Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | April 23, 2003

Heat rises on Santorum

The Note leads today with the Santorum story. (For background, read this post, and this one, and this one.)

Aside from an inexplicably stupid paragraph that argues that the Washington press corps works harder to bring down Republicans than Democrats (can anyone say "Bill Clinton"?), their take on the matter is fairly good:

In any event, it's pretty clear that a Democratic party, which still is trying to figure out what it does well with its current array of personnel, is exercising the same muscles that allowed it to score point after point in driving Trent Lott from the leadership.

The current Democratic gambit seems to be to try to get prominent Republicans to say what they think of Santorum's remarks, and, in some cases, to call for the Senator to be removed from the leadership.

So far, the White House has stayed above the fray, but Democrats are hoping that every GOP figure in front of a camera today is asked about this, and is forced into a "humminah, humminah, humminah" moment.

As best we can tell, the Senator has done one electronic interview (with Fox News Channel) and doesn't have any press strategy for dealing with this beyond hoping it goes away.

He certainly isn't apologizing or backing down.

Elsewhere, the story has some initial legs. Howie Kurtz, no friend of the Democratic Party, is blasting the Santorum for his comments:
At least Trent Lott had the good sense to apologize.

Rick Santorum doesn't seem to grasp why people are upset by his corrosive comments about gays.

Is it still acceptable, in 2003, to depict gays as some kind of strange, deviant group, as weird as those who have sex with relatives? We're about to find out.

Santorum, by the way, is not just a senator from Pennsylvania; he's the third-ranking member of the Republican leadership. [...]

How can Lott talking about a segregationist candidate in '48 be more offensive than Santorum disrespecting gays in '03?

And, rather refreshingly, Kurtz bashes the SCLM for its slow uptake on the story:
The media, once again, seem to be a bit slow. We couldn't find the Santorum story in yesterday's USA Today. The New York Times ran a wire story on the bottom of page A21 in some editions. The Washington Post had a short, staff-written story on the bottom of Page A4; the Los Angeles Times had a wire story on Page A13 of the national edition.
While the SCLM provided anemic coverage yesterday, today is a different matter.

As the Note, er, notes, the question will be whether the story will have legs over the congressional recess. The lack of news, and the press' thirst for red meat following Iraq may provide the right combination to keep this story alive.

Update: Sullivan hammers Santorum from the right. Granted, he's a gay Republican, but it's still a start:

. What [Santorum] 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.
The National Review hasn't chimed in with anything of real substance. Remember that criticism from the Right helped take down Lott, especially the Neocons (in their epic battle against the "Paleocons") who pride themselves in their supposed racial inclusiveness. It'll be interesting to see how NRO reacts to this latest "scandal".

(Props to Political Wire for the link to the Note -- I hadn't realized they were back from their war hiatus, and Atrios for the Sully link. I don't have the fortitude to stray into Sullivan-land on my own.)

Posted April 23, 2003 08:52 AM | Comments (116)


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