In the words of the immortal Nigel Tufnel, there's a fine line between cleva' and stupid. And after reading the full transcript of Rick Santorum's remarks to the AP about homosexuality, it occurred to me that there's also a fine line between Christian conservative and porn-king.
Say what you will about Teddy and Barney and the rest of the liberal standard-bearers on the Hill, I don't think any of them has ever brought up "man on dog" sex in an on-the-record interview. (In the transcript, the reporter herself is obviously stunned and interrupts the Senator to tell him his comments are "sort of freaking me out."
More generally, I have to agree with Andrew Sullivan who said on his website that the full transcript is actually much more damning than the snippet that's been widely reported. Up until just a few years ago it was commonplace for people to say, why can we outlaw polygamy and yet have it be the case that outlawing homosexual sex is unconstitutional? When you get into topics like incest or pedophilia that's a different subject because everyone can recognize that these are issues involving non-consenting adults, and so forth. But presumably polygamy is a choice made by consenting adults. And yet we outlaw it. So it's a good question because it shows that even while most of us recognize a 'right to privacy' we nevertheless believe in a right to privacy that is shot through by deeply-held social value judgements.
When I first read about Santorum's remarks I found them objectionable. But I assumed that they were some form of a 'slippery slope' or reductio ad absurdum kind of argument, such as the ones above. But they weren't. In fact, the point he goes to great lengths to make doesn't even have anything to do with a constitutional argument. He's not saying, how can you make value-neutral distinctions between homosexuality and bigamy or incest. He is, as nearly as I can tell, making the positive assertion there are no distinctions. They are each "antithetical to strong, healthy families."
Having said all this, I can't say that I'm surprised. I'm surprised he said it quite so clearly, not that he thinks it.
Now you have the President supporting Santorum and calling him an "inclusive man." For the reasons Eleanor Clift sets forth here, I guess the president doesn't feel it's possible to criticize Santorum -- which tells you a lot. But "inclusive"? I can think of a number of words he could have used. 'Principled'? Maybe they're bad principles, but he's principled. 'Deeply religious'? Okay. But 'inclusive'?
One thing that hurts politicians more than anything is saying things that make them sound ridiculous. Calling Rick Santorum 'inclusive' makes the president sound ridiculous.