Santorum’s Speech

by Rich Lowry

First, what I didn’t like: I know how faith has sustained the Santorums, through the kind of trials I wrote about today and throughout this campaign, so it’s altogether fitting that he should thank God, but he has to watch the overt religiosity as he tries to broaden out his support. And there were too many “I’s.” This was his first chance to truly introduce himself on the national stage, so I understand the impulse to get in a lot about yourself — but again, something to watch. Otherwise, it was marvelous, built on the themes of the dignity of the human person and of work. The image of his grandfather’s hands was powerful and moving. He hit the right note in speaking of “so many men and women right now who would love to work hard, but they don’t have the opportunity.” In what was at least a tonal departure from Republican orthodoxy, he said tax and spending cuts aren’t enough — although he wants both. He emphasized that we need “a plan that includes people from all across the economic spectrum” — a sentiment surely no one disagrees with but too few Republicans bother to utter. He was compelling on the importance of families to communities and economic strength. Near the end, he described the struggles of his little disabled daughter Bella and “the dignity of every human life.” But he didn’t leave it there. He invoked “the dignity of every working person in America to fulfill their potential.” That’s a fundamentally Lincolnian sentiment, indeed you could argue is really the core of Lincoln. Some of the policy here may be dubious. And as Mark noted, this iteration of conservatism is not going to be a fit for everyone. But Santorum’s conservatism is deeply felt and has a distinctive flavor. This is someone who has thought through what he believes and why, and how best to express it. It’s not just schmaltz. To my mind, it shows the wisdom of Iowa sending him on to a broader audience. Now we’ll see what he makes of it.

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