SICK BODIES AND SICK MINDS
I sincerely hope that each of you had a great holiday season. Lots of presents. Lots of rest. Lots of family. Lots of football. Lots of hope that you will honor your New Year’s resolutions, and that the new year will be one we can all look back on with a smile.
Me? I’m just glad the holiday season is over.
When I reflect on the past few weeks, mostly what comes to mind is getting sick. First it was an ear infection. Then it was a sore throat. Then it was bronchitis – and the return of the ear infection. Then it was back spasms. And most of this was going on when I was away from home. As fun as it is to be on the road when you’re healthy, that’s how miserable it is to be on the road when you’re sick. In my case, the more I coughed and sneezed, the more I threw out my back. As the great philosopher Rosanne Rosannadanna used to say, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another thing.” Or in my case, it seemed to be EVERY thing piling up at the same time. Some vacation.
Fortunately, there were some bright spots – and I’m not just referring to the old adage that “A bad day wincing, coughing and sneezing is better than a good day working at the office.” My trip, you see, was to a place that Sarah Palin might refer to as “real America.” Central Indiana, to be specific. I was visiting my in-laws, most of whom I have always thought of as Republicans. But this time, when the subject of politics came up, I was pleased that they are as fed up with the Republican Party as I am. One of my most conservative in-laws even said that the only thing more disgusting than the Democratic Party is the Republican Party. My thoughts exactly.
Just look at what’s been happening during the past week. John Huntsman, the sanest of this year’s crop of GOP candidates, is the only one who seems destined never to experience any surge whatsoever. By contrast, the two newest names to get their 15 minutes of fame include Ron Paul (who could probably care less if all the residents of the Eastern and Southern Hemispheres blew themselves to smithereens as long as they didn’t take the U.S. with them) and Rick Santorum. That’s right: Rick Santorum. I get that he’s the punch line. And I understand that the joke is on us. What I don’t quite get is the joke.
Santorum-mania is all the rage among Christian fundamentalists. They realize that they blew it four years ago when they failed to rally quickly enough behind their ideologue of choice, Mike Huckabee. So in an effort not to make the same mistake twice, some prominent fundamentalists are now requesting that the other remaining suitors for their vote – Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry – back out of the race and throw their support for Santorum. If that happens, then the fundamentalists and other representatives of the hard right may indeed be able to mount at least a semi-serious threat to the man affectionately known as “Mittens.” Otherwise, we’ll soon be done with this primary season and ready to begin the competition between Obama and Romney for the title of “Chameleon in Chief.” I think we all know how that will turn out: Obama will win, the country will stagnate for another four years, and Mittens will remain every bit as smug as when he and his briefcase used to be dropped off at school in a limousine.
But I digress. This blog post isn’t about Mittens, nor Obama. It’s about the Man of the Moment – Rick Santorum. I still can’t get over the fact that the guy is poised to collect millions of votes. Sure, he’ll eventually lose. This is, after all, the 21st century, and we have made considerable progress on social issues since the time Santorum’s views were formed. Still, the fact is that he is likely to finish “in the money” in delegates for the Republican Nomination. Not since George Wallace captured five states in the 1968 Presidential race has an unabashed bigot waged such a formidable campaign for President. Doesn’t it just warm the cockles of your heart?
Santorum, for his part, doesn’t see himself as a bigot. He’s the first one to tell you that he blames the sin, not the sinner. In other words, he has no problems with homosexuals. It’s just “sodomy” that bothers him. And, after all, shouldn’t all of God-fearing, heterosexual Americans be concerned with it? As the Great Santorum pointed out, “[I have] a problem with homosexual acts, as I would with what I would consider to be acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships . . . If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery,, you have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. ... That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing."
Poor Rick. He was on such a roll at the beginning of that statement. He was only pointing out what every small-minded bigot thinks about when the word “homosexuality” comes to mind. Why did he then have to bring man-on-dog sex into the equation? And for that matter, what is man-on-dog sex? Does it actually happen? Is it like man-on-knothole sex? Personally, I’ve never heard of a man trying to have intercourse with a tree before, but then again, I’ve never heard of a man trying to hump a dog either.
I don’t mean to make light of the situation. Homophobia is every bit as serious to me as racism. Every bit. It’s not homophobia that I take lightly, it’s Rick Santorum. I could have marshaled a number of other myopic Santorum quotations about such topics as contraception, welfare, the Middle East … you name it. But I just can’t get past his homophobia. It’s so out-in-the-open that I almost want him to win the nomination so that we can have a national debate about homophobia. Then, unfortunately, I realize that he would be having the debate with a President who is too sheepish and phony to announce his support for gay marriage … at least not until he no longer faces re-election.
Gay people have little to fear from Rick Santorum or his supporters. It’s just a matter of time before homosexual activities are accepted in our society, much like interracial love is now accepted. Santorum knows the trends. He knows that the halcyon days, where gays were closeted and every family was led by a man (and supported by a woman), are coming to an end. He’s legitimately concerned about this trend.
Come to think of it, I’ll say this for the troglodyte: at least we know that there is something he truly cares about enough to lead him to take a courageous stand. I’m not sure I’d say the same for the other politicians we’ll be hearing from this summer and fall.