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Rick Santorum, his family by his side

Why Rick Santorum is no John F Kennedy

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Rick Santorum, his family by his side

Rick Santorum is not running for Pope, despite indications to the contrary. The Republican presidential contender has embarked on an aggressive attempt to place religion at the heart of American politics, and in the process upend the separation between church and state which has been a hallmark of this country.

He says, incredibly, that John F. Kennedy’s speech during the 1960 presidential campaign on the need to keep that distance “made him want to throw up.”

In fact Kennedy’s speech was a landmark one, clearly delineating the need for the separation for the good of both institutions.

Santorum wants to turn the clock back, however, and place American politics under religious fiat. His religious rationale would force every political decision to be decided under a religious prism.

Amazingly, this is the man who is locked in a very tight race for the Republican presidential nod with Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon.

Santorum wants to create his own version of church and state where they are so closely melded that the Bible becomes the greatest influence in political life, and leaders take their direction from religious scripts and leaders.

Nothing could be more dangerous, whether it is the ruling ayatollahs in Iran or the historic excesses of church power in Ireland. Nothing good can come from such an arrangement.
Yet Santorum appears to believe that pious politics is the true hallmark of a leader and a country.

This is the senator who interfered in the now notorious Terry Schiavo case, when a brain dead woman was forcefully kept alive against the wishes of her husband when a Republican senator, Dr. Bill Frist, “diagnosed” on the basis of a video that she still had brain function. The subsequent autopsy revealed her brain had been destroyed for many years.

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Santorum, citing his religious principles, would also have a mother die rather than lose the life of a child, and would not allow abortion in cases of rape or incest.  He would also like to see all forms of contraception banned.

Beware of politicians mouthing moral certainties. Santorum has a creepy “holier than thou” patina to his pronouncements that make him ever scarier as a potential U.S. president.

He is reminiscent of the early puritans. All that is missing in the regular witch-hunts that occurred back then.

One can imagine Santorum leading the charge against some winsome wench who caught his attention with her witchcraft ways.

One can imagine him also being right at home defending the Inquisition, finding out through torture whatever the hapless prisoner could confess to.

Ironically, his wife lived with a much older abortion doctor for over a decade before she met Santorum.

He has shot to the top of the Republican race at the worst possible time for his party, keen to keep a more moderate outlook.

Instead they have this nut to reckon with. The contrast with JFK could not be greater.

One wishes Senator Lloyd Bentsen were still around to deliver the body blow he did to Dan Quayle all those years ago: “I knew Jack Kennedy. You’re no Jack Kennedy.”
Indeed.

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