Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sanity As A Political Virtue: Pro And Con

As Rick Santorum campaigns against women's reproductive rights in the wake of last week's health insurance imbroglio, Andrew Sullivan credits Barack Obama without another successful jujitsu move:
Santorum could win the primary on an issue that guarantees him a landslide loss in the fall. The Christianists and theocons have over-reached - and the far right in the Congress is playing along too, further entrenching the view that the GOP is anti-contraception. Obama meanwhile seems like the sane compromiser who cares about women voters.
If sanity also prevailed in GOP politics, Santorum's desire to bring about pre-1920 conditions in the realm of gender equity could be easily blunted by Mitt Romney. As Sullivan points out, Romney's health plan in Massachusetts also required Roman Catholic institutions to provide free contraception to employees who wanted it. Santorum, of course, can use that against Romney in the upcoming GOP primaries. By the same token, you might think that for once Romney would consider making a virtue of his record by saying that it's antithetical to conservatism for Santorum to say that as president he'd want to put an end to the use of birth control. As a matter of fact, Romney might say that Santorum is evincing tendencies that are borderline despotic. That would be the kind of bold move David Brooks called for on Feb. 10. If Romney is too scared of the right to take advantage of his opportunity (one might also say responsibility) on an issue of such profound concern to millions of Americans, you have to wonder about the efficacy of a system in which one party rewards sanity and the other relentlessly punishes it.

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