Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Yes, Rick Santorum is insane... maybe...

I first asked the question here, but now I find out that he's on The Daily Show tonight. I'm watching it an hour late on CTV (that's a major Canadian network, my American friends), and he should be on any minute. Let's see how our favourite late-night host handles him. With respect and a healthy sense of humour, I suspect...

Yes, Jon's being nice. He and Rick agree that ice cream is a tasty treat.

Rick refers to the breakdown of social capital. Who is he, Robert Putnam? Next thing you know he'll complain about bowlers who do it alone.

The family, "the basic unit of society". Okay, fine. "Marriage has been under siege." By whom? By all those straight people getting divorces? By all those loving gay and lesbian couples who want to unite for life? Shouldn't defenders of marriage admire those who want to enter and uphold the institution they so cherish? Jon: "Virtue is unrelated to sexuality [and] unrelated to religion." Well, sometimes. But what is the basis of such secular virtue? Rick: "What government should be for is what's best." This from a guy who supports Bush?

How amazing is this? A liberal and a conservative bridging the chasm of bipolar politics and having an intelligent discussion about virtue! Disagreeing yet doing so respectfully. Rick makes a passionate defence of traditional, heterosexual marriage. And? Why is the "best case" a union of one man and one woman? And how exactly will changing the laws to sanction same-sex marriage "harm children"? Rick: "In my mind, we've lost virtue." Maybe Bill Bennett and his gambling problem would help. Rick: "I'm more worried about Victoria's Secret ads." Well, I'm worried about them, too, where children are involved. Oh, Rick just mentioned Bennett's book (The Book of Virtues). And Jon makes a gambling reference. Nice.

Rick seems to be having fun. Good sense of humour.

And that's it. Good interview. Good conversation.

Okay, Rick Santorum doesn't look insane, he doesn't sound insane, and, for all I know, he doesn't smell insane. And you know what? He's more intelligent than many of Jon's political guests, whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, and at least, at the very least, he has the courage to go on The Daily Show to share his views with a fairly hostile audience. Too many of Jon's right-leaning guests have no idea what to make of him and end up looking confused. Not so Rick Santorum.

But here's the problem: He's said so many insane things. And now, from what I can tell, he's written some pretty insane things, too. Check out what Echidne has to say here.

So is he insane? Ah, I don't know. He's an easy target for the left, he seems to be a fairly narrow-minded ideologue somewhere out on the fringes of the Republican Party, and, overall, I've never much cared for him, but I suppose I -- gulp! -- respect him. I still hope he loses to Bob Casey next year, but, in the meantime, let's hope he a) does as little harm as possible; b) provides ample ammunition to Democrats; and c) continues to amuse us with his outrageous rhetoric.

I suppose insanity is a matter of perspective.

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