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Rick Santorum Gives Us a Boost
He hasn’t gotten a poll bump, but we benefit from his presence in the campaign.


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Kathryn Jean Lopez

‘Culture is downstream from politics,” is how Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum put it moments before he bared his soul.

Baring their souls is exactly what the moderator, pollster Frank Luntz, asked the candidates to do, and for his confession, Santorum talked about fatherhood.

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Coming from someone in a field that doesn’t exactly encourage the best of parenting skills and presence, what he said was worth hearing for reasons both personal and political.

He talked about his youngest daughter, Isabella Maria. She was born with a condition known as Trisomy 18, which causes various abnormalities and often leads to death before or shortly after birth.

“We went to the hospital, and there she was lying on the table, about five months of age,” said Santorum. “As she was lying on the emergency-room table, I reached out and held her little finger.”

“For the five months leading up to this I was the rock in the house,” he continued. But that was only because “I decided the best thing I could do was treat her differently — to not love her . . . because it wouldn’t hurt as much if I lost her,” he painfully recalled.

“I remember holding that finger, looking at her and realizing what I had done,” he said. Speaking of the issue he has become best known for addressing over the years, he reflected that “I had been exactly what I . . . had fought against. I had seen her as less of a person because of her disability. I prayed at that moment, ‘Please, please let her live. I promise I will do everything to commit to her and every child like her.’ She made it.”

“One of the reasons I am here tonight is because of Obamacare and to fight for kids with disabilities,” Santorum added.

His story helps fill out a political-cultural picture about mothers and fathers and the challenges we face in our daily lives, with lives in our hands. It’s a story that resonates as an important reminder of who we are and who we ought to be.

Before Sarah Palin became a household name in the lower 48, the then-Alaska governor’s website had a page dedicated to welcoming her new son, Trig Palin. Her and her husband’s parents, siblings, and others wrote about how beautifully challenging life with a child with Down Syndrome can be. They explained how their lives were richer. Trig’s grandparents in New York wrote of him: “He has shown us an inner strength to never give up. The best things in life come to us unexpectedly.”



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