Aside

In the meantime

Until I get my next Rome update perfected and posted, check out this article from the WSJ: Social Issues and the Santorum Surge

In Mr. Bell’s telling, social conservatism is both relatively new and uniquely American, and it is a response to aggression, not an initiation of it. The left has had “its center of gravity in social issues” since the French Revolution, he says. “Yes, the left at that time, with people like Robespierre, was interested in overthrowing the monarchy and the French aristocracy. But they were even more vehemently in favor of bringing down institutions like the family and organized religion. In that regard, the left has never changed. . . . I think we’ve had a good illustration of it in the last month or so.”

To the extent that social issues have “come to define” Mr. Santorum’s campaign, it is in substantial part because liberal interviewers like Mr. Gregory have kept pushing them. If Mr. Bell is right, Mr. Santorum should end up benefiting politically, including in November if he is the nominee.

But what about voters who don’t make a high priority of social issues, who aren’t unwilling to vote for a social conservative but might be put off by a candidate who is—or is made to appear—a moralistic busybody? “The key thing along that line is the issue of coercion,” Mr. Bell says. “Who is guilty of coercion? I happen to think it’s the left.” Mr. Obama and his supporters are “going to imply that Santorum wants to impose all the tenets of traditional morality on the American population. He doesn’t. He just doesn’t want the opposite imposed on Middle America.”

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