This isn't entirely a surprise. Every other candidate for the GOP except Huntsman and Johnson enjoyed similar surges at one point or another. Given the quality of the GOP field, it became a joke. No candidate was too stupid or too crazy to be dismissed by frantic GOP voters. In fact, the only ones who were dismissed were the ones who were too sane or too intelligent.
But Santorum's sudden lurch to the top brought about a couple of interesting things this week that show that the people are getting tired of this.
There was an article this week that detailed the Santorums and a still-born son they had in 1996. According to Wikipedia, "Rick and Karen Santorum would not let the morgue take the corpse of their newborn; they slept that night in the hospital with their lifeless baby between them. The next day, they took him home. 'Your siblings could not have been more excited about you!' Karen writes in the book, which takes the form of letters to Gabriel, mostly while he is in utero. 'Elizabeth and Johnny held you with so much love and tenderness. Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, "This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel."
Right wingers immediately began howling that the article “mocked” the Santorums (the writer was aghast, but ridicule was not on her mind, clearly) and one right winger howled that by writing the article, the author had violated the Santorums' privacy.
Of course, Karen Santorum wrote and published a book, Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum, which detailed all of this. If you write and publish a book about a particular incident, then you can't whip around afterward and claim it was a private matter. And then, too, Rick Santorum doesn't believe people have a right to privacy. Apparently unaware of the Fourth and Ninth Amendments he believes that any right not enumerated in the Constitution doesn't exist.
Pursuant to the belief that people don't have rights not listed in the Constitution, Santorum went on ABC the day after the Caucuses to declare that people don't have a right to contraception. People, according to Santorum, a rigid Catholic, do not have the right to have sex unless for the specific purpose of procreation. If your wife is post-menopausal, keep it tucked in; you don't have the right to bang the wife unless you want to make a baby, and if she can't have babies, she can't have sex. You probably don't have the right to beat off, either, since that isn't mentioned in the Constitution. All part of the cost of freedom, you know.
Grieving parents react in powerful and odd ways to the death of a fetus. I understand that. But the Santorums not only slept with their dead baby, they took it home to show to their young children, and had them hug and talk to the little corpse. No matter how good their intentions may have been, to me that borders on child abuse, and sounds like a good way to turn the poor kids into serial killers or televangelists. I wouldn't want these people for neighbors; I sure as hell don't want them in the White House, with control of the military and the nuclear arsenal.
None of which stopped right wingers from claiming that discussing this violated the Santorums' privacy. Privacy, like most penumbral rights, exists only for Republicans and nobody else.
Santorum has been spouting a lot of nonsense. He claims, for example, that not only is there no right to contraception, but it is such an important matter that the states should not be allowed to determine it on a state-by-state basis, but that it should be a federal law, the banning of all contraception.
He's mumbled similar idiocies about gay marriage. His favorite rebuttal is that if you allow gay marriage, you will open the door to polygamy. Why Santorum would have a problem with that is a bit of a mystery, since he bases his beliefs on Biblical text, and the Bible's characters throughout most of the book cheerfully practiced polygamy—indeed, the worth of a biblical prophet was enhanced by how many wives and concubines he possessed (wives were owned back then), and you can bet that even though the bible isn't real specific, some of those concubines weren't necessarily female. That got him booed loudly at a first-day campaign stop in New Hampshire, site of the first primary and, as it happens, a state where gay marriage is legal.
He prefers to compare being gay with bestiality, an assertion so vile that it calls his own basic character into question. He's been known to ask if gay marriage is legalized, will people be able to marry their pets and their livestock?
Any lawyer could give him the answer, of course. Marriage is a legal contract, and any and all parties must be capable of giving consent (ie, adult, human, and sane) for it to be valid. As soon as your horse or dog can legally give consent, then you can marry the animal.
Ever since George W. Bush, the GOP is convinced that it doesn't matter how stupid, crazy or ignorant their office-seekers are. They can sell these damaged goods and leverage the power they have to make huge profits. In fact, it may go back to Ronald Reagan: he may have been a dubious candidate in 1980, but he was pretty clearly no longer fit for office by 1984. The GOP pushed him hard anyway. It was like when, two decades later, they made J. Strom Thurmond President Pro Tem in the Senate, despite the fact that the 98 year old man no longer clearly understood that he was a Senator.
The GOP believe they can throw any trash at the American people, and between lots of money and shameless demagoguery and salesmanship, get them elected.
Santorum, railing against Medicare, told an Iowa audience that he didn’t want to “make black people’s lives better” by providing public assistance. Afterward, he made the ludicrous claim that he said “blah people”.
This year isn't an aberration; it's merely the end result of a migration the GOP has made in their attitudes toward the American people over the last thirty years. They no longer want to represent the people; they just want to manipulate and steal from them. There may be Republicans in office who actually give a damn about the public, but they are few and far between these days.
And the quality of GOP candidates has hit bottom. The BEST of them is a vapid plutocrat who is willing to embrace any position at any time, and is presently running on a platform to dismantle Obama's health care—which was modeled on the exact same program he signed off on as governor just a few years earlier! That's the best of them. It goes rapidly downhill from there. Newt, in a rare moment of candor, said, “Obama’s going to laugh at [Romney].”
Romney, the plutocrat in question, thought it would be a good idea to win an endorsement from the party's standard-bearer from the previous election. Nothing extraordinary about that.
It got off to a bad start at a rally in South Carolina, where a confused McCain introduced Romney by saying, “I am confident with the leadership and backing of the American people, President Obama will turn this country around.” An embarrassed Romney tugged on McCain's sleeve to remind him of who he was campaigning for. The next day, McCain said, “He will rebuild the morale of American and he will restore America. I guarantee you he will not lead from behind like Ronald Reagan. He will lead from in front.”
In 2008, McCain, at age 72, was the oldest candidate to run for President for a major party. Some concerns were raised about his age at that time. At the time, though, it was generally agreed that his health, both physical and mental, was up to the task.
Even now, hopefully, the gaffes were just a couple of mistakes of the sort people make every day, even if they were glaring and unfortunately timed. I don't bear McCain any animus and hope his mind is clear and sharp for as long as he lives.
But imagine if he was making mistakes like that on the campaign trail, not as the avuncular party elder passing the torch to the next generations, but as a 76 year old running for reelection as president? Would the press cover up the slips and obvious inadequacies the way they did with Reagan and George W. Bush, and would the right wing noise machine be able to airbrush the more visible ones out of existence?
You have a man who believes people have no right to privacy and the government need not respect privacy. He's running against a man who thinks corporations are people, superior to Americans, and a man who thinks five year old children can perform cheap labor with hazardous chemicals. And a fourth guy thinks people should be able to fight major corporations one-on-one without government interference.
The GOP may be nuts, but they are also openly contemptuous of the American people if this is the best they could be bothered offering to lead the country.
The GOP field is no longer just a joke. It's a fucking disgrace.