Rick Santorum: Let’s Talk About Sex

Meet Rick Santorum, who's apparently running for Moralist In Chief.

In a lengthy interview with Caffeinated Thoughts given in October that both Ace of Spades and drewmusings wrote about last night, which you can watch here, Presidential candidate Rick Santorum revealed the side of his platform that many Americans are going to find most troublesome:

One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea … Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay … contraception’s okay.”

It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal … but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

Again, I know most presidents don’t talk about those things, and maybe people don’t want us to talk about those things, but I think it’s important that you are who you are. I’m not running for preacher. I’m not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues.

Ace puts it best, I think:

If you say “gee he’s just talking about this stuff:” Um, if a plumber starts talking about the bad rap iron pipes have gotten over the years, and how they’re really pretty safe, I assume he’s open to the idea of using iron pipes in my house.

He is a plumber, speaking about what he considers to be his area of expertise.

So when a presidential candidate starts talking about the importance of the president taking the lead on the evils of birth control, yes, I assume he believes this to be within the proper functions of the executive.

And I do not think he wants to limit it to “just talking.” You know how people typically introduce ideas that are currently unpopular and outside the Overton Window? They first suggest “talking about” them. As we saw with Entitlement Reform.

Plus, he himself says these are important “public policy issues.”

Not personal morality issues. Public policy issues. In other words, the public, voting, or expressing its will through its chosen legislators, gets a say on these “issues.”

Let’s leave aside the fact that, depending on the form, contraception is a near-perfect barrier against pregnancy, or the fact that it can also prevent the spread of devastating sexually transmitted diseases. These are important issues, obviously, but beside the point at the moment. Since when are the contraceptive, or private sexual choices of consenting adults a matter of public policy? Ace is right, when you start talking about issues in that kind of terminology it inevitably leads to the idea that there should be some kind of public solution to the alleged problem, and that’s where Rick Santorum parts ways with the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, not to mention a large segment of the public at large. Issues like same-sex marriage aside, there is a fairly strong ethos in this country now that what people do behind closed doors regarding matters like this is their own damn business, and as much as he might think it’s possible we are not going to return to the days before Griswold v. Connecticut when people accepted the idea that the government had the authority to make it illegal for people to purchase contraceptives. It’s not going to happen.

What will happen, though, is that statements like this by Santorum will become part of any General Election campaign if, by some bizarre chance, he ended up becoming the Republican nominee. He will turn off independents, women, and anyone who doesn’t think that the government should be guided by the same puritanical principles that ruled the Plymouth Bay Colony. And the Republicans will lose the Presidential election, possibly in a landslide large enough that the House of Representatives slips out of their control. You’d think that Republican voters would be smart enough to realize all of this. Maybe they will, but the way this race has gone so far I’m done with making anything other than short-term guesses about what might happen at this point.  So, could the GOP be crazy enough to nominate a guy who would fit in better at a revival meeting than a Presidential campaign? Crazier things have happened and, as I noted last week, perhaps that’s exactly what they need to do to show the world that Santorum’s brand of social conservatism isn’t going to win elections.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Vast Variety says:

    Personally I think nominating Rick Santorum would be the best thing to happen to the GOP right now. They will loose so badly in the general to Obama and they won’t be able to blame the loss on the idea that he wasn’t conservative enough. Maybe finally the religious nuts of the right will be drummed out of the GOP and the party will get back to actually wanting to govern,

  2. Steve Z says:

    Question for Doug and other liberterian conservatives. If the election were tomorrow, and Santorum was the Republican nominee, would you

    a) vote for Santorum
    b) vote for Obama
    c) sit it out

    As a pro gay marriage, pro contraception republican, I would still choose a over b (or c for that matter) primarily because of what little control the President has over such matters. Granted, there is the bully pulpit, but I just don’t think he would get a lot of traction there. I wonder how this poll would come out in the swing states.

    I know the conventional wisdom is that independents would choose Obama over Santorum (although they are currently running neck and neck in national polls), but I am more curious about whether liberterian republicans are so turned off by Santorum that they would go to Obama.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Since when are the contraceptive, or private sexual choices of consenting adults a matter of public policy?

    Well, until the Supreme Court made up a right of privacy out of thin air in Griswold (1965), they were just that. As recently as 1986 (Bowers v Hardwick), SCOTUS upheld the right of states to criminalize gay sex–a decision they finally overturned in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas). So, pretty much our entire history would be the answer.

    Now, as to whether any of this is a good idea, I say no.

  4. de stijl says:

    What happened to the “, Baby” at the end of the headline?

  5. legion says:

    As I’ve said before, if you’re considering voting in a religious zealot, you better be very sure that zealot follows _exactly_ the same beliefs as you, in complete detail. If he doesn’t, it is an absolute certainty that eventually, he will use the power you gave him to force his beliefs on _you_, too.

  6. DRS says:

    There’s a great comment in Ace’s thread (#52): “Hope he addresses masturbation next.”

    Seriously, what is it about “mind your own business” that Santorum doesn’t get? I doubt if he could even walk around the neighbourhood he lives in – where people know him and presumably view him with favour – without getting doors slammed in his face if he started talking this way. What gives him the impression that he just has to say this?

    Ace got it right in his first paragraph which you didn’t include: “Glad we’ve gotten all the Big Things squared away so we can now focus laser-like on the sin and moral emptiness of people having sex while avoiding pregnancy.”

  7. Hey Norm says:

    Just another small government Republican wanting big government intruding on every aspect our lives. The hypocrisy is awe-inspiring.

  8. Scott F. says:

    @Steve Z:

    I would hope libertarians (Republican leaning or otherwise) would have a big problem with Santorum’s warmongering thing. Because the President does have some control over that matter.

  9. @James Joyner:

    Fair point, although as I said I think we’ve gotten to the point now where laws such as those at issue in Griswold and Lawrence are largely viewed as anachronisms (I’d argue that this was the case pre-Lawrence as well given the fact that such laws were rarely enforced in a consensual situation).

  10. @Hey Norm:

    I wouldn’t consider Santorum a small-government advocate in any respect.

  11. Rob in CT says:

    Yeah, Santorum out-Neocons most Neocons. So even if you’re tempted to wave away his SoCon nuttiness, there are other reasons for concern.

  12. Rick DeMent says:

    Well, until the Supreme Court made up a right of privacy out of thin air in Griswold (1965), they were just that.

    Except it was not out of thin air,the right of privacy is a perfectly logical emanation from 4th amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. I mean after all what logical reason would there be to be secure in your person, house, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search and seizure unless privacy was a right?

    Unlike the corporate person-hood notion that wasn’t even a proper ruling by the court or the “right” of free association, two things I never hear you refer to as pulled out of thin air, the right to privacy is a bedrock notion for the 4th amendment to make any kind of sense at all.

    But if you want to continue to be obtuse.

    The Idea that reaching into the bedrooms of consenting adults is somehow the preview of government is as dictatorial and anything I can imagine and the simple thought of it should disqualify any one for public office.

  13. Hey Norm says:

    @ Doug…
    From the Santorum Website:
    “…Now more than ever before, the size and scope of federal regulation threatens the ability of Americans to create goods, provide services, and choose the household products that best suit their needs. Federal regulations extend to every aspect of modern American life, so it’s certainly no surprise that they have a very high cost for American families…”
    Emphasis mine.

  14. Hey Norm,

    I’m aware of the rhetoric. It’s the reality I’m talking about

  15. michael reynolds says:

    Who supports Santorum? The Tea Party.

    So, tell me again how the Tea Party is a sincere expression of a desire for smaller government. It gets funnier each time.

  16. Hey Norm says:

    @ Doug…
    Do you understand the meaning of hypocrisy?
    Pretending to have beliefs that one does not actually have.
    Criminy…

  17. Modulo Myself says:

    Sex is necessary in adult relationships. It’s not arguable. Those who do no expect that intimacy in time automatically leads to sex are very rare. Those who do not have sex before getting married are really really rare.

    People like Santorum get off on going on about the ‘libertine’ culture for unknown reasons, but they wouldn’t even know where to begin if they had power in talking about sex or love. It’s pure smoke and mirrors.

  18. Ron Beasley says:

    I can’t help but think that it goes beyond religion for Santorum – he has some serious sexual hangups.

  19. anjin-san says:

    Since when are the contraceptive, or private sexual choices of consenting adults a matter of public policy?

    Welcome to tea party America. Have you been out of the country or something?

  20. Hey Norm says:

    If I was Santorum I wouldn’t start talking about sex in this campaign…I mean…you know what they say about black men.

  21. @Hey Norm:

    Politicians are hypocrites? You don’t say.

  22. Barb Hartwell says:

    It kills me that contraceptives are so bad to them, AND abortions ARE murder to them and taking care of the kids after they`re born is out of the question. So they think you should have as many kids as you can and if you cannot afford them then stop having sex. No wonder they hate everything THEY`RE FRUSTRATED.

  23. Modulo Myself says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    If you’re doing it right, no matter what the kink or power vibe is, sex is based on respect, equality and vulnerability. A lot of men are really uncomfortable with sex being other than a male need. Santorum is obviously one of them.

    Either that, or he’s gay.

  24. Tillman says:

    Never type this headline ever again.

  25. Hey Norm says:

    Yes Doug…THEY ALL DO IT!!! Your raison d’etre is satisfied.

  26. David M says:

    Attn GOP: Please nominate Santorum. We promise we’re really scared of him.

    Sincerely,

    The Democratic Machine

  27. MBunge says:

    @Rick DeMent: “Except it was not out of thin air,the right of privacy is a perfectly logical emanation from 4th amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.”

    1. If you suddenly decide that a Constitutional Right exists where no one had previously expressed, endorsed or codified such a right, that’s pretty much the definition of “out of thin air”. Another good indication is when you start having to use words like “emanation” to justify that right.

    2. A right to privacy would cover the government not being able to find out I purchase contraception. My right to use contraception is about liberty and personal autonomy. This privacy BS that flows out of Roe is really corrupting the whole argument.

    Mike

  28. @MBunge:

    The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    —- U.S. Constitution, Amd. IX

  29. Jib says:

    @michael reynolds: I dont think this is the Tea Party. The TP was more about economics, the original tea party was suppose to be dumping mortgage back securities into Lake Michigan. In the beginning they very pointedly downplayed social issues.

    Now the Boyz @ FNC quickly smothered any mention of anti-Wall Street while playing up anti-health care and deficit concerns. And the social conservatives, finding they no longer had any members, quickly declared ‘We Are The Tea Party!’ So it morphed after that but Santorum belongs to a wing of conservatism that is definitely NOT small govt.

    The libertarian wing of the repubs is actually small. The security state repubs and the social conservative repubs are both pro big govt and they make up a sizable majority. The repubs only deploy small govt rhetoric when arguing against the dems or trying to fool libertarians into voting for them again.

    Santorum does not even try to lie to the libertarians about what he will do, which I think is in his favor. In his own way, he is as honest about what he stands for as Ron Paul is. This is the cleanest ideological choice the repubs have had in my life time. Since no one seems to have any real political skills or connections, it is all about what you believe. There are 3 choices, the establishment Wall Street / crony captialism choice, the social conservative choice, and the libertarian choice. The only ones not represented is the security state wing which both Romney and Santorum are trying to win over to break the tie.

    And yet again, it looks like libertarians are tail end Charley in the GOP.

  30. Robert in SF says:

    @MBunge:

    Does anyone have a primer on Constitutional rights? Does the Constitution grant rights, or protect them?

    I don’t know the various in-n-outs of the legal arguments and historical references, but was under the lay impression that all rights are protected under the Constitution until such time as the rights are ruled as not protected…the list of those rights in the Bill of Rights on through were not meant to be exhaustive…as explained in the ninth amendment….

    The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    I am also under the influence of cold medication, so cut me some slack. 🙂

  31. @Rick DeMent:

    Except it was not out of thin air,the right of privacy is a perfectly logical emanation from 4th amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

    As soon as you start arguing about where this or that right is in the constitution, you’ve already ceded the statist’s point. The constitution does not grant rights to the people, it grants powers to the government. The proper question is not “where does the constitution grant a right to privacy?”, but rather “where does the constitution grant a power to intrude on privacy?”

  32. JohnMcC says:

    But…but…what if gas hits $4.00/gallon and Santorum gets elected!!

  33. sam says:

    He wants to be Chief of Penis and Pussy Police.

  34. Tillman says:

    @Hey Norm: Y’know, you’re often right, Mr. Mataconis does use “pox on both houses” thinking a lot. This time, though, is warranted, because now you’re arguing only one kind of politician (Republican) can be hypocritical, and that is completely absurd.

  35. Moosebreath says:

    Jib,

    “There are 3 choices, the establishment Wall Street / crony captialism choice, the social conservative choice, and the libertarian choice.”

    And of course, even solely among Republican primary voters, the libertarian choice gets the least votes of the 3, and is despised by the others. It’s a pity the lesson never sinks in to the libertarians.

  36. legion says:

    Is there any subject – anything at all – that Santorum doesn’t eventually turn into a discussion of sex? Especially gay sex? I swear, the man thinks more about gay sex than any gay man or woman I’ve ever known.

  37. Brummagem Joe says:

    perhaps that’s exactly what they need to do to show the world that Santorum’s brand of social conservatism isn’t going to win elections.

    But the Paul Ryan brand of economic conservatism isn’t going to win elections either. And isn’t Ryan one of the princes over the water that keeps coming up as a poster child for a brokered convention? Why anyone with some contact with reality would vote Republican at present is beyond me but obviously many would. Which brings to some new poll out this morning with Obama increasing his lead over Romney to about 7 or 8 points but actually Santorum doesn’t poll that much worse (a couple of points). I mention this not to puff Obama but to emphasise that when you get down to it there isn’t that much difference in terms of electability between Romney and Santorum. One has a host of cultural baggage but would probably enthuse the faithful more while the other has a host of economic baggage and is detested by the faithful. Which would you choose?

  38. gVOR08 says:

    @Jib: The Tea Party claimed to be about economics. Also constitutional government and tricorne hats. Every survey of them I ever saw showed they were the same old social conservative, holy roller base. Just with some new slogans picked up from their astroturf enablers.

  39. Latino_in_Boston says:

    You know, I wonder if the DNC and Obama himself started mocking Santorum in the ways that many here are mocking him, it would guarantee his nomination as the GOP standard bearer in a reverse psychology sort of way.

    If so, they should see into this immediately.

  40. mattatat says:

    @Vast Variety: The base will still scream that Santorum wasn’t a true conservative. Just look at bithead and his refusal to actually name a “true conservative” candidate. If Santorum wins the base will be crowing about how a true conservative won but if he loses…

  41. @mattatat:

    Well, if you accept as true “if the Republicans elect a True Conservative (TM), they will always win”, the contrapositive must also be true: anyone who didn’t win must not be one.

  42. Bleev K says:

    One thing is now certain, I’ll vote with my dick.

  43. @James Joyner:

    Sorry, James, the Griswold court did not “make up a right of privacy out of thin air.” They just didn’t. Every single freedom guaranteed in the Bill of Rights has at its core the principle that individuals have the right to live their own lives as they see fit as long as in doing so they are not violating the rights of others; i.e., the right to be free from government intrusion into their personal choices, preferences, and actions, as long as they are not harming others. If the descriptive word that represents that right is not “privacy,” then what is it?

  44. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    Annnnnnd this is what I’m talking about. Yes, the fact a right is not listed in the Constitution does not mean such a right does not exist. But that does not, at least in any reasonable and logical sense, mean that such rights are protected by the Constitution as written. Or what do you think “retained by the people” means?

    Mike

  45. MBunge says:

    “Sorry, James, the Griswold court did not “make up a right of privacy out of thin air.””

    They did not make up the right to privacy out of thin air. What they pulled out of their collective asses was that such a right can be found within the Constitution in such a way that it covers the right to have an abortion but not, for example, the right to sell one’s body for sex or take drugs.

    And by the way, the whole “harming others” thing is kind of at the heart of the abortion dispute.

    Mike

  46. Ron Beasley says:

    @MBunge: The word privacy does not appear in the constitution because at the time it was written privacy (privi) reffered to going to the bathroom(outhouse).

  47. @MBunge:

    Let’s turn the question around. Why do you (apparently) believe that the courts cannot interpret which rights “rights retained by the people” might be when presented with a specific claimed violation? Of what value are rights retained by the people if the people cannot claim them?

  48. @MBunge:

    Whether abortion represents a harm to others or not does not mean that there is no implied right of privacy in the Constitution. You can argue that Roe v. Wade was decided on the wrong grounds — that privacy was not the animating right — but that has nothing to do with the point that James raised; i.e., that Griswold v. Connecticut made up a right of privacy out of thin air in order to overturn that state’s law forbidding the use of contraception.

  49. Barb Hartwell says:

    I just heard Sean Hannity is blaming Obama for the Contraceptive issue. I guess Faux news figured this is not helping them at all. Un effin believable that they get away with such nonsense.

  50. Hey Norm says:

    @ Tillman…
    No…I agree…in this case he got me.

  51. Jib says:

    @gVOR08: I agree it is hard to separate them. You have the people like the social conservative leaders and Karl Rove and company who hijacked the movement for their own end (OWS take heed). And their is no question that many of the TPer are personally socially conservative but the ones I talk to are actually pissed the way this turned out. This is not the movement they wanted. They wanted something closer to Ron Paul and yes, OWS, than Santorum. Romney is not even a serious consideration. Palin would have done nicely.

    Culturally they cant support OWS, too much like the dirty hippies of their youth, and I dont think they are ready for the smaller security state of Ron Paul, although they do take him seriously unlike the Boyz @ FNC and Rush and company. They are also nervous about the dismantling of SS that Paul would push, this is a aged movement and they do like their social security.

    I know it is hard to say this about a party that controls the house, has a good chance of taking the senate and a decent, if less than 50%, chance of taking the white house but I really wonder if the repubs are breaking apart. It certainly looks like the old Goldwater / Reagan libertarian – Wall Street – social conservative coalition is breaking up.

  52. Franklin says:

    @de stijl: I was just saying the other day that we need to add “In Bed” to all OTB post titles, like we do with fortune cookies.

  53. WR says:

    @Jib: ” And their is no question that many of the TPer are personally socially conservative but the ones I talk to are actually pissed the way this turned out.”

    Yes, the animating force of the tea party was f– the minorities and the moochers — which meant everyone who took government money except for them. They certainly didn’t mean to elect someone who would pass laws restricting their freedoms — they only want that for them lesser folk.

  54. anjin-san says:

    Sean Hannity

    He should be donning his knee pads for a Santorum interview sometime soon…

  55. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Hey Norm: I think that Doug may be taking the hypocrisy as a given in the current climate. I know that I do.

  56. @Jib:

    I agree it is hard to separate them. You have the people like the social conservative leaders and Karl Rove and company who hijacked the movement for their own end (OWS take heed).

    The Tea Party was completely full of it from the instant it appeared. The people in it didn’t care about limited government a second before Obama’s election and won’t give a damn a second after he leaves office. It is and always has been a way for the people who spent the last 20 years championing big government conservative to do a political 180 without having to acknowledge there hypocrisy by pretending they were some new movement rather than the same old crap in a new package.

    And if this wasn’t obvious to you and your friends from the very beginning, then crongratulations; you’re the movement’s “useful idiots”.

  57. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jib:

    They wanted something closer to Ron Paul and yes, OWS, than Santorum. Romney is not even a serious consideration. Palin would have done nicely.

    What? How is Palin “close” to either Ron Paul or OWS?

  58. unimacs says:

    The Internet makes small things seem big.

    Some of these positions have enough of a following to give the people who feel strongly about them the illusion that there’s more public support for them than there really is.

    A few years ago I couldn’t imagine that making sure contraception was widely and easily available to ADULTS would ever be considered a bad idea. Making it available to teens without parental consent was controversial. But for ADULTS?

    It wasn’t even a contentious issue among the vast majority of Catholics.

    But now a minority of people have managed to push this issue to the forefront again and my guess is that they will be rudely reminded that most people don’t agree with them.

  59. Jib says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Not close to Paul or OWS, CLOSER to Paul and OWS. As in closer than either Santorum or Romney is. Palin has made noises about the banks and Wall Street, she has a populist economic streak. I think Paul is the only one running for repub nomination that has said anything negative about Wall Street.

    Palin is a mess and she is not very close to Paul or OWS on almost anything EXCEPT Wall Street. However, her ideology, such as it is, is almost pure early Tea Party.

  60. Steve Verdon says:

    These are important issues, obviously, but beside the point at the moment. Since when are the contraceptive, or private sexual choices of consenting adults a matter of public policy?

    Why is this so shocking? It is a reasonable extension of public policy trends. Don’t eat this its too fatty. Don’t drink this. Don’t smoke that. We have numerous laws about what we can put inside our bodies…why is sex any different, after all one partner is going to be putting another persons body part into their body.

  61. al-Ameda says:

    America has been dumbing down for the better part of 30 years so it was inevitable that a candidate like Santorum would emerge as a serious presidential candidate.

    The public is largely uninformed and incapable of a common sense approach to important public policy issues.

    There was some recent polling that showed that at least 40% of the people who receive social security, medicare and unemployment insurance pay do NOT believe that they are receiving government program assistance.