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A Tale of Two Ricks

4:30 AM, Dec 31, 2011 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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The next piece is his economics section, but while he sounds the same general theme as the other campaigns—too much spending and statism, and the need to cut the size of government—he spends a lot of time talking about his proposal to eliminate the corporate tax on manufacturing. The reason we need to give special status to manufacturing, he says, is that the sector is fungible. Goods can be produced anywhere, so Santorum believes we need to give those businesses special protection to keep them in America. Captive businesses—my words, not his—can be taxed at the normal rate because, he says, it’s harder to relocate those jobs. Why should florists and restaurants pay corporate taxes but not manufacturers? “Because,” Santorum says, “this restaurant isn’t moving to China, right? The florist isn’t moving to China.”

Santorum uses his manufacturing bit to segue into his final piece. He maintains that manufacturing jobs are the key to economic mobility and that economic mobility helps family formation. And here he moves to talking about values.

He assails the Obama administration for preventing groups from talking about abstinence and marriage, and walks straight into the culture war:

“I hear this all the time from the left. ‘Santorum, quit imposing your values on us.’ What’s that? They’re just secular values that are antithetical to the basic foundational principles of our country. But they’re a morality. It’s just a different morality. They’re imposing their morality. But that’s okay because it’s secular. That’s okay because it’s not based on any biblical principles. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the crossroads of American civilization.”

Santorum is the only candidate in the field eager to talk this way on the stump. Later he’s asked a question about abortion, and he goes even further. “I don’t believe life begins at conception,” he says. “I know life begins at conception.” Continuing on that line, he says that you have to understand abortion by asking yourself, “Do you as an American believe that, as an article of the American civic religion, that we hold these truths to be self evident: all men are created equal?” Because, he says, “We believe that everyone is endowed by God. And not any God, but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—that God.”

It’s unclear if Santorum can become Huckabee 2.0. If not, it won’t be for lack of trying.

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