Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | February 22, 2012

The pivot that would help Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum is resonating with voters because he is committed and unabashed on his moral ideas, and because he affirms that moral ideas matter – that they are indispensable to government performing its proper role in society.

Conservative voters who are alarmed about the direction of government recognize that procedural mechanisms and ephemeral election-year sentiment can’t fix it.  They perceive that our problems with government can only be addressed with moral decisions: difficult decisions made when much is at stake and there are deeply compelling interests in competition with each other.  Moral courage exists for such scary things, and doing the right thing when all of the choices at hand will break someone’s china requires a kind of moral courage that rarely sounds soothing to the ears of a harassed public.  It is more likely to resonate as trenchant, annoying, or painfully necessary.

Many of the voters are down for that this year.  A growing number of them are less put off by the sting of astringent than they are afraid of what will happen if America tries to avoid it.  They aren’t irritated by “moral talk”; they are interested and primed for it.

As regards Santorum’s suitability to this mood, however, a question in my mind is whether moral courage for the hour has to sound particularly theological, oddly detailed, or hectoring.  Along these lines, William McGurn offered Santorum good advice in a column on Tuesday:

[W]hen Mr. Santorum discusses [social] issues, he needs to fold them into his larger narrative about the free society. …

There is, however, one area where Mr. Santorum needs to demonstrate a discipline it’s not yet clear he has. That is the ability to resist the efforts to drag him out of the public questions into the weeds of theological debate.

I would go a bit further and suggest Santorum take a page directly from Ronald Reagan’s book.  This would entail a pivot in emphasis.  John Podhoretz has nicely identifiedwhat we might call Santorum’s “presentation” problem: his tendency, at least in his non-campaign speeches from the past, to dwell on rebuking a fallen America.

The point is central, because rebuke of the past is not a guide to policy for the future – and the “rebuke” theme gets old quickly, as demonstrated by a similar tendency in the current president.  Something like Santorum’s now-infamous “mainline Protestants” comment may get vigorous agreement from a lot of evangelical Protestants, but it isn’t the basis for an action plan or a useful source of vision for national government.  Granted, Santorum made that remark in what was essentially a religious speech at a Catholic college.  But when you’re running for president, your memorable comments need to have a more positive and visionary emphasis.

Fortunately, there’s a lot to be positive about in the American tradition Santorum invokes.  It is also an excellent source of vision.  And one of Reagan’s greatest strengths was in defining and celebrating the important elements of that political tradition: the trademark American idea of government that is limited, constitutional, and federal.

Reagan saved his rebukes for left-wing ideology and policy.  He didn’t approach the American people as a sick society in need of exhortation, even though America was putting up plenty of soft targets in that regard in the 1970s.  Rather, he predicated his political approach on expecting the best of the people.  He spoke often about liberty and small government in terms of their unique power to unleash the people’s virtues.  He couched his message in positive terms, speaking far less about the evils of welfarism, for example, than about the benefits of liberty and opportunity.

With his positive approach, Reagan was unusually convincing on an essential principle: that the people do better with less government.  Santorum may embrace that principle, but it’s not readily associated with him, because he spends so much time talking about things like the societal problems that arise when contraception is considered a cheap “out” from moral decisions about sex and procreation.  He may have good points on that and other topics, but as a practical matter of communication and point-making, those essays in forensic pessimism don’t really advance the argument for political liberty.

Republicans this year should emphasize encouraging the people with reminders of what America was constituted to do right, and what Americans have done right with their freedom.  In 2012, it may be necessary to speak in some explicit detail about the moral principles behind American liberty.  Today’s voters are less likely to have been reared on them than the voters of 1980 were.  But if there’s one thing this primary season has shown, it’s that the voters want that discussion.

That is a tremendous opportunity.  Santorum can seize it best by concentrating on what we’ve got going for us and why we can turn this thing around.  If our focus is on social negatives, and if we are discouraged as to whether we will do good things with liberty and small government, it’s hard to make the case that those conditions frame a better future for the country.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.


Responses

  1. Social issues might help very well help Santorum win the Republican nomination, since they are disproportionately important to the right of center voters. But without a well prepared meta-nomination ideological shift to the center, (where social issues don’t carry the same weight), and a plausible action plan to deal with economic and foreign policy issues, his chances against incumbent Obama are slim.
    This might be a good time to start remembering some axioms.
    “Never believe your own propaganda”.

  2. Considering that contraceptives drugs and devices are available mostly by prescription of a physician, they seem to fit within what we call healthcare and there is no good or moral argument to exclude them from healthcare plans for those wishing to use contraceptives.

    Opposing abortion on demand is one thing, but opposing contraception quite another….and it’s rather a lame thing,

    • How is, avoiding the potential consequences of a choice to have sex, a health issue?

      No one is disputing that methods of contraception should be freely available. The issue is whether religious institutions should be forced to pay for them for their employees, as a benefit, when it is against their orthodoxy.

      Catholicism defines orthodoxy as; “Orthodoxy (orthodoxeia) signifies right belief or purity of faith. Right belief is not merely subjective, as resting on personal knowledge and convictions, but is in accordance with the teaching and direction of an absolute extrinsic authority.”

      Muslim orthodoxy is that the Qur’an are God’s direct words. Buddhist orthodoxy is that the Buddha’s Noble Eight-fold path is the path to enlightenment.

      Forcing a religion to change it’s orthodoxy, in effect what forced payment for contraception compels the Catholics to do is a clear violation of church and state and the 1st amendment.

      The justification that the14th amendment’s Equal Protection Clause negates the 1st Amendment’s Freedom of religion clause is, an arbitrary one that necessitates the nullification of the 1st and thus ends the rule of law and substitutes the rule of the mob. Which inevitably leads to the rule of the tyrant’s whim.

      Willfully denying this logical consequence, changes it not a whit.

      “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.” Thomas Jefferson

      “There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want, merely because you think it would be good for him.”  — Robert Anson Heinlein

      • Geoffrey, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you’ve had sexual relations sometime in the post-WWII era or remember from previous times….. but the way it works out is there are healthcare implications to several sorts of sexual relations between humans.

        and I really don’t give a crepe about people’s personal religious beliefs, but part of doing business in a secular nation involves following the laws of that nation…….except as when the basic laws exempt you from following.

        ask me why the Mormons were prevented from conducting plural marriage, Geoffrey and I’ll answer that it’s non e of anybody else’s business whether an employee of a business run by a religion uses their earned employee benefit for birth-control.

        • Yes I have, but having condoms provided by my health insurer is an arbitrary benefit whose only supporting rationale is further development of the nanny state. Where all concerns are taken care of for one with no responsibility or accountability for our actions. That attitude raises generations of juveniles who never have to become adults.

          If you care not about other people’s right to their personal beliefs, then you advocate in favor of the tyrant. Whether you realize or acknowledge it or not.

          The issue is forcing a religion to violate its fundamental tenets. Which you’re justifying by rationalizing that it’s the “right thing to do”.

          You have it exactly backwards; it’s not a case of men serving the law (“the basic laws exempt you from following”) but rather a case of a minimum amount of laws necessary to guard our freedom. It’s “Congress shall make no law” rather than, “the law allows you to do this or that”… the LAW doesn’t grant us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those are unalienable rights, our laws are conditional upon preventing the restriction of those rights.

          The Mormon’s being prevented from plural marriage is a false analogy. Here’s why; First, that restriction was a condition of Utah joining the union, which was a choice. That condition was required because once admitted to the union with polygamy intact, banning it would have been a violation of the 1st amendment. In addition, the requirement that every state honor the marriage laws of every other state meant that if Utah had been admitted to the union with plural marriage intact, plural marriage would have been effectively legal in every state.

          Secondly, limiting marriage solely between a man and a woman is the only objective line of demarcation possible. That is because the only objective line of demarcation is the biological condition that only a man and a woman can procreate. Any other definition or ‘line of demarcation’ of who may or may not marry is arbitrary and subjective, which makes it discriminatory for someone and therefore a violation of the 14th amendment. Welcome to the slippery slope once you move away from the one man/woman line. That’s not subjective opinion, that’s simply objective fact.

          An “earned employee benefit” which a business is legally required to offer which violates the 1st amendment is unconstitutional, regardless of how warm it makes liberals feel.

          The right way to handle this is to offer employees the option of a ‘health voucher’ wherein the company instead pays the employee the amount of company contribution to the regular company insurance. Which they may then use to purchase whatever private health insurance they wish.

      • A lot of things can be considered health issues. Elective cosmetic surgery is certainly one, since it affects your body and your health.

        So are eating and drinking. In fact, eating and drinking are a whole lot more basic than most of the things covered by health insurance policies. Access to food and water is just about as fundamental as it gets, health-wise.

        The case could certainly be made that health insurance should cover access to nutrition and hydration. It covers all kinds of non-emergency, non-contingency services now. It’s not like modern health “insurance” is really INSURANCE. It’s a program by which we pay a monthly premium and get a list of services. Why not include food and water for the insured in those services?

        The reasons are arbitrary. We don’t do things that way. We have all kinds of moral and practical reasons why we don’t consider food and water to be health insurance issue, even though they affect our health more than anything else does on a daily basis.

        Wearing sensible shoes affects our health a lot. Let’s insure access to proper shoes in health plans. Better yet, let’s appoint a commission to devise standards for healthy shoes. We could put everything that affects our health into health insurance. But we don’t. Yet.

        • Ah! Don’t give them ideas! They’ll take you seriously!

        • considering that I’ve an RD in the family and that instructions on dietary practices to improve health ARE covered by health insurance, you are again, barking up the wrong tree, opticon.

          but a bet that you also wouldn’t realize that orthopedic shoes when prescribed by a physician are also covered.

          stay healthy, hostess.

  3. What remains to be proven is whether the lack of moral guidance and judgment resides in government or if it really emanates from “we, the people”. After all, we get the government that we deserve and, if there is anything at all to the “self-governance” claims, then our government, complete with policies and directives, is nothing more than the reflection of whatever moral compass guides us as a people.

    My guess is that the “what’s in it for me” syndrome is alive and doing very well. Look at the defense of abortion and contraception as a right to be administered by government. Look at the current government mandated health care. Look at the inequities in our tax code. Look at every redistributionist policy and how politics demand that they be excluded from the public debate.

    So, if I’m right, then self-indulgence, not morality will rule and guide our cumulative voting this year and the slight-of-hand charmer that offers the most comfort and self-indulgence for the least amount of effort will be the clear winner.

    And why not? It worked that way in 2008…

    rafa

    • “the slight-of-hand charmer that offers the most comfort and self-indulgence for the least amount of effort will be the clear winner. “
      If enough people still believe that Obama can deliver on his promises…

      If enough people still refuse to understand that they are robbing their grandchildren to maintain their self-indulgence…

      In 2008, those who voted for Obama could, if disappointed with him, say, “fool me once, shame on you”
      But in 2012, anyone who votes for Obama will, if honest, be forced to say, “fool me twice, shame on me”

  4. As usual, the brilliant James Taranto of the WSJ has something meaningful to contribute in his daily Best of the Web:

    Mullah It Over
    We may be in the minority on this, but we thought one of Rick Santorum’s recent “gaffes” was actually kind of brilliant. The Hill has the story:

    Rick Santorum said Sunday that he “wasn’t suggesting the president was not a Christian” when he stated on the campaign trail that President Obama’s agenda was based on “some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.”
    Rather, Santorum said, he believed that the president held the view of “radical environmentalists” who wanted to shape policy around “things that frankly are just not scientifically proven,” like global warming.
    “When you have a world view that elevates the earth above man and says we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the earth by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, like for example the politicization of the whole global warming debate – this is all an attempt to centralize power and give more power to the government,” Santorum said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “This is not questioning the president’s beliefs in Christianity, I’m talking about the belief that man should be in charge of the earth.”
    That was what we assumed Santorum meant when we first heard of the comment. But of course the liberal media went into full frenzy mode, accusing Santorum of raising questions about the president’s religion. In wrongly accusing Santorum, it was the media that raised questions about the president’s religion.

    It seems to us Obama would be better off staying away from that topic, especially given that his “spiritual mentor” is a guy who shouted from the pulpit: “God damn America!” Santorum once said in a speech that Satan has been “attacking the great institutions of America.” At least in his theology America is on the side of good.

    The media frenzy intensified when Santorum aide Alice Stewart appeared on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC show Monday. “As she repeatedly railed against Obama’s ‘radical environmentalist policies,’ she slipped up and said ‘Islamic’ instead,” the Puffington Host reports.

    The left is obsessed with the idea that Obama is secretly Muslim, as we discovered yesterday when we tweeted that the president himself had once made a similar slip of the tongue, referring in a TV interview to “my Muslim faith.” That prompted much yapping from leftie chihuahua John Aravosis:

    Taranto–again, a Wall Street Journal editor–not only tried to lie in suggesting that Obama actually meant to say that he is in fact really a Muslim, but Taranto also lied about the lie. . . . The Wall Street Journal has editors that race-bait the President of the United States with political smears that are lies wrapped in lies, and already debunked. . . . He intentionally floated a racist attack against the President of the United States.
    Our tweet said Obama made a slip of the tongue; Aravosis seems to think we were being sarcastic and meant to imply the opposite. Even if this were a plausible interpretation of our tweet, how would mistakenly thinking the president is a Muslim constitute a “racist attack”? Islam is a creed, not a race, and it is bigoted to suggest that calling someone Muslim is a smear.

    One person who seems to think it is a smear is the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd: “Rick Santorum has been called a latter-day Savonarola. That’s far too grand. He’s more like a small-town mullah. . . . Mullah Rick, who has turned prayer into a career move, told ABC News’s Jake Tapper that he disagreed with the 1965 Supreme Court decision striking down a ban on contraception. . . . Mullah Rick is casting doubt on issues of women’s health and safety that were settled a long time ago. We’re supposed to believe that if he got more power he’d drop his crusade?”

    But Dowd’s prejudice may be the result of innocent rather than willful ignorance. When she refers to a “mullah” on a “crusade,” it seems clear that to her all religions look alike.

    • “But Dowd’s prejudice may be the result of innocent rather than willful ignorance. When she refers to a “mullah” on a “crusade,” it seems clear that to her all religions look alike.”

      Nah Chuck, you are being too kind. MoDo is just stupid.

      Santorum is right, and was right. AND he is right about Satan stalking us.

      This has been said before, but our parish Pastor (Catholic – here)… reminded us of something important after passing along the word that the Bishops had declared that the Obambi “compromise of death” was a fraud.

      “Satan’s fondest desire is that we stop believing that he exists.”

      There are two Roman Catholics running in this race. One a cradle Catholic with a history of walking where of he speaks. One convert who was fallen and has turned to the light.

      Both are poison to the Sociopathic nature of the modern Culture of Death.

      r/TMF

      • Yes. Indeed Satan is stalking us.

        That the mainstream media ignores all references to Obama’s positive vote on infanticide when he was a Senator, when all his social policies indicate that he is lost in the desert of self-indulgence, when all his political actions are reflective of deep selfishness, arrogance, envy and an almost complete void of any personal responsibility and he still garnishes the support of half of this country, you have to think that the old bastard is indeed lose upon the Earth.

        What remains is to stand firm against “him”. Follow the lead of that converted pastor in Iran who refused to deny Christianity in favor of a permutation of his death sentence, an atrocity (even if the majority of Muslims might agree with it…).

        rafa

        PS: Maybe Obama could write an apology to the people of Iran for the stubborness of some Christians that dogedly refuse to convert to Islam…

  5. Well, the first thing that needs to be said is that Rick Santorum is most certainly not “resonating with the voters”. His resonance is confined to about 25% of the committed Republican voters who participate in the primary process. Everyone else would seemingly prefer to resound with someone else.
    And having “moral ideas” is not necessarily a good thing. It depends on the “moral ideas” concerned. The words of the poet, WB Yeats, written as the storm-clouds of totalitarianism were gathering over Europe, that “the worst are full of passionate intensity” come to mind. So called “Moral ideas” as to how other people might conduct their private lives are not something most Americans would welcome in their political leaders. This is particularly so when the person involved has a propensity to intolerance of dissent as is evidenced by his tendency to throw extravagent epithets like “satan” and “nazi” at people whose “moral ideas” are disagreeable to him.
    And just in case anyone out there thinks that Santorum represents the views of Roman Catholic Americans. He sure doesn’t. All available information shows that the views of American Roman Catholics on matters of private morality, particularly contraception, are not much different from the mainstream majority. Moreover, Catholics, no less than other Americans, are well able to distinguish between the realm of personal conscience and the realm of civil legislation. Santorum, is far closer in his views to Radical Evangelical Protestants than to his co-religionists. The problem for the Republican Party is that while the radical evangicals are a significant power within its own ranks, they are a major turn-off for the majority of Americans who don’t like or trust them.

    Santorum is also an unlikely candidate to carry the banner of smaller government, having been a consummate insider for most of his political life – up to his eyeballs in pork and earmarks with the worst of them. Now, having eskewed his profligate youth in line with current Republican Party fashions he muses about bringing big government into our bedrooms. Which brings us to a question: How come all these people who profess to want smaller government and less regulation are actually quite happy to have ever bigger government and more government intrusion when it comes to the burgeoning security-state and to regulating our private lives in accordance with their peculiar and off-centre “moral ideas”?

    • It’s really nifty how you neo-bolsheviks express such concern over the attributes or lack there-of of the various candidates and how the entire Roman Catholic religion looks at their various postures. According to you dips, of course, none of them are electable. Good thing that those two geniuses Al Gore and John Kerry managed to get their points across to the voting public or we’d have had to endure eight terrifying years of George W. Bush.

    • Paulite, you seem not to grasp that the Roman Catholic religion is not a democratic institution. I have it on good authority that all Methodists sin, but most institutions of the Methodist church maintain their antiquarian stance against sin. The disconnect between official doctrine and practice is not unique to the Catholic church.

      You are correct in one regard, however. Rick Santorum speaks more in the vocabulary of the evangelicals than in the Catholic dialect. Roman Catholics rarely speak publicly of Satan; evangelicals do so all the time.

      My evaluation of the American people is probably closest to Rafa’s: we have gotten the government that most people want. A lot of people wouldn’t have trouble with a Roman Catholic President, but they don’t want a good Roman Catholic. Notwithstanding the complete abdication of the press in covering JFK, the people somehow understood that JFK did not pay much attention to Catholic doctrine, and church teaching was seldom an issue in how he conducted his life.

      Obama would not attack either Santorum’s or Romney’s faith directly — he has surrogates for the dirty work. If Obama himself tried anything, the g**-d**** Rev. Wright would quickly be released from Obama’s closet.

      • Religions are not generally organized as constitutional democracies and the views and “moral ideas” of their hierarchies are not necessarily those of the people they claim to speak for. In the area of sexual morality poll after poll shows a wide disconnect between American Catholics and their hierarchy. This disconnect is not only in relation to contraception, but also on abortion. Catholics are not looking to the civil law to enforce rules that most Catholics see as a personal option and a matter of private conscience.
        There is also little question that women from a Catholic cultural background are less likely to opt for abortion than the population generally – even if they no longer consider themselves as active practitioners of their religion. This phenomonen is also seen in post-Christian Europe, where abortion-rates in post-Catholic countries like Spain and France are far lower than in the post-Protestant nations of Scandanavia, the UK, and Northern Europe. Catholic cultural values and moral education seem to run deeper than the overt and active practice of religion.
        As for Obama and his attitude to religion: Frankly my dear, i don’t really give a damn. His religion is his own business as long as he isn’t sacrificing goats on the White House lawn, and he doesn’t try to stuff it down my throat. Godness knows the world has quite enough religious fundamentalism, and thankfully we are unlikely to hear our President bandying about the exotic language that is the currency of the Evangelistas and their ilk. No thanks, for most Americans “the Father of Lies”, “war against sin”, etc. is something that belongs in the past like that affair in Salem.
        And, of course, sitting beside Obama, and a heartbeat away from the Presidency, is that rather decent mainstream Roman Catholic, Joe Biden, who Obama chose as his running-mate. In retrospect, a rather good choice when you compare it to the catastrophic choice of his opponent in 2008.

        • p.s If by a “good” catholic you mean a Catholic that would want to regulate the private lives of Americans in accordance with the strict observance of that creed, I and most other Catholics, would emphatically agree that the Santoram model of “goodness” is most certainly not a good thing. However, most Catholics would measure “goodness” in much less doctrinaire terms – particularly in the area of their intimate lives, and certainly wouldn’t want to shove “goodness” in the matter of contraception and abortion down other people’s throats by way of legislation, or using legislation to penalize other people’s legal choices.

          • “… using legislation to penalize other people’s legal choices.”
            ____________________

            Huh?

            • Chuck, if the government doesn’t require something be given to you for free, you are being penalized, in the parlance of Paulite and the Obama Administration.

              • Since the 1940s, many Americans get their medical insurance through their employers. Where they do, the employer shouldn’t be able to veto cover for things which are normally provided under such cover. Thanks to the (failed) attempt by the radical right and its media moguls to create a controversy out of this issue we now know that, overwhelmingly, Americans agree with this position.

                • So, when Americans and the world at large overwhelmingly agreed with slavery, slavery was fine, alright, okey dokey and terrific…?

                  And, when the majority of Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other wonderful and romantic vacation destinations overwhelmingly agree with hanging Christians, honor killing, female circumcision, chopping off of hands and public decapitations, then those things are fine, alright, okey dokey and terrific…?

                  I guess I now understand your thinking a bit better. Majority trumps right; majority trumps morality. I still don’t agree with any of it but I am discerning some sort of rabid democratic fervor in your thinking (particularly when it promotes your own weird style of thinking).

                  Some arguments are so overwhelmingly idiotic, even for the left.

                  rafa

              • rafa,

                For modern liberals like Paulite t, of course “Majority trumps right; majority trumps morality” it has to because they are advocates of post-modernism, which asserts that there is no objective right or wrong. Only the whim of the mob in the moment, as everything is relative and subjective.

                Thus, no outcry from liberals when it was revealed that Obama voted three times in the Illinois State legislature not to stop infanticide. Even though that exact same measure, when it came before the US Senate was unanimously defeated. Clinton, Boxer, et al voted against it. So, Paulite t, by voting for Obama, support a man who condones infanticide. The relevance being, that if infanticide isn’t a moral absolute, nothing is and the left demonstrates its fulfillment of Dostoevsky’s aphorism; “If there is no God [absolute moral authority], then everything is allowed.”

                For if there is no absolute moral authority, no truth based in objective fact, then any moral position is merely personal opinion, no matter how many support it.

              • 1. While not an admirer of the philosophical analysis that terms itself “post-modernism”, it certainly doesn’t argue what you think it argues. Neither post-modernism, nor its pregenitor, deconstructionism, hold that any version of the truth is as good as any other. The philosopher/historian Deborah Lipstadt wrote a wonderful essay on this exact point which you might read to your advantage.

                2. You are as confused as Mr. Santorum on the difference between law and morality. Law doesn’t define right and wrong. It defines Legal and illegal. However, in a representative democracy the majority generally gets to select the people who make the rules that decide what is legal and illegal.

                3. Dostoevsky is perfectly entitled to his opinions. But then he never lived in a democracy, did he?. In America, whether you believe in the existence of a god or not, everything isn’t allowed, and many things are specifically prohibited under the law.

                4. Correct. Moral positions, per se, are merely personal opinion.

                5. Neither Obama nor any other member of Congress has voted for infanticide to my certain knowledge. (Infanticide is actually defined under the law of most states. It is the crime of the mother of a child unlawfully killing her child after it is born but before its first birthday)

                5. Abortion used be a crime. It was legalized by the legislatures of the various states of the union, and the constitutionality of those laws was upheld by the Supreme Court on the balance of several competing socio-legal interests. That doesn’t make abortion “moral”, merely legal in circumstances circumscribed by law.

              • Paulite’s history is skewed. Abortion was legalized by the Supreme Court, based on the constitutional guarantee of abortion. No, wait, that’s not in the constitution. It was the constitutional provision guaranteeing a right of privacy — no, wait, that’s not in the constitution, either. Anyway, states chose not to defy the court.

                If you want Viagra or contraception, you will likely have to pay for it under a Santorum Administration. If that’s totalitarianism, then totalitarianism has been been declawed since WWII.

  6. 1. According to PBS.org’s “Faith and Reason”‘s definition and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy I defined it accurately:

    “In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually.”

    That’s a flat out denial of objective reality.

    “That postmodernism is indefinable is a truism. However, it can be described as a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning.”

    2. Law is predicated upon what is considered morally correct.
    “in a representative democracy the majority generally gets to select the people who make the rules that decide what is legal and illegal”
    You left out the Constitution, no surprise, in what the majority may declare as law. And your ‘rule givers’ are constrained in what they may declare as law by the SCOTUS, another part of that inconvenient Constitution you ignore.

    3. Dostoevsky wasn’t expressing an opinion. He was pointing out the logical consequence of the absence of absolute moral authority. Which is why the Declaration of Independence justifies the concept of ‘unalienable rights’ as having been granted to mankind by our creator. For if there is no divine, transcendent creator, then any moral code proposed is ultimately based upon premises which are mere personal opinion. Which means that any tyrant who gains the power can take away your ‘rights’.

    4. “Correct. Moral positions, per se, are merely personal opinion.”

    They certainly are when you deny that objective moral truth exists.

    5. Your ‘certain knowledge’ is either mistaken or purposely fallacious. No one can deny that once born, a fetus is a child, yet in the Illinois legislature Obama voted 3 times against a proposed law which would have made sure that no child born alive as the result of a botched abortion would be stuffed in a closet somewhere to die, alone, unloved and in pain…Which had and continues to happen. If you haven’t the honesty to admit such to be beyond the pale, then you too are complicit in the death of those innocent lives.

    • As a generalization and simplification, the post-modernists deal with language and meaning – not physical reality or personal morality.

      Ultimately, the majority also make the basic law which is the Constitution.

      Why do you assume I agree with the President on everything? I personally disagree with abortion as a choice. I also think that the law on abortion is far too liberal and should be restricted to the first. trimester. I also disagree with killing and dismembering folk from 8 miles high in a war started on a lie (As did the former Pope), and, a hold with the official position of my Church on capital punishment (I haven’t heard much from uber-Catholic, Santyman, on this one).

      Whether or not there is an “objective moral truth”, there is no agreement on what it is. However, our society does have a consensus on many things, and this consensus is of course reflected in our secular laws.

      Now, who’s for making adultery a crime again? And what about those “impure thoughts” my high-school religion teacher warned us about?

      • “post-modernists deal with language and meaning – not physical reality or personal morality.”

        reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually.”

        “Ultimately, the majority also make the basic law which is the Constitution.”

        Nice try. The majority of a wiser time established a framework within which laws could be made. Substantially changing that framework takes near unanimous agreement, which is why a Constitutional convention has never happened. That framework prevents your original assertion; “in a representative democracy the majority generally gets to select the people who make the rules that decide what is legal and illegal.”

        “Why do you assume I agree with the President on everything?”

        I didn’t accuse you of that. You’re engaging in what’s known as a ‘rhetorical ploy’ specifically; a ‘Smokescreen’ in diverting attention from the topic of discussion by introducing a new topic.

        Though now that you mention it, I’ve only seen you express disagreement with Obama when responding to a point so as to sustain your argument. Consistently and overwhelmingly, you are an apologist for this President.

        The point I made, to which you originally responding, was about post modernism’s moral relativity and how even in a severe case like Obama’s support for Infanticide when abortions are botched, there had been virtually no negative reactions from liberals.

        It’s a given that you probably disagree personally, as every democrat party Senator voted against it. If liberals ‘circle the wagons’ even over support for infanticide and, they did and do, that’s a strong indication of serious moral rot at the center. That rot stems from liberals embracing post modernism with its rejection of the existence of absolute moral authority.

        “Whether or not there is an “objective moral truth”, there is no agreement on what it is. However, our society does have a consensus on many things, and this consensus is of course reflected in our secular laws.”

        Defining “objective moral truth” isn’t the issue, nor even needed, denying its existence is the issue, which post modernism most certainly does. Once you abandon that concept, the logical and inevitable consequence is that the ‘consensus’ that you admire so much, now rests upon consensual personal opinion, i.e. the current whim of the mob.

        Secular laws, once divorced from the concept of allegiance to absolute moral authority, inevitably lead to tyranny. Your inability to grasp this changes it not a whit.

        “There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown & those who do not see. “ Leonardo da Vinci

        You appear to be unwilling to even consider a rationale which challenges your world-view, which if true, makes you one of the ones who will not see, no matter what.

        ps. I have not already considered your point of view, I once embodied it, twenty years ago I was a liberal too.

    • And speaking of laws and definitions…

      “Infanticide is actually defined under the law of most states. It is the crime of the mother of a child unlawfully killing her child after it is born but before its first birthday”

      Correct. And that is one of the few votes that Obama cast when he was a Senator and wasn’t voting “Present”. The law that he supported pretended to make legal and, I presume, moral, at least in the secular sense, for a doctor of a botched abortion attempt to “finish the job” even after the baby was born alive.

      Now, if that doesn’t meet the left’s definition of “Infanticide” I would be at a loss for words to properly term it. And, no, infanticide does not limit the act to only the mother, even though she would have to agree to the possibility of that heinous act before undergoing the abortion procedure.

      Late term abortions are pretty close to meeting even the left’s stringent use of the legal definition of infanticide(note that the argument is always about the leagl definition, not the moral one).

      In the Late Term “abortion” procedure, the doctor uses scissors to scramble the brains of a perfectly viable baby. In other words, a baby, complete with a beating heart and fully developed and functional organs is the target of the doctor’s scissors. In fact, in order to be able to carry this procedure out properly, the doctor first induces birth to the point of having the baby show its head so that he can conduct the rest of the procedure without risk or danger to the loving mom.

      But, in the end, the cry from the left is, as always, disingenuous. They claim that the Church has no moral right or authority to impose its moral views on the moral issues of the citizens of a democracy. But, they quickly and demurely explain to us that the government does have that right. This tedious and boring affirmation is given to us because, they rationalize that in a democracy, such as the one we have here, the citizens elect the government and, therefore, the government’s actions and policies reflect the “will of the people”.

      OK, so, forgetting the possible breaches of constitutionality, the religious part of the First Amendment and all other valid arguments, let’s follow their line of “reasoning” to its very end.

      Missing from the left’s rationalization is the fact that people, particularly those living in a free society like we supposedly have here, also get to elect their faith/Church. This “election” comes, of course, complete with full knowledge and consideration of all its teachings and particular rules of conduct. And also, it is not mentioned that, given God’s permission for us to be “free” to choose between acting according to He’s laws or ignoring them, the faithful are also “free” to “elect” their path and to “self-govern” their own personal actions.

      But so much for “free”, “elect”, and “self governing”

      Then there is this: Germany “elected” Hitler and the socialist Nazi Party to lead them into recovery. Hope and Change, don’t you know…So, following the logic of the left, of the socialists that “hope” to “change” us over here, every policy and every action that Hitler and the National Socialist Party of Germany took after Hitler’s “election” was both legally and morally justified on the altar of…democracy and the subsequent self governing “will of The People” of Germany.

      Yeah…right!

      rafa

  7. Assuming that Santorum is unlikely to be the Presidential nominee, isn’t the more interesting question whether he will be Romney’s VP, and, if so, how the Romney/Santorum ticket will do against Obama and his tool of choice (old Joe or, more likely in my mind, Hillary)?

    It’s way early, but I would say that the David Pouffle-rods would be more than a tad bit worried about Romney/Santorum if it all the Davids had were just the Boy Genius and the idiotic old man. Methinks that Hillary will get a 3 am call.

    • If Romney/Santorum is the Republican ticket, it won’t matter whether it is Biden, Clinton, or Donald Duck. The Dems will still win.

      • Well, Donald Duck would be an improvement for that ticket. And adds a bit of duck-versity.

    • A lot of knives would have to be pulled out of each others’ backs for Romney and Santorum to embrace on stage as running mates at the Rebublican convention.

      • Or, in a different and more ironic metaphor, shoved further in.

      • Yeah, kind of like Kennedy and Johnson — who would have thunk.

        In any event, if Santorum gets enough delegates, Romney will have no choice.

        The combo would go a long way towards solving the problem Romney will have with getting out the conservative vote. Of course, it does offer the Davids Pouffle-rods two targets.

        But in the end, the question is whether 3% of the voters who voted for Barry the last time will flip. I think there’s a good argument that most of the independents who will vote for Romney will continue to do so, despite Romney. That, plus a strong conservative turnout, could save the day.

        And I still think you see the Davids go into panic mode and throw old Joe under the bus.

  8. Things could be worse in the Republican Party.

    There is a leadership challenge going on at the moment in Aussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labour Party.

    Yesterday, one Aussie commentator opined that there was more infighting going on within the party than if someone had “towed a trailer of whiskey and a caravan of whores into a mining town on pay night”

    I love the Aussies.

    • Finally something we can agree on. About the Aussies’ way with the language, I mean.

  9. —- In 2012, it may be necessary to speak in some explicit detail about the moral principles behind American liberty. —–

    yes, Santorum would be well advised to explain why his beliefs are so different from and such much more important than our commonly held moral principles.

    that detailing of why we should allow a person who would steer away from the common wisdom of centuries and lead to our founding and back toward a more conformist and autocratic era would be quite interesting.

    good for giggles anyway.

  10. Are 50 million aborted fetuses in the last 30 years part of that common wisdom of the centuries? I sure hope so, or someone has a lot of explaining to do.

    • the American people are quite divided as to whether there is any wisdom in abortion on demand, DAN.

      and that’s just not what separates Santorumism from traditional American beliefs.

      • Abortion is a “traditional” American belief? You ARE kidding, aren’t you…?

        rafa

        • I said quite the opposite,


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