October 8, 2011

Whose spouse is Rick Santorum talking about?

"When you look at someone to determine whether they’d be the right person for public office, look at who they lay down with at night and what they believe in... Who is the person at their side who has.. the closest counselor to that person? If you want to find out if that person who you are voting for is going to stand tall and stand tough, find out where the spouse of that person is."

Spoken at the Value Voters Summit yesterday. (Video at the link.)

Alec MacGillis wonders whose spouse he's talking about:
Might it be the wife who reportedly urged one candidate to order a mandatory vaccine for the HPV virus? Or the wife who, lo so many years ago, gave $150 to her local Planned Parenthood chapter? Or, perhaps, not a wife at all, but the lone husband in the field of spouses? Hard to believe, given that said spouse has taken such vigorous action in fighting the scourge of homosexuality, a mission Santorum also cares deeply about. In any case, let's hope Santorum can clear this matter up at next week's debate in New Hampshire.
MacGillis assumes Santorum was talking about the spouse of one of the GOP candidates, but he might have been thinking about Michelle Obama. Should we feel that it's appropriate and even important to scrutinize the candidates' spouses? It's conventional to say that the family is off limits, but I'll bet a lot of Obama opponents feel he might have been defeated if spousal scrutiny were regarded as fully legitimate.

63 comments:

David said...

Nice move, Rick, you blithering fool.

Chip S. said...

Who's?

Hangover?

Ann Althouse said...

@Chip LOL. It's the antidote to all the times Trooper York has titled a post "Whose that girl?"

Anyway... no hangover. But I have been editing video for 3 hours straight and I'm getting awfully hungry. I've been transcribing the words to mean songs sung by strange Baptists. You'll see the video soon.

Ann Althouse said...

Hopefully there are no errors in the video text, because I can't correct them the way I corrected the post title.

Trooper York said...

Hey I resemble that remark.

I am like you. When I make a mistake I am too stubborn to change it. That's why you are gonna vote for Obama again!

Whose that girl?

traditionalguy said...

The attack dog Santorum must be going after Perry whose wife is a nurse. Nurses can be abortion neutral and favor vaccinations for virgin women too. But Perry is too gentle to hit back at Santorum.

Santgorum is probably afraid of going after Cain's wife. Cain would pull a Harry Truman on him.

Santorum has become a Westboro Baptist Church style politician. He attacks others to get himself noticed.

He better leave Mrs Gingrich alone, or Newt will divorce her and go seduce Santorum's wife.

Romney is not in Santorum's sights, even with the Pro-abortion Romney position. What does that tell us?

sydney said...

Maybe he's talking about Bill and Hillary. Anyway, I've always found Michelle Obama, when she isn't in false campaign mode, but speaking honestly and off the cuff as more realistic and down to earth than her husband. I fear she has lost her influence since they went to the White House. He is now surrounded by sycophants. How does a wife get through that "you are Mr. Wonderful Genius Man" bubble if she doesn't believe it herself. (I know she is on record as saying that he's "ready" and "smart" in campaign speeches, but in interviews she also said he was "smelly" and wondered aloud what the heck he's ever done to make him qualified to be President. She also said he was hardly ever home when he was a Senator. I don't think she holds him the same esteem as Valerie Jarett and the rest of the Oval Office crew. That's not to say she doesn't love him. Just that she has a more realistic view of him.

somefeller said...

So Santorum is frothing. No surprise.

Ann Althouse said...

"I am like you. When I make a mistake I am too stubborn to change it."

Then I guess you won't concede that as to the title of this post, I corrected the mistake.

rhhardin said...

Look for a man who sleeps with his dog.

rhhardin said...

The spouse is who's?

Phil 3:14 said...

Who care's

Jason (the commenter) said...

At this point in the game Republican candidates need to be attacking Cain, Romney, or Obama. Asking voters to examine candidates' spouses seems like misdirection more than anything else to me.

Patrick said...

Who does Herman Cain Sleep next to? Well worth the watching.

Fred4Pres said...

Santorum lost Pennsylvania by 20 points for a reason. He is not a good politician.

SGT Ted said...

Who's Spouse?

OUR SPOUSE!!

Synova said...

Why would he be talking about someone else's spouse? He's got one, hasn't he?

It's a weird thing to bring up, unless he was trying to say that his spouse would "win" if candidates were judged by their spouses.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

You're all being extremely obtuse. Santorum is obviously talking about his own spouse, who he believes for some reason is a recommendation to vote for him.

Fred4Pres said...

Santorum lost Pennsylvania by 20 points for a reason. He is not a good politician.

Joseph Bottum said...

This is a somewhat mangled version of an insight from the Weekly Standard‘s Richard Starr, promulgated years ago when Giuliani first looked like a serious candidate. The idea was that, especially on abortion, the views of a candidate’s spouse are a pretty good guide to whether the candidate is serious about a pro-life position or is just spouting slogans.

The problem with it as a law, of course, is the George W. Bush had a spouse less pro-life than he was, and yet he managed not to abandon his position once elected.

Does that mean it’s no longer a good rule of thumb (because, perhaps, the politics have so solidified that Congress and the party won’t really allow a candidate to change on abortion once elected)?

Hard to say. Meanwhile, that phrase “look at who they lay down with at night.” Is this little bit of bad grammar so common it’s now unremarkable?

Fred4Pres said...

I am conservative and I do not care for Rick Santorum.

David said...

Spousal scrutiny is one thing, but a obscure slander of someone (I'm not saying who) is not spousal scrutiny.

Fred4Pres said...

Ann, I get the impression you are trying to justify an Obama II vote. I suspect the nominee will be Cain or Romney, not Santorum or Perry.

Patrick said...

Grammar means nothing to me anymore since the time in school where the English teacher held me to a strict pronunciation standard but allowed the black kids poor grammar. The best survival course of action in grammar is the lowest common denominator. Apostrohes are for wimps.

Smart people who rail against others bad grammar but fail to have the wisdom to read between the lines dont deserve their apostrohes. lol And they are divorced from the part of modern culture that is vibrant

Jane said...

I don't know if there was anything remarkable about what was said here. He thinks of marriage as a unit of belief systems. I suppose it might work that way.

I don't think it was a disqualifying remark by Santorum on its own merits. It was a little lame.

Santorum's wife is a strong person, but I know she would prefer to live a quiet life.

I must confess, I look forward to reading Althouse because of Mead and his fun journalism.

Santorum lost Pennsylvania not entirely because he was lame or incompetent, but because:

(1) It was 2006 and a Democrat sweep;

(2) He ran against a Casey;

(3) He endorsed Specter over Pat Toomey, invoking the wrath of the conservatives in PA.

Ok, so maybe he's lame.

Hagar said...

Rick Santorum is an idiot.

That said, it is reasonable to look at a candidate's spouse to some extent as it would tell us something about him or her. However, with the current bunch, I do not see anyone that says anything about the candidate that we do not already know.

erictrimmer said...

Maybe he's talking about his own wife.

erictrimmer said...

I'm late to this party.

bagoh20 said...

It's not looking good for A. Lincoln. The standards have gotten too high.

TML said...

It's "lie down," Rick. Lie, lay, lain...pretty simple.

Chip S. said...

@Patrick--IOW, you think it's up to your readers to do the work you yourself aren't willing to do.

The natural inference for the reader of a lazy writer to make is that the writer doesn't have anything to say that's the effort required to express clearly.

Most of us make so many mistakes unintentionally that we're ill-advised to intentionally make more.

edutcher said...

Perry's wife is a nurse who, by her own admission, talked Perry into the idea that the HPV vaccinations were a good idea.

Nurses are like that. They know how easy it is to get into trouble because they deal with the consequences.

The Blonde is the same way.

As for Romney's wife, I know it never changes in LeftyLand, but real people do have experiences that change their minds about things. For most people, the passage of 17 years can change a lot of views.

David said...

Nice move, Rick, you blithering fool.

Wrong. He was talking up his own wife. Santorum's hardly my favorite Republican, but his point is valid. Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush were extremely influential.

We can all guess about Michelle O.

PS When you see a featured article entitled, "How George Will Misunderstands Both Elizabeth Warren and Liberalism", you already know what a twerp Alec MacGillis is.

fivewheels said...

As I read it, it seemed obvious that he was going in the direction of "Look at how wonderful my wife is, and that's a reason to vote for me."

I don't buy that, and I don't like Santorum, but I don't see any indication that this is in any way supposed to be a statement directed negatively. And to me it actually seems crazy to interpret it that way. Is there any other context that would lead to that conclusion?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Should we feel that it's appropriate and even important to scrutinize the candidates' spouses?

I think it deserves some scrutiny. Most husbands and wives tend to be somewhat similar in outlook politically and in their stances on moral issues.

A couple like Carville/Matalin, that are so diametrically on opposite ends of the spectrum, are very unusual.

Spouses often exert considerable influence over each other.

On the other hand I is good to know when and where the spouses do disagree. I know I'm not always on the same page as my husband, and I don't expect him to agree with every one of my positions either.

So....yeah. We should look at the spouse of the candidates.

sorepaw said...

Rick Santorum has simply reverted to type.

For a brief while, he had a few people thinking he might not be a son of a bitch.

That's over.

If Santorum could get a ban on abortion and the death penalty gays, he'd happily let other politicians tax, borrow, and spend the United States into oblivion.

sorepaw said...

*and the death penalty for gays*

Mitochondri-Allie said...

Anyone read the book " The Handmaid's Tale" ,by Margaret Atwood? If thaws religious right nut jobs get into power I can see it happening. One can only hope they will fight amongst themselves as to who the "real" Christian is and become distracted .

DrSquid said...

I suspect he's talking about his own spouse in a clumsy effort to make himself look good. See, she is so awesome in every way that he must be great presidential material for having won her. I think Rick is a decent fellow and his wife is probably just truly Pennsylvania nice, but this is a stupidly obtuse comment.

jimbino said...

You can also say,

"If he lay down with pigs, he would rise up smelly."

Use of the subjunctive presents an even greater challenge to current writers.

victoria said...

What a putz.


Vicki from Pasadena

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

Nice to see not every Lefty in the country is making a fool of him/herself Occupying Someplace.

Some are doing it right here.

In case they haven't heard, paranoia is treatable.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Of course it's always noticeable when people go after the wife and family. I think it should be, especially when there's no fully legitimate reason for it.

Getting to know about and get information about the spouse of the candidate, (her positions, feelings on issues, important things he/she may have done in the past, their accomplishments, their goals) is not the same thing as 'going after'.

If you elect a President, you are also taking on his entire family, history and associations. Your closest association is with your spouse.

I little knowledge is warranted as long as it is respectful of the privacy that you would accord to anyone else.

If you are hiring an executive or CEO of your firm, you need to know the background of your applicant. Just look what happens when you don't do any research or vetting .....we get an Obama.

Mitochondri-Allie said...

Good thing Sarah Palin was vetted before McCain chose her.

Kirk Parker said...

"It's conventional to say that the family is off limits"

I think that goes away the moment a given family member makes actual campaign appearances (and no, just standing on the stage and waving doesn't count--but giving speeches, meeting with potential voters or donors, etc, certainly does.) Howard Dean's wife set a marvelous example in this regard, saying (basically, and from memory): No, I'm not going on the campaign trail with Howard, I still have my job.

Kirk Parker said...

Mitochondri,

As an exposition of Atwood's pathetic nightmares, the book is interesting. As anything else... bleah. No, the constituency for that kind of theocracy in the US is vanishingly small.

Hagar said...

Michelle is, if anything, a plus for Obama.

However, if Hillary! were to challenge Obama, would anyone here consider her husband Bill to be an irrelevance?

fivewheels said...

Those "religious right nut jobs" were in power for eight years, and nothing of the sort ever happened, despite constant alarms about the coming theocracy from the "loony left nut jobs." Just ridiculous scare tactics, as per usual.

sorepaw said...

Anyone read the book " The Handmaid's Tale" ,by Margaret Atwood? If thaws [sic] religious right nut jobs get into power I can see it happening.

Much as I loathe Rick Santorum—his defeat was one of the few bright spots in the 2006 elections—I doubt that even he would try to impose the sort of regime Atwood wrote about.

You'll need to go to the Ayatollah Khamenei or the Mullah Omar for that.

Mitochondri-Allie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mitochondri-Allie said...

Sorepaw, Fundamentalism, whether it be Christian or Muslim are dangerous, not equally dangerous....yet.

Beta Rube said...

This makes me want to write-in the name "Meade".

I'm pretty sure they'll know who I mean.

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Synova said...

I always thought that the Handmaid's Tale was mostly a revelation about the people who thought it was possible. I mean, at what point does it become intelligent to think that Atwood made any sort of a cogent point? What she does is speak to prejudices and the confirmation of those prejudices tickle the fancy of those who hold them.

The fear of theocracy in America is either wishful thinking or ignorance. How far outside of the religious community does a person have to be before they don't feel ridiculous suggesting that Catholics will agree to rule alongside Baptists and Lutherans will agree to rule alongside Baptists?

I think this same fantasy also allows people to claim that powerful Corporations run the nation antagonistic to elected government and what dear powerless persons in government like poor Obama would prefer to do. Corporations are also in competition with each other and spend most of their time in court trying to shut the other guy down.

Granny Jan said...

I really thought "America is a downright mean country" and "for the first time in my adult life I'm proud of my country" and "as a black man my husband could get shot just going to a gas station" would disqualify you from running for president unless you yourself benefited from black-skin privilege. Don't say we hadn't been warned.

sydney said...

I read an interview once in which Margaret Atwood said her inspiration for The Handmaid's Tale was Afghanistan in the 1980's.

Kirk Parker said...

sydney,

Interesting. I suppose it's time to invoke Tom Wolf now?

Kirk Parker said...

Uhh, Wolfe. Duh. Sorry to confuse.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Michelle is, if anything, a plus for Obama

Bwahahahhhhaaaa

My sides are aching.

Bwahahahaha

....oh...wait...you were serious?

Joe said...

Rick Santorum has proven himself to be a vile piece of shit. Regardless of his target, all the other candidates should shun him.

AST said...

It should be "whom's," right?

That's the same excuse I used to give for not having read the cases assigned that day.

Hmm. I won't vote for Perry, because he thinks I have no heart.

Now I can't vote for Santorum because he expects me to choose a candidate by his or her spouse's conduct, which means he thinks I have no brain. I think that sanctimony of his is why I've never liked him.

I can't vote for Newt because, well, because he's Newt, a pompous pedant. And I can't think picture his wife without wincing.

I don't even know anything about Mrs. Cain?

I would vote against Mitt because he's a Mormon, but I'm one, too.

Actually, since I live in Utah, it won't matter who I vote for since the decisions will have been made before we go to the polls.

AllenS said...

All nurses want to play doctor.

David R. Graham said...

A person is known by the company they keep. I do not know the full context of Santorum's remark here. My speculation would be that he referenced either his own spouse or that of the White House occupier. In any case, the closest company a person keeps - a loyal person keeps - is their spouse.

Therefore - and realistically, despite "rules" - not only may the spouse of a political or any aspirant be scrutinized, they positively should be.

The White House occupier was instant to condemn and forbid (!) scrutiny of his spouse because she was and is a deal breaker. Voters should have scrutinized her, now have, and should have scrutinized him, too. There's a huge price to pay for abjuring scrutiny of anything.