English v. Puerto Rico

by Jonah Goldberg

Driving back from the airport, I caught a Rick Santorum radio ad (on Sirius). The gist is that Romney is a flip-flopper who tells different audiences what they want to hear. That’s an old charge and certainly not out of the mainstream, particularly given the standards of the primary. What I found interesting was the Santorum campaign’s choice of evidence to support the claim. Santorum says Romney’s inconsistent because Romney claims to  favor English as the official language  but he also supports Puerto Rican statehood. Santorum, as I understand it, says he is himself open to statehood, but he’d make it conditional on Puerto Rico first accepting and teaching English as its official language.

Now, I think Santorum’s position is entirely defensible (even if I’m not sure I agree with it). There’s nothing inherently wrong with saying to Puerto Ricans that they have to adopt English if they want to become a state. But is it really true that if you support English as the official language of the United States you have to support making it a precondition for Puerto Rican statehood? That may be the right way to do it, or it might not. But I don’t see why Romney has to believe both. 

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