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Rick Santorum

Rick SantorumSomehow, Rick Santorum is leading in the polls over Romney. Now, I'm not a huge fan of any of the current GOP candidates, but really Republican voters? Rick Santorum?


I first noticed Santorum back in 2005, when he made some comments during an NPR interview in which he promoted Intelligent Design and criticized evolution. I mentioned it briefly in a blog entry where I ranted in general about religious fundamentalism. I couldn't find the full quote then, but I managed to find it now. Here's what Santorum actually said.

It has huge consequences for society and it's where we come from. Does man have a purpose? Is there a purpose for our lives? Or are we just simply, you know, the result of chance. If we're the result of chance, if we're simply a mistake of nature, then that puts a different moral demand on us. In fact, it doesn't put a moral demand on us that if, in fact, we are a creation of a being that has moral demands.

In that old blog entry, I explained why Santorum's statement was so bad. Basically, it's just an argument from consequences, and ignores all the evidence that evolution did actually happen.

Just because that statement was when I first heard of Santorum, it doesn't mean he wasn't active trying to corrupt science education before. In 2001, he proposed an amendment to the education funding bill (now known as No Child Left Behind), which promoted teaching Intelligent Design while questioning evolution. So we know that his anti-science stance on evolution would have repurcussions in how he would apply the law, or laws he would approve or veto.

To be fair, Santorum has backed off on his support for teaching Intelligent Design. In fact, in that same 2005 interview, he explicitly said that he didn't think ID should be taught in the classroom. But I question his motives. He still doesn't seem to accept evolution. Here's more of what he said in that interview.

I think I would probably tailor that a little more than what the president has suggested, that I'm not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom. What we should be teaching are the problems and holes and I think there are legitimate problems and holes in the theory of evolution.

Anyone who's familiar with creationists recognizes this as one of their standard arguments. I've covered it before in an entry titled, Strengths and Limitations. While there's no problem with honestly addressing strengths and weaknesses of any scientific theory, in practice, creationists want to bring up all types of nonsense and discredited ideas specifically against evolutionary biology and any other science that goes against their interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis.

Just recently, Santorum was interviewed by Chris Mathews (I apologize for using Huffington Post as my source). Mathews asked explicitly whether or not Santorm believed in evolution, and Santorum replied (edited somewhat to remove stammers):

I believe that we are created by a living loving god, and if there's some amount of evolution with respect to certain species in a micro sense - yes. For evolution to explain the creation of the human species from nothing to human beings, absolutely not I don't believe in that.

This 'micro' wording is another one of those terms instantly recognizable as creationist in origin. Anyone who's studied evolution at all, and who has even a modicum of integrity, has to admit that evolution happens. It's been observed in bacterial resistance to antibiotics, beak size changing in populations of finches on the Galapagos, cane toads evolving longer legs and causing changes in their predators, etc. So, creationists accept those changes as 'micro' evolution, but then deny that evolution could go on to produce bigger changes, like fish adapting into land dwelling tetrapods, or hoofed animals evolving into whales. But it's all a bit silly. Where's the stop sign in the genome that prevents all those small changes from accumulating?

Global Climate Change

Okay, that's plenty on evolution. Let's look at another science issue - global warming. In 2008, Santorum wrote an editorial for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Here are a couple excerpts from that, showing typical denialist arguments.

Could it be that Americans know that over time the Earth goes through natural cooling and heating cycles?

Could it be that they recognize that most of the doomsday scenarios are not scientifically supported and that even the "consensus" projections are just that - projections based upon highly interactive questionable assumptions over long periods of time?

Or could it be they suspect that no one really knows the role that man-made carbon dioxide plays in the larger scheme of climate change?

Or maybe Americans are coming to understand that global temperatures have actually cooled over the last 10 years and are predicted to continue cooling over the next 10.

It's one thing to argue over the best approaches to address global warming. But to doubt the fact that our world is warming, and to make claims that are just plain wrong, is ludicrous.


When you move past objective science and into subjective social issues, Santorum's views are even worse. According to Esquire magazine, he had the following to say on contraception.

One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.

Talk about an invasion of privacy. And it's not just the fact that it is an invasion of privacy. It's wrong. People are going to have sex. History has proven this out. And not just in a procreative sense when they're married, but all throughout their lives. Contraceptives and condoms are a way to ensure that women don't become pregnant before they (or their partners) are ready, and help to limit the transmission of many diseases. Who in their right mind would want to go back to the Dark Ages on this?

Gay Rights & Marriage Equality

Santorum's views on homosexuality are well known. Even his name, Santorum, has become a bit of a joke in response to those views (warning - don't click on that link if you're too prudish). It's worth pointing out just how bad he is. Santorum has signed a pledge put out by the The Family Leader, a conservative, Iowa-based Christian group. Among other things, the pledge calls for candidates to defend DOMA, and support a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman (it also mentions, in a weird way of bringing up sexual assault, that women shouldn't be allowed on the front lines in the military).

Santorum had an AP interview in 2003 where he made some really bigoted remarks. Here's the Wikipedia summary.

Santorum described the ability to regulate consensual homosexual acts as comparable to the states' ability to regulate other consensual and non-consensual sexual behavior, such as adultery, polygamy, child molestation, incest, and bestiality, whose decriminalization he believed would threaten society and the family, as they are not monogamous and heterosexual.


In a speech from 2008, Santorum claimed that Satan was attacking America, and that he had infiltrated and made fall many institutions. That's the type of outlandish claim you expect to hear from someone like Pat Robertson or Glen Beck, not a serious presidential candidate.

Here's on excerpt from that speech, showing his distrut of academia and intellectuals.

The place where he [Satan] was, in my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. He understood pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest, that they were, in fact, smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different. Pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they're smart. And so academia, a long time ago, fell.

Santorum himself is a Catholic, and he doesn't appear to trust Protestants very much. Here's another excerpt from that same speech.

...and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. So they attacked mainline Protestantism, they attacked the Church, and what better way to go after smart people who also believe they're pious to use both vanity and pride to also go after the Church.

And if you don't follow any religion or want to keep religion out of politics, Santorum really doesn't like you. Here's his revisionist history take on that.

They are taking faith and crushing it. Why? Why? When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God-given rights, then what's left is the French Revolution. What's left is the government that gives you right, what's left are no unalienable rights, what's left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you'll do and when you'll do it. What's left in France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentlemen, we're a long way from that, but if we do and follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, then we are headed down that road.


The more and more I read about this man, the more I wonder how he could have so much support, and how he could have ever gotten elected to any office in the first place. He's anti-science, anti-intellectual, bigoted, a bit nutty on religion, wants to interfere in everyone's sex lives, and has plenty of other faults I didn't list. Who in their right mind would vote for this man?

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