When I came up with the idea of a "low self-esteem engine" I wasn't even thinking of anyone in particular, I just thought it made for a funny pun. But Rick Santorum does strike me as coming basically from the Eric Cantor school of former nerds. The 98-pound weakling who got decent enough looking after college to actually land a wife, and then discovered through politics that he could actually have power over all those jocks who made him feel like shit in high school. (The one college shot of Santorum in a beard and smoking a pipe is so indicative. It says: "I don't know who I am. I need a mask. I need accoutrements. Maybe you will think I have a personality.")
Getting it together wasn't enough for Rick. He couldn't stand how all his college friends went on to have sex with whoever they wanted, and a lot of it, gay or straight (especially gay -- that one guy down the hall he couldn't help but notice in the dorm). If he could only have missionary sex with just his wife, they had to as well. His entire worldview became one in which the behavior of other people had to validate his own choices. He has endless children? No abortions for anyone. He can't ever see what it's like to make out with a guy? You have to pray away your gay. The rich entitled white guy who wouldn't know low self-esteem unless it was an ingredient his toothpaste? Gotta beat him for President.
And of course, Barack Obama is the worst, because his humble origins are far humbler than Rick's, and he didn't even have the advantage of white skin. Obama is the quintessential American success story, a man who rises to the top on the basis of intellect and merit, and nothing else. If Santorum can beat him, maybe he can finally have the feeling he never had when he wasn't voted class president. Maybe he finally won't feel like a fraud, maybe those nasty kinky thoughts will finally go away. If he makes everybody live like he does, than maybe that little voice of doubt that has plagued him all of his live will finally be quelled. The more doubt one has, the more one feels the need to double down on certainty.
And of course, this is precisely the syndrome afflicting so many of the people who vote for him. "We are afraid of who we really are. We will vote for the guy who tells us we are morally superior, and them maybe it will be true." So they do, and the rest of the United States suffers.
I think we should require therapy in order to vote. Ten sessions for everyone -- 20 for Republicans. Maybe then we can restore some sanity to their choices.
Follow Mark Olmsted on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarquisMarq