Our amazing Pepper has been enjoying a little daydream in which national scold, repressed beastialitist, persona non grata in the great state of Massachusetts, and soon to be ex-senator of Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum watches one of his kids hop on the back of a Harley behind a big hairy biker and roar off into the sunset, waving goodbye to daddy with middle finger extended.
In fact, Pepper gleefully lets herself get carried away, imagining all of the voters of Pennsylvania as Santorum's rebellious kids sick of his nagging, scolding, and spanking and riding off with a biker in the form of Santorum's Democratic opponent in 2006.
If you crack down on your kids hard enough, they will rebel, and it's likely that Pennsylvanians are going to hop on the back of the Hell's Angels bike when the next election rolls around. (Which Remove Republicans is watching like a hawk, and it isn't pretty for Pretty Ricky.)
I like the way Pepper's imagination works. What has her imagination working the way it's working is Santorum's book tour. He's been making the rounds, appearing on the Today Show, the Daily Show, etc., promoting his book It Takes a Family.
The title says it all. Well, what it says, mainly, is that Hillary "It Takes a Village" Clinton can go take a flying leap. But it also says If only the women folk would stay home and raise the kids and everybody agrees that dad makes all the decisions and his word is law, all will be fine and dandy in America.
Santorum of course doesn't believe all is fine and dandy in America. America is under threat because the family is under threat.
What to do? What to do?
Call in the government, says Santorum.
Foul, cries Pepper.
Santorum has been making the case that although it takes a family to make America fine and dandy, it takes an activist, powerful, tough-minded government to preserve that family.
As Pepper points out, good conservatives are supposed to be against activist, powerful, and tough-minded government.
Of course, few are. Most are actually for activist and powerful government, but only when it is controlled by them and only when its power is being used to benefit them directly.
Pepper points out this double-standard and links to Charles at Freiheit und Wissen who gives specific examples of what conservatives want government to do for them but not for the rest of the country.
I think, though, that something in addition to a double-standard is at work here. It's a kind of double-think on the part of conservatives. What Santorum is calling for isn't really more government spending of the kind Liberals want, although they want it spent for everybody. What he's calling for is more government policing!
Santorum and conservatives of his ilk aren't being hypocritical because calling in the cops is an old tradition of theirs. That's what they think government is for. They have always wanted strong armies and strong police forces---to protect them, their property, and their privileges from the riff-raff.
Government's job, according to them, is to keep the lower orders in order.
What Santorum wants the government to do to protect the family is to start banning things, outlawing behaviors, censoring art, music, television, and movies, criminalizing whatever bad stuff isn't already illegal and increasing the penalties and punishments for whoever gets caught doing bad stuff that is already criminalized.
He wants to call in the cops.
Conservatives of his sort aren't at all afraid of runaway police powers because they feel they own the cops. Same as they feel they own the army.
Conservatives like him used to be a lot less reticent about their love of calling in the cops. Back during the early days of the Labor movement in the U.S., conservatives expected the cops to come running every time there was a strike. They called for the cops and the cops came and beat up and sometimes killed the strikers and drove them way from the plants being picketed and made the way clear and safe for scabs.
But Americans don't like cops. Never have.
Oh, we love them in theory. We idealize them. We root hard for them when we read about them rescuing someone or putting their lives on the line or arresting someone who desperately needs to be arrested.
But in reality we don't like them. Because in reality we most often meet up with them when they have decided we need to be bossed around in some way.
Not many of us are filled with love and admiration for the thin blue line when we are sitting in our cars by the side of the road, watching in our rearview mirror as the big, stern looking character with the gun on his hip climbs out of his car with the lights flashing and makes his way towards us, flipping open that ticket book.
What Santorum wants is for a lot more cops to start pulling over a lot more of us and write a whole lot more tickets. This is something he doesn't dare say, it's probably something he doesn't even dare think, but it is what he wants.
It's what all these "family values" and "culture war" conservatives want.
Their problem is that since Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party has adopted a Populist pose and Populist rhetoric and Populists don't like cops because they know that traditionally the cops have been owned by the Rich and Populists don't like the Rich. Which ought to mean that Populists shouldn't like Republicans. But the Republicans have spent spent 40 years bad mouthing big government and making the case that it's Liberals who want to tell everybody what to do, what to think, and how to live their lives, and they've done a good job of convincing a large chunk of the country that the Republican Party isn't what it is, a party of rich people who like calling in the cops.
So they can't say what they want without calling attention to the fact that it is they and not the Liberals who want to boss everybody else around.
This is why Santorum's rhetoric turns to mush when he is asked to stop yelping about all the threats to the family and America's general fine and dandyness and make some specific proposals for dealing with those threats.
Double standard, doubletalk, doublespeak, double-think, double-cross---The Republican Motto.