News & Politics

Why Rick Santorum's Entirely Predictable Brief Success in Iowa Still Means He'll be Back to Wingnut Welfare Soon

Whether Santorum finishes second, third or even first on Tuesday, he’s already had his best week ever. This campaign can’t go national.

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This story originally appeared at Salon.

The only real shock in Rick Santorum’s late Iowa surge is that it didn’t happen sooner. He’s the perfect candidate for Iowa Christian conservatives, even if it took them a long time to see it. First they flirted with gaffe-prone religious zealot Michele Bachmann, who confused John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy and insisted the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation. Then came a brief dalliance with the bumbling right-wing panderer Rick Perry, whose terrible campaign, given the high expectations and deep pockets of his wealthy supporters, has been 2012′s biggest surprise. They drifted for a while to womanizing huckster Herman Cain, a candidate so unserious about his right-wing credentials that he claimed to be anti-abortion while insisting the decision had to be a woman’s “choice.” Just before Santorum, Iowa’s Christian conservatives embraced the flip-flopping serial adulterer Newt Gingrich, until they remembered who he was.

Joan Walsh is Salon's editor at large. Read more of her work at Salon.