With only a few months left before the Republican National Convention, it looks like a brokered convention could be in the works. Before that happens though, the two front-runners, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are making their cases for the presidency. While none of the Republican candidates would make good presidents, Rick Santorum is by far the worst of them because his stances on morality, the economy and foreign affairs are deeply misguided.
When it comes to morality, Santorum is simply wrong. There is moral rot in the United States, but it is not found in gay marriage, women’s health issues and pornography; it is found in the public behavior of people who control our economy.
While he has discussed the morality of contraception, abortion and gay marriage, Santorum has not discussed where morals have really broken down, Wall Street. In fact, according to Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs employee, it made him ill how callously his former co-workers talked “about ripping their clients off, over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets’ sometimes over internal email.”
Santorum would be better off campaigning to stop Wall Street fraud, exorbitant pay of top executives, financial conflicts of interest, insider trading and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations.” But no, gay marriage, women’s health issues and pornography are the true measures of morality. If Santorum really wants to reform the morality of the United States, he should start in corporate boardrooms that take advantage of clients, not private people’s bedrooms.
Santorum’s economic initiatives aren’t much to write home about either. Like many Republican leaders, he continuously talks about out-of-control debt and the need for spending cuts. On his website he says that as president he would unleash America’s energy by approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. Is that the only way to unleash American energy? I think energy sources such as wind, solar, and other sustainable options are part of America’s long-term energy strategy.
Not only that, but while Santorum preaches about balancing the budget, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that his economic policies would only add to the national debt. Not to mention that while his tax policy would add $4.6 trillion to the national debt, he still has the audacity to call for a balanced budget amendment. Finally, when it comes to entitlement reform, Rick Santorum is off base. He wants to cut means-tested entitlements by 10 percent. But does cutting programs for the poor instead of raising taxes really make for the best public policy?
When it comes to foreign affairs, Santorum has demonstrated nothing but ignorance with regard to both allies and enemies of the United States. At a February campaign event in Georgetown, Ohio, Rick Santorum said you could not name a time in the last 20 years the French stood with the U.S. on anything. However, over two decades, through the Persian Gulf War, the Balkans, Afghanistan, counter-terrorism and Iran sanctions, France has worked diplomatically with the U.S. and has repeatedly put its own troops in harm’s way.
Santorum’s hawkish stance toward Iran is also misguided. Although some have argued bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities would be good, the fact is, as Colin Kahl of Foreign Affairs magazine puts it, “any war with Iran would be a messy and extraordinarily violent affair, with significant casualties and consequences.” These consequences range from closing the Strait of Hormuz — the maritime chokepoint through which nearly 20 percent of the world's traded oil passes — to launching missiles at southern Europe.
Even in the weak field, he is by far the worst candidate. His misplaced sense of moral decay would likely lead to more government intervention into the affairs of private citizens rather than checks against the public behavior of corporations. His economic policies would only add to the national debt, while programs that aid poor working-class Americans are slashed.
Finally, his inability to understand and analyze the extreme complexities of international politics would lead to a world that is less safe for Americans. So, if it comes time to pick a president and Rick Santorum has won the Republican nomination, do not pick Rick.