THE BLOG
01/19/2012 02:12 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2012

Rick San(i)tor(i)um -- Or, Why He Takes My Breath Away

According to Wikipedia, "The rationale for sanatoria was that before antibiotic treatments existed, a regimen of rest and good nutrition offered the best chance that the sufferer's immune system would "wall off" pockets of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) infection." Unlike Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun who, allegedly, rode on top of a freight train with his mouth open to get rid of the disease Rick Santorum keeps his mouth open in order to create one.

What's the disease that takes my breath away? Social conservatism. Now this is a branch of the Bushian notion of compassionate conservatism which, theoretically, was stressed using "traditionally conservative techniques and concepts in order to improve the general welfare of society." As far as I can understand, this notion of social conservatism allegedly focuses on the preservation of traditional cultural and family values. The problem I have with that notion is it appears to run counter to, well, the teachings of Jesus who, more than anyone, was not a social conservative.

For example, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, "Nearly 15 million children in the United States -- 21% of all children -- live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level, $22,050 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 42% of children live in low-income families. Most of these children have parents who work, but low wages and unstable employment leave their families struggling to make ends meet. Poverty can impede children's ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Poverty also can contribute to poor health and mental health. Risks are greatest for children who experience poverty when they are young and/or experience deep and persistent poverty. Research is clear that poverty is the single greatest threat to children's well-being. But effective public policies -- to make work pay for low-income parents and to provide high-quality early care and learning experiences for their children -- can make a difference. Investments in the most vulnerable children are also critical."

So, one of the things that really takes my breath away about San(i)tor(i)um is his take on food stamps. He's gone on record as saying that he would cut the food stamp program, describing it as one of the fastest growing programs in Washington, D.C. He went further by saying that there are 48 million people are on food stamps in a country with 300-million people.

According to Think Progress Health, Santorum said, "If hunger is a problem in America, then why do we have an obesity problem among the people who we say have a hunger program?" TPH indicates, "The cost of the food stamp program -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- has jumped because more Americans are out of work and wages are down, not because of obesity rates. Recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that nearly "70 percent households that relied on food stamps last year had no earned income," although many households did benefit from Social Security benefits and other government programs. But a whopping 20 percent of households had no cash income at all last year. Food prices have also gone up, adding additional costs. In fact, the food stamp program has been critical for reducing poverty and pumping money into local economies during the down economy, so cutting it now would not only take food out of peoples' mouths (regardless of whether they are obese or not) and could slow down the recovery."

With that information in mind, I'm trying understand how these seemingly disparate ideologies devoted to traditional family values (i.e. compassionate conservatism, social conservatism) syncs especially when one returns to the text from which any of these religious ideologies glean their foundation; namely, the Bible. I'm certainly not a Bible-thumper, but if one is going to Bible thump it might be a good idea to know what one is thumping. For example, Exodus 22:22, "Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan"; Deuteronomy 15:7, 11, "If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land; Leviticus 23:22, "When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God" and, of course, one of my favorites, Psalm 12:5, "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says the Lord, I will protect them from those who malign them."

This is just a handful of Biblical quotes that can be related to socially un-conservative values. What they all have in common is the fact they undermine just about everything Santorum and the social conservatives promote. One has to wonder how they can preach family and cultural values while, at the same time, undermining the Biblical truths on which they allegedly believe.
In a year when political hypocrisy seems to be the entrée of the day, it's apparent that Santorum's mantra of "telling it like it is" is as mendacious as that of any of the other candidates. Like I said, it really takes my breath away.

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