Two Slice Santorum's Secret Ingredient

Of all the things I'm looking into, I've spent a considerable amount of time searching for connections between rural and urban America. The gap might be growing between the two. Still, I honestly don't see outright hostility across that divide. While doing research for this book, I spend time in both "places" - asking people questions that sometimes reflect upon separate states of mind. For those reading closely, you saw that I spent a few days last week in a mostly progressive and fascinating enclave within a sprawling urban landscape - I'm winking at you West Hollywood. A few weeks prior to that, I logged 1800 miles crisscrossing three states in the upper Midwest. I talk with liberals. I talk with conservatives. I've got an angle - we all do - and it comes from questions I have about a very particular snippet of America that I see having connections all across the map.

Now this will sound like a stretch, but I'm led at this moment to think about Rick Santorum and where he resides in the America I'm exploring. You've probably heard some form of his most recent punching bag quotes, loosely paraphrased as "Obama wants everyone to go to college - what a snob" and "JFK's claim that church and state should be separate made me throw up." There are so many others, all of which I can guarantee you based on real experience are percolating in the opposition research archives of countless young politicos, reporters and satirists waiting to make the next "Aha!" point to help their particular aim. The easy and gratifying money is to bet on what Santorum will next come out against (how about refrigerators - "America was a much better place when we just got huge chunks of ice delivered - daily"). My point isn't that his hyperbolic, dated character is on par with Bryce Dallas Howard (Hilly) from the movie version of "The Help". Although if he keeps this up, all of America may soon be leaving toilets on his lawn (read the book and/or see the movie if you miss the reference). No, I'm saying that what's being seen in Santorum's language is a matter of creating an American separation that just doesn't exist anywhere but in the mind of a few dispirited outliers. Maybe he'll do the one thing that no one else in America seems capable of doing - getting people to finally pull the lever for Bob Dole, er...Mitt Romney (although the strong possibility of Democrats crossing over during the open primary in Michigan to vote for Santorum makes too much disruptive and predictive sense to me). Still, wherever you reside in this America - urban or rural, current or past, happy or angry - this sort of separate but equal revisionism just doesn't reflect anything I've seen out there. Call me an optimist. Or a snob - I don't mind.

Sorry - just had to get that off my chest.