santorum–the “consistent [Republican] voice for inclusion and compassion”

Wow… with apologies to my two gay friends employed by McPaper, I have to admit I was surprised to find such a queer-friendly editorial as this in USA Today.

When commenting that Santorum’s positions in the Senate and in the Republican hierarchy seem secure even after his remarks comparing homosexuality to incest, and suggesting that the state has the right to legislate consensual adult sexual activity within one’s own home, the editorial noted, “That’s because too many people in the GOP either forthrightly agree with his views or cluelessly wonder why an apology is required.” It continued, “Neither scenario bodes well for a party that needs to show it can govern a divided nation in the short term and expand its political base over the long run.”

Let’s hope they’re right.

The article also points out that, “[r]ushing to Santorum’s defense, Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee only made matters worse on Tuesday, when he said: ‘Rick is a consistent voice for inclusion and compassion in the Republican Party.’ If Santorum is the GOP’s idea of inclusive, that fact is best left unadvertised.”


Meanwhile, Olympia Snowe, fortunately, continues to be a breath of fresh air. On the heels of her stance against Bush’s “Leave No Millionaire Behind” tax-cut strategy, she has spoken out against Santorum’s comments:

Discrimination and bigotry have no place in our society, and I believe Senator (Rick) Santorum’s unfortunate remarks undermine Republican principles of inclusion and opportunity.

Hey, wouldn’t it be interesting to see a cross-party Dean/Snowe ticket for the 2004 presidential election?

Oh, and I love the reaction Santorum’s remarks are getting from Andrew Sullivan. This has really pissed him off at the “conservative” leadership within the Republican party. Yeah!

His blog entries for today and yesterday show an impassioned sense of betrayal by others who deem themselves to be conservatives. Here are some quotes:

But something this basic as the freedom to be left alone in own’s own home is something I naively assumed conservatives would obviously endorse–even for dispensable minorities like homosexuals. I was wrong. The conclusions to be drawn are obvious.

This is not about homosexuality as such. It is about the principles of limited government, tolerance, civility, compassion and the soul of the Republican party. There are no deeper political issues. No war is worth fighting if our political leaders feel contempt for basic liberties at home. I realized this more profoundly after reading Santorum’s full remarks, which are far more alarming than the small, doctored quote that created the immediate fuss.

[quoting a letter to him] “If Santorum is somehow representative of what is conservatism in the United States today, then I say no thank you to it.”

Me too.

It’s hard to find the right analogy, but it’s not that far from saying that you have nothing against Jews, as long as they go to Church each Sunday. (Which was, of course, the Catholic position for a very long time.) Worse actually. It’s like saying that, even if Jews practised their religion at home, in private, they could still be arrested for undermining the social order. Their very persistence in their identity–which harms and could harm no-one else–is a threat. Do you think someone who said that would remain a leading pillar of the Republican Party?.

The rest of the GOP is maintaining silence. Thanks, guys. We get the message. As one reader put it, “I was warming to the Republicans over Iraq. But statements like these have me running back to the Democrats.” I can fully see why.

What he disapproves of mustn’t only be denied public recognition; it must be criminalized. If you think I’m exaggerating, read his full comments. They are not a relic of a bigoted past, as Trent Lott’s were. But they are an expression of a bleak future, in which tolerance and privacy are subject to the approval of “moral” majorities and enforced by the police. If that truly is his view, he needs to explain it further. And the Republican party has to ask itself if it wants an unconservative extremist as one of its leaders.