Rick Santorum, Honest Politician?

Rick Santorum - Obamacare - ACA - Healthcare Reform

Ian Leslie, over at the excellent blog Marbury, talks about Rick Santorum’s violent reaction to John F. Kennedy’s famous speech about the separation of church and state:

Money quote from Marbury:

“One of Santorum’s most striking characteristics as a politician is a willingness to own his most controversial remarks. Most politicians running for president wouldn’t have criticised JFK’s speech in the first place, JFK being the iconic figure he is for Americans across the political spectrum. Neither would they have used such extreme language. But if they had, they would definitely find a way to “walk it back” when asked about it on national TV. Santorum doesn’t do that. He repeats, explains, and intensifies. He doesn’t succumb to pressure from advisers, because he doesn’t have any advisers, at least not in the professional sense. He can truly claim to be “unspun”; an honest politician.”

I quite agree with the point about Santorum being willing to own his most controversial remarks. That is very true, and in many ways is admirable for a politician in this age. Too often, politicians will pander by straying across the line of acceptable or reasonable discourse in order to pick up a few stray outlier votes (sadly, we see this time and again with some Republicans and the birtherism movement), only to walk their remarks back just enough when called out by the media. And to give Santorum credit where credit is due, he usually does not do this. He doubles down, stands by his position and defends his remarks. As I have said before, this does make him one of the most genuine candidates.

However, calling him an honest politican goes too far. Honesty is not just the trait of saying what you believe, it also must be the practice of calling out and correcting those who speak falsehoods in your presence, especially those who support your candidacy. Rick Santorum was notably silent when an audience member at one of his town hall meetings stated that President Obama was born outside of the United States and was therefore ineligible to hold office, pivoting instead to agree that he should be removed from the White House at the next election rather than disavowing her words.

Neither can Rick Santorum be said to be honest when he peddles false hope of a manufacturing renaissance in America, as I discussed in this previous post.

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