In which Hanlon defends Rick Santorum

It had to happen. As an equal-opportunity mouthpiece, I rail against ideas, not people or institutions. I found Romney and Ron Paul’s attacks against Rick Santorum’s voting record rather alarming, and for a brief flash of a moment showed why he’d almost be better than those two.

“He talked about this as ‘taking one for the team,'” Romney said to laughs from the crowd at the Associated Builders and Contractors National Meeting. “I wonder which team he was taking it for. My team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington.”

Most of Romney’s speech was devoted to bashing unions, a popular topic with the conservative business group. He mentioned Santorum’s votes against the repeal of right-to-work laws, and in favor of raising the debt ceiling and the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires the federal government to pay prevailing wages for public works projects.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a politician explain in so many ways why he voted against his principles,” Romney said.

“He calls it a team sport,” Paul said of Santorum’s insistence that he needed to vote “yes” at times as a senator to help the party. “He has to go along to get along and that’s the way the team plays. But that’s what the problem is with Washington. That’s what’s been going on for so long.”

I have no problem with sticking to one’s convictions. That’s all right. I certainly have a number of issues I’m not willing to compromise on, but being unwilling to compromise is not, itself, a good thing.

Time and again I’ve talked about the difference between dealing with an issue as an adult versus dealing with it as a child. For once, Santorum is the example of adulthood in that he gets that compromise and bargaining is how grown-ups deal with problems. You can’t just march in and say “this is what I want and I either get all of it or you can all fuck off.” That’s what children do. Children stamp their feet and insist that they get everything they want or else no one gets to play.

A politician cannot come into power, especially not the White House, with an attitude that says he will not work with anyone he disagrees with. One could certainly make the case that Obama has folded on a few too many issues, but an equally strong case could be made that had he not done so, absolutely no progress would have been made.

This is the problem facing us now. The reason we have our particular governmental arrangement is to, at least ideally, foster compromise. That’s why the minority party has the filibuster in the Senate, why the president can veto, why Congress can override said veto, and why the legislative branch isn’t simply made up solely of the majority party.  If the founding fathers had wanted this country to be led by people who refused to budge on anything, they’d have given the president absolute authority and called it a day.

So mark this one on your calendars. On February 23rd, 2012, Hanlon was on Rick Santorum’s side.

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