Monday, April 18, 2005

A Resounding Gong

"You couldn't quote what I'd have to say about him"
--Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana

How about some politics for this lovely Monday?

The Washinton Post had a profile yesterday on Republican Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania. The quote above is what Landrieu said when the Post asked her opinion of Ricky. For those of you who are less obsessed with this stuff, Santorum is the charmer who compared homosexuality to incest, and tried to bring a five-year-old girl into the visitor's gallery during the later-term abortion debates. When Senator Boxer objected to that, he acquiesced, but whined, "we have coarsened the comity of this place." Riiiigggghhhht. Cause bringing a five-year-old in for that type of debate wouldn't coarsen the comity at all.

Something I did not know about Santorum, which I learned from the profile, was that his 4th child, Gabriel Michael, was born very premature - at only 20 weeks. He died two weeks after he was born. While I have a lot of sympathy for anyone who loses a child at any point in life, it is clear that Santorum comes from a uniquely conservative religious perspective, and he views his son's brief life and death as signs from God about his role in politics. He is entitled to that perspective, and it does not bother me that this perspective colors his view of things. I find Santorum slightly less offensive than others because I really think he believes the stuff he is spouting, as opposed to Rick Reed, profiled in today's Times, who appears to be a shyster.

That being said, it is perennially irritating to me that conservatives use Christianity to further their agenda. As anyone who has read Anne Lamott's excellent Traveling Mercies knows, Christianity and liberalism are not mutually exclusive. Regardless, it is hard for me to sympathize with Santorum when he decries homosexuality and abortion, and thinks it's only right to use medical advances to keep Terry Schiavo "alive" but god forbid some scientists think they might be able to cure diabetes and MS with stem cell research.

Compassion, supposedly a key tenet of every major faith, is defined as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it" by Merriam-Webster. There is nothing compassionate about the conservative agenda that Santorum and his good buddy, our President, advance. As Ron Reagan, Jr., put it in his concise and moving speech about stem cell research at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, "But many are well-meaning and sincere. Their belief is just that, an article of faith, and they are entitled to it. But it does not follow that the theology of a few should be allowed to forestall the health and well-being of the many."

Senator Santorum's serious observation of Catholicism does not prevent him from being pro-death penalty, though. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Conservatives love to quote Leviticus when railing against homosexuality, but conveniently ignore other parts of the bible that they do not care for. My personal favorite? When St. Paul was encouraging the Corinthian church to give generously of their food and money to others:

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."

2 Corinthians 8:13-15

1 comment:

  1. Lauren from the Kans10:38 AM

    Great post Meg, and it does seem that Santorum is coming around on the death penalty, but one interesting tidbit about their son Gabriel was that Knight Ridder has him quoted as saying that had the baby not been born prematurely and there was a question about his wife's life being harmed through the continued pregnancy, they would have done a late-term abortion. So when push comes to shove, I guess theology will go out the window, and maybe that's a good thing.