Rick Santorum Deserves the Undeserved Abuse He's Getting

| Thu Feb. 23, 2012 1:58 PM EST

If it weren't for the fact that I find him so creepy, I'd almost feel sorry for Rick Santorum over the abuse he's taking for his explanation last night of his vote in favor of No Child Left Behind:

I have to admit, I voted for that. It was against the principles I believed in, but, you know, when you're part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake. You know, politics is a team sport, folks. And sometimes you've got to rally together and do something.

I guess this sort of counts as a Kinsley gaffe: a candidate accidentally telling the truth. But in a way it goes beyond that. Santorum wasn't just telling the truth, he was repeating a banality. A little artlessly, sure, but basically still just a truism of politics. Of course members of Congress vote for things that are priorities for a president of their own party. That's how politics works. If any one of the guys on the stage last night becomes president, they'll be counting on that. Party solidarity is practically a religion in the GOP these days.

So that's all bad enough. But then to hear Mitt Romney — Multiple Choice Mitt himself! — snark that "I don't know if I have ever seen a politician explain, in so many ways, why he voted against his principles" just has to be galling as hell. Somehow Romney keeps wriggling away from the plain fact that Romneycare is nearly identical to Obamacare, something that really ought to be a death sentence, but following the lead of his president on a single issue a decade ago is all set to become Santorum's undoing.

If it was anyone else, I really would feel sorry for him. But Santorum is so sanctimonious about being the only GOP candidate who's an honest-to-God principled conservative that I can't really work up anything but crocodile tears over this. He's just getting his due.

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