ZunguZungu on Santorum:
Santorum’s Gifts – The New Inquiry: [T]he change in rhetoric from the original speech is worth noting. In conversation with Stephanopoulos (on TV), he wants to be seen as fighting back against liberal indoctrination, speaking for a religious blue collar moral majority against a secular liberal elite that disdains its accomplishment and desires, as complaining that they do not represent us (but they hold us to their standards). As such, it’s actually kind of a liberal complaint, if only in the classical sense: a rigid hierarchy is stifling the individual will and a political system is operating in an unrepresentative manner. But to get to this point, he’s backtracked so far that what he’s saying is almost indistinguishable from Obama’s own stated position: while Stephanopoulos points out that Obama simply said that he wanted ”every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training,” Santorum calls for “technical schools…additional training, vocational training…skills and apprenticeships” (and as TPM notes, Santorum is attributing to Obama a position that Santorum has also advocated).
But Santorum’s hypocrisy is boring. What’s interesting to me is the fundamental shift in philosophy he has to make between the two rhetorical moments, between a speech in front of Tea Party types in Michigan and a conversation with a Democratic talk show guy in Washington. For example, in phrases like “Not all folks are gifted the same way” and “Some people have incredible gifts with their hands” he’s calling on a specific kind of Christian discourse, one that indexes a quite non-liberal vision of the human…. [W]hile the quote from his chat with Stephanopoulos is a complaint against constraints on self-determination, his speech in Michigan gives us the raw and uncut Santorum, the language of obligation that makes his heart swell proudly: against a secular world that wants to liberate and free us to do as we desire, he wants to re-focus our efforts, as workers, back onto the obligations of God’s plan. The problem is no longer that we are being indoctrinated (and remember, the problem with “indoctrination,” traditionally, is that it runs against the liberal notion of education, that instead of teaching us to be free, it enslaves us). In Michigan, the problem Santorum is complaining about is precisely this, that we are being un-indoctrinated, taught or permitted to do as we please. The secular world is the false god of a permissive society; literally, a society that permits us to be misled by our desires, rather than one which enforces legal strictures on morality.
This is not hyperbole, by the way; via IHE, let’s enjoy this bit of rhetoric from a speech about why Satan is destroying America by starting with academia:
The place where [Satan] was, in my mind, the most successful and first — first successful was in academia. He understood pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest. They were in fact smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different — pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they’re smart. And so academia a long time ago fell. You say, well, what could be the impact of academia falling? Well, I would make the argument that the other structures that I’m going to talk about here had the root of their destruction because of academia. Because what academia does is educate the elites in our society, educates the leaders of our society, particularly at the college level. And they were the first to fall. And so what we saw, this domino effect, once the colleges fell and those who were being educated in our institutions….
[T]his shot at Obama is not only that Obama is a false god and false father — though it is this — but also that he represents, as such, a permissive society’s too-modern sense of the parent and authority, in which the purpose of higher education is not to make you a better worker, but precisely to free the individual from social obligations, and in which parents enable their children to be led astray by the kind of self-gratification (and self-determination) that will lead them to hell. Too much freedom.
When liberation is the problem — and when a “permissive society” becomes a bad thing — indoctrination ceases to be the problem, and becomes the solution. The problem with Obama is that his is the wrong indoctrination…. Santorum’s solution is for parents to take their power back, and this leads him to argue — quite distinctly — that it should be parents who (metaphorically) play God with their children…