The American economy must be on the improve, which explains why Republicans have entered the country's bedrooms in a desperate bid to demonise Obama as the destroyer of the constitutional right to freedom of religion. At least they are kidding themselves.    

Just when Americans need strong political debate offering alternatives to Obama’s policies, the Republicans have locked themselves in the bedroom.

Not just their own bedrooms. The bedrooms of the nation. They have stepped, or perhaps tripped, into a culture war, and in so doing made themselves lightening rods for highly divisive issues which are the sort of distraction a political party needs like...well...another war.

The human condition however seems to find train wrecks fascinating. Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain to suggest a few.

The train wreck involving the rest of the Republican party publicly eviscerating itself is indeed compelling.

Republicans are grappling to find anyone but Mitt Romney to represent them in the Presidential race. The latest hopeful is the very pious, self-satisfied, far right religious fundamentalist by the name of Rick Santorum.

Saint Santorum doesn’t seem to understand that his protestations about Obama destroying American’s constitutional right to religious freedom (which he is not), is actually all about Santorum’s preoccupation with sex and making sure his religious doctrine is imposed on others - even if they don’t share it, or heaven forbid, they like sex.

There is nothing wrong with Santorum having strong religious convictions, but the days of foisting them on others are long gone. Even Santorum’s own party is concerned at the opprobrious tone of his pontificating.

On cue, the highly irreverent Bill Maher labels Santorum “the Little Creep that Could” which might be a tad harsh, but then Maher is referring to a candidate who defined marriage as excluding "man-on-child" or "man-on-dog".  It was Santorum’s bigoted way of reasoning why gay marriage is a no-no, because in Santorum’s brain cavity,homosexuality is synonymous with paedophilia and bestiality! Nice guy.

Santorum’s latest slander includes labelling Obama’s Christianity a "phoney theology" not based on the Bible; arguing it is not his job to correct his supporters when they continue to claim Obama is a Muslim; claiming that Obama has an agenda to increase abortions; that Obama doesn’t understand that man has dominion over the earth not a bunch of politicised scientists pushing global warming; that Obama is helping Iran develop nuclear weapons; that the government should stay out of the public education system (his seven children were of course all home schooled which is so easy to manage these days); and that women should not be in frontline combat because of the “emotions involved” which could compromise the mission.

On that last one, I suppose he means the male soldiers will have to open the doors of the vehicles for the chicks, or be worried about them being hurt, or stepping in a puddle, or the male soldiers fancying know...let’s deny the women the job opportunities because the men can’t keep their emotions in order...sort of like the reason some proffer for the complete veiling of Muslim women.

A quick Google of Santorum uncovers a fertile (he will like that) land of opportunity and fodder for slagging him off (he won’t like that).

But really, who wants to know that Santorum does not believe in contraception of any sort, even within marriage, and that the government was wrong in 1965 to consider married couples had the right to privacy in their own bedrooms. Keep it to yourself Rick. Too much detail already.

But no, Rick wants to be in the bedrooms of others, shining his anti-sex/anti pleasure (because sex is not for pleasure) torch on anyone who might not comply with his self-righteous and all importantly self-proclaimed-Bible-based theology. That’s the trouble with fundamentalists of any hue. They are just too pushy.

Obama must be, figuratively of course, wetting his pants with delight at the prospect of Santorum potentially beating Romney for the nomination. Evangelical leaders however believe theirs is the guy to fire up the rightists and religious voters whom they claim could severely damage Obama.

Whoa...pull up...what on earth sort of country would America be then? Perhaps the one from the 1950s which Santorum’s key financier, millionaire investor Foster Friess so fondly remembers as a time when contraception was so cheap as all it involved was “gals” putting a Bayer aspirin between their legs.

Oh ha, ha, ha. On so many levels is he so inappropriate, but most important of all, keep these people away from power.

All the Republican rhetoric about protecting religious freedom from Obama the anti-Christ is actually a deliberate but highly transparent distortion of facts.

Obama arguably enhanced religious freedom by compromising on a clause in the health legislation that initially required Roman Catholic run institutions to pay for contraceptives within the health plans of their employees.

Many of those employees are not Catholic and polls show 98% of Catholic women use or have used birth control. But that was not the issue. It was that Catholic institutions were being compelled to provide something which was against their doctrinal teachings. That would be hypocritical and not acceptable.

So, Obama’s compromise excuses the Catholic institutions from paying for contraceptives – even though many are prescribed for health issues and not birth control – and now the insurance companies will stump up the cash.

Case closed, you would think, but no, the potential for Republican self-harm is way wider than that.

The Republicans organised a Congressional hearing to ask whether the Obama Administration has trampled on freedom of religion and freedom of conscience! A loaded title for a committee if ever there was one.

The expert witnesses called were all men – mainly Roman Catholic or Jewish clergy. No dissenting voices there, but even more extraordinary when the key issue was women’s reproductive health, there were no women permitted at this top tier of ‘experts’. As Nancy Pelosi opined “duh!”

Well yes it was a group of guys, but some were in frocks so maybe that helps? Nup.

The organisers did not even see the idiocy of their own spectacle, and it is to be hoped they pay dearly for it.

Women in America should be very, very worried.

Rick Santorum may be a great guy and a charismatic leader for the converted, but in the 14th Century, not this one.

Retro can be fashionable, but it is not pretty when it involves men dictating to women what they can and can’t do with their reproductive systems, telling people of the same sex what they can and can’t do with each other, or, declaring one religion superior to another. No wonder Mitt doesn’t talk much about being a Mormon.

The best advice to the Republicans, if they want to be taken seriously, is control this whacky wing of the party before it IS the party.

They should vacate the nation’s bedrooms in favour of a few boardrooms in order to design some actual policy, or is that the problem? Despite the Republican's best efforts the economy is on the mend (albeit fragilely), and they have nowhere to go but to bed.     

Comments (17)

by Frank Macskasy on February 21, 2012
Frank Macskasy

Well written, Jane.

I've been watching the steady parade of rightwing nutjobs lining up for the Republican candidacy and what I'm seeing boggles my mind.

John McCain, come back - all is forgiven!

As for why the Republicans seem to tolerate religious wackos, maybe this gives a bit of insight;

The cynicism of American politics should be a real lesson for NZ, though I wonder at times if we're well on the road to this kind of ethically-corrupt "democracy".

What would an American look like under Santorum? Either something like out of "The Handmaid's Tale" - or just more of the same, with the Republican hierarchy keeping his more extremist views in firm check.

One thing is for certain though, a Republican government would probably result in another war. Probably Iran.

Which would finish off the job of bankrupting the US economy; destroying America as a market (not to mention their society); and impacting on our exports to that country.(After trillion comes quadrillion. We need to know this as their deficit continues to soar past the $14 trillion past the 999 trillion mark,  over the next decade or two.)

There is good reason why everyone should vote for the US president - it affects us all.

by Ian MacKay on February 21, 2012
Ian MacKay

How would you like to get an interview with Mrs Santorum? In private without Mr Santorum there to answer for her of course. I suppose she would be quite happy with her life clearly ordered, her role as baby factory and housewife and un-joyous sex to live by. (It is cue instead of queue isn't it?)

by Scott on February 22, 2012

"Whoa...pull up...what on earth sort of country would America be then? "

Maybe it's time to dust off that old copy of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaids Tale?

by John Stroup on February 23, 2012
John Stroup

Has it not occured that there may be a different perspective on "traditional" values than what the liberal loony left foists on society? Of course not, liberals always think that they're right. Get over it.

Post-modern secular humanism has a completely different take.  OK. And who says that secular humanism is right?

You may not know this, but the "traditional" values that the Republicans are putting forward are the same values that helped make America great [and different]. Adopting permissive policy has helped lead it in to decline. 

If you want to see where progressive policy gets you, just take a look at the mess the EU is in.

So, the choice is: head toward the EU model of socialistic government [has never worked sucsessfully] or adhere to the values and ethics that made America. And I'll bet there are a lot more "traditionalists" than "liberals. Republicans account for aprox. 30-35% of the population, Democrats only 20%, the rest are "independents". Just take a look at the recent election here in NZ, where were all of the left block voters? It is a myth that the majority of the population is "liberal". Seems the only ones that believe that the majority is "liberal" are the liberals. 

This is not a trick question, just a choice. 

by Scott on February 23, 2012

Gotta love those traditional values the Republicans are putting forward like avarice, hypocrisy and greed for starters.


by John Stroup on February 23, 2012
John Stroup

I'd say those atributes are equal opportunity.

Have you not been following the cronyism that has been going on in the present administration.

Really, if you're going to comment on American politics, be more informed.

by Scott on February 24, 2012

I have just one word to say to you sir: Halliburton

by James MacKay on February 24, 2012
James MacKay

John I agree with you, you do need to be informed when commenting on American politics.  

May I point you're a bit wrong on the above figures regarding there being more Republicans than Democrats. According to the most recent survey done by the United States Census Bureau (2010) regarding affiliated voter registration there are 172 million registered voters in the US. 74 million registered Democrats, 55 million are registered Republicans, and 43 million are registered as independent. So of those Americans registered to vote Democrats make up 43% of that population and Republicans make up about 31%.



by John Stroup on February 24, 2012
John Stroup

Depends on where you look. You are looking at old stats, and a result of "Obamamania", that got voters registered. Historically Democrats represented a smaller percentage of the electorate than Republicans, and that trend is returning.

The stats that you are presenting are a "blip" in the overall trendline.

by James MacKay on February 24, 2012
James MacKay

I haven't a subscription to the WJS at present so cannot comment upon that article aside from saying that it appears to deal with voter registration rather than existing numbers - remember 2010 was an off year election, aside from the occasion of a momentous event such as 9/11 the registration of  party in executive power always tends to drop.

In regard to the  Rasmussen Report  I think you might be misinterpreting the "Partisan Trends" data. That particular data set is self-reporting and as used as a 'compare and contrast' control to analyze wider trends (such as Presidential approval). It is not meant to be an official data set on partisan affiliation. Such official statistics (which I cited perviously) are available from Census Bureau and are not self reporting, rather are taken from the actual physical number of partisan affiliated voters (thus Republicans and Democrats).

In regard to your contention that "Historically Democrats represented a smaller percentage of the electorate than Republicans" - I afraid that it simply isn't true. Until the early to mid 1970's, (Black, The Rise of Southern Republicans, 2003) the Republicans were a reasonably small East Coast based party concerned primarily with "establishment business interests". According to Bartels ("Partisanship and voting behavior", American Journal of Political Science, 2000) the Republicans have always been "the smaller of the two parties". In the seventies the Republicans were able to persuade (traditionally explained by the Southern Strategy, but Mathew D. Lassiter argues that the conservative affiliation switch represented a new "suburban consensus") large swathes of conservative Democrats in the southern and lower mid western to switch party affiliation - thus their growth and the rise of the "red state". According to the data sets in "Partisanship and voting behavior" it is only since the mid-eighties has the Republican party has enjoyed any significant levels of national popular affiliation.

I obviously don't know your background but I think you may be making the classic lay mistake of A). assuming that the current character of the big two American political parties reflects their historical character, and B). Assuming that both parties (historically and presently) are ideologically monolithic. 


by John Stroup on February 24, 2012
John Stroup

The context under which I was making my point was that the article seems to present predominantly Republican [right wing, conservative, traditional...] views of “social values” as anomalous. That’s not true. And that the more liberal views are normative, that’s not true.

The data is fungible, so it may have been accurate in 2010, but will be different during this election, as the links provided show [don’t need a subscription to read the WSJ online].

More to the point: is what the Republicans say resonating with the American people?  The all important “independent” vote will prove to be pivotal, as Democrats and Republicans on their own will not be enough to win. The question is: how conservative or liberal are independents?

 I’m making no assumptions, just listening to what they say. I think that I understand the process.

Liberals make the mistake of assuming that everyone is as liberal as they are, that’s just not true. They are a percentage of the population, with as many or more being “non-liberal”, although you may not like it.

So, when the author castigates the Republican candidates [interesting: she lists only Republican candidates as "train wrecks", think there might be a partisan bias?] for campaigning on positions on issues, she’s only preaching to her liberal choir. These issues are important to the, obviously misunderstood by you, American voter.  

by James MacKay on February 24, 2012
James MacKay

How am I misunderstanding the American voter? 

You firstly said that Democrats were the 20% minority in America, which isn't true. You then said that the numbers of registered Democrats was just a blip and that historically the Republican party was the bigger party anyway, which isn't true*. 

Now I think you are talking about Republican "values" rather than actual party affiliation. Unfortunately (as happened in the 1996) American's don't vote in Presidential elections on the basis of "Liberal" or "Conservative" values, otherwise you could talk about President Bob Doll.

The so called "Christian Right" (it a stupid media label isn't it) at best estimates represents only about 23% of the electorate (Shields, "Between Passion and Deliberation the Christian Right and Democratic Ideals", Political Science Quarterly, 2007). Since 1980 they haven't had any significant electoral influence. As Lassiter (Lassiter, The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South, 2007) points out in his introduction to the aforementioned title events such as the 2005 Bush Presidential victory (which was won in mid-western suburbs) demonstrate that suburban concerns rather than moral or religious values win Federal elections. 

Thus Santorum's rhetoric may appeal to elements of the Republican base, but such talk is unlikely to find much favor with the independent and suburban voter. In that regard also I think you may be misreading the article, Jane Young castigated Santorum for his rather narrow religious inflection. She only mentions  Romney twice, and doesn't mention Paul or Gingrich. That is hardly "the author [castigating] the Republican candidates - for campaigning on positions on issues" or "Preaching to her Liberal choir". The fact is that that issues that are important to Santorum aren't the issues important to the American voters - and going on his current Republican Primary polling they aren't even the issues important to most Republicans. 

My suggestion would be to put your own feelings to one side, the bias you project on to others could equally be said to apply to some of the stuff you are saying. The fact is that whilst Liberal and Conservative are convenient labels, they (to paraphrase Jundt) conceal more than they reveal. As Huddy ("From Social to Political Identity: A Critical Examination of Social Identity Theory", Political Psychology, 2002) points out electoral and political behavior are a lot more dynamic than simple labels, ie. people vote on a wide range of societal cues.  


 * again in your last comment you are: A). assuming that the current character of the big two American political parties reflects their historical character, and B). Assuming that both parties are ideologically monolithic.

by John Stroup on February 24, 2012
John Stroup

Are we are talking about the same article? As the “projection” was decidedly by the author in the overall tone. Some tasty phrases; “desperate bid”, “the Republicans have locked themselves in the bedroom” [note plural], “perhaps tripped”, “The train wreck involving the rest of the Republican party publicly eviscerating itself is indeed compelling”. Then it goes on bigoted, 14th century... obviously flavored language, portraying anyone that does not agree with her as antiquated, clumsy.

It is obvious that the author is not in favor of a more conservative and traditional value system, I get that. Don’t try and convince me that liberal progressivism [antipathy of conservatism] is better, in some respects; it’s the cause of decline.

 Getting busy trying to talk me down from my position, and making no attempt to temper the authors’ spicy rhetoric would denote partisan bias and is not being very covert. I get that, too.

The “character” of the parties is what the voters are making it, by voting for candidates and their views on issues and values. “Thus Santorum's rhetoric may appeal to elements of the Republican base”, it’s not about “bases”, that’s so ideologically monolithic; it is about ideology, the misunderstood concept. There, that’s pretty simple.

Yes, I’m presenting an alternate point of view that is not in agreement with the articles’. It’s OK to disagree.

by James MacKay on February 25, 2012
James MacKay

John, nobody said that you couldn't disagree! 

What I thought I was trying to say was that you appear to have misunderstood some things about American political history - it is easy to do it gets pretty convoluted. Like you have used the label "progressive" as a demonstrative term. During the Progressive Era (1896-1920) all bar one of the Progressive presidents was Republican. Are you saying that Theodore Roosevelt was a "cause of decline"?  You must understand that current Republican brand is a recent invention that arose in the mid-sixties (please may I recommend Lisa McGirr's wonderful book Suburban Warriors if you want to learn more about the history of modern American conservatism).

I have a great deal of respect for those who have a different opinion to mine but as someone who a invested a great deal of time and money into researching American political history I cannot abide the flubbing of history. I sense that you are indeed an intelligent man, but much of what you seem to reiterating here seems to flavored by a kind of boilerplate buzz word mentality.  As I said perviously Liberal and Conservative are convenient labels but political behavior are a lot more dynamic than simple labels. 

by John Stroup on February 25, 2012
John Stroup

Progressives these days take on the more socialist leanings of the EU. The original progressives probably had well meaning if not un-mandated intentions. The un-mandated, specifically constitutionally un-mandated “reforms” are probably the most concerning. Education was never a constitutional right or mandate.  Yet the government is now in charge of one of the least effective and most expensive school systems. This takes away the responsibility of the community [states]. This is a whole other issue. But what this indicates is that progressives are “big government” proponents.

The current batch of progressives are likewise big government [only real job creation has been public sector] with a bit of Alinsky-ite thrown in. I do not see this as a good thing and continuing on in this direction, disastrous.

The progressive causality of decline includes; welfare entitlements [decreases the desire to provide for  one self], agendafication of education [children as political pawns], non-traditional value issues [marriage and children out of wedlock].

You can get information out of books, but books lack tangible understanding of the un-ease that is being experienced. That’s what I mean when I tell you that you don’t understand. I was in the States in’10 for several weeks. Unemployment was bad, as bad as it is now [barring the accounting gimmicks] and people were [are] flat out scared. What the government was offering was a welfare state and bigger government. Sorry, folks, that is not the path to self respect.

So, if you are all for no self reliance, welfare state, big government, you’ve got a model in the current US paradigm.

When I read an article that blasts Republican candidates offering an alternative [Santorum may not be in favor of birth control, but he won’t shove a government program down your throat] I think that they don’t know what they are talking about.  To have seen what it was, to what it’s become, you don’t get that understanding out of a book. So, with all due respect to your research, don’t mean a thing.

by James MacKay on February 25, 2012
James MacKay

Lived experince is indeed important but (with all due respect) understanding derived from research and books stop you from making incorect statements like "Historically Democrats represented a smaller percentage of the electorate than Republicans, and that trend is returning".  


by John Stroup on February 25, 2012
John Stroup

I stand corrected on minor content, context is accurate..

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