opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Mark Shields
Mark Shields
6 Feb 2016
Cracking the Code of Campaign-Speak

"Do you ever get the feeling," asked humorist Robert Orben, "that the only reason we have elections is to … Read More.

30 Jan 2016
Is There Only One True Progressive?

Mark Shields is off this week. The following is a column by Joe Conason. In our polarized politics, the … Read More.

23 Jan 2016
The Man Who Drowned Democracy With 'Sewer Money'

Mark Shields is off this week. The following is a column by Joe Conason. This week marked the anniversary of … Read More.

GOP Populist, 2012 Version


CONCORD, N.H. — During the campaign for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination, Malcolm "Steve" Forbes pushed a flat-tax plan that would have abolished all taxes on dividends and capital gains. Pat Buchanan, in characteristically understated fashion, charged that the Forbes plan was written to benefit "the boys down at the yacht basin, " because under it, "lounge lizards in Palm Beach pay a lower tax rate than steelworkers in Youngstown." Those were the days of populist prose and open class warfare in the GOP.

There was more than a hint of class in Rick Santorum's moving Iowa "victory speech." In paying tribute to his Italian immigrant grandfather, "who worked in a mine in a company town and lived in a shack," Santorum recalled his grandfather's wake when he, a youngster, knelt beside the open casket and was struck by the largeness of his grandfather's gnarled hands: "All I could think of was those hands dug freedom for me."

For all practical purposes, Rick Santorum, on a January night in Des Moines, was introducing himself to the nation as the proud product of a blue-collar family born, unlike the favored Republican front-runner, to neither privilege nor power.

Here in New Hampshire, post-Iowa, Santorum has been warmly received, especially by the less upscale Republicans he has met. While he concedes the loss of social mobility in the United States when compared to "socialist" Western Europe and promises to confront the historic decline of manufacturing in the American heartland, Santorum is leading no pitchfork brigades in 2012. You will hear from him no mocking of "the boys down at the yacht basin."

But on the Thursday before this state's first-in-the-nation primary, Rick Santorum — the favorite of religious and social conservative Republican voters — found himself on the defensive before a Concord audience that included many students.

The Pennsylvania Republican, an uncompromising opponent of same-sex marriage, was asked by a high-school senior, after he had spoken about the value and dignity of the individual person as uniquely defining the U.S.: "How do you justify your beliefs based on those high morals you have about 'all men being created equal' when two men want to marry?" Santorum interrupted, "What about three men?" Suddenly, the Iowa long-shot "winner" was very much on the defensive.

When Santorum was in the U.S. Senate, Americans by a landslide 68 percent to 29 percent margin told Gallup that "marriages between same-sex couples should not be recognized by the law as valid." By 2011, there had been a sea-change in opinion. A 51 percent majority for the first time believed same-sex marriages should be recognized in law with the same rights as traditional marriages. Particularly telling, younger Americans — those under 35 — are the most in favor of recognizing same-sex marriage.

During his second Senate term, Santorum told The Associated Press: "In every society, the definition of marriage has not to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog or whatever the case may be."

Upon hearing the "man on dog" line, Mark Russell, the peerless political humorist, observed, "Bestiality is never consensual."

In fact, when compared to the man-on-dog argument, Santorum's "What about three men?" rebuttal seems mild. One can argue that, to his credit, Santorum does not flinch from defending an increasingly unpopular position on a controversial issue. He is not a flip-flopper. But in the short time he has to make the case on why voters should choose him over Mitt Romney or, later, Barack Obama, Santorum would be better off emphasizing his roots, coupled with his passionate commitment to improving the lives of forgotten blue-collar Americans, than by railing against the political straw man of polygamy.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




5 Comments | Post Comment
With EUGENICS and the Globalist police state UNDENIABLY
unfolding all around us ---could Shields PLEASE bring it
up to speed?

For the reality challenged ---the passage of NDAA 1031
authorizes the secret arrest, 'disappearance', torture,
and stripping of citizenship and execution of
American citizens ---ANYWHERE.

All this as 4 decades of CFR treason has transferred
the American economy to RED China ---at U.S. taxpayer

The Globalist RED China sellout and TREASON OP
-------is the ONLY issue in 2012.
Comment: #1
Posted by: anon ymus
Fri Jan 6, 2012 6:51 PM
I really get tired of the "roots" crap, Mark, and I am not alone. What about John Kennedy's roots? His father was a Nazi sympathizer, and John was pretty much a chosen, filthy rich Brahmin. It's not about roots (we all hail from the same ancestor that begat human DNA), it's not about the life you led, or any of that other garbage.

It's about soul and leadership, both in very short supply now, not only in politics but in the punditacracy. I keep wanting to like Romney, because he is so show-stoppingly smart, but when he comes out with statements like he did today rejecting Obama's proposal to cut military spending, he just pulls the rug out from under himself.

Obama, as we all know, is a babe in the woods when it comes to budget and economy issues. But the mild course he charted today for reduced, and more importantly, supervised, military spending, through Panetta's description of wise cuts that will force a culture of flushing money down the toilet for sport to confront the concept of accountability, was not a proper target for Romney's purely pandering criticism.

But that didn't stop the guy who thinks tying a dog to the top of a car is a great way to transport a family member.
He just doesn't learn. He's like a computer that just can't be re-programmed.

Don't get me wrong. I really, really wanted to like the guy. I was even willing to forgive the dog episode. But he just can't find his soul. He can't stand up for his own brilliance in crafting the Massachusetts healthcare plan, he can't go for the obvious business efficiency Obama/Panetta are demanding of the most important business venture that exists in the U.S., and he doesn't dare take on peabrains like Santorum who think they have a lock on what God approves as legitimate human relationships.

Leadership. Get it? Confronting a situation where many, many people are looking for guidance and inspiration about how to live in this world that has evolved faster than most of us can keep track of. We need our best and brightest to challenge us with their courage in proposing how to deal with it, not the wriggling worm approach to finding a way to slither through it to some kind of sheltered mediocrity.

Worms everywhere. Makes me want to go fishing and forget about all of this. And I am not alone.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Masako
Fri Jan 6, 2012 8:55 PM
Anonymous; Nothing is more dangerous than the truth, if not to those who know it, then to those who oppose it... It is fine to guess the truth, foolish to think you know it; and suicidal to proclaim it...It is very polite to be uncertain, and almost sociable to equivocate... Try to remember that certainty is the fruit of religion and doubt is the prize of reason... I am not saying you are wrong; and far from it... Treason is just one of those words that always breaks up a party no matter how tanked everyone is... It is for those who own the judges to determine what is treason, and who is treasonable... In old England, counterfeiting was always treason; but no one ever held Henry VIII accounatble for leading his gold to pay his debts... If we spend good money to buy bad, then we are all robbed from... If we export money hard earned here to buy slavery abroad, then it is slavery here we are buying with the same coin... I understand your frustration... The frustration and anger on the left and the right has the same cause with different targets... A population fed poisoned ideas can become like Hercules mad, and killing his children... The enemy is not us... The enemy is all the thems pretending to be us, waving the flag in our faces, controlling us with laws, and using our freedom to ensnare us... So; watch your mouth to better guard your thoughts... The day is coming when your frustration can be vented... If you make certain you are not attacking the victims you will find no enemy in me... Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Jan 9, 2012 4:08 AM
Mr. Shields;... Mr. Santorum along with many Republicans has little of knowledge of societies outside of our own, or of how they succeeded, and what made them work... It was only a superiority of technology, and not of culture that allowed Europe to steam roll over so many nations... People with very primitive technology survived to be wiped out by Europeans simply on the basis of highly developed cultures and superior morality which some times allowed such complete freedom to their members that marriage was informal to the point of taking many forms all decided upon by those who married each other... There is a reason our marriages are formal, and why, in spite of their formality that they never hold to the form except to the point where the form and relationship both break down in divorce... Marriage has ruined more relationships than it has made, and I have no doubt that it will umake as many relationships among the gays and lesbians... If the relationship is meaningless, no amount of form will give it meaning... It is the relationship between people that gives the form meaning, and this is true even of nations; and at the moment, our nation is all form and no relationship... People are trading their social economy for a financial economy, selling out one form of meaning for another form of meaning, and in the whole process, our society is becoming an empty form signifying nothing...
Comment: #4
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Jan 9, 2012 4:27 AM
Mark -- Bain/Romney and John Kerry/Swift Boat are NOT analagous. The object of the Swift Boat was to paint Kerry as a liar and not a true hero which he was. Romney is not lying about Bain -- as he says -- corporations are people and the object is to make money not jobs. You should be ashamed -- you know very well that Kerry served proudly.
Pat Gray
Comment: #5
Posted by: Patricia Gray
Tue Jan 10, 2012 5:01 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Mark Shields
Feb. `16
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 8 Feb 2016
Mark Shields
Mark ShieldsUpdated 6 Feb 2016
diane dimond
Diane DimondUpdated 6 Feb 2016

28 Apr 2007 The Queen Comes to the Colonies

14 Dec 2013 Is the Pope Catholic?

10 Oct 2009 Confessions of a Recovering Red Sox Fanatic