The GOP in Limbo: How Low Can You Go?

Sioux Center, Iowa.    The Republican Party managed to accomplish three amazing things last week, in the course of two debates and one election.  It revealed a bloodlust that easily trumps concern for personal character and social morality.  It scorned a fundamental teaching of Jesus Christ.  It showed that the only thing that really matters to the party is the perceived ability to beat Barack Obama in the November election.  At least those were the messages sent by South Carolina Republicans.  Not by all, but by many if not most.  We can hope they are unrepresentative of the party as a whole.

The South Carolina primary was on the eve of National Sanctity of Human Life Day, commemorating the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.  Ron Paul is the only pro-life candidate running for president this year.  Mitt Romney’s flip-flops on the issue of abortion are common knowledge.  Newt Gingrich had an anti-abortion voting record in the House, but, like Romney, his roots are in the pro-abortion Nelson Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party in the 1960s and he was considered a liberal Republican as late as the mid 1970s.  There’s no reason to believe he cares about the social evil of abortion any more than did Dick Cheney during his eight years as the power behind the George II throne—which is to say, not at all.  (If he’s elected, we can be certain it’s all pretense when Mrs. Gingrich reveals in an interview that she’s pro-choice.  That’s the way powerful Republicans send the requisite mixed signals regarding Roe.)

Rick Santorum is sincere in his anti-abortion stance, but he’s not pro-life.  He’s pro-death on most issues involving the sanctity of life, most notably war.  His embrace of the bipartisan American Empire, his fealty to the military-industrial complex, and his hatred of Muslims and/or his willingness to cater to the Likud lobby (as a Roman Catholic rather than an evangelical Protestant, his Israel First foreign policy is probably motivated more by politics than theology) add up to an enthusiasm for war which trumps his opposition to abortion.  Protecting unborn American life is important to him.  Protecting Iraqi life, Afghani life, Iranian life (born and unborn) . . . not so much.  Santorum is a good Catholic except when he declines to follow the church in its Just War teachings.  Then he becomes a cafeteria Catholic.

I have a soft spot for Santorum up to a point.  I like much of what he says on the campaign trail when it comes to domestic policy, including moral issues and blue-collar economics.  He brings strong logic to issues that are often clouded by mushy-headed sentiments.  He agrees with Ron Paul in his criticism of the NDAA provision allowing for unlimited imprisonment of U.S.citizens accused of aiding terrorism.  But then there’s foreign policy.  Santorum goes off the rails with a crazy foreign policy that tries to out-do George W. Bush’s Wilsonian liberalism.  It’s hyper-militarism and hyper-imperialism, gilded with God-talk.  It’s the same old s*** we’ve had for seven decades: what C. Wright Mills termed crackpot realism.  Ron Paul knows it can’t last.  The trajectory of empires is pretty standard.  We’re overextended and going broke.  We’re crumbling at home.  We’re morally bankrupt.  But, as one front man among many for the crackpot realists who administer our foreign policy, Santorum condescendingly smirks and shakes his hand while Paul tells the truth during debates.  Santorum’s thoroughly conventional and wrongheaded foreign policy eliminated any chance that I could support him for president in 2012.

Most of the audience at the Fox debate who cheered the Gingrich-Romney-Santorum glorification of killing and booed Paul’s call for a foreign policy based on the golden rule of Christ are “good Christians,” which says a lot about the debased nature of Christianity in the United States today.  It also helps us understand how the pious Pharisees stirred up the mob to cry “Crucify Him!” when Pilate inquired about the relative merits of Jesus and Barabbas.  Sanctimony is not sanctification.  In moments such as these, the Southern Baptists (and others) in South Carolina are far better Americans (in the corrupt, imperial sense of the word) than they are Christians.  They may be Christians in a personal, ticket-to-Heaven sense, but they are far removed from Christianity as preached and practiced by Christ.  To hear their hooting and see their high-fiveing, one would think that Jesus said, “Blessed are the war makers.”  He did not.

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