Big Issue in 2012: The Crusades

by Joe Feuerherd

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Rick Santorum, the conservative Catholic former Pennsylvania senator seeking to distinguish himself from the rest of the Republican presidential field, defends the Crusades. The Crusades get a bad rap, said Santorum, because of the “American left who hates Christendom.” (Hat tip, Andrew Sullivan’s Dish.)

James Tobin of Commentary didn’t like what he read.

Santorum is nothing if not provocative. In 2005, while on a book tour, he told me that the political left doesn’t believe in the “common good.”

Instead, “they believe there is no absolute truth, whatever suits your needs is good. So the idea of the common good to the real left is anathema.”

If Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich decide to forgo their presidential bids, Santorum is potentially well-placed to put the Reaganesque coalition of economic, social and national security conservatives together. A big field in Iowa means Santorum wouldn’t need a large plurality to exceed expectations (which are pretty low to begin with.)

Farfetched? Sure.

In 2006, in a heavily Democratic year, Santorum was trounced by the popular Bob Casey. No surprise there.

But Santorum is a skilled candidate. In a state not particularly friendly to social conservatives, he won two statewide races against formidable foes. Previously, he won two House races in an overwhelmingly Democratic district.

The correct alignment of the political stars could land Santorum at the top of the Republican ticket – or maybe Vice President Santorum is not so farfetched.

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