ven if Americans are rarely shocked when Republican candidates tear into Democrats, and vice versa, Rick Santorum is still managing to raise eyebrows with some of his recent barbs. Over the weekend, Santorum said John F. Kennedy's famous 1960 speech on Catholicism, in which the future president promised to champion the separation of church and state, makes him want to "throw up." Santorum also called President Obama a "snob" for encouraging all Americans to go to college, which he likened to left-wing "indoctrination mills." With Santorum heading into critical GOP presidential primaries in Michigan and Arizona on Tuesday, his newly caustic tone has some political observers concluding that he's embittered to a fault. Will the Pennsylvanian's fiery rhetoric hurt him at the polls?
Yes. He sure doesn't look presidential: Santorum "is one angry dude," says Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post. His speeches have become "heavy on the put-downs and light on the presidential." Santorum should know that "part of getting people to see you as president is to act and speak presidentially (read, measured)." Going to extremes will probably hurt him with moderate voters who won't "like to be told what to do by apostles from the Church of BTT — Better Than Thou."
"Angry Rick Santorum 'throws up' on JFK"
No. Conservatives like Santorum's anger: I can understand the Tea Party's "infatuation" with Santorum, says Tom Ferrick Jr. at The New York Times. His anger "is in perfect synch with the constituency he is wooing," which is livid about the direction of the country. Conservative voters trust that Santorum's "anger is not an act," because it taps into his long-held beliefs that traditional values in America are being "ignored or mocked." And for Santorum, it's only "gotten worse" with "the election of Barack Obama."
"Campaigning against the modern world"
The criticism of Santorum is elitism, plain and simple: Santorum may not be an "Ivy League graduate," but "regular folks are increasingly flocking" to him, says Lori Roman at RedState. The passionate Santorum knows that "speaking your mind is more important than rehearsing your lines," and that "living by your principles is more important than parroting" safe ideas handed down by consultants. Elites in both the Republican and Democratic parties "always trash leaders" who connect with the common man — they did it to Ronald Reagan, too.
"Femi-regulars for Rick Santorum"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- Why is American internet so slow?
- 10 things you need to know today: March 10, 2014
- Why is it so expensive to build a bridge in America?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history
- The GOP must try to win over African-Americans
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
Subscribe to the Week