using his daughter in a way I find objectionable.

Jennifer Fitz said...

Didn't mean to insult you. :-).

Nessie Siler said...

Dear William,

I cannot help but wonder why Santorum is chasing after the Presidency while his daughter is dying?
The fact that he would choose to expend his energy in this pursuit instead of being home to actually be a father to her during what time she does have on this earth tells me all I need to know about him. And it ain't pretty. (Excuse my Southern cussedness...)
I wouldn't vote for him if my soul depended on it. How dare he run away from his own child in such a fashion.
Keep up the good work, Bill. We need you.

Nessie

william Peace said...

Jennifer, Was not insulted at all. Evangelical politicians make me crazy. I despise the emotional rhetoric and how it provides a smoke scrambles for hurting vulnerable people.

Nessie I do not know what sort of life expectancy Santorum's daughter has. I would not want to speculate about this.

sbcallahan said...

thank you for validating what I was thinking! in an earlier debate someone mentioned what would have happened to his daughter under his and other's proposed health care cuts. the question went unanswered, my indignation hard to contain, it was a moment of "did anyone else hear that?"

now I know others heard it and were as upset as I.

william Peace said...

sbcallahan, It is hard for me to fathom no one mentioned the simple fact the Santorum's had to fight to get oxygen for their daughter. This took place in the USA. Ugh, the Republicans are beyond contempt.