<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d12702981\x26blogName\x3dSane+Nation\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://sanenation.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://sanenation.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d1476394626602319783', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What's Up With Andrew?

Saying the name “Rick Santorum” in a crowd of left-wingers these days brings a response not unlike the roar of contempt directed to Michael Moore at the GOP Convention last year. No big whoop; that's partisanship as usual. But Andrew Sullivan is by no means a leftist, and he’s usually refreshingly post-partisan in his commentary. His work is most often well reasoned, informed, and issue-oriented. All the more disappointing that Sullivan has resorted to the cheapest of cheap shots in his latest writing about Santorum. Sullivan offers this provocative tease in an entry at his blog: “The Senator from Pennsylvania explains his views on the role of women. Benedict XVI - and a few mullahs in Iran - would approve.” I followed the link, expecting to find a Santorum quote consigning American women to burkas, or at least urging a return to traditional barefoot-and-pregnant status. Here's what I found Santorum saying:

"In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might confess that both of them really don’t need to, or at least may not need to work as much as they do… And for some parents, the purported need to provide things for their children simply provides a convenient rationalization for pursuing a gratifying career outside the home." (It Takes a Family, 94)
"Many women have told me, and surveys have shown, that they find it easier, more “professionally” gratifying, and certainly more socially affirming, to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children. Think about that for a moment…Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism, one of the core philosophies of the village elders." (It Takes a Family, 95)
It strikes me that a reasonable interpretation of these two quotes is that Santorum believes kids — especially young kids, prior to 3 — do best with maximum exposure to parents. Not parent substitutes; actual parents (okay, I’m willing to include grandparents, if they're primary caregivers). But even if Santorum had dared to say kids have a primary need to be specifically close to mom during those first three years, he would be on solid developmental ground. There’s a wide and by no means casual consensus among child development authorities that the uterus-bearing parent is uniquely important in a kid’s life during the early years. It also strikes me that Sullivan is covertly feuding with Santorum about homosexuality. Sullivan regularly blogs about his animus against Santorum for what Sullivan believes to be Santorum's animus against same-sex marriage. The two men have real disagreements about real issues, and it’s in the best interests of genuine debate that they stick to the substance of their disagreement. Meanwhile, if Sullivan cares to argue against the substance of Santorum’s above-stated views about parents who work, he should make his case directly — again, on the issues. Using those quotes to snipingly equate Santorum’s views with those of “mullahs in Iran” is a low blow, one that costs Sullivan credibility for a few moments of self-righteousness. My criticism assumes Sullivan might hope to win converts to his advocacy of same-sex marriage. If his goal is to preach to the already converted, then playing the moral superiority card is a strong move. The irony of course is that Sullivan's high-and-mighty baiting of Santorum serves essentially the same function as Santorum's holier-tha- thou baiting of gays: namely to shore up the base. Double irony: both Sullivan and Santorum focusing on their adversary's ulterior motives. You know the drill. "I have principles, but my opponent has an agenda." Specifically on the parenting issue: Sullivan has often noted that he works at home. If he and his partner were to adopt a young child, I suspect Sullivan would probably continue working at home, not least so he could stay close to his kid. My guess is he’d say that decision would be in the kid’s best interests, and he'd be right about that. In the meantime, here's a book that makes the relevant point: Parenthood by Proxy: Don't Have Them If You Won't Raise Them. The author is Dr. Laura Schlessinger.