It should come as no surprise, least of all to his campaign staff, that Rick Santorum, elevated to contender in the GOP race, is now getting a level of scrutiny previously reserved for, and, let's see if I get the order right, Gingrich, Paul (sorta), Cain, Perry and Bachman. Now taking his turn as anybodybesidesRomney, the one-time Pennsylvania Senator, who is running on his Catholic bona fides, endures a brutal take down from Faith in Public Life's John Gehring. In "The Catholic Case Against Rick Santorum," Gehring writes, "it’s a political delusion to think Rick Santorum is a standard-bearer of authentic Catholic values in politics. In fact, on several issues central to Catholic social teaching—torture, war, immigration, climate change, the widening gap between rich and poor and workers’ rights—Santorum is radically out of step with his faith’s teachings as articulated by Catholic bishops and several popes over the centuries."
Gehring notes Santorum's tone deafness on poverty (he did not seem to know what the heck that preferential option for the poor stuff was about) and adds:
Catholic politicians across the spectrum will all find aspects of Church teaching that challenge their ideological agendas in discomforting ways. But for too long Catholics in public life have only been scrutinized when it comes to abortion and same-sex marriage. This does a disservice to voters, ignores the Catholic social justice tradition’s broad moral agenda and lets Catholic candidates like Rick Santorum off the hook even when they consistently disregard their faith’s teachings on key moral and political issues.
Santorum also takes some hits from a recovering member of "the thing that used to be called Conservativism," Mark Shea: "Neocons are particularly enthused with Santorum, who promises to ignore the Pope and the catechism on that whole pre-emptive war thing, as well as re-establish torture as a fundamental American value (in keeping with the disproportionately large enthusiasm for torture so-called “conservative” Catholics have in defiance of the teaching of Holy Church). Indeed, the damp-handed Orwellian from Pennsylvania has actually had the temerity to tell Vietnam torture victim John McCain that he doesn’t understand torture as well as he does."
Making the, to my mind, most surprising case against Santorum (I confess to have not been a close follower of his career) was Will Bunch in the Philadelphia Inquirer. iIn "The Rick Santorum that America doesn't know," Bunch writes, "The self-styled 'family values' expert has a surprisingly ambiguous record with his own personal ethics. Also, Santorum’s legislative record shows that his real workaday agenda was not so much waging culture wars as protecting the interests of the 1 Percent, the millionaires and billionaires who funded the modern Republican Party." Bunch details a parade of less-than-savory escapades from the former senator's recent past that rise a tad above getting a little help buying some property on the South Side.
You can read the rest here, but I find this all a little depressing. No one expects our presidential candidates to be perfect, but really as a mature democracy how is it possible that this is the best squad of aspirants our culture could produce for the most important job in the land? Something is not working right--or left--here.