1. Pete is right that Santorum on women in combat has a high cringe factor. Why is he talking about that? Same thing with gays in the military.

2. Paul Rahe’s RICOCHET article, I think, is somewhat overwrought. Being okay with Social Security isn’t being oblivious to religious freedom. Nor is it realistic to think that all provision for the poor necessarily comes from the virtue of charity and the institution of the church. Nonetheless, he is right that too much of the institutional church has been shy about presenting the arguments against contraception and abortion, and the chuch lost of a lot of moral authority over the whole pedophilia scandal etc. Sophisticated American is getting psyched up to attack Santorum for being a “real”—that is, out of touch and bigoted—Catholic. He’s going to have to display, as Pete says, a higher pay grade of argument to defend himself. That begins with noticing that there’s no Catholic, much less “natural law,” position on women in combat or gays in the military.

3. Paul is right, as are many others, that the attack on religious liberty on behalf of “public reason” is quite real, and all the Republican contenders are right to take up the challenge. Santorum, the attackers think, is a particularly easy mark for them because of his extremism. It’s true that the offending policy is not unconstitutional from a “free exercise” (EMPLOYMENT DIVISION) view, but neither is it defending the constitutional right of women to have their health (as government defines it) secured. The was here is necessarily political, and it can serve the Republicans if the case is made that BIG GOVERNMENT of this new kind necessarily intrudes on both freedom of conscience and freedom of churches, although not in way that will allow conservatives to turn to the courts for protection. It would be great to get Ron Paul rhetorically on board here to forge the alliance with the libertarians against the atheistic small “r” republicans. In that respect, there’s a lot to a more nuanced view of Paul Rahe’s position.

4. The most recent poll has Santorum ahead by a lot for the nomination. One reason is that Romney’s negatives are getting higher and Santorum’s are very low. The latter won’t last of course, and these polls are hyper-unstable this year. But Romney might be down for the count this time. Or might not.

5. Then we hear Sarah Palin calling for a brokered convention that will nominate HER. Mitch, I think, will have to run to get nominated.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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