Santorum: I'm no JFK

Rick Santorum, ousted from the U.S. Senate by Pennsylvania voters in 2006, has been busy denouncing “islamofascism” from his perch at the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center. Now he seems to be plotting a run for the presidency. Santorum, a Catholic, is pushing himself into the public eye with an attack on John F. Kennedy and one of that president’s most famous speeches, in which the nation’s only Catholic president told a gathering of Protestant ministers in Houston that he believed in the separation of church and state.

Last week, Santorum traveled to Houston to make his own speech, which repeated standard Religious Right straw-man arguments about supporters of church-state separation trying to ban religious people from public life.  Those are old and oft-told lies. What’s new is the Catholic Santorum pinning the blame for America’s supposed descent into secularism squarely on JFK.
 
Santorum reprised those remarks on Saturday night at Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, with some additional Tea-infused red meat: Government entitlement programs are the equivalent of a schoolyard pusher getting kids hooked on drugs.  If “Obamacare” is not repealed, America will cease to be America. It will be <shudder> France.
 
Denouncing Kennedy was not Santorum’s only noteworthy line of attack. He also took on Americans of the World War II generation, describing how the “greatest generation” stayed out of the war while Europe fell and Britain was bombed, while the Pacific Rim fell to Japan, and turned back a boatload of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. That generation was only great once it was awakened by Pearl Harbor, said Santorum. This generation, he said, has an even tougher job (!).   Waking up Americans is this generation’s Pearl Harbor moment, he told his audience, and you are Paul Revere. It’s a seriously mixed metaphor, but everyone knew what he meant. They have to drop everything to save America between now and 2012.
 
Santorum, whose presidential ambitions face what some political commentators have delicately called a “Google problem,” is still full of righteous self-pity about how he has been beaten up for standing for his faith. I guess that’s the most comforting explanation he can give for his 18-point defeat at the hands of the voters.