DELUSIONS

01.08.12

Rick Santorum’s ‘Family’ Sham

Rick Santorum has been running around New Hampshire talking about family as the answer to everything. If only that were true. By Lois Romano.

Rick Santorum seems to be tanking in the Granite State—and perhaps it’s because folks can’t understand exactly what he believes.

During Sunday’s NBC/Facebook debate, he took a silly swipe at Hillary Clinton’s smart 1996 book It Takes a Village, in which she discusses the impact that families, communities, institutions—and yes, even government programs—can have in shaping a child.

Santorum noted that he disagreed with the book, which is why he wrote his own rebuttal, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good. His comments at the debate were actually a rip-off from Robert Dole’s 1996 acceptance speech at the Republican convention: “... with all due respect … it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.”

Really? And what if that child doesn’t have a family? Or his family is destitute or in jail?

Santorum has been running around New Hampshire talking about family as the answer to everything. If it were only true. At one event, he told a young girl that perhaps family and friends could help with her severely disabled brother who has faced a cut in federal entitlements for his care. Later, in dramatic hushed tones, he told students asking about gays marrying and adopting children that kids need a mom and dad. It prompted one stunned student to ask, “What—only straight couples can adopt them?”

It certainly raises the question about whether the conservative former senator from Pennsylvania understands that not everyone in the country is affluent and has a nuclear family of seven children—as he does.  

Mary Kaye Huntsman, who with her husband, Jon, adopted two abandoned Asian children, expressed offense at the comment. “There are so many situations where it takes so many of us,” she said in her hotel lobby following the debate. “Sure, in a perfect world, every child would like a perfect family. But what about the single mother or the abandoned child? We rely on community leaders and teachers. It’s hard to raise children, and everyone does what they can.”