Over the line, &c.


There has hardly ever been a campaigner who hasn’t exaggerated, demonized, scarified, and all the rest of it. It goes with the territory. But there’s a line, I think — and I also think that Rick Santorum, in his battle against Mitt Romney, has crossed it.

Here are some greatest hits from recent days: “Mitt Romney is in bed with Barack Obama.” Romney “passed socialized medicine.” “Mitt’s whole career, he’s been working for liberals.” Romney is “a liberal governor of Massachusetts.” He is “an Occupy Wall Street adherent.”

Not only are these not truthful comments, they’re not even sane. And you want sanity in your nominee, as a bare minimum. Newt Gingrich has dubbed Romney a “Massachusetts moderate.” Who could have guessed that, between the two main not-Romney candidates, Newt would be the more temperate in his rhetoric?

Although Santorum has not, thus far, accused Romney of forcing Holocaust survivors to eat non-kosher food for the first time in their lives, in their dying days. That was a Newt special.

Another Santorum beauty: Romney “doesn’t understand how America works any more than Barack Obama understands how America works.” Well, growing up with George, starting businesses, running the Olympics, serving as governor — Romney has a halfway decent understanding of how America works, I would say. Maybe even close to Rick Santorum’s understanding.

As for Obama, he managed to understand America well enough to get himself elected president, alas.

Santorum said that Romney and Ron Paul are in cahoots, teaming up against him. “The coordination that I felt at that debate that night was pretty clear — it was like they were passing messages behind my chair.”

If Romney can pull off such a tricky, crafty feat in a campaign, imagine what he could do in American foreign policy . . .

He was supposed to have stepped in it by telling a Detroit audience, “I drive a Mustang and Chevy pickup truck. Ann [Mrs. Romney] drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. I used to have a Dodge truck, so I used to have all three covered [the three Detroit automakers].”

What was the problem? You see, he revealed himself to be — cover the children’s ears — rich. All those cars. And two Cadillacs! Holy smokes, what will the yokels say?

Actually, the yokels, in my home state of Michigan, tend to have a lot of cars. Maybe even more than the Romneys. There might even be a Caddy or two among those cars. Besides, I think everyone pretty much knows that Romney has made a lot of money. And I have a feeling the public might be a little less resentful than some suppose.

A few weeks ago, a Santorum campaigner-blogger on this site said that Romney was “pretending he’s not rich.” Well, for a guy who’s pretending he’s not rich, he’s pretty loose with the Cadillac talk.

This article begins, “President Barack Obama is telling Latino voters their choice in the election ‘will not be that difficult’ because he’s the only one who backs comprehensive immigration reform.”

I couldn’t help thinking what Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, said during the 2010 campaign: “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, okay? Do I need to say more?” This was before a Hispanic Republican, Brian Sandoval, won the governorship of Reid’s state, Nevada — beating Reid’s own son, Rory.

How sweet it was, and is.

Franklin Graham, Billy’s son, was roundly criticized for not coming out and saying, forthrightly, “Of course Barack Obama is a Christian. Who could question it? Christian as they come.” Instead, he said things like, “I accept him as what he says. If he says he’s a Christian, I accept that. I’m not going to say he’s not. . . . He is a nice man. And his wife is a class act and their kids are class — you can’t help but like them.”

Graham was pilloried. But I thought of this: Bill Maher said flat-out that he didn’t believe Obama was a Christian. He said he thought Obama was lying about that. He said that, as he saw it, Obama was a secular humanist, pure and simple.

Yet few pounced on Maher for that, as I recall.

Also, Franklin Graham, at the same time he was making his remarks about Obama, would not call Mitt Romney a Christian. And nobody, but nobody, cared about that.

Such a strange country we have.