Political Animal


February 19, 2012 11:00 AM GOP Frontrunner Santorum: Obama Agenda Based on ‘Phony Theology’

By Adele Stan

Here’s the state of our national politics: The frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination says that that President Barack Obama embraces a “phony theology”; that large-scale public education is an outdated idea, and that contraception is “not okay.” And let’s not forget his statement last month that he didn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”*

Yes, you heard all that right. If current polls hold up, Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania could be the presidential nominee of one of the nation’s two major parties. The most recent Gallup national tracking poll shows Santorum with a 6-point lead over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

At a campaign stop in Ohio yesterday, Santorum, an old-school, anti-contraception Catholic, asserted that Obama’s agenda sprang from a false theology. As quoted by the New York Times, Santorum said of Obama’s overall agenda:

“It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology,” he said. “But no less a theology.”

Not a theology based on the Bible. Funny, I’ve been thumbing through my Bible, trying to find Jesus’ injunction against birth control (not there), abortion (yes, it existed in his day) and public education (bupkis).

Well, okay, I concede that Jesus was probably home-schooled.

And I haven’t heard Santorum bleating that great quip from Jesus about how much easier it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven.

But never mind. Because Santorum isn’t really advancing a theological argument. He’s fanning the flames of culture war, speaking in a code that is easily deciphered by those determined to paint Obama as something other than a real American, those who want to believe he is a crypto-Muslim, those for whom his birth certificate is less than valid proof of his citizenship.

From the Times report, by Richard A. Oppel, Jr.:

Assertions that Mr. Obama is not a Christian, or that he is not an American, were rampant in the 2008 campaign…


Last month, a woman at one of Mr. Santorum’s campaign stops in Florida declared during a question-and-answer session that Mr. Obama was Muslim. According to an account by CNN, Mr. Santorum did not correct the woman’s statement, and he later said it was not his job to correct such statements.

Santorum was Bob Schieffer’s guest this morning on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” When the video posts, it will be here.

* Days after Santorum’s “black people” comment was reported, the candidate denied that he said the word “black”, contending that it was the word “blah” that he said. Mediaite has the video.


  • Fess on February 19, 2012 10:54 AM:

    There are many in this country who think they'd like a theocracy. Unfortunately for them, one person's theocracy is another's road to hell...as in, be careful what you wish for. For the rest of us, just keep repeating, "separation of church and state!"

  • artsmith on February 19, 2012 10:54 AM:

    Methinks it may be time to resurrect (if you'll excuse the pun) the question from the Kennedy/Nixon campaign: If elected President, would Santorum follow the dictates of the Constitution or the Pope? He clearly has no interest in the Constitution; I suspect the answer would be different this time around.

  • gregor on February 19, 2012 10:58 AM:

    If he had not used the adjective phony, he would be hundred percent correct, though it will then be his task to articulate why that bothered him.

  • troglodyte on February 19, 2012 11:02 AM:

    Santorum has always been the best fit policy-wise for where the Republican base was headed this year. He sincerely believes the culture-war ideology that he spouts in his speeches, unlike most of the others, and he is not as clueless as some of the others. Santorum is the candidate that the Repub mainstream needsto purge itself of the Limbaugh/Beck fringe, assuming that he loses handily in November. Although having RS only one election away from the Presidency is a scary thought, it seems the best way to bring the R party back to its senses by 2016.

  • Danp on February 19, 2012 11:02 AM:

    Santorum needs to learn the difference between phony wedge issues and this full-fledged messianic papal bull. If I were Romney, I would be smiling this morning.

  • hells littlest angel on February 19, 2012 11:02 AM:

    He is indeed the intellectual, spiritual and moral leader of the Republican party. I can't wait to see what kind of a gibbering jackass he chooses as a running mate.

  • jjm on February 19, 2012 11:07 AM:

    The man is worthless scum. The antique Catholic theology he follows reminds me of the hyper-conservative Catholicism that young fascists joined up for in pre-war France, and which became the backbone of French fascism in WWII

  • sgetti on February 19, 2012 11:07 AM:

    "Phony theology" is an oxymoron.

  • hells littlest angel on February 19, 2012 11:07 AM:

    artsmith: I suspect that Rick Santorum considers the pope to be a bit of a heretic.

  • stormskies on February 19, 2012 11:19 AM:

    And I haven’t heard Santorum bleating that great quip from Jesus about how much easier it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven.


    That's because Santorum is trying to drive his fancy Audi sedan through it .........

  • toowearyforoutrage on February 19, 2012 11:22 AM:

    Where should Obama turn to to find a true religion since he's following a phony one?

    Maybe Rick has some authority he;'d like our president to turn to? A "Rick Santorum" approved authority on which religions are true and which are phony.

    Anyone have an idea who misguided phony Christians should get their answers from? From Rick himself? Does Rick have the answers divinely or does he ask someone else? In turn, do they get THEIR answers from God or do they ask someone else. Who is it who ultimately deciding which religion is true and does THAT person get the answers from God and if not, where?

    It could be a very interesting line of questioning for the rejected, but truly pious Congressman.

  • MattF on February 19, 2012 11:24 AM:

    Another amazing Santorum position: he opposes any diagnostic procedures that may lead to an abortion. This solves the problem of 'medically necessary' abortions-- if the mother dies, well... that's just God's will.

  • fignaz on February 19, 2012 11:26 AM:

    Santorum-- like many Catholics including it seems from recent antics even the bishops --wouldn't know theology from his elbow. Check out this pithy blog post from Garry Wills, if you want to see what real theology is all about:

  • mellowjohn on February 19, 2012 11:28 AM:

    shorter ex-sen. frothymix: "You are accused of heresy on three counts -- heresy by thought, heresy by word, heresy by deed, and heresy by action -- *four* counts. Do you confess?"

  • kevo on February 19, 2012 11:29 AM:

    Why is Rick Santorum putting a hate on Christians? What a fool he be! -Kevo

  • Vokoban on February 19, 2012 11:45 AM:

    "Well, okay, I concede that Jesus was probably home-schooled."

    Most probably he was schooled at the synagogue. His mother most probably was illiterate and his father was working. The synagogue never was the jewish equivalent of a church house. It was much more of a school.

  • Anonymous on February 19, 2012 11:48 AM:

    I have discovered that Santorum's photo along with a few of his chosen words, are an effective emetic.

  • Al B Tross on February 19, 2012 11:53 AM:

    Hmm, Sanitorium, suggests ALL agendas must be based on theology, just as long as they are not false.

    Funny thing about Authoritarian followers, they lack the level of self reflection that would catch a leader slagging them, but the Authoritarian mind is so caught up in its fear mongering and "go git'em" mentality that they never consider he was talking about them, as they always see others as the cause of societys' problems.

    In current research, we have seen this phenom, Conservatives don't realize Colbert is satire, Pew research shows members of a religion know less about said religion than seculars, MBA economists insist lower taxes on the wealthy creates jobs, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    There is no reasoning with the mentally ill. In the world of emotion, belief trumps fact.


  • max on February 19, 2012 11:58 AM:

    What a hoot. This from the anti-contraception wingnut who does not even know there is no basis in scripture for his anti-contraception views. The Catholic Church made it up in 1930 by misinterpreting a passage from the Bible, and then quietly backed away. Santorum is the worst demagogue to run for President.

  • hornblower on February 19, 2012 12:00 PM:

    The Bible is not the law of the land. Dueling quotes in a 2000 year old book cannot win the day. America without "Marx or Jesus" has enough history and traditions to defeat this nonsense.

  • bluestatedon on February 19, 2012 12:01 PM:

    For the love of God, will somebody in the media ask Rick Santorum (R-Vatican City) in what way was Obama's approval of the mission to take out Osama bin Laden an indication that he adhered to a phony theology?

  • bluestatedon on February 19, 2012 12:02 PM:

    "Santorum is the worst demagogue to run for President."

    Which makes him the perfect candidate for the GOP/teabagger base.

  • Mitt's Magic Underwear on February 19, 2012 12:03 PM:

    "And I haven’t heard Santorum bleating that great quip from Jesus about how much easier it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven."


  • Newton Whale on February 19, 2012 12:16 PM:

    Santorum fires at Obama, shoots Romney in the face‏



    A twofer! I'm guessing Santorum's immediate target here is Romney, who actually DOES have a theology not based on the Bible.

  • pritesh on February 19, 2012 12:23 PM:

    Let's bring back slavery, since Jesus was not against it.

  • SYSPROG on February 19, 2012 12:35 PM:

    I have absolutely HAD it. Santorum is a phony bastard that thinks he can spew his hate and then step back and say 'well that's not what I meant' or 'I wouldn't try to FORCE you into my beliefs when I was President'. Oh yes you would. The republicans seems to believe they can LIE and spew and there are no reprecussions. I am here to tell them THEY ARE WRONG.

  • sklein11 on February 19, 2012 12:38 PM:

    Scary stuff. It makes no political sense. He is finally getting momentum. He already has the votes of anyone who wouldn't be offended by these comments. And he has disqualified himself in the eyes of Republicans who think this sort of comment is bat shit insane, or at least poor manners. This isn't just pandering; he clearly sees himself as a messianic crusader.

    By the way, Recaptcha is a nightmare. inimum 4 tries to get a post through

  • You Don't Say on February 19, 2012 12:58 PM:

    Also from Santorum, according to MSNBC:

    "One of the things that you don't know about ObamaCare in one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing," Santorum began telling about 400 people here. "Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society. That too is part of ObamaCare -- another hidden message as to what president Obama thinks of those who are less able than the elites who want to govern our country."

    And to artsmith: http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/01/how-rick-santorum-ripped-off-american-military-veterans

  • Zak44 on February 19, 2012 1:01 PM:

    "Obama's agenda is not based on the Bible."

    So if Obama has his way, we don't get to put to death adulterers, blasphemers, farmers who plant two different crops in the same field, or people who wear clothes made out of two kinds of thread.


    I see Ricky's point. What's the sense of having an agenda if it doesn't allow you to smite people every now and then?

    Note to "sklein": If you click on the recycle icon just above the speaker icon, it'll generate a new Captcha that, with luck, may actually be decipherable.

    Yikes. I just did that and got two new words—one in ARABIC SCRIPT! WTH?

  • Joe Friday on February 19, 2012 1:13 PM:

    I watched him say it, but I assumed I heard him wrong. So I backed it up and watched it again. I heard him right, but I still cannot believe a candidate said something so damn politically STOOPID.

    We may get Jebby yet.

  • rick on February 19, 2012 1:16 PM:

    When we see your reflection in your hate colored trills, then the landslide will bring you down, bring you down

  • j on February 19, 2012 1:20 PM:

    Those who try to wear religion on their sleeve are usually trying to cover up something,most really religious people
    feel that it is a private and personal thing. Having said that Santorum, if he wants to bring abortion into the discussion, let him discuss the failings of the Catholic church, like the sexual molestation of young children.One other point about Santorum, he nominated the child rapist of Penn State for an award, so they were pretty close, he also was connected to Abramoff and the sweat shops in the Marianna Islands who worked women 12 hours a day for starvation wages and at times forced them to either be fired or get abortions.

  • Texas Aggie on February 19, 2012 1:41 PM:

    Don't be too sure that Jesus was home schooled. At the time there were lots of rabbis running around teaching kids and the local synagogue would have sponsored classes for some of the kids anyway. Don't forget that the word "rabbi" means "teacher."

  • JimmyPasha on February 19, 2012 2:16 PM:

    Much of the idiocy that Frothy spouts would end abruptly if he simply got himself a good blow job (from either sex).

  • the biblical sense on February 19, 2012 2:26 PM:

    The gospel according to Santorum.

    The prophet from Pennsylvania.

  • andyvillager on February 19, 2012 2:32 PM:

    coming from a hypocrite who doesn't "tithe" to his own church, I'd say: Keep talking out of your ass Ricky. Keep talking...

  • sprezzatura on February 19, 2012 2:42 PM:

    Let Santorum froth away.

    Really. There is no way in hell that the swing/center will vote for him, and if he gets the nomination we'll have another 4 years of Obama -- a consummation devoutly to be wished, IMNSHO.

  • SYSPROG on February 19, 2012 2:49 PM:

    "When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
    -Sinclair Lewis

  • TCinLA on February 19, 2012 2:54 PM:

    Santorum's also against pre-natal testing. He said so yesterday with the rest of his attack on post-Renaissance civilization, and confirmed it on CBS this morning. From TPM:

    The surging candidate claimed at an event in Ohio that the provision of cost-free prenatal testing under the Affordable Care Act will lead to more abortions:

    "One of the things that you don't know about Obamacare and one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing in every insurance policy in America. Why? Because it saves money in health care. Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and therefore less care that has to be done because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society."

    He defended those claims on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday:

    "We're talking about specifically prenatal testing and specifically amniocentesis," Santorum explained, who described the procedure as "done for the purposes of identifying maladies of a child in the womb. In-- in which in many cases and in fact most cases a physicians recommend, particularly if there's a problem, recommend abortion. We know, Bob, that ninety percent of Down syndrome children in America are aborted. So to suggest where does that come from? I have a child who has trisomy 18. Almost a hundred percent of trisomy 18 children are encouraged to be aborted."

    Prenatal testing ends up in more abortions, Santorum said, "because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society."

  • Russell Sadler on February 19, 2012 2:56 PM:


    I suspect you were joking, but to be serious a moment, Jesus was almost certainly NOT home-schooled.
    In that Jesus day and in that time and place, the only formal teachers were rabbis and they were the only source of education. Refresh yourself from scripture about who was teaching whom when Jesus spent his time with the rabbis. The Socratic dialogue was not exactly one-way ;-)

    Love your stuff on Alternet and good to see you here at the Monthly.

  • Trollop on February 19, 2012 3:47 PM:

    Those blighted black people and their phony theologies..

    tsk tsk.

    Santa Santorum, please spread your wiz-dumb

  • Joe Friday on February 19, 2012 3:57 PM:

    the biblical sense,

    "The gospel according to Santorum. The prophet from Pennsylvania."

    Who resided in Virginia along with his family while serving as the Senator for Pennsylvania.

  • exlibra on February 19, 2012 4:12 PM:

    Who resided in Virginia along with his family while serving as the Senator for Pennsylvania. -- Joe Friday, @3:57PM

    Yes, but he was sucking at Pennsylvania's teat for his (home-schooled) children's education money,so that's OK.

    "icsstst any". I think, in Craptcha, it means "the ickiest of all"

  • Northzax on February 19, 2012 6:15 PM:

    Mote 'phony theology' according to sen Rick (R-Fairfax County): "To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked." Obviously Jesus meant this sarcastically.

    Captcha: 'commu' see?

  • President Lindsay on February 19, 2012 6:57 PM:

    sgetti sez: "Phony theology" is an oxymoron.

    I do not think that word means what you think it means. "Phony theology" would be a redundancy. "Realist theology" would be an oxymoron.

  • I Worship The Earth on February 19, 2012 9:23 PM:

    Another Republicon who "takes Obama at his word" that he's a Christian.

    Personally, I hope they are right, and he is not a zombie worshiper. (Or what else would you call a reanimated corpse? Goc?)

  • Cal Gal on February 19, 2012 9:29 PM:

    I just LOVE the idea that some "mainstream" Republicons have that they can nominate someone else at the convention. Anyone know just how many November ballots will be closed at that point?

  • C on February 19, 2012 9:32 PM:

    BTW, "Obamacare" does NOT require prenatal testing. It just requires that it be provided without a co-pay. Big difference. Analogized to the whole birth control brou-ha-ha, Santorum would have been saying that Obamacare requires birth control. No one is required to USE birth control, it just requires that IF someone wants it, there will be no co-pay.

  • stan chaz on February 19, 2012 11:32 PM:

    I'VE HAD ENOUGH! In this Holy War on Religion, of Religion, and by Religion. I SURRENDER! I’m a lover, not a fighter.  Instead... I’m gonna start my OWN religion, and get in on the good stuff: tax exemptions, and lots of taxpayer money to do what I want, in the name of religious liberty. Most definitely! Hey NEWT -wanna join? We’re gonna have open marriages and multiple wives and all SORTS of neat stuff that you’re just gonna love! But don’t you worry your little head Newt: we’ll have no, I repeat, NO nasty stoning of adulterers. None of that stuff. I Promise! As for SANTORUM, he just LOVES to tell other people how to live. He’ll make us a REAL fine preacher-man. In fact, we’ll make him Saint Santorum. AND fix his Google search results! As for Mr. Obama,  obviously, we’ll need to (severely) demonize him, even further. And his dog Toto too. Last but not least: MITT and RON. Hmmm. Hey, I know. Just for you two guys: we’ll insist on NO TAXES AT ALL for church members…AND human sacrifice of illegal aliens. Out with their hearts! Televised! Live! Whoooppee! WHAT A COUNTRY!  :-)
    By the way, please don’t mention the REASON that Mitt Romney’s dad was born in Mexico (i.e. The fact that Mitt’s Mormon grand-dad left the United States in the 1880’s. He went to Mexico BECAUSE laws against polygamy were passed in the U.S. ; Being a Mormon back then, Mitt’s grand-dad wanted to keep his multiple wives. Hey, who wouldn’t?) Bottom line: if we follow the “logic” of the people crying crocodile tears about a non-existent “war on religion”, then the U.S. should have allowed polygamy (and who knows what else) just because a particular religion claimed it as their cherished belief. GIVE ME A BREAK!
    Absolutely NO ONE is coming into our Churches or places of worship and trying to tell parishioners what to believe.....or forcing them to use contraception. BUT If the Bishops (and other denominations) want to continue running businesses that employ millions of people of varying faiths -or no "faith" at all- THEN they must play by the same rules and rights that other workers have and enjoy...especially if their businesses use our tax dollars (and skip paying taxes) in the process. This is not a “war on religion”. It’s a war on women and men who simply want to plan their families and control their future. Now that’s REAL religious liberty!

  • pj in jesusland on February 20, 2012 3:11 AM:

    Jesus's life as a story teller and traveling preacher is much more consistent with someone who was illiterate.

    Jesus was born into the family of a humble carpenter in a part of the world where at the time 95-97 percent of the people had no formal education.

    If Jesus was home-schooled or studied in a synagogue, why are there no Gospels or other stories written by Jesus himself? And if he was too busy being the Son of God why didn't he just dictate to a secretary?

    When Jesus is reported to have written on the ground in John 8:5-11, even the great biblical authority Mel Gibson portrays Jesus as having simply drawn a line in the sand.

    There are many examples in the New Testament of what are now recognized by biblical scholars to be texts inserted or modified decades and even centuries after Jesus's death by an assortment of fake authors, plagiarizers and religiously motivated zealots who never knew Jesus and who lived generations after his disciples.

    So Mr. Santorum should be careful about who he accuses of having a "false theology. There are lots of reasons to question his own beliefs.

  • max on February 20, 2012 8:55 AM:

    Santorum spouts the same kind of nonsense in 2012 that many of us experienced in the 1950s in Catholic schools: everyone but us was going to hell including Christians who weren't Catholics. We were the radicals of our age. Priests said mass in Latin with their backs to the congregation, Catholic school chuldren were rarely if ever exposed to the words in the Bible except whatever passage the priests choose to mention in a Sunday sermon, we followed church teachings - whatever the gang in Rome decided for us. We weren't the church, they were. No wonder millions of us have moved on from this lunacy. Santorum is a dinosaur, irrelevant to modern times, and a potentially very dangerous person.

  • Peter C on February 20, 2012 9:28 AM:

    For people like this, everything they see and hear is filtered through their 'theology'; it runs their lives. Reality plays almost no part. They hear what they want to hear; they see what they want to see. It is 'prejudice on steroids'. A Santorum Presidency would be unspeakably disasterous.

  • Tuttle on February 20, 2012 10:04 AM:

    Jesus, being capable of reading and writing, was probably educated at a state-sponsored school. Simeon ben Shetack, leader of the Sanhedron ca. 100 BCE, organized state-funded Bet ha-Sefers (Houses of the Book) in every district of Palestine. It is assumed that most literate people of the area (~3% of the population) were educated at these yeshiva.

  • jpeckjr on February 20, 2012 12:05 PM:

    @max Yes. Thank you. Perfectly said. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Mr. Santorum, represent a last ditch attempt by the Roman Catholic Church to re-assert its imperialist authority as the "one true church" and as representing all Christian thought. That day ended centuries ago. Benedict XVI, authoritarian that he is, just can't accept that the world has changed since 1517.

  • northwind1 on February 20, 2012 12:40 PM:

    One would hope that sooner or later the American people will have enough this pompous hypocrite speaking down to everyone who does not share his ill-informed and bigoted outlook. It is not necessary to be steeped in religiosity to recognize that our society will be the better for a shared set of basic moral principles. If a person such as Mr. Santorum happens to express that set of moral principles explicitly from within a specific moral tradition such as the Catholic Church it is no longer optional to do so with a bit of humility. I am conscious as I write these words that Catholics themselves have suffered terribly from discrimination and racism, often explicitly because of their religious beliefs and I have no wish to be a part of those kind of attacks. But when Mr. Santorum gets up on his high horse and presumes to moralize to those who don't share his beliefs he leaves himself open to legitimate questions about the actual history of his church in the area of moral principles. It would be unfair to hold a modern Catholic to account for the Saeculum obscurum or dark age of the church in the first half of the 10th century when Popes were corrupted by secular power and seduced into sexual depravity. Even more recent examples of failed moral leadership such as those provided by Pope Pius XII when he remained indifferent and silent while the Jews of Europe were murdered might be seen as less than fair to mention in this era. But when Mr. Santorum seeks to moralize from his self proclaimed, indeed trumpeted, perch as spokesman for the Catholic Bishops who cynically preach against birth control in the full knowledge that the battle is lost even among Catholic women and that the health benefits for women are indisputable he must answer for the historical truth that the Catholic Church has struggled throughout it's history to live up to it's own moral precepts. It is well within the ambit of the constitutional protection of freedom of religion that the Catholic hierarchy continue to maintain and teach patriarchal and ahistorical doctrines towards sex, marriage and procreation and the laity continue to observe these teachings or not but it is not constitutionally protected that they or their political sycophants should be able to shove their misogyny and hypocrisy down everyone else's throat. The church Mr. Santorum is a member of can no longer credibly maintain a position of moral leadership while it continues to fail to take responsibility for the horrible and ubiquitous abuse of children in Catholic communities world wide which is a contemporary, not historical matter. The Catholic Church, and Mr. Santorum particularly have no credibility on the very issues they and he seem determined to go on endlessly about. This by itself is disqualifying for the position of dog catcher, much less President.