ONTD Political

A British take on Rick Santorum.

9:36 am - 03/05/2012
The lumberjack-sized character in the baseball hat had been alternating between “yay-ing” and “boo-ing” for a good 20 minutes.

The yays, complemented with clenched-fist salutes, punctuated the speaker’s every mention of America, the constitution, freedom, family and marriage “the way God intended it”.

The boos rang out for the liberal media, entitlement cheques, Obamacare, taxation and the morning-after pill.

Yes. The morning-after pill. Naming and shaming that modern evil led to full-throated, eye-bulging derision in the 400-strong audience.

Never in my life did I imagine I’d be part of a deafening wall of repulsion for a tablet which interrupts ovulation.

Just as I never thought I’d hear a contender for the job of world’s most powerful man claim we are not creatures of evolution, but beings pinged into life by a divine creator.

More under the cut...

But then, I’d never visited the Christian Heritage Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for a Rick Santorum rally.

That’s Righteous Rick, Mullah Rick or Rick Sanitorium as critics call the hard-line Catholic father-of-seven (home-tutored to protect them from bad influences) ­children.

The right-wing darling of Tea Party types who has come from nowhere to challenge favourite Mitt Romney for this year’s Republican Presidential nomination.

The 53-year-old former Pennsylvania Senator who believes the USA is locked in a “spiritual war” between good and evil, and is directly in Satan’s sights.

Mainly because of abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage, foetal deformity testing, environmentalists elevating “the Earth above man”, and the socialism of Barack Obama, whom he loosely compares to Hitler.

Boy, did that make him a big draw among white, religious Republicans in white, religious suburbs of small town Kalamazoo on the eve of last week’s Michigan Primary.

More than 800 locals braved the icy night to listen to their hero. Half were turned away and 120 diehards who refused to budge were shunted into a room to hear Santorum’s eldest daughter Elizabeth talk them through the family way.

In the front seats, rattling their braces, sat wholesome young families who looked like they were auditioning for body doubles of The Osmonds.

The kids were mini-me versions of their parents, right down to their outfits (maroon sleeveless V-neck sweaters seem to be in for male Republicans).

To kick off the rally a young actor, dressed in pointed hat, tights and britches, reprised a speech by Patrick Henry, one of America’s Founding Fathers.

When he reached the punchline “Give me liberty or give me death” the crowd exploded into whoops and hollers as though Olivier had risen from the dead and delivered his Agincourt speech.

A preacher thanked God for allowing them all to be born in America and urged Him to appoint a president who is brave, will protect the unborn and believes in the kind of marriage that wouldn’t interest Elton John. No guessing who he had in mind.

A boy led the Pledge Of Allegiance – greeted with chest-pumping – before fire-and-brimstone pastor, Kent Clark, yelled a warning to Obama he was being pursued by a man whose destiny is to rescue a nation gone awry.

And then the saviour emerged. Tall and thin, dressed in brown chinos and blue sports jacket, pumping hands, beaming maniacally, he resembled Michael Barrymore before he went awry.

Santorum pulled a little black book from his pocket and announced he was holding the most precious object in America’s history.

The nation’s operator manual. The Constitution. Then he waved it, the way Maoists used to wave their little red books, and chants of “You-You-You-Essay” rocked the gym.

As he quoted from it, the crowd finished his sentences. As he drew lessons from it, screams of “right”, “yay” and “it’s true” rang out.

He told them his mission was to “take America back”. What he didn’t add were the words “to 1776”. But there was enough verbal genuflecting to the Founding Fathers to leave us in no doubt that this was where he wanted to park his Tardis.

As the end of his speech drew nigh, a deep murmur of content and approval enveloped his followers.

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at Peachtree DeKalb Airport AP

And when he climaxed with the words “America needs someone who can remind us who we are. That we are Americans and we can do anything” that approval almost brought down the ceiling.

There was no point asking the audience what they thought of Mullah Rick so I parted the sea of hands and mobile phones and asked him what he thought of me.

“Hi. I’m from Europe. What do you think of us?” He looked at me confused, then pitying: “You’ve got no soul. You’ve lost it. You need someone to inspire you.”

“Someone who can take Europe back?” I asked. But his eyes had moved back to his flock.

And so to Novi, 130 miles due east of Kalamazoo, to a Mitt Romney rally on the night the result of the Michigan Primary is announced.

From early evening the sprawling suburban conference centre is filled with nervous faces. Michigan is Romney’s home state, the polls are saying it’s close, and defeat to Santorum would be a disaster for the front-runner.

But there is a certainty about his camp. Theirs is a better-oiled, wealthier party machine. Lots of young advisers with Harvard brains and slicked-back hair buzz around on iPhones. Like their boss, there’s a born-to-rule air about them.

Romney is the stinkingly rich Mormon who appears to believe only in his own right to be President.

He’s massively out-spent Santorum, mainly on a negative campaign, which backfired in Michigan. As did a speech slamming Obama’s car-industry bail-out in a state whose biggest town, Detroit, is known as Motor City.

The father-of-five has the money, professionalism and looks (if you like that sort of Thunderbird puppet) but he hasn’t fired the Republican imagination.

He doesn’t chuck them enough red meat. Yet he’s still the likeliest winner and, God knows, that’s what America loves most.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during an election night rally in Denver AP

Which is why the stage-managed crowd anticipating his victory speech in Novi is peppered with top-level Republicans with over-dyed hair, rich businessmen with over-sized waists and wives who look like Barbie’s mom. You can smell the money.

The crowd (the specially selected racial/gender/age-balanced backdrop for the Fox and CNN cameras) are a social class up from Kalamazoo. Not a baseball cap in sight.

They stay there, behind an empty podium, for three hours, clutching mini-Stars and Stripes, Romney posters with his slogan “Believe In America” and patriotic-coloured pom-poms.

When the big screens show they’re live on TV, they leap, wave and shriek like X Factor contestants outside the first audition (there’s an intense tragedy about elderly men in suits waving pom-poms).

At 9.30pm a warm-up guy announces Romney has won the night’s other Primary, in Arizona, and the human backdrop gyrates to Dancing In The Street.

Two hours later, polls show Romney has narrowly won his home state and the pom-poms go ballistic while new posters are issued: “Michigan Believes.”

Then the victor emerges – introduced as “the next President of the United States” – and, as chants of “Mitt-Mitt-Mitt” are launched, guess what he tells them?

“We’re going to take back America.” Yep. Him too. He then promises “more jobs, less debt, smaller government.” And the yays have it.

He vows to repeal Obamacare, to save the soul of America by giving the people a choice between entitlement and opportunity, and they have it again. He claims to be “worried about your job, not keeping my own”, and they fall for those words from a man worth at least $250million.

He pledges to “restore America’s promise”, says “America is the greatest country on earth and we’re going to keep it that way”, then exits with a fixed grin, gripping his wife Ann’s hand, as a song about us all being born free blares out.

For a second night in succession, I’m gobsmacked by the emptiness of the rhetoric, the gullibility of the followers, the towering arrogance of their patriotic superiority complex and the sheer ­insincerity of it all.

A thin, elderly gent, with a look of Clint Eastwood about him, catches me shaking my head, and sidles up. I’m expecting a morality lecture. Instead I get priceless wisdom: “You know what this is? It’s all horse-s*** and apple pie.”

At last, an eloquent, perceptive native. I take it back,

Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/rick-santorum-on-the-road-with-the-republican-bidding-751530

OP: An opinion piece from today's Daily Mirror by the venerable socialist (yay!) and Liverpool fan (boo!) Brian Reade.
riath 5th-Mar-2012 11:42 am (UTC)
A thin, elderly gent, with a look of Clint Eastwood about him, catches me shaking my head, and sidles up. I’m expecting a morality lecture. Instead I get priceless wisdom: “You know what this is? It’s all horse-s*** and apple pie.”

Preach it!

I really really hate this idea that America is the greatest country on earth. It stinks of arrogance and snobbery. But I suppose it's a good way to blow smoke up some people's asses. Maybe a little humility would encourage more reasoned debates, instead of a load of posturing, chest-thumping, frothing at the mouth garbage that's been coming out of people like Santorum lately. But that's just my take on it.

Loved the tongue in cheek reference to Michael Barrymore. Lol.

shorofsky 5th-Mar-2012 11:50 am (UTC)
I don't get the need to overstate how great America is all the time, either. It is arrogant. But apparently it works for the people who vote Republican... When is the last time you heard a well-reasoned argument on the republican side? Was it before or after Newt Gingrich had a cow over some perceived slight? Before or after Santorum wanted to throw up over something? Before or after Romney stuck his foot in it yet again?
riath 5th-Mar-2012 12:00 pm (UTC)
Ever since I was old enough to comprehend politics I don't think I've ever heard them make a well reasoned argument and it's only gotten worse in the last few years. Most of my British friends watch this entire charade with a sort of open-mouthed incredulity at the idea that anyone could be that stupid. Sure our politicians can be pretty stupid too, just check out Nadine Dorries. I bet Santorum would get along with her!
partly_bouncy 5th-Mar-2012 10:12 pm (UTC)
I deal with Australians sometimes who are just ASTONISHED that I would not want to go back to the United States when I graduate because the USA is just so incredibly awesome and they would love to go there for a few years. Plus, Americans are supposed to love their country and only say nice things… and they are just astonished to not hear my unending love for it.

At that point, I pretty much rip into the American health care system. The astonished Australians tend to think that the USA must must must have a better health care system than Australia because we have so much money and we're so rich and we have so many doctors and top flight medical facilities and we have the best medicine in the world. Reality is pretty much an unkind slap in the face.

Most of my Australian friends don't talk USA politics with me because they don't generally care or know. They newspapers cover some of this stupidity but they can't figure out quite how it works.
scolaro 5th-Mar-2012 11:54 am (UTC)
I really really hate this idea that America is the greatest country on earth.

"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it." ~George Bernard Shaw

I think this quote says it all - no matter where you come from! ^^
Not that I'd think you could ever convince Santorum or die-hard rednecks. (Or even my grandpa, but that's another story.)
riath 5th-Mar-2012 12:06 pm (UTC)
Yep, pretty much! I do love America, I was born there after all but I think it can be a lot better than it is. I just don't buy into the idea that any country is better than another. I get the impression that Americans aren't liked abroad because of that very "we're better than you" attitude that so many like to parrot.
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anjak_j 5th-Mar-2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
From a non-US perspective, I do find that some folk from that side of the pond have a certain arrogance about how they perceive their country, and therefore themselves, in comparison to other countries and their inhabitants. Also, having known people from some of the counties where the US have been involved in conflicts over the past 15 years, I've noticed a constant when talking to these people about the US - namely that they felt that the US was trying to impose its way on them and their country, like, as one person said, "it knows best despite being a mere child compared with most countries in the world."

I think a lot of this 'we're the best country in the world' happy horseshit in the United States comes from the fact that US culture is all many people in the US know. I think that attitude is more prevalent in those who haven't travelled outside the US, don't have connections of any kind with people in other countries, and don't have access to outside-of-the-US news sources.
furrygreen 5th-Mar-2012 12:51 pm (UTC)
I really really hate this idea that America is the greatest country on earth. It stinks of arrogance and snobbery.

If America is the only culture a person knows, what else would you expect? Talk to people who were raised in abusive families (with either incest or just plain physical abuse.) They think this is normal. They think this is love and what a family should be. They will defend their abusive parents. It takes *moving out of that environment* to realize how fucked up it is.

What are you expecting? ;P
riath 5th-Mar-2012 12:58 pm (UTC)
I suppose I expect a rudimentary knowledge that there is a world outside of America and things are different, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. But I do see your point that some don't know anything else.
furrygreen 5th-Mar-2012 01:35 pm (UTC)
I am confused. Why would you think rudimentary knowledge has anything to do with this?

How many people do you know who can change their entire lives based on rudimentary knowledge? How many people can say "hey, this book says procrastination is bad. I'll stop procrastinating now" and that'll be the end of their procrastination? Have you never struggled in your life? Never made any new years goals and then broken them?

Really now... Knowledge and behavior are two very, very different things.
doverz 5th-Mar-2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah, whenever I hear "America is the best ever," it always makes me cringe.
roseofjuly 5th-Mar-2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
And the thing is, if we were so great why would we need to change things and take America "back" to some imaginary better place? I feel like all of the posturing obscures the deep problems with the United States and encourages people to just throw a cloak over it and keep moving.
k0liverbby 5th-Mar-2012 06:33 pm (UTC)
What i think these politicians are REALLY asking for is for america to be brought 'back' to a time when other nations were still technically considered developing. America doesn't have the lead that it got from years of slavery, industrialization, or the fact we rarely have wars on our own soil. We're so use to influencing other countries, and now that it's time for these countries to influence us, we're scared.
k0liverbby 5th-Mar-2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
ALL countries overstate how great they are, ALL of them. I will admit america is a little less biased than most countries though. America is a great place, but i find, sadly americans believe the negative things about them more than the great things
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