Lifes Worth Knowing

Grading Gregory: Smells Like Santorum (Don’t Google That)

In Current events, Iowa, Justin, Meet the Press, Politics on January 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm

This week – the week of the Iowa caucus, David Gregory sat down with Presidential pre(con)tender Rick Santorum. On Sunday, when the interview aired, this was of little consequence. Today? It is of monumental importance as Santorum took a strong second place showing in Iowa losing to Mitt Romeny by only eight votes. Eight votes! Even though Romney got more votes, Santorum is the big winner, coming from nowhere. Just a couple of weeks ago, he was stumping to mostly empty church basements, and now he is labeled with the seemingly disastrous republican front-runner tag (see: Bachmann, Michelle; Perry, Rick; Cain, Herman; Gingrich, Newt)

So who is Rick Santorum? We covered a couple of ideas from Ron Paul’s basic message last week, and this week we take a look at Santorum’s Meet the Press interview for some straight-from-the-mouth-Santorum (don’t Google that, either).

As I was watching the Meet the Press interview, it seemed like a rather ho-hum affair. There was David Gregory hitting early on a couple of points (abortion, earmarks) that Santorum was able to effectively parry away, and come out sounding like a well spoken candidate.

Now, full disclosure – Santorum and I have a bit of a history. He was my Senator in Pennsylvania for a number of years, and I had been known to send him some scathing emails and called his Washington office on numerous occasions. I had quite a back and forth with one of his staffers over coal plant regulations about 5 years ago. While I don’t think he ever personally read any of my emails or spoke with me, I have always had some disagreements with him and he is really the only politician that I have ever really attempted to engage directly.

That is why I was so surprised by my reaction to this interview thus far; I was starting to like him. He was being thoughtful, concise, and reasonable. He was touting compromise and coming across rather well. I abhor many of his policy positions, but I started to see him as someone that might be friends with my Dad. I know. I was as surprised as you are.

Then David Gregory brought up foreign policy – and this is when things started to unravel for Santorum. Gregory asked the former Senator about Iran – which has been a trademark issue for Santorum. He played a clip were Santorum states, “And this president [Obama], for every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, he has had nothing but appeasement. We saw that during the lead up to World War II. Appeasement.”

Set aside for the moment that President Obama’s defining foreign policy issue has been his propensity to reign down terror from the skies on the “radical Islamists” (Osama, Anwar Al- Awlaki, et al) and look at where Santorum goes with this – he states that Obama’s biggest failing was his inaction during Iran’s failed 2009 Green Revolution.

Now, Gregory presses him to define what he would have done differently, and Santorum outlined his “five point” plan, which included funding the pro-democracy movement in Iran, using covert operations to disrupt the Iranian government, treat nuclear scientists in Iran as enemy combatants (Really???), and demand inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities or face an airstrike (Ok, so he only had four points in his plan).

Let’s take a look at two portions of this plan, first, the idea that we should use covert operations in Iran. Gregory pointed out that we already know that there is covert activity being done to disrupt the weapons program by Israelis and Americans. Santorum apparently, denies that, and decides to announce on television that he would use covert activities. If they are supposed to be covert activities, why is he announcing them? And is he in a position of knowledge that he knows that we aren’t already doing that? He isn’t even a government employee.

Secondly, Santorum went on the record stating that he would bomb Iran because “you can’t go out and say this what I’m for and then do nothing. You become a paper tiger and people don’t respect our country.” There you have it folks. Santorum will bomb Iran because that’s how you earn respect in the international community. Now, as someone who lived in Europe during the height of Iraq war, I can tell you that bombing a Middle Eastern country to disarm them does not bring about feelings of respect. Contempt is more like it.

Now, that brings us to the real jaw dropping moment of the interview, the point where my unlikely positive feelings towards Santorum disappeared into a foreign policy nightmare. When Gregory pressed Santorum over the issue of Iran’s green revolution, Santorum said that Obama should had supported those democracy protesters, and that it was inconsistent that we did nothing in Iran, but then supported the democracy movement in Egypt.

Now, to be clear, Santorum is not praising Obama for his handling of the Egyptian protests that toppled a dictator and brought democracy to millions of people – No, he is criticizing the President for supporting the “Muslim brotherhood and Islamists” and for assisting in bringing down our ally, Mubarak.

Gregory came right back at Santorum, calling his position patently contradictory for supporting democracy in Iran but not in Egypt. To which Santorum responded by stating “the Muslin Brotherhood is not about democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood are Islamists. The Muslin Brotherhood are going to impose Sharia law.” (First of all, stop using the vaguely militant misnomer “Islamists” and call them what they are – Muslims) Gregory fired back stating that the Muslim Brotherhood was popularly elected, and isn’t that was democracy is about? Santorum’s reply? “No.”

Santorum’s foreign policy is revealed as one of ignorant arrogance. He believes that America should be able to determine the proper government of a foreign people. He supported Mubarak, who has been charged with killing his own people, and discredits the legitimately elected parliament of Egypt because they are Muslim. Has anyone told Santorum that a majority of the Egyptian people are Muslim? And it is quite likely that a nation of Muslims would elect a Muslim government? The hypocrisy is astounding, his position then is that we should promote democracy ONLY when it aligns with our national interests, and prop up dictators against their people’s wishes as long as they remain an American ally. It’s Cold War politics all over again. Let’s ask the Chileans (or Nicaraguans, or Grenadians, or Vietnamese) if that type of foreign policy worked out well for them.

American foreign policy is not to be treated like a giant game of Risk where we try to accumulate allies and project our will upon an unwilling world. American foreign policy is based upon understanding our interests and serving as a democratic example of a government for the people and by the people. This is not the Cold War where we must brace ourselves against impending desctruction, we live in a time of relative peace, where it is more likely to be killed by lightning than a terrorist. Do we need another war? Have we not learned from neo-conservative disasters? This is not a game. You are toying with the self determination of entire nations – an idea that we have codified as a right in our system. How preposterous a notion is it that we should prevent others the same right.

Shame on you, Senator. And to think, I was beginning to like you.

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  1. I like your reference to risk. Also after Iowa I will be curious to see if Huntsman finally gets a good look. I think he seems like a very smart man who tends to think things through. And being ambassador to China has got to help since we are huge trade partners at this point whether you like it or not China, US relations are important.

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