One man’s radical is another’s pragmatist.
For the past few weeks, the opposition has been gearing up to paint Rick Santorum as a monk from the Dark Ages. His positions on women’s reproductive rights, their ability to manage a career and family and the nature of same-sex relationships have gotten him into hot water with conservatives, who are shaking in their boots about a Santorum candidacy. They’re afraid he’s too radical to defeat President Obama, and want their fellow Republicans to take the safe road toward ‘electability.’
As far as the liberals, they’re doing Lee Atwater proud. The former campaign manager for George H. W. Bush used lies and innuendo to connect poor helmeted Michael Dukakis to Willie Horton, a notorious murderer. So much for President Dukakis.
So the progressives and their non-aligned sympathizers got the message. There’s a recent Facebook Posting where Santorum is compared to another ‘religious conservative,’ Osama bin Laden. Anti-bullying activist Dan Savage is bullyingSantorum. And local writers are intent on schooling the nation in how Santorum went down in flames in 2006.
Well, negative politics works both ways. And sometimes, it’s not even effective.
Back in 2008, a lot of disgruntled conservatives tried to paint Barack Obama as a terrorist sympathizer, a man who hated white people and a guy who glorified drug use. They cherry-picked aspects of his history which did, indeed, support the image they were trying to present of a radical out of step with the mainstream. Of course, Obama didn’t help much with his patronizing attitude toward conservative values and people who “clung to their guns and religion.”
Ultimately, it didn’t work, and the junior senator from Illinois who had less experience in Washington than your average Georgetown senior was elected to the highest office in the land.
And yet, he was a social radical, just the kind that the media and a certain segment of society could stomach without too much indigestion. He believed, and still does, that free health care (including birth control) is a civil right.
He believes that legislation passed by Congress should not be defended by his Justice Department in court if it doesn’t pass his own narrow constitutional muster, like the Defense of Marriage Act.
He believes that the government has the right to tell a church exactly what its fundamental precepts are, and if it doesn’t agree with his version of the faith, delineated by St. Kathleen of Sibelius, it doesn’t get to demand constitutional protection under the First Amendment. He tried that with the Lutherans and the Catholics and has so far struck out in the Supreme Court and the court of public opinion. Still, he hasn’t stopped trying.
But, you say, Obama is nowhere near as radical as Rick Santorum. The GOP candidate actually believes that women should not receive prenatal testing like amniocentesis because in so many cases, it’s used to detect fetal defects which result in abortion. He does have the facts on his side. Over 90% of fetuses diagnosed with Downs Syndrome are aborted. But that’s not considered radical to those who think a woman’s uterus is a no-trespass zone.
Which brings me to a vote that former Senator Obama cast in 2003, back in Springfield. A bill was presented to the legislature which would mandate life-saving care for babies who had survived botched abortions. It was called the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act and required that any baby who was entirely expelled from his or her mother and showed signs of life was to be considered a ‘legal’ person entitled to all rights. That included the tragic victims of abortion.
Then-senator Obama voted against the bill. His reason was that this would encroach too far on a woman’s right to choose. Which leads to the question: choose what? She already aborted the child. Does she have a right to make sure it dies? That, I would suggest, is truly radical.
But I’m sure there are many out there, men and women, who think voting against triage for a dying baby makes sense if it means that a woman’s reproductive rights are preserved.
As I was saying, one man’s radical is another’s pragmatist.