Virginia Postrel weighs in on the Santorum-Sullivan flap and makes the argument I was composing in my head, although better than at least the rough draft of my version. So just go and read hers, saving me the trouble. A precis:

What I don’t get is why sophisticated pundits imagine that Rick Santorum might think that the Constitution protects sexual privacy or that the government should stay out of people’s sex lives.

Santorum is, first of all, from Pennsylvania, a highly traditional state with an aging population whose don’t-make-waves politics is protective of the status quo and not the least suspicious of government power. I wouldn’t expect a Pennsylvania politician to push for new sanctions to regulate sexual behavior, but neither would I expect one to push to get current laws overturned. *** Andrew Sullivan is being disingenuous when he writes, “Has Santorum heard of limited government? It was once a conservative idea, you know, Senator.”

As Andrew well knows, limited government is a liberal idea. It only seems conservative in the Anglo-American context because we’ve had several hundred years of liberal tradition. But there are older, pre-liberal conservative traditions, including a rather prominent one to which Rich Santorum outspokenly adheres–a tradition that honors hierarchy, solidarity, and “natural law” and sees liberal individualism as a source of decay.

Go read the rest.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.