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.

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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 12:37 pm (UTC)
Oh I agree completely! I hope I didn't imply that the US is the only one to engage in such behaviour (that's what I get for trying to do two things at once, lol).
(no subject) - Anonymous
riath 5th-Mar-2012 12:54 pm (UTC)
I've noticed that Brits are a pretty self-deprecating lot. It was so odd for me moving from "omg we're the best evar" to "we're all doomed!". I suppose if I moved back I'd live in New York. Certainly not back to the South where I grew up.
(no subject) - Anonymous
13chapters 5th-Mar-2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
I've lived abroad three different times, in three different countries. Only one of them was in Europe (Eastern Europe tho) and people there were super super negative about their opportunities and how their country is being run. (tbf it really is not being run very well.) It was somewhat surprising to hear people talk about how shitty everything is and how nothing will ever get better and it's all downhill from here. It was a mindset really unlike you'd encounter very often in the US.

(otoh the other two countries I've also spent a lot of time in, neither of which is in Europe, have some serious economic and/or social problems - way worse than anything in either Europe or the US - and people there were a lot more positive and enthusiastic about their nations.)
katiie_ 5th-Mar-2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
It was somewhat surprising to hear people talk about how shitty everything is and how nothing will ever get better and it's all downhill from here.

Sounds like an accurate description of Germany as well. But then again perpetual nagging seems to be a favourite pastime here.
frelling_tralk 5th-Mar-2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
I've noticed that often there's this idea of showing loyalty to "our President", whereas people in other countries are constantly complaining about their politations without any concern about being seen as unpatriotic. Although George Bush and Obama have changed some of that obviously, but still there is kind of that mindset more so than I see in in other counties anyway?

It was pretty tough going to find anyone with a good word to say about Tony Blair or Gordan Brown in the UK when they were Prime Minister, and David Cameron and Nick Clegg (lol) certainly aren't much more popular . You'd get laughed at if you said that you should support them regardless as they're leading the country
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