Anderson Cooper of CNN is now alleging that Rick Santorum is a racist.
Cooper wasn’t alone. This week CNN introduced Rick Santorum to his audiences as a racist homophobe. The Washington Post‘s Colby King argued on PBS that Santorum was “pandering” to the racist view “that black people are just shiftless, lazy and [with their] hands out.”
This, of course, is the same media that ignores when President Obama says at a fundraiser that he wants to have the same tax rate as a “Jew.” Obama was given the benefit of the doubt; Santorum, who says he misspoke, was not. The Iowa voters who helped Barack Obama get elected in 2008 are good (because they are Democrats); the Iowa voters that voted for Santorum in 2012 are bad (because they are Republicans).
The left-wing media has also seized upon comments that Santorum made in 2009. “I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people,'” Santorum said. That might seem damning, but the remarks were designed to show that the policy of deciding who is a human being and who isn’t a human being is as wrong in abortion as it is in race relations. Santorum, who is an observing Catholic, would argue that there is a natural law, a higher law, that teaches objective standards of morality. For that reason, Santorum denies any similar status between gays and blacks, between homosexual conduct (which he would say is unnatural) with being black (which is natural).
When you look at Santorum’s actual record and involvement with black Americans, you find something entirely different from the media caricatures of a racist Republican. Longtime staff member Robert Traynham served with Santorum for ten years. Traynham is an openly homosexual black man who has repeatedly defended Santorum from these assaults on his character, the most recent of which came from Chris Matthews earlier this week.
Matthews didn’t bring up that Santorum’s chief of staff was made to suffer because of Santorum’s political positions. Indeed, Traynham’s sexuality became the focal point of a campaign against Santorum when PageOneQ, the gay and lesbian online publication, publicly outed him. Santorum, defending Traynham, replied thusly:
Robert Traynham… is widely respected and admired on Capitol Hill, both among the press corps and among the congressional staff, as a communications professional. Not only is Mr. Traynham an exemplary staffer, but he is also a trusted friend confidente[sic] to me and my family. Mr. Traynham is a valued member of my staff and I regret that this effort on behalf of people who oppose me has made him a target of bigotry in their eyes. It is entirely unacceptable that my staffs’ personal lives are considered fair game by partisans looking for arguments to bolster my opponent’s campaign. Mr. Traynham continues to have my full support and confidence as well as my prayers as he navigates this rude and mean spirited invasion of his personal life. (Steve Goldstein, “Gay-rights Opponent Santorum Stands by Outed Aide,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 16, 2005).
Santorum hired Traynham from Cheyney University, where Traynham went to college and where he currently serves on the Board of Trustees. Indeed, Santorum’s ties to the public Historically Black Colleges and Universities run deep.
In 2005, Santorum co-sponsored the Minority Saving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Act of 2005, legislation that established a new grant program providing up to $250 million to help Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
In 2004, Rick Santorum was awarded the 2004 Community Leadership Award from the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund (TMSF). “The awards event gave TMSF and our member schools the opportunity to recognize Senator Santorum’s outstanding contributions to our mission of preparing new leaders and helping more than 200,000 students attending our member schools receive a quality education. His commitment is a great example of how one individual’s contributions can make a tremendous impact,” said Dwayne Ashley, president of Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, Inc.
In 2003, Santorum, as GOP Conference Chairman, led the efforts to develop a 12-point plan to reach out to black voters. Those legislative efforts included an initiative to fight HIV/AIDS, secure hundreds of millions of funding for Historically Black Colleges, and a school choice program for Washington, D.C. Santorum was successful at getting all of these implemented, but the wildly successful school choice program was gutted when Barack Obama and the Democrats took office in 2009 as a payback to their teacher union allies. The school voucher program has since been shown to be wildly successful.
He’s helped secure billions in anti-poverty programs, so much so that Bono of U2 has supported Santorum. “I would suggest that Rick Santorum has a kind of Tourette’s disease; he will always say the most unpopular thing,” the singer granted columnist David Brooks. “But on our issues, he has been a defender of the most vulnerable.” On the eve of Santorum’s reelection defeat in 2006, Brooks wrote, “If serious antipoverty work is going to be done, it’s going to emerge from a coalition of liberals and religious conservatives. Without Santorum, that’s less likely to happen.” Of course, many conservatives would bristle at this. We believe that private charity and not the government dole is the proper function of helping those least among us, but the fact remains that Santorum was a compassionate conservative long before George W. Bush made it a part of the political lexicon.
Indeed, as Brooks notes:
Santorum’s issued a torrent of proposals, many of which have become law: efforts to fight tuberculosis; to provide assistance to orphans and vulnerable children in developing countries; to provide housing for people with AIDS; to increase funding for Social Services Block Grants and organizations like Healthy Start and the Children’s Aid Society; to finance community health centers; to combat genocide in Sudan.
These are the sorts of things that would win accolades from liberals in a non-election year for their willingness to ignore the dominating thread of American conservatism. But this is an election year.
At home, Santorum has stressed the role of faith-based initiatives which help black churches minister to the poor. Santorum has, like a lot of Republicans, hoped that the Obamas could help close the racial divide over marriage in this country. He even went so far as to salute the Obamas for going on date night, a picture of marital bliss often missing from the black family. In fact, his record on racial preferences should give Republicans opposed to government-sanctioned racism pause. In 1995, Senator Santorum voted against a ban on racial preferences. He has since said that so-called affirmative action was on its way out.
Santorum has long been opposed to the Democrats’ playbook of making race an issue. “The Democratic strategy with regard to race has always been the same–to divide and conquer,” he said in 2003. “We want to unify and create equality of opportunity. They are the ones who want to divide.”
Now the left’s media is using race again to divide and conquer. There are plenty of reasons not to vote for Santorum, but his record on race isn’t one of them.