Five Things Rick Santorum Could have Learned in College

Rick Santorum attacked President Obama on Saturday for being “a snob” because, Santorum said, the president wanted all Americans to have a college education (Obama hasn’t actually said such a thing). Then it turns out that when Santorum was in the Senate he said he wanted all Pennsylvanians to go to college. Hypocrisy much? Moreover, Santorum has a BA from Penn State, an MBA and a JD, so when he says not everyone is cut out for college (the way he was), it seems to me that he is the one who is being a snob.

Santorum is cynically making a play for the Reagan Democrats, the white, ethnic blue collar workers who typically only have a high school education, and who are skittish about both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. But whoever told him that they don’t aspire to a college education for their children doesn’t actually know any working class people.

Santorum has given ample evidence that despite all the taxpayer dollars wasted on his education, he failed to learn anything about how to think independently, which is what education should have taught him. So here are some things he might have learned if he had been paying attention, and which might have kept him from saying a string of silly things in public.

5. Santorum: “I’m for income inequality.” College could have taught him that too much income inequality has negative effects on a country, as is held by Fed chief Ben Bernanke, who has a college degree in . . . economics. In nations with high levels of inequality, periods of economic expansion are shortened to a third as long. And, persistent inequality that is felt to be unfair contributes to high degrees of social conflict.

4. Evolution isn’t “just a theory,” as Santorum has put it in his quest to have the pseudo-science of Creationism taught in biology classes. In science, a “theory” is a robust explanation for observed phenomena that accounts for all the known facts about them. So, physicists speak of the theory of gravity. It isn’t that they think gravity isn’t a fact, or that they entertain other explanations of why books always fall if you let them go in mid-air (for instance, that each book has an invisible elf on it who likes a giddy ride down to the floor and guides it that way). Likewise, biological evolution is one of the more solidly proved things in science, and has been repeatedly observed in nature. Whether a divine power has set the universe up in this way, so that evolution occurs, is a theological question for seminaries, not a question for high school biology classes. Only someone insecure in their faith would need to bolster it by attempting to insert it into non-theological realms like science.

3. Santorum, when asked about welfare in Iowa, said that he doesn’t want to make the lives of blacks better by giving them other people’s money. Some 84% of food stamp recipients in Iowa are white. A social historian of the United States with a college degree in history could have told him that welfare programs were created for whites and for a long time African Americans were not even eligible for them. They aren’t about race, but about providing a social safety net so that the needy don’t starve to death on our doorsteps. Moreover, most of the “needy” are only temporarily so, with people falling into the category (especially when they are young) and climbing back out.

2. Santorum maintains that Usamah Ben Laden was tracked because the US tortured al-Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. Actually, Usamah was found by tracking his courier. But torture or “enhanced interrogation” is notoriously unreliable. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi under torture told the US government that Saddam Hussein of Iraq had trained al-Qaeda agents in chemical weaponry– a complete falsehood, which Dick Cheney and Condi Rice quoted in support of going to war with Iraq. Someone educated in a Security Studies Program could have given Santorum better information than his own little brain has been able to come up with. Santorum, notoriously, tried to instruct Senator John McCain in how torture works; McCain was tortured by the North Vietnamese while in custody there.

1. Santorum maintains that there is no such thing as a genuine liberal Christian because, he says, the plain text of the Bible is contrary to the principles of liberalism. He goes on to conflate liberalism with “liberation theology” (they are not the same thing). But the American Roman Catholic bishops of Santorum’s own church often take social positions that are recognizably liberal, basing them in scripture and in papal encyclicals. When it comes to feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, visiting prisoners, and doing to others as you would have them do to you, it is actually Ayn Rand style conservatism that is incompatible with Christianity. Santorum’s Bible appears to be missing the Beatitudes, and his Catholic education seems so defective that he is unaware of “Evangelium Vitae” (1995), which forbids the capital punishment that Santorum favors, or “Laborum exercens” (1981), which recognizes the right of workers to unionize, or “Caritas in Veritatae” (2009), in which Pope Benedict says, “Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.” Sounds like welfare to me. Someone who studied religion in college might have been able to help Santorum avoid all these errors.

31 Responses

  1. I’d say Santorum’s Bible is missing more than the Beatitudes. I’d guessing it stops at Leviticus and skips right to Revelation.

    • It’s not clear that they have really read even Leviticus. That book has a surprising amount of the dirty-liberal, hippie stuff in it, e.g., leave something for the poor to glean from your fields and let them do it, pay your workers on time and fairly, treat immigrants (“sojourners”) generously, etc. It’s only a small part of it that gets into the stoning and kill-the-gays stuff.

  2. Lo and behold, it turns out Rick Santorum has an undergraduate degree, an MBA, and a law degree!

    Maybe it was the mind-dulling, sycophantic idiocy that passes for education in business and law schools that stripped away whatever capacity for reason Santorum might once have had.

  3. When are we going to hold a discussion along the lines of “This Democrats should be elected because he proposes policies that I like and that are better than the policies of the other side,” instead of the comstant drumbeat of attacking the opposition? I really need a reason to vote for someone, and have no interest in why I should merely vote against another. If Democrats have nothing to offer, then why do we even bother with democracy.

    • Bill H., I know where you’re coming from but remember that we’re vetting the GOP candidate at this point in time. If Obama is defended, it is because a GOP candidate has said something against him and, if it’s not true, he’ll have to face his critics eventually so why not now.

      I’ve looked at the GOP candidates and I find that Ron Paul can best counter Obama’s stand on war and personal freedoms. It matters not at this time that some believe he is not electable, I’ll push for him. If he flops, I might end up providing reasons why Obama is better than Santorum.

      • Ron Paul is at best a “one-trick pony.”

        Other than making some noise about retreating back behind the walls of Fortress America, what has he got that’s not Hellfire-worse than the Valley-of-the-Damned Other Reactionaries?

        Got even ONE policy plank of the Paulists that is not about making sure everything for most of us will get anything other than worse? Okay, maybe something about decriminalizing drug use, so we can stay stoned without fear of the Police-Narco-Complex kicking our doors in and thus too stupefied to see what happened to the rest of our rights…

        And there is no freakin’ way that li’l ol’ Ron Paul could redirect the MIC away from More-ism, its mantra and only religion.

        • “li’l ol’?” Apart from this poorly disguised ad hominem attack, you offered one Paulian platform fact (freedom to get stoned). What sound bites can you offer us that would shed a positive light on your ideal candidate?

      • “we’re vetting the GOP candidate at this point in time”

        Why? How many people who are harping on the horrors of the Republican candidates are going to be voting in Republican primary elections? Yeah, I didn’t think so. All of this is actually an exercise in making ourselves feel good. My father, who was an Episcopal priest, took a dim view of making one’s self feel good by putting others down.

        • I changed my affiliation so that I could vote for Paul. If I had been a die-hard Democrat I doubt that I would be wasting my time on candidates that might not be running in November. Sure, some Democratic strategists may put down one candidate over another in the hopes that the weaker opponent would surface but most people are decent and not as conniving as we might suppose.

    • Bill, Angel,

      Twenty years ago I swore that I would go to war on this society rather than see it dragged back into the injustices of the 19th century. I could see it coming (which proves I understand capitalism), and now I have to look at candidates like Santorum, Gingrich and Paul who actually want to restore aspects of Jim Crow, States’ Rights, and the former absolute tyranny of white Christian men of property under “limited government” and “laissez faire”. If one of those men win, I’m going to do what I can to organize a violent revolution to overthrow the degenerate capitalism that produced them. This country deserves to die if it returns to its worst evils.

      So I pretty damn well have to vote against them.

    • Personally Bill H. I do think that Democrats have good policies. Everything from human rights, foreign policy, and even economic policy I believe are quality.

      Main political talking points lately
      Abortion – For the most part this is a difference in ideals, choice vs the belief of life at conception. Not possible to prove life at conception, choice wins.

      Healthcare – It is not socialist, it’s insurance reform. It’s not socialist even if money that you spend gets used to pay other people’s bills, that’s how insurance works. Insurance companies should not be able to exclude people based on preexisting conditions. The problem is that without an addendum, then people wouldn’t buy insurance until they would need it thus bankrupting insurance companies. Solution, make everyone buy health insurance. Democrats win this part.

      Gay Marriage – Gay people are people too, and deserve the full rights of anyone else and civil unions are a contemporary form of separate but equal. Liberal views win.

      Foreign Policy – Apologies must be made or the argument goes on for forever. This is true with relationships this is true with foreign policy. These people we label as terrorists are a small segment of a population, we beat terrorism by winning over those weary of us, not by killing their friends and family in combat. Iran should for the most part, not have a nuclear weapon. However we must go off of veritable proof, not speculation. For now we proceed with caution and diplomacy. Democrats win.

      Economic Policy – This is the one that’s harder to prove which side is “right” but listen to my points and decide. Almost all previous debt in the U.S. came as a result of war or economic hardship, only since Reagan has the deficit grown so much for no reason. Taxes in the 70′s were for some, as high as 70% for income above that particular bracket. Also most basic formula for revenue, Revenue = Income – Expenses. Can’t just blame spending alone when income is possibly low. Additionally the economic flow of money trends “upwards” (i.e. I buy goods from a store owner, the store owner buys goods from someone who owns the supply chain etc.) so assisting it is hardly necessary. An economy can handle some raise in taxes on the upper class with little effect on the economy. We also want to avoid large amounts of income disparity. If we think of the economy as a tanks of water that are connected, if water does not flow back to the bottom at an equivalent rate it goes up, then all the water eventually ends up at the top with little at the bottom. Now imagine water as cash; it must be redistributed to the lower class at a relatively equal rate. Income disparities are ok, because there are more lower/middle class people than upper class, so small amounts of money to many people can flow down at an equal rate that a large amount flows upward to one person. Fix the tax brackets if possible. Additionally loopholes should be closed that benefit companies who ship jobs overseas, much like stated in Obama’s recent plan. These are for the most part liberal policies, Democrats win again.

      If those aren’t reasons to vote for Democrats than I don’t know what might win you over.

  4. I have serious doubts that Santorum’s world views could have been informed by any modern public university he might have chosen to attend. If mean-spiritedness and a hard heart cannot be softened by religious, ethical or humanistic persuasion, logical arguments based upon economics, sociology, political theory or other disciplines are simply wasted breath.

    Santorum is simply another opportunistic politician hoping to deceive the “less-informed” voters he wants to support him.

  5. Santorum is a Cafeteria Catholic when it comes to papal encyclicals. He may not accept any that support the rights of labor or prohibit capital punishment or unjust wars but he certainly embraces Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical reinforcing the Church’s long-standing prohibition of all forms of contraception except for the rythym method.

  6. Santorum is proof that exposure to knowledge does not equate to the transfer of same. He also illustrates the modern conundrum of how semi-smart people can be simultaneously as limited as a box-of-rocks. That so many people are seriously considering him to be a qualified candidate illustrates the difficulty of controlling an advanced technological society with rock boxes. Rick would be right at home in the Dark Ages.

  7. I agree with most of the post besides Mr. Cole’s take on theory. See ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.’

    • Mark, I have also read Thomas Kuhn, and I don’t think that Juan’s explanation of “theory” is contradicted by “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.” It is when a theory no longer accounts for all the known phenomena that serious challenges to it arise that may result in a paradigm shift. In the case of the theory of evolution, there doesn’t seem to be any serious challenge within science, but only from non-scientists with religious/ideological objections. So where does Cole go wrong, in your estimation?

      By the way, as much as I admire Kuhn’s book, it is very far from the last word on the subject.

  8. Santorum defended his statement about Obama wanting all kids to have a college education by saying that it’s well known that colleges are hotbeds of liberalism, so this is Obama’s plan to indoctrinate our young people. But Santorum went to Penn State, so what happened? Apparently he missed the indoctrination program, along with a few other classes, so he came out neither liberal nor educated.
    Don’t know much about history
    Don’t know much biology
    Don’t know much about a science book . . .

  9. ‘Get elected, get re-elected’- all you need to know about US politics. Santorum got elected, then un-elected, wants to get elected again so he can have government tell us how to live. Romney got elected, then found a better hustle for a while, wants to get elected to prove he can get elected. Gingrich got elected, then found a better hustle when he got caught being ‘unethical’. Wants to get elected to work a new hustle. Paul got elected, wants to keep getting elected, all the while decrying ‘government’ as the source of the nation’s ills. Great set of choices, real all-American guys. They are so very in touch with the reality of the rest of America. So believable in their convictions, so repectful of the people. Actually, they’re all power-hungry, money-grubbing, selfish, self-absorbed humanoids- you know, politicians.

  10. “When it comes to feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, visiting prisoners, and doing to others as you would have them do to you, it is actually Ayn Rand style conservatism that is incompatible with Christianity.”

    Seems like we have quite a few closet atheists in the Christian tent,and quite a few closet Christians in the atheist tent, if fundamental values, rather than dogma and tribalism, are the determining factors.

    • You spoke my mind Sherm! When it comes to religion and politics we truly live in bizarro world. So the right thumps the Bible and rejects evolution at the same time rejecting the most significant aspects of social justice addressed to the Bible’s audience but embracing social Darwinism. Go figure. At the same time the Left’s tenets of social justice would be unimaginable without the intellectual heritage of the gospels and Old Testament – but the Left is more wary now than, say, during the period of Abolition or even during the civil rights movement, of acknowledging the debt to the gospels that their notions of social justice have. That debt in large historic terms belongs in no small part to the Judeo-Christian tradition.

  11. Today Santorum said that John F. Kennedy’s statement that he believes in “America where the separation of church and state is absolute” makes him “throw up.” Santorum said, “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”

    Santorum is even dumber than I thought.

    • He was nearly hysterical. ABC gave him plenty of rope but he (figuratively) hung himself out to dry this time.

      • He didn’t need much rope. In a single sentence he managed to attack the American principle of separation of church and state and a popular assassinated president in the most graphic terms.

    • He may have no chance, but his extremism appeals to tens of millions of mostly gun-owning Americans. They have the highest voter turnout, they control midterm elections, they get fascists elected for judge, sheriff, and the board that writes your kid’s schoolbooks. They supply more of their sons for our wars than anyone else, and some of those sons come home ready to apply the Pentagon’s violent methods to other Americans they don’t approve of.

      This is one of those moments when they are illuminated in our headlights, and we’d better learn who keeps cancelling out our votes for a better America.

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