Santorum’s Experiment in Truth-telling


Even though he is a columnist for The Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer often makes shrewd observations about American politics.

On Fox News the night before the Iowa caucuses, however, Krauthammer indulged in a false appeal to common knowledge — before casually dismissing Rick Santorum as a nonviable presidential candidate

Bill O’Reilly asked: Who is going to win Iowa?

“I’ll tell you that it’s win, place and show, everybody knows: Romney, Santorum and Ron Paul,” Krauthammer responded. “And I’m not sure it will matter either way, because Santorum has a one-in-50 chance of winning the nomination. Paul has zero chance.”

As I write this, the Iowa caucuses are still a few hours in the future. I do not know who is going to win, place or show.

But I know this: A month ago, someone looking for a frontrunner in Iowa might have picked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who hit 33 percent in a CNN poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers — 13 points ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and 16 ahead of Paul.

Before that, former Godfathers Pizza CEO Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann all took turns at the top of the Iowa polls.

Before December, Santorum never topped 7 percent in the state. Why did he emerge?

First, Santorum passed the basic test all candidates face: He is up to the office.

Santorum’s knowledge of public policy — developed over two terms in the U.S. Senate — is deeper and broader than any other candidate’s except, perhaps, Gingrich’s. He is clearly qualified to be president — even if he has never been a community organizer like Barack Obama or a venture capitalist like Mitt Romney.

Secondly, Santorum has done something fairly radical in modern presidential politics: He not only has insisted on saying exactly what he believes, he has turned his heartfelt beliefs into the foundation of a visionary message for the country’s future.

Responding to a question at a town hall meeting (broadcast by C-SPAN from Marshalltown, Iowa) on Friday, Santorum used one of his signature issues — the right to life — as a launching point to explain his broader vision.

“You have a lot of presidential candidates who will say the words: I believe life begins at conception,” Santorum said. “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t believe life begins at conception. I know life begins at conception. It is a biological fact.”

“We need someone who is going to go out and be unapologetic in laying out the truth to the American public — not only on faith, family, life, but on all the issues that we are dealing with,” said Santorum.

“This is the most critical time in our country’s history, economically, morally, culturally, national security,” he said. “And the reason President Obama has divided this country is because he has not told the truth to this country. He hides the ball. He plays games. He pits groups against another. It’s all this political chess game, instead of trying to be honest with the American public.”

“If you’re a leader as a president, you have got to motivate the American public, and the best way to do that is to be truthful, to lay out the problems and say here is the problem that we have and what are we going to do to join together and solve that problem,” said Santorum.

“I think one of those common things that we agree on, that we should agree on, are these basic foundational principles of our country, based on the Declaration of Independence,” he said.

“If everyone is endowed by God — not any god, but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that God — with the right to life, then there are certain things that we need to follow through and we need to have in our laws,” he said.

“If you believe in the right to liberty, then there are certain things that come with liberty,” he said.

“Freedom is not an open checkbook to write whatever check you want, to perform whatever actions you want,” Santorum said.

“We cannot long last as a country with people going around living lives that are not responsible,” he said. “Freedom comes with the responsibility to do not what you want to do but what you ought to do. That is the freedom our founders gave us.

“If you look at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, happiness in the vernacular today has a very different meaning than it had at the time of our founders,” he said.

“Happiness today is enjoyment, pleasure, what makes you feel good. At the time of our founders, one of the principle definitions was to do the morally right thing,” said Santorum. “So, think of what our founders envisioned: The freedom to do the morally right thing. Rights given to us by God to serve him and his will in our lives. That is the moral foundation that is America.

“Now, can we get Americans to agree with that or not?” he asked. “I believe the vast majority of Americans would agree with those foundational principles. Then we say: OK, how do we build upon that?”

“We build a culture of freedom,” he said, “but a freedom to do what you should do, not what you want to do.”

Santorum’s great secret may be that after spending months visiting town after town in Iowa, he takes American voters more seriously than establishment pundits and political reporters.



Terence Jeffrey


Terence P. Jeffrey started as editor in chief of in September 2007. Prior to that, he served for more than a decade as editor of Human Events, where he is now an editor at large.

  • Carl

    As much as I personally like Krauthammer he is completely transparent in his anti-Santorum bias. Instead of being honest and saying outright that he supports “civil rights” for homosexuals and that he cringes when Mr. Santorum unapologetically defends traditional family values.

    And it’s really sad when so-called Catholics react in the same fashion when all Rick is doing is preaching Catholic teachings as well as natural law.

  • MMC

    I volunteered for Rick waaaay back in 1990 when he first ran for congress in Allegheny County/Pittsburgh PA. He won in a hugely Democratic District against a long term incumbent. How? He did the EXACT same thing he did in Iowa. Feet on the floor, going house to house, meeting one person at a time over many, many months…having a solid character and vision…personable, smart, and a spine. Rick doesn’t “do” splashy…he does real, honest, and hard work.

    Utterly amazed me as an 18 year old freshmen…utterly amazes me now. God bless Rick Santorum.

  • RK

    Santorum made sure the horrible Arlen Specter retained his seat when he was seriously challenged by a pro lifer. Actions speak louder than words and Santorum is an opportunist dressed up as a pro life conservative. He’s the flavor of the month in the primary business destined to be a memory like Cain and Bachman by February.

  • There are a lot of very serious allegations around Santorum. For example, he is accused of dismissing women’s health, stereotyping blacks, and insulting the poor. Thus I cannot side with Santorum in good conscience.

    • John Zmirak

      What the heck does any of that mean? Mr. Cook enjoys slinging leftist buzzwords to commit detraction/calumny against men who (as public figures) cannot sue him for libel. Let’s see EVIDENCE. “Dismissing women’s health”? That sounds like pro-abortion Newspeak for a “being pro-life.” “Stereotyping blacks”? Does that mean he was honest about crime in Philadelphia? “Insulting the poor”? How, exactly–by honestly discussing social dysfunction? Nobody here is fooled by that kind of sentimental manipulation. Go peddle that brand of Crazy at National Catholic Reporter. They’ll lap it up.

      • Bob

        Life long Pennsylvania resident, Ive been watching his career for a long time, he’s the real deal. He did not compromise his pro-life position to win the senate the way faux Catholic Casey did. The lefty media will have a tough time attacking him. He’s a devout Catholic and knows the faith well, and lives the teachings, unabashedly.

  • Francis Wippel

    Thanks for posting this. I very much admire Santorum and the campaign that he’s running, especially his courageous defense of life and marriage. The long knives will be out for him now in the media, and I hope he survives it.

    The real test for Santorum after Iowa will not be New Hampshire, but South Carolina. If he can win SC, he’ll have proven himself to be more than a “one-hit wonder” candidate.

  • Sarto

    Sanorum is “up to the office.” After Ronald Reagan, who was lost in Alzheimer’s for much of his last term, we know that anybody who can breathe is up to the office, as long as he has a good staff.

    But I would agree that Santorum with two terms in Washington is probably more prepared for the task than Obama was. He has shown that he is a toughie, unlike Obama the great caver-inner.

  • Carl

    An example of how Santorum is attacked:
    AP: Speaking of liberalism, there was a story in The Washington Post about six months ago, they’d pulled something off the Web, some article that you wrote blaming, according to The Washington Post, blaming in part the Catholic Church scandal on liberalism. Can you explain that?
    SANTORUM: You have the problem within the church. Again, it goes back to this moral relativism, which is very accepting of a variety of different lifestyles. And if you make the case that if you can do whatever you want to do, as long as it’s in the privacy of your own home, this “right to privacy,” then why be surprised that people are doing things that are deviant within their own home? If you say, there is no deviant as long as it’s private, as long as it’s consensual, then don’t be surprised what you get. You’re going to get a lot of things that you’re sending signals that as long as you do it privately and consensually, we don’t really care what you do. And that leads to a culture that is not one that is nurturing and necessarily healthy. I would make the argument in areas where you have that as an accepted lifestyle, don’t be surprised that you get more of it.
    Whole interview:
    Santorum haters use his words like these to say that Rick compares homosexuals to bestiality; homosexuality is a “gateway” drug to other deviant sex, Rich is a homophobe, and so on and so on…
    Liberals are unrelenting in unleashing their hatred upon Rick. Another example:
    Read his book reviews for It Takes a Family on Amazon—it’s just breath taking to read the vitriol spew towards Rick!
    And his speech is 100% Catholic teachings.

  • Carl

    Another example why liberals Hate Santorum:

    Santorum schooling Barbra Boxer!

  • Stilbelieve

    Arlene Specter was the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee through which Supreme Court nominees are confirmed or rejected. Rick Santorum secured from Specter the promise to support vigorously President Bush’s nominees to the highest court in the land if Rick endorsed him for re-election. Specter lived up to his promise to Rick, getting two of the most conservative, prolife nominees ever nominated confirmed. Specter had to win his re-election, and Bush had to win re-election as well to have the Republicans keep control of the Senate, and Specter returned to the Chairmanship of the Judiciary, which is what happened. Santorum helped get us two of the best justices for right-to-life since Clarence Thomas with the deal he made to endorse Specter. While Pat Thoomey would have been a good pro-life Senator, he would not have been on the Judiciary and able to guide the confirmation process giving us Chief Justice Roberts, and Alito. That was a good trade off for the unborn whether you think so or not.

  • RK

    Rick Santorum is anything but a conservative. Just consider his record, which includes:
    *** Padding his own wallet as a corporate lobbyist at the expense of taxpayers;

    *** Voting to RAISE the debt ceiling five times;

    *** Voting to DOUBLE the federal Department of Education;

    *** Voting with liberals like Ted Kennedy on multiple occasions in support of Big Labor’s radical agenda;

    *** Urging more federal involvement in housing with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;

    *** Voting to create a brand new, unfunded entitlement, Medicare Part D, the largest expansion of entitlement spending since President Lyndon Johnson – creating $16 TRILLION in unfunded liabilities;

    *** Endorsing liberal Big Government RINOs like Arlen Specter over conservatives. Of course, Specter later became a Democrat and worked hand-in-glove with President Obama to pass his radical agenda;

    *** Voting for Sarbanes-Oxley, which imposed dramatic new job-killing accounting regulations on businesses;

    *** Supporting raising taxes on oil companies, which directly costs Americans more money out of their pockets at the gas pump;

    *** Voting for gun control;

    *** Voting to give Social Security benefits to illegal aliens, while voting against an additional 1,000 border patrol agents;

    *** Voting to give $25 million in foreign aid to North Korea;

    *** Voting to send hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood – the nation’s largest provider of abortion – and hand out hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid to enemies of Israel.