Is the Current Santorum Criticism Substantive, Or Political?

All of the remaining GOP candidates in the 2012 primary can justifiably be criticized for something. There's no disputing that. At the link below, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto takes a look at some specific criticism that's been prominently directed at Rick Santorum.

After reading Taranto's well reasoned arguments, it's hard to conclude anything other than it's much ado about nothing, or liberals in the media telling us to not believe our lying eyes and brains.

Fear and Feminism Some criticism of Rick Santorum is downright irrational.

Of late we have been struck powerfully by one such complication, namely the emotional intensity of the opposition to Santorum by some on the center-right. This has led them to criticize him on grounds that are utterly irrational.

In truth, Santorum says only that he would "talk about" what he sees as the social harms of contraception. There is no conflict whatever between limited government and moral exhortation, provided the latter is unaccompanied by legislative or administrative action.


And the quote is very much in keeping with "a tradition rooted in the pursuit of happiness." Santorum is merely making a case for deferred gratification. His claim is that the easy availability of birth control has enabled and encouraged a pursuit of pleasure that is inimical to the achievement of happiness. One may reasonably argue that Santorum is overgeneralizing or that on the whole he is mistaken. But to write him out of the American tradition on the basis of that quote, as Friedersdorf attempts to do, is simply bonkers.

While encouraging you to read the entire piece, what Taranto does is apply reason to what appear to be either emotionally, or politically driven criticisms. These are the same ones you are most likely to see being highlighted in the news. At some point, one might ask, am I going to believe in my own ability to reason and understand, or shall I let this, or that news, or media outlet simply dictate what I believe, whether it's true, or not?

What he says is that birth control has greatly expanded sexual freedom, and that sexual freedom has had consequences that are harmful to society and to women in particular. Again, one may disagree whether, on balance, these harms outweighed the benefits. But what is so upsetting about the idea that they might have? What in the world explains Friedersdorf's and Rubin's overwrought emotionalism?

Here's our attempt at an explanation: In liberal metropolises like Los Angeles, Washington and New York (homes of Friedersdorf, Rubin and this columnist, respectively), a high proportion of conservatives have internalized the assumptions of feminism. One of those assumptions is that female sexual freedom, an essential component of sexual equality, is an unadulterated good. Santorum's statements to the contrary challenge this deeply held view.


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