The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘10,000 Marbles, Please’

Posted on | December 8, 2011 | 40 Comments

“Pastor Gordon might not be much of an Animal House fan, but he is in effect acting as the Eric Stratton of Iowa conservatives, providing the decisive approval of a madcap scheme proposed by the frat-house slob who, as we all know, is destined to become Senator Joseph Blutarsky. And the dramatic parallel is almost perfect, in that the major media seem to have decided for us that this year’s GOP race is going to be as orderly as a homecoming parade — ‘now that the GOP race has narrowed to a two-man contest between Gingrich and Romney,’ as Maggie Haberman of Politico said.
“Really? Is that it?
“The only choice is between Mitt RomneyCare and Newt the Scozzafava-Hugger?
“Maybe. I dunno. I’m not one of those Smart People like Rove and Krauthammer.
“Maybe social conservatives in Iowa are going to let Maggie Haberman tell them who to vote for. But forgive me for having the urge to walk into the five-and-dime store and ask the clerk, ‘Could I buy 10,000 marbles, please?’ Because if the Iowa caucuses are the Faber College homecoming parade, then the Rick Santorum campaign is a float in the shape of a birthday cake, emblazoned with an immortal motto: ‘Eat Me.'”

Robert Stacy McCain, Hot Air, “Where’s the Spirit? Where’s the Guts, Huh?”

You know what I hate? I hate when people who think they’re smarter than me try to tell me what to think. So anybody who imagined I would let a liberal like Maggie Haberman tell me that the Republican presidential race is now an either/or contest between Mitt and Newt — well, you don’t know me very well.

That 19-minute Cary Gordon video was on my mind when I woke up this morning, but I didn’t know what I was going to do with it until I saw that Politico article: Little Miss Smarty Britches telling me what to think.

Like that big cake says, sweetheart: “Eat Me.”

Just to piss off Maggie Haberman

UPDATE: Instapundit rolls over for Romney? When I learned about that from Andrew J. Patrick, I was kind of shocked. But meanwhile, we have this interesting news from Kerry Picket:

Santorum also received complimentary words from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin last weekend on the Fox News Channel, prompting some to wonder if her support in the future could help the Pennsylvania Republican go further in the primaries.
“As my folks out there in Iowa are telling me, getting folks to come on board is getting easier everyday,” he said.
Mr. Santorum is participating in Donald Trump’s and Newsmax’s sponsored debate on December 27. Whether the debate turns out to be only a two man forum, Santorum appeared eager to be part of the debate, calling it “a great thing.” Perhaps he is right. Mr. Santorum, right now, is the only other GOP candidate who is part of the forum besides front-runner Newt Gingrich . . .

It’s weird how these little coincidences keep happening. That debate is scheduled for the day after I arrive in Iowa. And who would have ever imagined that Donald Trump, of all people, would give Santorum a straight-up shot at debating the media-anointed front-runner?

UPDATE II: Lisa Graas says this is her favorite part of a post at Hot Air:

Palin is still a player in this race especially among the grassroots, and so speculation about what Palin’s kind words mean for Santorum shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“Ramming Speed!”

UPDATE III: “Something so viscerally right that I think we can all agree on it.”


  • Anonymous

    Interesting piece.

    I think Theory Two, though not as modified by you, is probably the best explanation.

    Theory Two: “Republicans have finally surrendered on social issues.”

    Your modification, a couple of paragraphs down: “Has the Culture War ended in the unconditional surrender of social conservatives[?]”

    Yes, Republicans have finally surrendered on social issues.

    No, social conservatives haven’t surrendered in the Culture War.

    Republican /= social conservative

    “Social conservatives” — at least as that term would have been defined in, say, the early Reagan era — are a smaller bloc now than they used to be, including within the Republican Party.

    There are probably a number of reasons for that — a two-generation general shift away from those values, the ascendancy of the batshit-insane-jingoist faction in the GOP since 9/11, etc. — but the bottom line is that the socons just don’t exert control over the Republican Party that they did 30, or even 15, years ago because there are nowhere near as many of them in either absolute terms or as a percentage of the party’s base.

  • The Wondering Jew

    This is a brilliant column– but Santorum has no chance of winning the presidency, and more importantly, he doesn’t have the record as a conservative, outside of social issues, to deserve to win the Presidency. This isn’t about some in the GOP hating social conservatives– I love DeMint and Tom Coburn, who are about as socially conservative as they come.  It’s about the GOP nominating a candidate who brings nothing to the table except a very conservative record on social issues and has a recent record as a proven big-time election loser.

    If Santorum becomes our next President, I hereby pledge to max out a full $2400 general election contribution to Stacy’s tip jar.  Furthermore, if Stacy stops flogging his candidacy, and Santorum still wins the election, I’l donate $4800 to Stacy’s tip jar (maxing out for both the primary and general).

    That’s even more money than Stacy can hope to get from “Mutually beneficial arrangements”. . .

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  • Orrin

    This is exactly right.  Santorum is not a philosophical Conservative in the sense of a preserver of individual liberty or decentralized government – indeed in one debate, he specifically REPUDIATED the idea that the individual is the primary foundational “unit” of our society.  He has no understanding of or respect for Federalism (see his stances on education in particular, but this ALWAYS stands out to me at debates).  I get NO sense that he’s opposed to Big Government, so long as it’s Big Government in the Name of Jesus. 

    And frankly, some of the “social issues” really do deserve to die away.  I’m vehemently pro-life, but as a veteran of three overseas deployments, I don’t really give a damn about gays in the military and think the DADT repeal was a good thing – and I seriously resent a non-vet getting all sanctimonious on me about the issue.  Beyond the specifics, he rubs me the wrong way (I think it’s that sanctimony), and I KNOW I’m not alone in that. 

    And who can talk about Scozzafava without talking about Spectre?  Glass houses, and all of that.

  • Dan Collins

    Flogging? That snapper needs whipping, methinks.

  • Tennwriter

    Another theory that I think fits reality better.

    A lot of  folk were sitting on the sidelines, and some were even tempted by pietism.  And then the Left came after them, and just would not stop.  So in self-defense these Christian conservatives (who really are across the board conservatives, but prefer to stay home types) got involved.

    And they did a lot of good for the R party, and in turn they basically got kicked in the teeth every chance someone could.  The Libertarians were especially bad here, but frankly the RINOS weren’t far behind.

    And the socons being the nice, non-pscho people that they were thought it was about them.  And thought much of the advice given them was honest.  And even when they got mad, they were afraid of libertarians and ‘moderates’ fleeing to the hills which was supposed to happen any time the conservatives got One Tiny Little Thing!!

    But, the conservatives are realizing this was garbage.  And now we see what happens when a bunch of country boys play chicken with some city slickers…

  • Adjoran

    I agree it is ridiculous to claim the race is down to Mitt or Newt.

    I will support Santorum or any other duly selected nominee of the Republican Party against Obama because the nation can’t afford four more years of the pretender and his evil crew.

    But Santorum isn’t remotely qualified to be President.  The only thing he’s done is serve in the Senate.  He’s never run anything. 

    It’s sad to see conservatives swarming from one flavor of the month to the next, from Bachmann to Perry to Cain to Gingrich, always pretending the object of their fleeting admiration deserves it.  The truth is there isn’t a strong conservative candidate in the field, and those coming up in the ranks aren’t ready for the big stage yet.

  • Joe

    Is it just me or does Cory Gordon remind you of this guy? 

  • Anonymous


    Interesting theory.

  • Anonymous


    Well, there is a continuous process of bifurcation — created by the forward movement of time — in the conservative movement over what to conserve.

    Consider, for example, abortion.

    In 1872, a “conservative” would have opposed the radical new moves toward regulation of it, since America had managed without such regulations from its founding.

    But by 1972, a “conservative” was someone who opposed radical moves to de-regulate that which had been regulated for a century.

    It may just be that the overlapping waves of that continuous bifurcation are such that “social conservatives” are in a trough at the moment, or that “social conservatism” is at a critical stage of its own bifurcation.

  • Orrin

    I understand the “what are we “conserving”” thing, and indeed have written extensively about it on my own blog.  But since Goldwater and Reagan, I think that amongst Movement Conservatives, we were attempting to conserve the founding principle of a government dedicated to protecting and promoting individual liberty.  I believe that sentiment is at the heart of the current Movement, especially with the tea party activists of various stripes.  But I DON’T believe Santorum is on board with that movement.

    Santorum is trying to “Conserve” a Church-based government outlook that I don’t think has ever really held as much sway as he thinks in this country, and it’s certainly not a winner now.  And while I think religion and social values are a critically important counterweight to government, and are very good for society generally, they only work as a counterweight when they are DISTINCT from government with government staying out of their way. 

    If Santorum was a hard core social conservative AND AT THE SAME TIME was an outspoken advocate of federalism, separation of powers, etc., then I wouldn’t be bothered.  But he’s just not.  His political philosophy seems to begin and end with the Bible, and I just can’t get on that train.

  • Charles

    Ron Paul is riding inside the Eat Me float with the big bag of marbles. Rick Santorum should position himself to be the candidate to pick up the marbles after everyone else goes down, not the guy who goes down with them.

  • Anonymous


    Pretty much agreed on all counts vis a vis Santorum (not so much on what’s holding the conservative movement together lately, but that’s a different subject).

    I respect Santorum. He believes what he believes and stands up for it without pretending to pander to those who disagree.

    But, I’m definitely one of those who disagree 😉

  • Charles

    Not sure when you think libertarians have been in position to kick anyone in the teeth. It’s true we suspect the social conservatives of being closet socialists, but you must allow how often the word “social” as an adjective means just exactly that. And the socon alliance with those marxist neocons …

  • Finrod Felagund

    The problem with Rick Santorum is that he’s the right weapon for the wrong war.

    Ronald Reagan was a strong social conservative, but he beat Jimmy Carter with fiscal conservatism: “A recession is when your neighbor is out of a job; a depression is when you’re out of a job, but recovery is when Jimmy Carter is out of his job.” (paraphrased)  We’re not going to beat Obama by going strong on social conservatism, but we will with fiscal conservatism.  Independents may not really care about abortion or gay marriage, but they do care about having a  job.

  • Joe

    I get Stacy is supporting Santorum because he was not caught canodling with Scozzafava.  It is not just business with Stacy, it is personal. 

    That Santorum got caught canodling with Spector is arguably just as bad, but whatev.  It is not like Santorum is going to be a contender (sorry Stacy, too late for that). 

  • richard mcenroe

    Here I come, the obligatory footnote* 

    *Check out the videos Stacy posted; Santorum addresses everything you’re complaining about.

  • Donald

    The problem with picking Santorum to spite liberals is that, as a liberal, I’d be absolutely giddy if the GOP picked Santorum.  

  • richard mcenroe

    Sure, liberals have given us fisting videos in sex ed class and simulated haj pilgrimages.  But that’s no reason to get crazy and seek a real alternative…

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  • Donald

    Well I’m not sure what train of thought took you off in that direction, but my point was simply that Santorum isn’t getting respect because in the general election he’d lose in a landslide.   So, as a liberal, I’d be very happy to see Santorum as the nominee.  If that’s what you mean by seeking a real alternative then we’re agreeing with each other!  Go for it.

  • ThePaganTemple

    You might be right. Going by the latest polls its not down to between Mitt and Newt, its just down to Newt, period. He’s got twice the level of Mitt’s support in all major reputable polls in all the early states, so it looks to me like he’s got it sewn up. Mitt just happens to be the only one who’s support is substantial enough to be considered even a minor rival. Otherwise, who else is there?

  • John Higgins1990

    “The truth is there isn’t a strong conservative candidate in the field.”

    And why is this?  (I expect something more than “Because Paul Ryan chose not to run”).

  • ThePaganTemple

    It’s because they don’t have establishment support, never did and never will as long as the establishment is composed of what it is today. Look at conservatives from races past, like Duncan Hunter for example. Now that Gingrich seems to be the newest darling of the conservative movement, the establishment is enlisting other conservatives to do their dirty work for them, because they know that, for all his past RINO actions, Gingrich can’t be trusted to stay on the establishment reservation (or any other kind).

    Just today on Fox they floated the Jon Huntsman trial balloon, somebody pointing out he was “more conservative than Romney” who they’ve figured out just might have an insurmountable level of opposition from conservatives. No way do they want to promote a real conservative like Bachmann, Santorum, or Perry. Nor were they particularly crazy about Herman Cain.

  • ThePaganTemple

    It’s because they don’t have establishment support, never did and never will as long as the establishment is composed of what it is today. Look at conservatives from races past, like Duncan Hunter for example. Now that Gingrich seems to be the newest darling of the conservative movement, the establishment is enlisting other conservatives to do their dirty work for them, because they know that, for all his past RINO actions, Gingrich can’t be trusted to stay on the establishment reservation (or any other kind).

    Just today on Fox they floated the Jon Huntsman trial balloon, somebody pointing out he was “more conservative than Romney” who they’ve figured out just might have an insurmountable level of opposition from conservatives. No way do they want to promote a real conservative like Bachmann, Santorum, or Perry. Nor were they particularly crazy about Herman Cain.

  • Adjoran

    Well, Spector was an incumbent from his state who had supported him when he ran, and Santorum was under heavy pressure from his President and party leaders to return the favor.

    Scuzzyfuzzy wasn’t an incumbent, had no conservative bona fides, and upstate New York ain’t Manhattan.  Nobody really cared what Newt did, he was a lobbyist at the time and out of government.  He inserted himself into the race.

    Santorum also didn’t bad-mouth Toomey supporters.

    So I think they are quite different cases – both wrong, but in quite different circumstances.

  • Adjoran

    When have there ever been enough strong conservative candidates to satisfy conservatives?  In 1980, conservatives whined they only had the back-bench legislator Phil Crane and the Banker’s conservative John Connolly – Reagan was suspect due to his raising taxes and spending in California (even though there as with the federal government, all he ever promised was to reduce the rate of growth). 

    1988 – Pat Robertson?  Dole? Pete DuPont?  1996 – Buchanan?  Gramm?  2000 – Gary Bauer?  2008 – Huck?  Hunter?  Tancredo?

    Sorry, I don’t see a strong conservative leader to rally around in the bunch, except for Reagan.

    There’s a reason for that, I think.  Legislators are poorly prepared to be President, which is why most lose.  But Governors and Generals have to deal with actually running something, not speaking only in theory, which requires getting opposing factions reconciled, which tends to create a less than conservative image, even for those who are conservative at heart.

  • Zilla of the Resistance

    Linked this post & the Hot Air piece over at my place, where I give my official endorsement for POTUS:

    Try not to look so surprised.

  • Bob Belvedere

    One is flat-out-no-excuses wrong [Stacy would say, ‘Evil’] and the other is understandable.

  • ThePaganTemple

    Libertarians are like the little runt in the bar that think they have to prove themselves by attacking the biggest guy at the pool table. Most of the time it doesn’t work out so well for him, but he just can’t help himself.

  • Bob Belvedere

    I think your theory is spot-on.

    One of the criticisms of Mrs. Palin, that her conservative bona fides were suspect, was that she took some so-called ‘non-conservative’ actions as Governor.

  • Bob Belvedere

    I don’t think Mr. Santorum’s making the social conservative issues his priority.  But he’s giving them a mention so that we know he’s on our side.

    I’ve complained about his style a lot here at TOM and at my own joint [], but he is the only one of the candidates who has been trying to bring up the importance of taking the offensive in the war we are in with Islam.

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  • D Riveby

    “It’s because they don’t have establishment support …”

    How can that be the explanation for the lack of a strong conservative candidate?   The establishment didn’t force the Tea Party to push candidates like Bachmann and Cain and Santorum.  After pushing O’Donnell and Angle it’s not surprising that the Tea Party would come up with candidates like Bachmann and Cain and Santorum, but nobody forced them.   Nobody is forcing Tea Party support to coalesce around Newt, either, which is arguably more suicidal than pushing candidates like O’Donnell, Angle, Bachmann, Cain, Santorum, …

    I don’t include Perry in that list because on paper, Perry looked like a good choice, if you didn’t dig too deep into the details of how he won previous races.  

  • ThePaganTemple

    It’s not so much that he’s making them his priority, certainly not his sole priority, as it is the MSM defining him in that way. And if they are defining that way this early in the process, you can imagine how they’re going to portray him in the unlikely event he was to win the nomination. The question for Santorum is, how will he respond to this. He has to be able to defend himself without seeming defensive-or prickish-and he has to be able to go on the offensive by calling attention to the other issues. That will be his main challenge, portraying himself as a rounded candidate with a comprehensive set of positions across the spectrum, as opposed to just being some nut who wants to make sure you don’t marry your dog.

  • Charles

    Naw, that was just some socon, fighting over some perceived fight to his honor.

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