Is Rick Santorum saintly or selfish?
Rick Santorum is nowhere in the polls, but everywhere on the campaign trail — even as he leaves his wife, mother of seven, at home with the kids, the youngest of whom is seriously ill from a genetic disorder.
Santorum is known as perhaps the truest of true believers in the Republican race, putting family values (of the conservative variety) and his Catholic faith (of the conservative variety) at the top of his agenda, and putting his own family and faith as Exhibit A as he tries to woo voters.
But is he sacrificing his family — especially his young daughter Bella, who is in mortal peril from Trisomy 18 — for his principles? Or is he exploiting them for his political ambitions? And does he himself know?
In today’s Washington Post, Melinda Henneberger profiles Santorum and asks the tough questions:
In a heartbreaking situation, and running near the back of the pack in the polls, Santorum said the campaign has been “incredibly hard” on his family – emotionally and financially. He’s given up all paid employment, including his work for Fox News, to make the run…
…”Life expectancy [for Bella] wasn’t particularly long, and just the idea of going off and doing something like this was something I really struggled with,” he said.
The deciding factor, he said, was that “we see with every socialized-medicine country, which is absolutely where we’re headed, those on the margins of life are treated differently. . . . They’re not given the care, the resources aren’t allocated because it is very costly, and my little girl would probably be seen as – I hear, not only from anecdotal but actual evidence from other countries – that children like this simply do not get care.”
As Henneberger gently notes, Santorum’s health care reasoning actually doesn’t hold up, and his efforts to bring Bella on the road with him have nearly led to her death at least twice, which makes his campaigning seem to be the biggest risk to his daughter.
Santorum, unlike Sarah Palin before him, has probably benefited from the fact that he is a non-factor in the race, and perhaps that he is a man, and, well, men are expected to go off an hunt and gather while the women folk mind the hearth and home.