The deceased had been beloved: businessman, political activist, family man. Friends and colleagues from far and wide came to pay their respects to one who had touched their lives. The line at the viewing was long — more than two hours.
Uncomfortable as it was, especially for the elderly, all persevered, because that is what’s required when paying respects to a good friend.
Well, almost everyone.
Turns out one person didn’t want to stand in line. A person who thought of himself as above the “masses,” someone in a class by himself. Someone to whom the rules didn’t apply.
That person? Rick Santorum.
Instead of honoring his friend the right way, he glad-handed some “politically connected” people in the vestibule, while ignoring others who, for some reason, were enthralled to see a former senator. After wrapping up that “event,” Santorum walked right down the aisle to greet the widow and her family.
To the astonishment of many, he then left, waving to those poor souls stuck in line. Total time: less than 15 minutes.
Good thing, for he had to fly back to Washington to vote on the all-important appropriations bill and . . . oh wait. Couldn’t have been that, since he had lost his senate re-election by a whopping 18 points several years prior.
Santorum’s behavior offered more insight into his character than any vote could provide. His selfish actions disrespected every person in that church, but most of all the deceased, who, despite being a big Santorum supporter, apparently wasn’t worth two hours of Rick’s time.
So why would Santorum thumb his nose at those in line, many of whom were supporters he would later court for his presidential run?
In large part, that same arrogance led to his shellacking in 2006, yet, as we will see, it was a lesson lost.
It was arrogance that led him to publish his book before that election, despite advisors begging him to wait until later, since many parts would be (and were) taken out of context by his opponent.
It was arrogance that led him to become a big-government Republican while labeling himself a “conservative.”
It was arrogance to claim he was a “Pennsylvania” senator while effectively living year-round in Virginia.
And most damaging, it was arrogance which led Santorum to endorse liberal Republican Arlen Specter over conservative Pat Toomey in the 2004 primary election, which many believe delivered Specter his razor-thin victory.
Did Santorum have to make that glowing endorsement because of his leadership position? No way. True leaders lead because they are following a vision; simply doing the bidding of others makes one a leader in name only.
It was Santorum’s portrayal of himself (contrasted by his actions) that became a sticking point. He asked people to believe in him because he was a man of integrity, for whom principle came before party.
Most politicians do exactly what their party tells them to do. But Santorum said he was different. As a result, his repeated failures as a leader — coming up small when he was needed most — run deep, and can be attributed to an arrogance that “playing both sides” is a winning strategy.
Nothing has changed.
Fast forward to 2012. Lost in the spotlight of Iowa is that Santorum sold his soul right out of the gate, playing both sides on one of the most important issues to Iowans — ethanol mandates.
Santorum voted against ethanol subsidies his entire career, yet because he wanted to win the Iowa “corn vote,” he changed his tune and pandered to the ethanol crowd.
Forget that corn-based ethanol fuel is an unmitigated disaster that has led to higher fuel costs, skyrocketing food prices (corn recently hit an all-time high), and inflation, since a staggering 40 percent of America’s corn is used for ethanol production. And ignore the painfully obvious fact that unlimited natural gas from the Marcellus Shale right under Santorum’s now-adopted home state of Pennsylvania is the biggest key to solving America’s energy dependence.
The red flag for Santorum is the question of character. No one made Santorum run for President. So when he campaigned as a man of principle, voters rightfully expected a campaign of conviction, not a politically-calculated flip-flop right from the get-go.
Rather than speaking the truth, Santorum became that which he claimed to abhor. And once the door of political expediency is opened under the rationalization that it’s the only way to the next level, it never shuts.
Santorum worked hard in Iowa, but much of his “success” was based on a false premise: that he has the character necessary to be a president of true leadership.
After Iowa, Santorum said it was “game on.” But as America learns about the real Rick, it will soon be “game over.”
And that’s no corn.
An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Friendly Fire Zone.
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