Surgin' Santorum! Rightbloggers Not So Frothy for This Week's Next President of the United States

tomt200.jpgThe wheel of fortune has spun once again, and the GOP Next President of the United States of the Week is now Rick Santorum.

Mind you, no one thinks Santorum will actually be the nominee. He's just running third in some optimistic polls -- of the Iowa caucuses, which is no bellwether. Yet all the world declares a Santorum Surge.

In rightblogger world, where everyone gets to be the NPOTUSOTW for a couple minutes at least, that's usually good enough for some rah-rah. Yet the brethren are surprisingly neutral to negative on Santorum. Why?

Before last month, Santorum's low-polling Presidential run had hardly raised a whisper among the brethren. In November, The Daily Caller's Jamie Weinstein explained that though Santorum is a "true blue conservative... articulate and a strong debater," he "remains overlooked by voters as a serious contender" because, experts told him, Santorum got beat in his 2006 Senate reelection campaign by 18 points -- a more humiliating fall than most of the other Republicans defenestration that year.

There may be other reasons, though -- first among them, we should think, that Santorum is mainly known, to the extent that he is known, as the Gay-Hating, "Man-On-Dog" Candidate -- so ferociously against gay marriage, gays in the military, and indeed any gay rights at all that homosexuals and their sympathizers retaliated by making Santorum's name synonymous with an anal discharge.

Still, Santorum has his defenders -- few more loyal than Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post. When no one else was listening to him, Rubin was all ears.

In August Rubin praised Santorum's "strong finish" in the Ames, Iowa straw poll (fourth place). She told us Santorum was "encouraged by a noticeable uptick in calls to his campaign" and that he "is nothing if not fearless," and predicted he would "cause his competitors fits in the upcoming debates by attacking their positions and style from the right." In September, when Rick Perry gave his infamously bad debate performance, Rubin headlined, "A strong night for Santorum as Perry fades."

In November Rubin covered a Santorum policy speech "calling on Congress to abolish the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals," "advocating for a personhood amendment to the Constitution," etc. "Some of this may be a stretch," admitted Rubin. "...Santorum doesn't much care about that or about the ridicule he'll receive in the media. In fact, he thrives on it."

When she got the word that Santorum had received the endorsement of "Chuck Laudner, the former chief of staff for Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)," Rubin headlined it, "Santorum's Big Get," and did not appear to be joking. After the lackluster November 22 GOP Presidential debate, Rubin posted an "Exclusive: Post-debate interview with Rick Santorum." "It remains a bit of a mystery," she added, "that Santorum has yet to show progress in the Iowa polls."

Santorum's also got a friend in rightblogger Robert Stacy McCain, who's been pumping out posts like "SANTORUM EXPRESS UPDATE: Pulls Even With Bachmann in New Iowa Poll, Gains Endorsement by Influential Pastor," "God-Hating Feminist Blogger Denounces Iowa Republicans and Rick Santorum," etc.

Hate to say it, dude, but that sweater vest? Hella gay.
Now that Santorum's number has been called, so to speak, and the mainstream press has rushed to his side ("Rick Santorum is so hot right now, you'd think he was the cure to something" -- John Dickerson, CBS News), more rightbloggers are speaking up about Santorum -- and a surprising number of them are not enthused.

For example, CNN commentator and RedState boss Erick Erickson has displayed a consult-your-physician hard-on for Santorum in several posts.

Erickson has denounced Santorum as a "pro-life statist," a term he got from fellow RedStater Ned Ryun who, back in May 2010, used it to denounce Mark Souder, a GOP Congressman who'd resigned after an extramarital affair. The affair didn't seem to bother Ryun as much as the fact that Souder voted for TARP and Cash for Clunkers. Ryun concluded that "someone who is pro-life, but votes to expand the state and state spending, is in fact not a conservative, but a pro-life statist."

Thanks to Pennsylvania voters, Santorum never had a chance to vote for or against either TARP or CfC. Still, Erickson felt Ryun's elderly post "sums up every issue I have with Rick Santorum," because while in the Senate, "along with Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum led the K Street Project, which traded perks for lobbyists for money for the GOP funded with your tax dollars through earmarks and pork projects."

Thus, Erickson said, the 2006 wipeout "was not a defeat for Rick Santorum. It was punishment." Given that 2006 was the year of a great Democratic sweep, that the voters of Pennsylvania had no reason to expect less tax-and-spendy policies from the Democrats, and that normal people are not as prone to "punish" apostate conservatives as the famously retributive Erickson, this seems like a clumsy retrofit at best.

Still Erickson has kept at it. He later posted on Santorum's appointment to the board of directors at healthcare management company Universal Health Services, which has been the subject of some lawsuits, as if Santorum had been crowned kingpin of a crime syndicate. And here's Erickson's latest stop-the-presses dispatch: "Universal Health Services, on whose board [Santorum] sat until he left in June of this year," Erickson breathlessly reported, "runs a PRIDE Institute in Minnesota. It's the 'nation's first and leading provider of mental health service to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.'"

Okay, that's funny. But it's not the sort of thing you expect Santorum's fellow conservatives to use against him. And, in fact, Universal Health Services hasn't made it onto the rightblogger radar -- not because they're carrying water for him, it would seem, but because they don't care that much.

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