CPAC Blogging: Santorum Edition

I'm at the Conservative Political Action Conference nestled over in blogger row, having just come from a talk by Rick Santorum, who offered a frothy mixture of arguments in defense of traditional, homo-free families.

Some Senators, the MC tells us by way of introduction, believe in collectivism—believe it "takes a village" to raise a child. But Rick Santorum knows better. And so he promises to offer those "economic conservatives in the audience who might not consider them social conservatives" grounds to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Now, when a prosecutor in a murder trial stands up and gives you 20 minutes of stirring rhetoric on what an awful crime murder is, it's a fair bet he's got a pretty shoddy case that the defendant committed this murder. Here, only after a long paean to marriage and its correlation with all sorts of desirable social outcomes do we get the actual argument for the, you know, link between letting same-sex couples marry and discouraging traditional marriage.

Oh, wait. No we don't. We're just told that "if marriage is...to whoever you want, marraige loses its intrinsic value." I'm not sure how that happens. Maybe it's like a kind of reverse transubstantiation, as soon as the gays touch it, the valuable essence somehow dissipates. The lone gesture we get in the direction of an explanation is the assertion that once marriage is no longer "special" (that is to say, exclusive) people stop getting married. Why should anyone think that's the case? Moving right along...

On the question of whether government should take a more active role in encouraging marriage—in particular among welfare recipients—Santorum notes that some find that stance insufficiently value-neutral. But "government neutrality can be a vexing thing." It turns out that women who begin accepting welfare benefits frequently declare an intent to marry the fathers of their children, but very few ultimately do. "That's what government neutrality gets you," Santorum says—people left to their own devices making the "wrong" choices about their personal relationships. Proving, one supposes, that "it takes a village" after all.

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