Of all the foolish talking points to come out of last week's GOP debate in South Carolina, Rick Santorum screeching about Islam "reform" and his Italian immigrant grandmother's refusal to learn English seem the most deserving of contempt. Or maybe the honor should be shared by Pawlenty, Cain, and Santorum for endorsing the use of waterboarding under "any circumstances" they could imagine. ("Bring me some Bagel Bites, or I'm going to drown you.")
But if you're "compassionate conservative" and former Bush 43 speechwriter Michael Gerson, you go after Rep. Ron Paul for his First Amendment defense of illicit drug use, and you do so with lies:
This argument is strangely framed: If you tolerate Zoroastrianism, you must be able to buy heroin at the quickie mart. But it is an authentic application of libertarianism, which reduces the whole of political philosophy to a single slogan: Do what you will — pray or inject or turn a trick — as long as no one else gets hurt.
Even by this permissive standard, drug legalization fails. The de facto decriminalization of drugs in some neighborhoods — say, in Washington, D.C. — has encouraged widespread addiction. Children, freed from the care of their addicted parents, have the liberty to play in parks decorated by used needles. Addicts are liberated into lives of prostitution and homelessness. Welcome to Paulsville, where people are free to take soul-destroying substances and debase their bodies to support their "personal habits."
Leaving aside the polemical wet whick of needle-strewn playgrounds, I want to know where in D.C. one can get away with slinging or using in front of a cop. The 2,874 people arrested by the MPD for narcotics violations between Jan. 1 and April 9 of this year would probably like to know, too.
Icing on the cake:
Paul is not content to condemn a portion of his fellow citizens to self-destruction; he must mock them in their decline. Such are the manners found in Paulsville. This is not "The Wealth of Nations" or the "Second Treatise of Government." It is Social Darwinism. It is the arrogance of the strong. It is contempt for the vulnerable and suffering.
I need someone to explain to me how it's more compassionate to sentence someone to life in prison for his fourth marijuana conviction.