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Santorum blames his wife for his criticism of those radical feminists

Rick Santorum
Say what you want about Rick Santorum, he has been consistent in advocating for what I like to think of as the Kitty McGough line on family values. Like Santorum, Mom believed that motherhood was a higher calling for a woman than work outside the house. She had worked before marrying and having six kids, and was grateful after my father died young that she didn't "have" to return to the workplace. (Obviously, she also agreed with Santorum about contraception.) Her point of view is politically incorrect these days, even in the Republican Party, but it was a coherent expression of Catholic teachings that the sexes were complementary and that mothers and fathers weren't interchangeable.

In his 2005 book "It Takes a Family," Santorum came right up the edge of agreeing with Mom that a mother's place was in the home. In a technically gender-neutral passage, Santorum wrote: "In far too many families  with young children,  both parents are working, when, if they took an honest look at the budget, they might confess that both of them don't need to, or at least may not need to work as much as they do."  But it wasn't hard to guess which gender Santorum saw in the at-home role. Elsewhere in the book he assailed feminists for "their misogynistic crusade to make working outside the home the only marker of social value and self-respect."  It wasn't men those feminists were exhorting to join the workforce.

Unfashionable? Is the senator Catholic? But it was refreshing to hear a politician enunciate Mom's view of the world -- even if Santorum wasn't willing to connect the dots completely and later suggested, disingenuously, that men as well as women should resist the notion that "the only thing that's affirming, the only thing that really counts, is what you do at work." I think Mom might have  engaged in some similar equivocation in her later years when challenged by her adult daughters. But we knew where she was coming from, and it wasn't the boardroom.

Same with Santorum, except now he seems to be trying to slip even further out of his previous pronouncements. Confronted by ABC's George Stephanopoulos with a passage from his book criticizing feminists for luring women into the workplace, the former senator suggested that it might have been written by his wife, a nurse and lawyer who felt that people "looked down their nose" at her decision to quit her job to raise the couple's children. His main point, he told Stephanopoulos, was that there should be an "affirmation of whatever decision women decide to make."

Rick, don't go wobbly on us. The other day you said: "We will no longer abandon and apologize for the principles that made this country great for a hollow victory in November." If one of those principles is the Kitty McGough critique of feminism, don't throw it under the bus. Otherwise Mitt Romney might call you a flip-flopper.

ALSO:

Why gay marriage is inevitable

McManus: Romney's pain, Obama's gain

Contraception and women's rights -- it's still a man's world

-- Michael McGough

Photo: Rick Santorum, accompanied by his family, acknowledges applause during his address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Feb. 10. He is joined by his wife Karen at right. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

 

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