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Campaign 2012, South Carolina, Rick Santorum and the Kentucky Derby
By Keith A. Fournier
May 11th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
His stalwart defense of life has only improved with age. So too have his skills as a communicator. His defense of marriage - and the family and society founded upon it - has been coherent and consistent. His unapologetic defense of the moral basis of a truly free society has been refreshing. Clearly, Senator Rick Santorum "gets it". He emerged the victor in this first Presidential debate and a South Carolina straw poll.
GREENVILLE, S.C. (Catholic Online) - On Thursday, May 5, 2011 the first Republican Presidential debate of the 2012 campaign was held in Greenville, South Carolina. It included Rep. Ron Paul of Texas; Herman Cain, former chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza; Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota; former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; and Gary Johnson, businessman and former governor of New Mexico. It did not include Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich or Mitch Daniels.
In order to circumvent the reactions which sometimes follow my "political" opinions, I begin with several clarifications. First, I write without my clerical title to again underscore that I am not somehow speaking for the institutional church. Nor am I speaking officially on behalf of Catholic Online, which I serve as editor in chief. Finally, for those who want to vent about an article of this nature appearing in Catholic Online, two more points need to be made.
First, Catholic Online is structured as a for profit entity to avoid the growing censorship being directed against those who stand for the objective truth about life, marriage, family, freedom and solidarity. It has no prohibitions against taking political positions except for those which it has imposed upon itself. Second, get used to these articles. The upcoming Presidential election may be the most important of my lifetime. We will also do everything we can to ensure that the next President is "Whole Life/Pro-Life" and a defender of true marriage and the family and society founded upon it.
I have written other articles about former Senator Rick Santorum because I respect his genuine faith, his family, his gifts, his ability and his dedication. I have known him for years and even served as the Deacon at the parish which he and his family attended years ago. He is a wonderful man and would make a great President. He has true courage, an attribute sorely needed in this desperate hour. I was there years ago in the Senate Chamber when the Senator was defending our first neighbors in the womb against being partially delivered and having their heads crushed through the infanticide called "partial birth abortion."
He spoke with passion that day, confronting the empty words of an opponent defending the brutal procedure. Pointing to a picture of a baby being delivered he proclaimed "This is a baby Senator!" At that very moment a baby cried, filling the chamber with the sounds of life and delivering the most poignant defense of the truth about life I have ever heard. I will never forget the moment. His stalwart defense of life has only improved with age. So too have his skills as a communicator. His defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon it has been coherent and consistent. His unapologetic defense of the moral basis of a truly free society has been refreshing.
So, given my background, when I watched former Senator Santorum on Thursday night I was not surprised. Instead, I was filled with hope that this 2012 Presidential campaign will have at least one candidate speaking to the issues which matter most and unwilling to succumb to the dualism and schizophrenia evident in the call for a so called "truce" on social issues most recently identified with undeclared potential candidate Mitch Daniels.
Yes, Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty acquitted themselves well. Cain's comment on his alleged "lack of experience" was a classic one liner. Yes, I saw the much touted Frank Lunz focus group. Former Governor Pawlenty had some good answers, but his manner seemed lackluster and robotic. Ron Paul was, well, Ron Paul. The absurdity of his answers on marriage and family only add to the built in problems of his brand of libertarianism. As for former Governor Gary Johnson, perhaps he got the wrong directions to another debate for those who refuse to protect the Right to Life?
My comments concern the former Senator from Pennsylvania who just keeps getting better and better. First, his bearing was confident because he is a man comfortable in his own skin. His demeanor was, to reveal my own Bostonian political roots, "Kennedy-esque." His answers were weighty and solid. In one of his responses he noted "It's not just checking the boxes. It's having the courage to lead." That is precisely what he demonstrated Thursday evening, the courage to lead. That is also what this Nation needs.
When asked this loaded question from Chris Wallace "Are you willing to tone down your positions on abortion and homosexuality in an effort to reach more voters and help the GOP coalesce behind a more fiscally focused platform?," he replied with no hesitation, "Anybody that would suggest that we call a truce on the moral issues doesn't understand what America is all about."
He continued his defense of the Right to Life and of liberty saying "America is a country that is based on this concept, and the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. Rights come from God and the first of which is life.Those two concepts really transformed the world because it said that government was going to be limited. Allow people to be free, and to pursue their own dream and to serve their God, to serve their family and community. And if we have a respect for human life because of course we're all created equal. A lot of people out here can check the boxes and say they have conservative positions, but I've led on life. I've got the arrows in my back from the mainstream media to prove it."
Later, in an interview following the debate he continued, "If you look at the founding document of this country, the Declaration of Independence, it's the why of America, it's what we are all about. And we're a country that was formed about keeping people free. You can have limited government and free people unless you have solid families and communities and faith - that structure that structures a society that allows people to continue to be free."
"If you don't have strong families, don't have strong faith, then you have people who are not going to live good lives if I don't have that, guess what happens, you get bigger and bigger government. The idea that we can focus on the economy and not worry about the culture, not worry about families being able to inculcate those virtues into their children and having stable families and strong churches to do that, you can't have limited government, you can't have low taxes, you can't have smaller government."
Clearly, Senator Rick Santorum "gets it". He emerged, in this pundit's opinion, the victor in this first Presidential debate. I have been involved in public policy activism for years. I know some so called "experts" will have all kinds of reasons why he will not emerge as the nominee. Yet, there are a few interesting coincidences which might be drawn between the Kentucky Derby and the 2012 campaign. I bet my readers were wondering about what this title was all about.
On Mother's day, some of our adult children, their spouses and our grandchildren came to our home to watch the Kentucky Derby. My wife loves horses and thoroughly enjoys watching the Derby every year. We do not bet on the race, but we do enjoy hearing the human interest stories behind the horses, their jockeys, their owners, and the struggles which so often accompany their arrival at the Derby. Often, they are an inspiring metaphor for life. This particular Derby was touted as the most wide open field in over a decade; somewhat like the Republican primary field of candidates for the 2012 Presidential campaign.
As the afternoon unfolded, the stories about the horses, jockeys, trainers, owners and all of the human interest stories just kept getting more interesting. However, no-one expected the eventual result in this race. A horse who had never raced on dirt, or finished first in any major race, ridden by a last minute replacement jockey, with 20-1 odds against it - not even considered in the top tier by many "experts"- won the most exciting Kentucky Derby in years!
On the Saturday following the first Presidential debate Rick Santorum won the presidential straw poll of Republican Party activists. However, the South Carolina debate was not the only recent impressive performance of the Senator. On April 28, 2011 he gave a significant address on foreign policy at the National Press Club entitled "Americans & the World: Resetting Our Course." He concluded with these words:
"The world will soon consider the life and contribution of a partner of Ronald Reagan's in reshaping the world, Pope John Paul II. He, along with another Polish hero Lech Walesa, helped to bring freedom back to Poland. His faith informed his courageous stand against a totalitarian regime. John Paul II warned of the "death of true freedom" and observed that "freedom itself needs to be set free."
"Lech Walesa last visited our nation last year and he offered this observation: "The United States is the only superpower. Today they lead the world. Nobody has doubts about it. Militarily. They also lead economically but they're getting weak. But they don't lead morally and politically anymore. The world has no leadership. The United States was always the last resort and hope for all other nations. There was the hope, whenever something was going wrong, one could count on the United States. Today, we have lost that hope..."
"But I have not and my sense from traveling the country is that neither have the American people - they are bursting at the seams to have a leader who believes in them and our country again.In his farewell address to the nation, President Reagan reminded us of this when he told the story of the USS Midway that was patrolling the South China Sea in the early 1980s. A sailor on the Midway saw a tiny boat, filled with refugees from Indochina, and a rescue launch was sent to them. As the Americans came into view, one of the refugees smiled, stood up, and shouted out: "Hello American Sailor. Hello Freedom Man!" That is who we are-Freedom Men. And Women. And Children. Let us not forget that privilege nor neglect that legacy."
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