Even 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
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- Why is the Pentagon stuffing caves in Norway full of tanks?
- The most sensible GOP alternative to ObamaCare comes from a Senate candidate who is almost sure to lose
- When Khomeini said no to Iranian nukes
- 10 things you need to know today: October 23, 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
Subscribe to the Week