GEORGE WILL: For Santorum, the fight goes on

GEORGE WILL

GEORGE WILL

WASHINGTON – Perhaps Rick Santorum is demonstrating persistence beyond the call of plausibility, but he says compelling political logic and high duty converge. Although he has not made a decision about 2016, he candidly says he is doing “everything consistent with running” – traveling to speak to sympathetic groups and donors. His hand is on his sword’s hilt.

When Santorum entered the fray for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, he drew his sword and threw away the scabbard.

The party is, he says, in danger of becoming “a one-legged stool.” The “Eastern establishment types” want to saw off the cultural conservatism leg, concentrating on economic issues. The rising libertarian faction, exemplified by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, wants to saw off the strong foreign policy leg. Furthermore, Santorum says, “Americans are not ready for a dramatic withdrawal of government from their lives” of the sort many Tea Party types advocate.

In 2011, however, this devout Catholic thought the other candidates for the nomination were perfunctory in their embrace of the social issues – principally, opposition to abortion. Each rival had a brief moment as “not Romney”; Santorum’s moment came, serendipitously, on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. In the first vote tabulation he lost by just eight votes. Sixteen days later, a revised tally showed that he had defeated Romney by 34 votes, 29,839 to 29,805.

Looking to 2016 … he wants to compel a troubling conversation the nation would rather not have.

Today that fact is family disintegration: 41 percent of American children are born to unmarried women, including nearly half of first births, 53 percent of Hispanic children and 72 percent of African-American children. In 2015, these facts will be discussed in connection with the 50th anniversary of the Moynihan Report.

In March 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a 37-year-old toiling in the Labor Department’s office of policy planning and research, published “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” It said that in inner cities “the center of the tangle of pathology” was the fact that 23.6 percent of African-American children were born out of wedlock, compared to just 3.07 percent of white children.

Moynihan knew he was handling dynamite – he had only 100 copies printed, all marked “For Official Use Only” – but was stunned by the way discussion was shut down by accusations of “racism” and “blaming the victim.” Santorum says that if Republicans will not speak for the many millions of voters concerned about social issues, “We’ll be more competitive in states we lose and will lose states we should win,” and “we will become the Whig Party and be done.”

Although Santorum is a young-looking 55, in 2016 he will have younger rivals. Furthermore, he may not strike many Republicans as the answer to the party’s problems with female voters and blue states. Nevertheless, there are gallantry and dignity in his steadfast determination to tack against the prevailing wind.

George Will’s email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

  • barney fife

    Santorum has few peers in the lunatic department.

  • Guest Person

    The problem with Rick Santorum and his family issues and numbers is he is not looking to solve any problems he is just looking to divide the public by attacking people. His only answer is to tell people how they should live.

  • FrereJocques

    Santorum will never amount to anything on a national level, as his personal religious and political agendas alienate everyone he comes in contact with. He needs to go be a preacher in some backwater Fundamentalist church in the middle of nowhere.

  • Thile

    Yeah, Frothy ain’t winning in 2016. Or ever.