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In the Wake of the Florida Fiasco, Time to Consider Bella Santorum's Dad, Rick
By Keith A. Fournier
February 2nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
While "Mitt" and "Newt" were wresting in the mud (and lest there be any doubt, I favored Newt in that match) Presidential candidate Rick Santorum went home to care for his beautiful daughter Bella. She had been hospitalized and was in a critical condition. The very act of his leaving the campaign when the pundit class was interpreting his exit as a sign of his demise, reveals the character of this good man. It speaks loudly as to why he should be seriously reconsidered in this hotly contested Republican primary. This race is far from over.
JACKSONVILLE, FL. (Catholic Online) - Like millions, I am watching the returns this evening. I will also watch all of the "experts" parse every possible statistical analysis of the poll results. However, the pundits and pontificators already called the Florida primary long ago. Mitt Romney won. I choose to address a real story and not a foregone conclusion.
While Mitt Romney "carpet-bombed" Newt Gingrich with merciless attacks; while Newt Gingrich succumbed to the temptation to respond with similar efforts, one candidate demonstrated the singularly most important trait we need in a President: character. His name is Rick Santorum, Bella's Dad.
There was a book of essays on Presidential leadership written in 1996 entitled "Character Above All" The book contained an excellent essay by Peggy Noonan on Ronald Reagan. Peggy is one of our nation's finest writers.
Ronald Reagan was the last presidential candidate who was able to reach across our growing divisions and bring us together. He taught us how to hope again. Peggy Noonan's words concerning Ronald Reagan, though written over ten years ago, are worth reflecting upon in the 2012 campaign:
"In a president, character is everything. A president doesn't have to be brilliant; Harry Truman wasn't brilliant, and he helped save Western Europe from Stalin. He doesn't have to be clever; you can hire clever. White Houses are always full of quick-witted people with ready advice on how to flip a senator or implement a strategy. You can hire pragmatic, and you can buy and bring in policy wonks.
"But you can't buy courage and decency; you can't rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him. If he does, they will give meaning and animation to the great practical requirement of the presidency: He must know why he's there and what he wants to do. He has to have thought it through. He needs to have, in that much maligned word, but a good one nontheless, a vision of the future he wishes to create. This is a function of thinking, of the mind, the brain.
"But a vision is worth little if a president doesn't have the character--the courage and heart--to see it through.... (Reagan) had the vision. Did he have the courage without which it would be nothing but a poignant dream? Yes. At the core of Reagan's character was courage, a courage that was, simply, natural to him, a courage that was ultimately contagious. When people say President Reagan brought back our spirit and our sense of optimism, I think what they are saying in part is, the whole country caught his courage."
People like me, "former" Democrats, were inspired by the courage, character and manner of Ronald Reagan. His was the kind of "conservatism" which made sense to people like us - who never thought we were "conservatives". He was real, honest and quintessentially American. He moved our hearts and made us want to be better. He helped us remember that we could.
We were not then - and are not now - comfortable with the "Nelson Rockefeller" blue blood image of the old Republican Party. Sadly, the image seems to be at work again in the coronation effort of the Republican establishment in Florida. The polls are closed and the results reveal that carpet-bombing your candidate with offensive, mean spirited and unfair missives still works, at least in the short term.
Sadly, this Republican primary has degenerated into a brawl. It just seems to get worse - at least between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Many people like me who are following this campaign are eager to replace the current occupant of the White House for many vital reasons. However, we do not want the "establishment" candidate for many reasons.
We are concerned for the poor and disadvantaged. However, we have learned that big government does a horrible job of providing care for them and that collectivism - be it of the right or the left - is anything but the solution. We want a candidate who speaks of opening up economic participation in the American dream to as many as possible; one who recognizes that the market was made for man - and not man for the market. One who actually cares about such things as the loss of manufacturing jobs.
Though we are not fans of overly federalized and bloated centralized government, the "States Rights" mantra being espoused by the Republican establishment candidate scares us. Bull Connor's evil was not that long ago. It deeply disturbs us to hear candidates assert that if some States decide that an entire class of human persons has no fundamental human right to life it is "O.K." It is NOT "O.K."
The Right to Life is a fundamental human right, endowed upon us by the Creator. The idea, as espoused by the establishment Republican candidate that the decision over whether our first neighbors, children in the womb, can be killed in the name of "choice" can just be returned to the States is simply wrong.
That was what happened in the old form of slavery, when people of color were denied their personhood. It will happen again in the new slavery resulting from abortion on demand if we just "return it to the States". Face it, another class of persons, our youngest neighbors, have been written off as not worthy of unalienable rights.
We insist that there are fundamental human rights - and the American founders got it right when they insisted they were endowed by God and not conferred by government. That is not a new idea but rooted in the classical understanding that there is a "Natural Law" which can be known by reason and should inform our life together. That is if we desire to be truly free and advance the real "common good", not the fraudulent re-definition of the term proffered by cultural revolutionaries.
While "Mitt" and "Newt" were wresting in the mud (and I favored Newt in that match) Presidential candidate Rick Santorum stayed out of the fray. In fact, he went home to care for his beautiful daughter Bella. She had been hospitalized and was in a critical condition.
Last year I met Bella in the Santorum's home. She earns her name, which means beautiful. Her little smile and serene presence fills your heart with joy when you are with her. She is the little princess in that wonderful family. Their love for her, and for one another, is palpable, pure and profound. It is much needed encouragement in an age which has lost its heart.
The beautiful introduction to Bella I placed in the front of this article is more than a "campaign spot", it zeroes in on something vitally important to our public conversation in this critical hour. It should be viewed by every American. When I heard Rick Santorum say of little Bella, "Bella makes us better" and of us, "We are the disabled ones", I thought of the words of Peggy Noonan - character and courage. Rick Santorum has both.
The political "left" knows that Rick Santorum is a formidable candidate from a working class family, right on the issues. Further, as his recent debate performances have demonstrated, he is a formidable communicator. They also know he possesses the courage needed for the upcoming contest with President Barack Obama. That is why they deride him so viciously. He threatens them.
Some within the Republican establishment like Rick Santorum's economic conservatism. However, they are uncomfortable with his moral coherence. His talk about protecting human life from conception through natural death and his defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon it... doesn't make for comfortable conversation at the country club.
I am one of a large group of Americans who are tired of the Republican establishment picking the nominee of the Party. I am a "Reluctant Republican". I have no other choice. I left the Democratic Party when the opponents of the fundamental human right to life took control of the leadership of that Party and turned it upside down.
Sadly, a party which once prided itself on being the political home of blue collar everyday Americans has become the tool of cultural revolutionaries. They parade spokespersons on the media who sound and look like the people I grew up with in Dorchester, Massachusetts - but they espouse an ideology which will bring our Nation to ruin.
We need a President with real character and true courage - someone like Ronald Reagan. As Peggy Noonan wrote "you can't buy courage and decency; you can't rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him. If he does, they will give meaning and animation to the great practical requirement of the presidency: He must know why he's there and what he wants to do. He has to have thought it through."
I know that Peggy Noonan was writing about Ronald Reagan. However, listen to Senator Santorum's words, enjoy that beautiful commercial and see if you understand why I make the comparison. Most importantly, meet Bella Santorum and let your heart fill with hope again. Then, pray for Bella, and for this Nation.
Rick Santorum reminds me of the biblical story of David and Goliath. David was the youngest of the sons of Jesse. He was finally chosen to lead Israel and the story is recorded in the Old Testament. (1 Samuel 16):
"In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen any one of these." Then Samuel asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?" Jesse replied, "There is still the youngest, but he is tending the sheep." Samuel said to Jesse, "Send for him; we will not sit down to eat until he arrives here."
"Jesse had the young man brought to them. He was ruddy, a youth with beautiful eyes, and good looking. The LORD said: There-anoint him, for this is the one! Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David."
Could the candidate left in the field be the one who is chosen to oppose the 1 Billion Dollar Presidential campaign of Barack Obama? I certainly hope so. The results of the Florida primary are no surprise. However, they are anything but determinative of the results of this primary campaign. This race is far from over.
We Need a Candidate with Character. In the Wake of the Florida Fiasco it is Time to Reconsider Bella Santorum's Dad, Rick.
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