As I watched Rick Santorum speaking in Iowa on CNN – refreshingly in long form which gave me a good chance to observe his communicating technique – I had to reflect on presentation, how he said what he said.
First of all, he is good. He can communicate in a natural, conversational, reasonably sounding style, with body language to match. He is much more likable than most of the other Republicans campaigning in Iowa. Likeability is an important factor. It’s a major reason that Barrack Obama is President of the United States. I have even heard some Republicans say they like him as a person, just not as a president.
However, as I listen to what former Senator Santorum was actually saying, I realized beneath his veneer of family values warmth, which puts him in good stead with the Christian right, and probably will help him considerably in South Carolina, is an ideologue who wants America to stay on a course to create an empire, and to stay militarily aggressive.
He put Ron Paul in the same boat with President Obama when it comes to staying at war. He accuses the president of pulling back from military involvement. He said all this in a very reasonable talking-over-the-backyard-fence-to-a-neighbor style. But, the message I got is he is a pro-military-industrial-complex, mega-defense-spending candidate.
He accused President Obama of taking America on an anti-empire course, and said we need to observe the dissolution of the world-dominating British Empire when it became more interested in domestic welfare than empire. That told me that he wants an even larger American Empire. To do that a country does have to maintain a huge military machine and use it to control and expand its empire.
What I can’t understand is why he is just emerging as a candidate to be seriously considered. Why do the polls show him now ahead of New Ginghrich? What’s going to happen in South Carolina where he is being touted as a strong contender because of his Christian right credentials? Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he, not Santorum, is going to win in South Carolina. After seeing what is now happening in Iowa, I’m not so sure Newt is right.
Both of them have a big problem. They don’t have the organization or the money that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney or Congressman Ron Paul has. They also have another big problem. Are they electable? Satisfying the Republican right-wing Christian fundamentalist base is one thing. Overcoming a newly energized, well-financed and organized, accomplished debater Barrack Obama, is quite another.