As Santorum says Obama is “a snob” for encouraging all Americans to go to college, Romney defends telling Michigan voters his wife has two Cadillacs.
After months of savaging the President for promoting class warfare in debates, the GOP race is down to a man who wants to be elected for amassing half a billion dollars against a rival riling low-rent rebellion to expose the social fault line in Republican ranks more clearly than ever.
“You talk to most kids who go to college who are conservatives," Santorum tells George Stephanopoulos, “and you are singled out, you are ridiculed...I can tell you personally I went through a process where I was docked for my conservative views.”
Claiming that perhaps as many as 62 percent of students who enter college “with some sort of faith commitment” leave without it, he promises to make sure that “conservative and more mainstream, common-sense conservative principles that have made this country great are reflected in our college courses and with college professors.”
This kind of autobiographical paranoia recalls the 1950s when I published an award-winning report praised by Harry Truman, “Fear on the Campus,” on what McCarthyism was doing to suppress freedom of thought in American colleges.
A return to those dark days is offered by Santorum, who now says he “almost threw up” on reading JFK’s 1960 pledge as the first Catholic president to maintain separation of church and state, damning it as “a vision saying, ‘No, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate...I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.’ It was an absolutist doctrine that was abhorrent at the time.”
Against such barking fantasy, a clueless Romney is reaping endorsements in Arizona and Michigan, even from those who disagree with his denunciation of the auto bailout against all evidence that 1.45 million people are now working as a direct result of the $80 billion intervention.
Then Romney takes a day out from Michigan to go downscale with the NASCAR crowd in Florida, offering a not-too-swift comment on an unlikely winner who capitalizes on an eleven-car pileup (a metaphor for the GOP race?): “That happens now and then. The guy that was hanging back suddenly becomes the winner.”
As Maureen Dowd puts it, “contenders in the Hester Prynne primaries are tripping over one another trying to be the most radical, unreasonable and insane candidate they can be. They pounce on any traces of sanity in the other candidates--be it humanity toward women, compassion toward immigrants or the willingness to make the rich pay a nickel more in taxes--and try to destroy them with it.”
The promoters of such class warfare are vying to be the man with his finger on the nuclear trigger who appoints Supreme Court Justices with a chance that, between now and November, some domestic or world crisis could actually put one of them in that position.