Lest you doubt that we're headed for the most vicious election year
in memory, consider the determined effort, within 10 minutes of his
triumph in Iowa, to weirdify Rick Santorum. Discussing the surging
senator on Fox News, Alan Colmes mused on some of the "crazy things"
he's said and done.
Santorum has certainly said and done many crazy things, as have most
members of America's political class, but the "crazy thing" Colmes chose
to focus on was Santorum's "taking his two-hour-old baby when it died
right after childbirth home," whereupon he "played with it." My National
Review colleague Rich Lowry rightly slapped down Alan on air, and
Colmes subsequently apologized, though not before Mrs. Santorum had been
reduced to tears by his remarks. Undeterred, Eugene Robinson, the
Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist, doubled down on stupid
and insisted that Deadbabygate demonstrated how Santorum is "not a
little weird, he's really weird."
presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum,
surrounded by his children, embraces his wife, Karen, as he enters his
victory party Tuesday, 3 January 2012, in Johnston, Iowa.
The short life of Gabriel Santorum would seem a curious priority for
political discourse at a time when the Brokest Nation in History is
hurtling toward its rendezvous with destiny. But needs must, and victory
by any means necessary. In 2008, the Left gleefully mocked Sarah
Palin's live baby. It was only a matter of time before they moved on to a
Not many of us will ever know what it's like to have a child who
lives only a few hours. That alone should occasion a certain modesty
about presuming to know what are "weird" and unweird reactions to such
In 1996, the Santorums were told during the pregnancy that their baby
had a fatal birth defect and would not survive more than a few hours
outside the womb. So Gabriel was born, his parents bundled him, and held
him, and baptized him. And two hours later he died. They decided to
take his body back to the home he would never know. Weirdly enough, this
crazy weird behavior is in line with the advice of the American
Pregnancy Association, which says that "it is important for your family
members to spend time with the baby" and "help them come to terms with
Would I do it? Dunno. Hope I never have to find out. Many years ago, a
friend of mine discovered in the final hours of labor that her child
was dead but that she would still have to deliver him. I went round to
visit her shortly after, not relishing the prospect but feeling that it
was one of those things one was bound to do. I ditched the baby gift I'd
bought a few days earlier but kept the flowers and chocolate. My friend
had photographs of the dead newborn. What do you say? Oh, he's got your
I was a callow pup in my early twenties, with no paternal instincts
and no great empathetic capacity. But I understood that I was in the
presence of someone who had undergone a profound and harrowing
experience, one which it would be insanely arrogant for those of us not
so ill-starred to judge.
There but for the grace of God go I, as we used to say.
There is something telling about what Peter Wehner at Commentary
rightly called the "casual cruelty" of Eugene Robinson. The Left
endlessly trumpets its "empathy." President Obama, for example, has said
that what he looks for in his judges is "the depth and breadth of one's
empathy." As he told his pro-abortion pals at Planned Parenthood, "we
need somebody who's got the heart – the empathy – to recognize what it's
like to be a young teenage mom." Empathy, empathy, empathy: You barely
heard the word outside clinical circles until the liberals decided it
was one of those accessories no self-proclaimed caring progressive
should be without.
Indeed, flaunting their empathy is what got Eugene Robinson and many
others their Pulitzers – Robinson describes his newspaper column as "a
license to feel." Yet he's entirely incapable of imagining how it must
feel for a parent to experience within the same day both new life and
death – or even to understand that the inability to imagine being in
that situation ought to prompt a little circumspection.
The Left's much-vaunted powers of empathy routinely fail when
confronted by those who do not agree with them politically. Rick
Santorum's conservatism is not particularly to my taste (alas, for us
genuine right-wing crazies, it's that kind of year), and I can well see
why fair-minded people would have differences with him on a host of
issues from spending to homosexuality. But you could have said the same
thing four years ago about Sarah Palin – and instead the Left,
especially the so-called feminist Left, found it easier to mock her
gleefully for the soi-disant retard kid and her fecundity in general.
The usual rap against the Right is that they're hypocrites – they vote
for the Defense of Marriage Act, and next thing you know they're playing
footsie across the stall divider with an undercover cop at the airport
men's room. But Rick Santorum lives his values, and that seems to bother
the Left even more.
Never mind the dead kid, he has six living kids. How crazy freaky weird is that?
This crazy freaky weird: all those self-evidently ludicrous
risible surplus members of the Santorum litter are going to be paying
the Social Security and Medicare of all you normal well-adjusted Boomer
yuppies who had one designer kid at 39. So, if it helps make it easier
to "empathize," look on them as sacrificial virgins to hurl into the
bottomless pit of Big Government debt.
Two weeks ago I wrote in this space: "A nation, a society, a
community is a compact between past, present and future." Whatever my
disagreements with Santorum on his "compassionate conservatism," he gets
that. He understands that our fiscal bankruptcy is a symptom rather
than the cause.
The real wickedness of Big Government is that it debauches not merely
a nation's finances but, ultimately, its human capital – or, as he puts
it, you cannot have a strong economy without strong families.
Santorum's respect for all life, including even the smallest bleakest
meanest two-hour life, speaks well for him, especially in comparison
with his fellow Pennsylvanian, the accused mass murderer Kermit Gosnell,
an industrial-scale abortionist at a Philadelphia charnel house who
plunged scissors into the spinal cords of healthy delivered babies. Few
of Gosnell's employees seemed to find anything "weird" about that:
Indeed, they helped him out by tossing their remains in jars and bags
piled up in freezers and cupboards. Much less crazy than taking 'em home
and holding a funeral, right?
Albeit less dramatically than "Doctor" Gosnell, much of the developed
world has ruptured the compact between past, present and future. A
spendthrift life of self-gratification is one thing. A spendthrift life
paid for by burdening insufficient numbers of children and grandchildren
with crippling debt they can never pay off is utterly contemptible. And
to too many of America's politico-media establishment it's not in the
least bit "weird."