What a bone-headed campaign Rick Santorum is running. When I looked at the CNN exit poll numbers it confirmed it. Romney won Catholics in Michigan 44% to Santorum’s 37%. Extremists highlight Santorum’s chances, with 60% of his supporters in Michigan believing abortion should “always be illegal.”

All I have to do is look at my own family to see not all Catholics, especially females, are religious conservatives, as Santorum clearly is, even when they’re Republican [edited for clarification].

Ed Kilgore makes note of this today, just as I was about to highlight the same reality.

That was my initial reaction, too, until I started wondering: why did we all assume Santorum had an advantage among Catholics in the first place? Yes, he’s an outspoken “traditionalist” Catholic, cozy with its famous Opus Dei elite, happiest in surroundings like Florida’s overtly traditionalist Ave Maria University, and very self-identified with the Bishops in their current fight with the Obama administration over its contraception coverage mandate.

Yes, as I and others have amply documented, the idea that Catholics are more conservative than Americans generally, even on “social issues,” is pretty much a myth.

The minute Rick Santorum used the words John F. Kennedy and “throw up” I knew he’d jumped the political shark with Catholics, regardless of his walk-back yesterday, which was self-serving.

Rick Santorum is no more representative of your average Catholic voter than Peggy Noonan, E.J. Dionne, Mark Shields or Chris Matthews. Something they all found out recently, which was evidently shocking to them. They never considered the First Amendment swings both ways, protecting female workers (and others) from religious encroachment, too.