Why I Don’t Like Rick Santorum

In matters of style, swim with the current;
In matters of principle, stand like a rock.

 – Thomas Jefferson

First, let me preface by saying that, after Congressman Ron Paul, Rick Santorum is my second choice for President among the candidates in the national spotlight, including Obama. I’d much rather see a President Santorum than I would a President Romney, Gingrich or Obama. Therefore, the object of this article is not to bash Santorum but to explain why he does not reflect the Catholic faith in his candidacy and therefore should not be the go-to candidate for Catholics. Furthermore, while Santorum seems intent on establishing himself as the face of the Catholic church in American politics, proudly wearing his faith on his sleeve, I argue that this would be a gross misrepresentation of Catholicism and what it means to be Catholic.

The primary reason that I don’t like Santorum is that, through his actions, he has made it quite clear that he is a politician first and a Catholic second. As such, he has willingly undermined his own Catholic values and personal ideology for political gain. Contrast this to Ron Paul who, to quote Saturday Night Live, has always “stuck to his weird old guns.” (you can laugh; that’s a joke) Even if you disagree with Ron Paul at least he is uncompromising and consistent in his principles even if such commitment is to his own personal loss. Commitment to one’s fundamental principles even to the detriment of one’s political career should be the gold standard that all politicians must rise to meet. Santorum, however, falls far short:

#1 Santorum has made it abundantly clear that he is against abortion and against contraception – there is no doubting that. However, these constitute his “personal” beliefs which he has undermined on multiple occasions depending on where the political winds have blown. In 2004 Santorum made the decision to endorse the pro-abortion Specter in a Republican primary. Specter won narrowly, defeating his pro-life opponent Pat Toomey, and Santorum’s support of Specter was cited as a key help to the liberal Specter. Specter went on the cast the final, crucial vote necessary to pass Obamacare. News outlets such as the Washington Post speculate that the reason Santorum strayed from his own pro-life values to endorse a pro-abortion candidate over a pro-life one were purely for political gain.

Additionally, Santorum voted to pass an unbalanced budget that included millions of dollars in funding for Planned Parenthood, America’s single largest abortion provider. Forcing Americans to subsidize the abortion industry when it remains such a controversial issue that so many categorically oppose as wholly evil not only contradicts Catholic moral teaching but is in direct support of tyranny as, to quote Thomas Jefferson, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” The same can be said for Santorum’s position on federal funding of contraception: here is an audio recording (skip to 9:05) of Santorum stating that, while he is “personally opposed” to contraception he would support, not the legalization of contraception, not the free use of contraception, but the funding with taxpayers’ dollars at the highest level of government of contraception – thus forcing Catholic individuals and Catholic institutions to support an industry they abhor as sinful.

#2 While Santorum claims to support small government based on the principle of Catholic subsidiarity his voting record tells a far different story. Among other things, Santurom voted to double the funding for the Dept. of Education, voted for adding Medicare D to the already highly liable entitlement program, has voted in favor of unbalanced budgets, and voted twice in favor of the PATRIOT Act (I’m not yelling, “patriot” is an acronym). Unfortunately, many Christian voters have chosen to ignore Santorum’s big government policies but what America needs to realize is that our staggering national debt and inflation of federal powers is not merely an economic or constitutional issue – its also a moral one. In addition to its stark violation of Catholic subsidiarity – which dictates that the smallest unit of society possible should deal with a problem – Santorum’s policies are irresponsible and imprudent. According to the U.S. National Debt Clock our nation’s total liability per taxpayer is $1,039,057. That’s right, over one million dollars per individual. Our national debt accrues an annual interest of $11,971 per citizen. That’s how much you’d have to pay every year just to cover our debt’s interest. We’ve accrued this debt and its our responsibility to start paying it off. Today. Otherwise we pass this yoke on to our children, and their children, and on and on. What short-term benefits our out-of-control spending habits may yield to us now is nothing in comparison to the blow to future Americans’ very livelihoods when they must pay off their parents’ reckless use of the “federal credit card”.

#3 Santorum’s most egregious violation of his Catholic principles, however, is his foreign policy. First of all, let me provide a brief overview of Catholic just war doctrine (more information can be found here):

The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

However, in regards to Iran Santorum stated the following in an interview:

“SANTORUM: I would say to every foreign scientist that’s going to Iran to help them with their program,’You will be treated as an enemy combatant like an Al Qaeda member,’ and finally I would be working openly with the state of Israel and I would be saying to the Iranians; ‘You need to open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors or we will bomb those facilities with air strikes and make it very public.’

GREGORY: You would lay out a red line and if they pass it, air strikes?

SANTORUM: Iran would not get a nuclear weapon under my watch.”

Rick Santorum also stated, “On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.” Santorum went so far as to say that we should treat nuclear scientists working for the Iranians like enemy combatants.

To initiate airstrikes against Iran for no other reason than to prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon (note that our best intelligence has no evidence that any such program exists) constitutes preemptive war and therefore is in direct contradiction of just war doctrine which states that military action may be pursued only in response to an attack of aggression that would cause lasting, grave and certain harm. Additionally, all other measures to avoid war must be tried and proven ineffective. Merely possessing a nuclear weapon in no way would make Iran an aggressor against us and therefore not only would a military response be immoral but for it be be our first response and not our last is absurd.

Additionally, for Rick Santorum to condone the murder of Iranian scientists as “wonderful” is also in complete contradiction of Catholic doctrine as well as national and international law. The targeting of civilians with car bombs in broad daylight in a busy street constitutes the most blatant of terrorist attacks. Last I checked we were at “war” with terrorism in order to eliminate it, not laud it as “wonderful”.

#4 Finally, Santorum supports waterboarding going so far as to state that those who’ve have experienced torture firsthand and oppose waterboarding, like John McCain, “doesn’t understand” interrogation. However, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” Furthermore, the exact rubric for defining torture is listed below:

The Church defines torture formally (i.e., what makes an action torture):

1. violation of human dignity in the form of
2. intentional mental and/or physical harm in order to
3. use a human person as a means (or instrument) for some producible end
4. against that person’s will.

At low intensity, waterboarding intentionally inflicts mental harm against the prisoner’s will in order to extract information or as punishment, and at even moderate intensities can be lethal. Thus, waterboarding constitutes torture and is an intrinsic evil in violation of Catholic doctrine. Americans who support “advanced interrogation” techniques need to reevaluate their beliefs and ask themselves who are they really loyal to? Do their Christian morals come first or are they merely an accessory to the neoconservative cause? Waterboarding constitute an intrinsic evil to be categorically opposed – regardless of whether the offender is the American CIA or our enemies abroad;

In brief, while I believe Santorum to be viable candidate for Catholics to consider it is only because the alternatives of Romney or Obama are so much worse. For Santorum to flaunt his “personal” Catholic values and then support policies in direct opposition to his faith constitutes an unprecedented duplicitousness that devalues human life and dignity in favor of winning the popularity contest of politics.

10 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Like Rick Santorum

  1. While you are challenging how good a Catholic Santorum is do you know that Paul supports the morning after pill and stated in the last debate that it is just another form of contraception? As a doctor he should know better. Just saying.

    • I’m not challenging how good of a Catholic Santorum is but how good of a politician he is and well his politics line up with Catholicism. I, and no one else except God, can judge his soul and determine how well he lives his faith – I fully realize that.

      Unfortunately, Ron Paul hasn’t fleshed out an in-depth answer on this but here’s what I have been able to find:

      “So if we are ever to have fewer abortions, society must change again. The law will not accomplish that. However, that does not mean that the states shouldn’t be allowed to write laws dealing with abortion. Very early pregnancies and victims of rape can be treated with the day after pill, which is nothing more than using birth control pills in a special manner. These very early pregnancies could never be policed, regardless. Such circumstances would be dealt with by each individual making his or her own moral choice.”

      I think this statement is open to a wide range of interpretations including the one you present and that is disturbing considering that Ron Paul is so outspoken in favor of the pro-life cause. However, in keeping with the law of Occam’s razor and choosing an interpretation with the least number of assumptions, I would argue that Ron Paul’s above statement remains consistent with his other views. While life begins at conception, a fact Ron Paul readily recognizes, it is impossible to prove that pregnancy has occurred until implantation and therefore impossible to enforce a law banning abortions that take place prior to implantation. A law that can never be enforced is a bad law and, keeping with Ron Paul’s minimal approach to government, should not exist.

      Also, note that the USCCB allows contraceptive use in an emergency room setting for rape victims:

      “A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum”.

      This includes contraceptives with a possible abortifacient effect as long as contraception and not abortion is its intent and moral certitude that ovulation has not occurred is established.

      In summary, I think Ron Paul’s intent is to avoid federal intervention on an issue that cannot be feasibly policed not to endorse the morning-after-pill. Although regrettably his statements on this issue are poorly worded and therefore ambiguous and open to misinterpretation.

  2. ohnimus, the USCCB has no teaching authority within the Catholic Church and my only point was that one should be careful when judging how Catholic some one is when they are promoting some one else who promotes actions which are so against authentic Catholic teaching. One should always be on the side of life or possible life. No one candidate is perfect but, when it comes to life issues Santorum is closer than Paul.

    • We’ll have to agree to disagree on who is better on life issues but note that I’m not judging how Catholic Santorum is, just how good of a politician he is. Also, the bishops do have teaching authority and, unless they are in violation of doctrine (which they are not in this regard) I have a responsibility as a Catholic to obedience to my bishop and to the hierarchy of the church and, thus, I will yield to the bishops as the authority on theology and not to Catholic laypeople such as Catholic politicians or blog commenters (no offense).

  3. You are wrong, the USCCB does not teach for the church, only in a very narrow sense. Individual bishops do have this authority, true but if they are teaching that the USCCB statement is official church doctrine this is wrong. If you don’t believe me as a layperson go to The Ratzinger Report and you will find the clarification of the role of bishops conferences within the church. I also was not saying that you were judging how Catholic Santorum is, but the author of the blog seemed to be.

    • I am the author of this blog :-). As you said, the bishops have teaching authority, the USCCB is made up of bishops, therefore the USCCB has authority to teach. I am not saying that teaching authority equals official doctrine or anything of the kind. However, the conference of bishops’ statement in no way contradicts doctrine and therefore is legitimate. I’ll explain why this is so: obviously there are two realities involved in sex. There is the physical reality which is the anatomical/physiological mechanics of sexual intercourse that is pleasure, reproduction etc. and then there is the theological reality that sex is procreative and unitive. Note that the physical reality of reproduction is distinct from the theological reality of procreation. Contraception (as distinct from abortifacients) is wrong because it violates the theological realities of procreation and unity. However, rape is neither procreative nor unitive and therefore contraception use is licit in this one case as long as medical protocol is followed establish moral certitude that ovulation has not taken place – this is important in order to protect any unborn child that may have already been conceived from unintended abortifacient effects.

      Note that, regardless, Ron Paul merely advocates for the legality of contraceptives to be left to the states while Santorum is on record as okaying federal funding of contraceptives with your tax dollars. Therefore, I believe that Ron Paul’s policies are more in line with Church teaching and the pro-life movement than Santurom’s on this issue.

  4. I’m not sure where you get your knowledge from but I have been active with the pro-life movement since 1973 and active in nursing for15 years, the last 28 years have been spent raising 4 children. I am a life long Catholic and have always followed the Church’s teaching. I can tell you that conception can take place within hours or days of intercourse and blood tests, urine tests, are by no means 1oo% accurate. I think you need more education on the different roles of the teaching of the Church, I know you are young so keep on reading and learning.

    • To clarify, I in no way whatsoever mean to question your commitment to the church. Your commitment is clear.

      I’m getting my information from Catholic Health Care Ethics: A Manual for Practitioners edited by Edward Furton, Peter Cataldo and Albert Moraczewski, O.P.

      Information on the USCCB directive in question can be found here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resource.php?n=968.

      My understanding is that the role of the USCCB is to establish policy for the practical application of church teaching which “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” Directive 36 does when it dictates health care services for women in the case of rape. The directive demands “moral certitude” which does not necessitate 100% accuracy (a level of statistical probability which is impossible to meet with current medical technology) but the highest degree of certainty possible with the technology available to us.

  5. Here’s a good transcript. If the pill is marketed and classified as a contraceptive (basically a double dose), so you can’t police it.

    Q: Sen. Santorum said he would talk about what “no president has talked about before–the dangers of contraception.” Your thoughts?

    PAUL: As an OB doctor, I’ve dealt with birth control pills and contraception for a long time. This is a consequence of government control of medical insurance. The problem is the government is getting involved in things they shouldn’t be involved in, especially at the federal level. But along the line of the pills creating immorality, I don’t see it that way. I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pills. So you don’t blame the pills. The pills can’t be blamed for the immorality of our society.

    GINGRICH: When government provides a morning-after abortion pill [under ObamaCare], you inevitably move towards tyranny.

    PAUL: Actually, the morning-after pill is nothing more than a birth control pill, so if you legalize birth control pills, you really can’t separate the two. They’re all basically the same, hormonally.

    (Source: CNN’s 2012 GOP Debate on eve of Arizona Primary , Feb 22, 2012)

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