Tea Party and the Right  
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How the Right Is Spinning the Surge of Rick Santorum

There is plenty for "establishment conservatives" to talk themselves into liking about Mr. Santorum as he takes his Iowa victory lap.

Photo Credit: C-SPAN


Rick Santorum’s not-quite-victory in Iowa was unlikely but also sort of inevitable — he was “next in line,” and Ron Paul was doomed by the portions of his platform that  aren’t horrible — and now we get to watch the anti-Romney conservatives pretend they’ve always liked ol’ Rick, the True Conservative, the only credible standard-bearer, an electable, decent man who isn’t a Washington insider.

(If Glenn Beck, for example, could trust “the reins of power” in any current GOP candidate, it would apparently be Rick Santorum.)

Some are wise enough to bemoan the entire remaining slate, though they of course blame outsiders, and not the actual rank-and-file of their own movement. Jim Geraghty  hates Iowa, and says the kooky results (Ron Paul!!!) can be blamed on the lack of a Democratic primary sending unreliable “independents” — presumably baked out of their minds — to GOP caucuses to spoil the entire campaign.

Erick Erickson — a longtime Santorum hater and one of the few pundits brave enough to label the culture warrior a false conservative, because Erickson declares everyone he dislikes for any reason to be Not a True Conservative —  was so dispirited that he literally blamed Bush. (Well, Bush and those damned Paul-voting independents: “If you take out the non-Republicans who came into the caucuses last night for Ron Paul, the Republican turnout was less than 2008 — even considering the ratio of independents to Republicans who turned out in 2008.” And if you take out the votes for Santorum, Romney, Paul and Gingrich, Rick Perry won!)

The problem, per Erickson, is that Bush picked Cheney instead of a likable young president-in-waiting. The GOP, he has heard, likes “orderly processes” of succession. If only Bush had shown the foresight to select Marco Rubio as his running mate! In Erickson’s eyes, Bush’s failure to appoint an heir is what led to the John McCain campaign  and Mitt Romney’s painful stumble toward the nomination. There is still hope, we’re told, for someone else (unnamed!) to enter the race and build momentum for the really important contests, which are now apparently scheduled for April.

If I were Perry, I’d wake up tomorrow, say I refuse to surrender the Republican Party into the hands of big government conservatives after all the gains the tea party has made, and then announce I’m firing all my political staffers and communications staffers and ask South Carolina to help me reboot to victory. Make it an Alamo stand and, if like at the Alamo Perry goes down, perhaps there’ll at least be a rallying cry for small government conservatism left over.

I can’t for the life of me figure out what makes Rick Perry “more conservative” than Rick Santorum but something something Alamo guns a-blazin’ cowboy Custer etc., etc. (Erickson then promoted a blog from a diarist making the case that  perhaps Mitt Romney isn’t such an unmitigated socialistic big government evil.)

Kathryn Jean Lopez, of course,  truly has always liked Rick, because they share a religion and a twisted puritanical revulsion for the whole of modernity.

As Roy Edroso noted,  Jennifer Rubin’s been a Santorum fan since about August, so with the race now down to her two favorites, I imagine she’s thrilled. She certainly seems pleased — in her usual dyspeptic loathsome way —  to stick it to those liberals who hoped vaguely for a Ron Paul victory. (She knows liberals like Paul because of his “bizarre views on Iran” and they hate Santorum for “his robust foreign policy.” She used the word “robust” again later, because it is code for “wants to bomb Muslims.”)