**Post Debate Update Below**

If Rick Santorum had stuck to that line he might have had a chance, which comes from CBC “This Morning,” with Charlie Rose and Erica Hill. But his arrogant religiosity just wouldn’t allow it, which is why Mitt Romney is gaining on him in Michigan and why I just don’t believe team Romney will allow the nomination to be pulled from their grasp by the likes of Rick Santorum.

Debate night, number 20, and likely the last?

It comes on Ash Wednesday, which seems fitting given the show’s being run by religious conservatives, with Rick Santorum’s Satan insanity causing Rush Limbaugh to break out his Ronald Reagan tapes today, trying to equate Santorum’s ravings to Reagan’s “evil empire” line.

Gov. Chris Christie, fresh off his marriage equality veto, said today that Santorum’s religious statements are “relevant,” because he’s running for president, but that doesn’t make the subject good for Republicans. From ABC News:

But Christie doesn’t think a debate over religion is a conversation the Republican Party wants to engage in.

“Do I think it’s the things we should be as a party talking about and emphasizing at the moment? No,” he said.


What Santorum’s religiosity would mean for the Executive Branch is another matter.

Largely missing in the discussion of Santorum’s subscription to a supernatural cosmology is the fact that he views American history as essentially a struggle between “true Christians” like himself on the one hand, and Beelzebub on the other, in which the latter has already conquered academia and mainline Protestantism, and is by inference exercising his infernal control via the policies of that noted former academic and mainline Protestant, the President of the United States. – Get The Behind Me, by Ed Kilgore

And in case you hadn’t seen my update earlier, the pressure on Gov. McDonnell has caused him to step away from the religious conservatives in the Virginia legislature, sanity squeezing in, at least for now.

… Thus, having looked at the current proposal, I believe there is no need to direct by statute that further invasive ultrasound procedures be done. Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure. – Gov. Bob McDonnell Backtracks (full statement)

There is nothing conservative about giving the state power over a woman. Democrats have pushed back in state after state with competing bills against men, with the latest in Georgia.

Sick of the scrutiny, Santorum’s camp is bellyaching about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism being off-limits. From Burns and Haberman:

[S]pecifically religious questioning of Romney is as rare as specific Romney statements about Mormon beliefs. Given the current grilling of Santorum, that is a source of growing frustration to Santorum’s advisers. “Why is Mormonism off limits?” asks one. “I’m not saying it’s a seminal issue in the campaign, but we’re having to spend days answering questions about Rick’s faith, which he has been open about. Romney will turn on a dime when you talk about religion. We’re getting asked about specific tenets of Rick’s faith, and when Romney says, ‘I want to focus on the economy,’ they say, OK, we’ll focus on the economy.”

As I’ve already written, if we’re going to pick and choose what faiths, subjects and questions can be asked of religious conservatives, with some things being off limits, then I call hypocrisy on the whole idea that religious faith should be a part of the conversation at all. Either all questions and all faiths are on the table or none, but nobody’s faith is so special as to be worthy of a pass, that is if we’re actually going to continue picking our presidents through this prism.

More and more people are waking up to the catastrophe Santorum’s candidacy would be for Republicans, with Alan Simpson the latest to weigh in.

“I am convinced that if you get into these social issues and just stay in there about abortion and homosexuality and even mental health they bring up, somehow they’re going to take us all to Alaska and float us out in the Bering Sea or something,” said [former Sen. Alan] Simpson, long known for colorful commentary. “We won’t have a prayer.” … “[Rick Santorum] is rigid and a homophobic…”Interview with Bob Schieffer, via HuffPost

But with all the talk turning to Santorum, conservatives have started to come to his defense. John Podhoretz wasn’t one of them.

John Podhoretz, the former New York Post editorial page writer who now writes for Commentary Magazine, has written that yes, Santorum is getting depicted as extreme by the left, but his real problem is a lack of optimism, not the liberal elites.

Talking about the nation in fire-and-brimstone terms without a vision for the future that is based on optimism “is not a path to winning an electorate’s heart,” he told POLITICO.

As for whether it’s fair that Santorum is “getting beaten up?”
“Who cares,” he said. “This isn’t about fairness. That’s life. “¦ The notion that Santorum is going to be denied his rightful place as president because the media’s in the tank for President Obama [is wrong].”


Post-debate UPDATE: One of the worst moments for Rick Santorum was when he referred to female soldiers on the battlefield and then mentioned he didn’t want to get into “social engineering.” It was appallingly insulting to those women who have served. He had other really devastating moments. Still can’t believe he got sucker-punched on Arlen Specter. I bet whatever team he has around him can’t either. It was classic seeing Santorum defend himself as a “team player” trying to help his party, which Ron Paul jumped all over. Romney’s going to have a very good Tuesday, with his team saying they’ll win Michigan, which isn’t hard to believe after tonight. Mitt Romney had one moment, however, where he clapped and looked kind of manic to me; there’s got to be some way to use that in an add.