Joe Klein characterizes Santorum’s campaign with the only word he can: “Honorable”

posted at 6:36 pm on April 11, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Honorable. It was the word I chose to summarize Rick Santorum’s campaign and it’s the word Joe Klein chose, as well. Say what you want about Rick Santorum — that he was whiny or too social-issues-centric or a longshot candidate from the start — but his campaign was an object lesson in the winningness of integrity and humility:

Santorum said a fair number of horrifically stupid things along the way (he might even agree with that assessment in a few cases); I think he is profoundly misguided on issues ranging from the individual health insurance mandate to bombing Iran to homosexuality. But I don’t think he’s taken any of those positions because they were convenient or popular with the base. He believes the things he says, which is rare enough in American politics. And I’m happy that he’s the sort of person who is willing to argue those things out with someone like me, because we have far too few of honest arguments these days in our political process–real discussions, where one person states his case without tricks or soundbites, the other listens and responds. Mitt Romney, for example, has run a very different sort of campaign–not just with reporters, but also with his audiences.

Most of all, as I’ve written, I respect and admire Santorum’s personal life, the courageous and inconvenient decisions he and Karen have made about their children, and especially Bella. I know that it was easier for the Santorums than for most to home school their children and care for a baby with a tragic illness. They had money and help; most people don’t. But that doesn’t mean those decisions were easy, or that the anguish involved in a weekend like the one they just spent in the hospital with Bella is any less.

So I’m happy he ran for President. He made me think about things I don’t usually think about. He forced me to defend things I think about a lot. I wish him and his terrific family the very best.

In the brief time that I’ve been working in political journalism, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and/or interview a number of congressmen, senators and presidential candidates. So far, I’ve been fortunate to not have any really negative experiences, but I’ve learned pretty quickly what Klein alludes to — that politicians spin incessantly, even when they wouldn’t have to, even when a reporter is friendly and fair. Of the interviews I’ve done and the conversations I’ve had with outright politicians (as opposed to staffers or officials), two stand out — an interview with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker more than a year ago and a one-on-one phone interview with Rick Santorum just months ago. They stand out not because they’ve been my two “biggest” interviews to date, although that’s true, but because Walker and Santorum alone of the politicians I’ve talked to seemed oblivious to their own significance. They had a message to communicate — and the communication of that message mattered more to them than what I thought of them personally. As a result, I think more highly of both of their persons than I do of other politicians I’ve met.

There’s a lesson in there for all conservatives: It’s time we got out of the way of our own ideas. The cult of personality that so characterizes not just politics but the entire realm of political communications is fun, but often counterproductive. If an idea is a good one, who cares whose it is?


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You need a bigger vocabulary, Joe.

MelonCollie on April 11, 2012 at 6:38 PM

I also believe Santorum is an honorable man and ran an honorable campaign, but don’t you see what Klein is doing? He’s praising Santorum solely to try to tear Romney down in the process. Just old-school political hackery.

GOPRanknFile on April 11, 2012 at 6:40 PM

A “lets support the front runner all we can” would have been honorable from Santorum as well.

FlaMurph on April 11, 2012 at 6:42 PM

I guess he’s “honorable” because he’s broke.

RBMN on April 11, 2012 at 6:44 PM

A “lets support the front runner all we can” would have been honorable from Santorum as well.

FlaMurph on April 11, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Why? It has been repeatedly stated all over these boards that Santorum was a loser.. Why does him support suddenly count?

melle1228 on April 11, 2012 at 6:44 PM

I also believe Santorum is an honorable man and ran an honorable campaign, but don’t you see what Klein is doing? He’s praising Santorum solely to try to tear Romney down in the process. Just old-school political hackery.

GOPRanknFile on April 11, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Everyone knows Klein is a jackass.

rubberneck on April 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM

More honorable than the excrement who sits in the White House.

Bishop on April 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM

A “lets support the front runner all we can” would have been honorable from Santorum as well.

FlaMurph on April 11, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Rumor has it that Romney and Santorum will be doing an event together in Pittsburgh next week, where Santorum will officially endorse him.

GOPRanknFile on April 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Everyone knows Klein is a jackass.

rubberneck on April 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Almost everyone. Some people will actually fall for it.

GOPRanknFile on April 11, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Santorum stuck to his ideas and beliefs even when they were unpopular and for this I salute him. I think he still has a lot to contribute to this Country of ours. And I say this as a die hard leftist.

richardporter on April 11, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Why? It has been repeatedly stated all over these boards that Santorum was a loser.. Why does him support suddenly count?

melle1228 on April 11, 2012 at 6:44 PM

It’s not for the people who think he’s a loser, it’s for the people who like him, are bitter about him losing to Romney and who might stay home because of some stupid “Romney’s not a true conservative so I’m not voting! That’ll show that damn GOP establishment!” attitude. Is Romeney the candidate we all wanted? No. Is he the one we have? Yes. So we should support him. And the people who lost to him should have enough class and honor to support him too. Even if only as a “lesser of two evils” option against Obama.

Cyhort on April 11, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Walker and Santorum alone of the politicians I’ve talked to seemed oblivious to their own significance. They had a message to communicate — and the communication of that message mattered more to them than what I thought of them personally.

Probably one of the more profound thoughts of the season. With a real leader, the message is vastly more important than the messenger. With a phony, the message will be adapted to the ego needs and career aspirations of the messenger.
A real leader is far more likely to see himself as a servant, while the phony will turn into a rock star and then a tyrant….every time!

Lew on April 11, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Just as he supported Mitt in 2008 as a “true conservative”, he will do the same in 2012.

crosspatch on April 11, 2012 at 6:52 PM

I hate these obituaries! Someone is always trying to make them bigger than what they really were.

lhuffman34 on April 11, 2012 at 6:53 PM

It’s not for the people who think he’s a loser, it’s for the people who like him, are bitter about him losing to Romney and who might stay home because of some stupid “Romney’s not a true conservative so I’m not voting! That’ll show that damn GOP establishment!” attitude. Is Romeney the candidate we all wanted? No. Is he the one we have? Yes. So we should support him. And the people who lost to him should have enough class and honor to support him too. Even if only as a “lesser of two evils” option against Obama.

Cyhort on April 11, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Again why? It has been repeatedly said that Santorum supporters weren’t voting for him; they were voting for ABR. If that is the case, it doesn’t make a hill of beans what Santorum says. And no one has to endorse anyone. In fact, endorsing someone you don’t believe in has less honor and class.

melle1228 on April 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Why? It has been repeatedly stated all over these boards that Santorum was a loser.. Why does him support suddenly count?

melle1228 on April 11, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Because Defeat Means Friendship

thebrokenrattle on April 11, 2012 at 6:57 PM

Lying is not honorable and that was what Whinetorum did almost everytime he opened his mouth to talk about Mitt Romney.

Falz on April 11, 2012 at 6:57 PM

Again why? It has been repeatedly said that Santorum supporters weren’t voting for him; they were voting for ABR. If that is the case, it doesn’t make a hill of beans what Santorum says. And no one has to endorse anyone. In fact, endorsing someone you don’t believe in has less honor and class.

melle1228 on April 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM

See Santorum’s endorsement of Spector which Romney supporters were quick to use against him..

melle1228 on April 11, 2012 at 6:58 PM

Lemme try again

Because Defeat Means Friendship

thebrokenrattle on April 11, 2012 at 6:59 PM

Good word, honorable. Who Mr. Santorum was when he won & lost his Senate seat is who he is today, and who he will be if he chooses to try for the brass ring again in future. In spirited debates with Husband & Dad-in-Law, the one thing I couldn’t argue was that Rick Santorum is exactly whom he appears to be — a family man of deep convictions…who could use a sense of humor.

Best of everything to him and his family.
:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on April 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Lying is not honorable and that was what Whinetorum did almost everytime he opened his mouth to talk about Mitt Romney.

Falz on April 11, 2012 at 6:57 PM

While Mitt and his PACs deskinned him. You guys are a funny lot.

Your marketing skills are so poor that, were I Mitt, I’d fire you all.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Not a fan of Santorum the politician, but it’s obvious that Santorum the father and husband is more than admirable. At the end of the day that’s what truly counts.

Client Number Nine on April 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Lying is not honorable and that was what Whinetorum did almost everytime he opened his mouth to talk about Mitt Romney.

Falz on April 11, 2012 at 6:57 PM

You’re quite the gracious winner.

GOPRanknFile on April 11, 2012 at 7:01 PM

Sweater Vest Above Reproach!!
(snark)!

canopfor on April 11, 2012 at 7:01 PM

GOPRanknFile on April 11, 2012 at 7:01 PM

Thank you.

Falz on April 11, 2012 at 7:02 PM

Everyone knows Klein is a jackass.

rubberneck on April 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM

From the article:

People often ask me why I like Santorum, even though we disagree–sometimes vehemently–on almost every possible issue. It is because he’s the sort of guy with whom you can have a conversation about your mother dying, or a civil discussion about the most heated policy issue. (That night in Iowa we also talked about Iran, where our differences are pretty stark.) I have found him to always be open and candid, and willing to answer any question. And that is how he waged his campaign, in the most labor intensive way imaginable, 6 or 8 town meetings per day in Iowa–real town meetings, not a canned speech and a question or two. He earned the prominence he achieved in the race.

The Romney supporters are showing themselves to be even uglier than Joe Klein. That’s something to think about…

Fallon on April 11, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Enough with this loser already. He’s not even running anymore and we still have to see 24/7 puff pieces about him around here and have him name dropped in every other post as well.

Swerve22 on April 11, 2012 at 7:04 PM

The Romney supporters are showing themselves to be even uglier than Joe Klein. That’s something to think about…

Fallon on April 11, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Like I said earlier, I think Santorum is a good man who ran an honorable campaign. He wasn’t my first choice, but he was my second choice from the beginning and I admire him.

With that said, do you think Klein would have written that piece on Santorum if he were on the verge of becoming the nominee?

GOPRanknFile on April 11, 2012 at 7:06 PM

Let us hope that Romney is not nearly as big a loser as so many of his supporters in this discussion appear to be.

graydo on April 11, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Honorable to step down and give Obama the GOP candidate he wanted.

Come on folks, it’s Joel Klein.

fogw on April 11, 2012 at 7:09 PM

Joe Klein is a Reagan democrat!!

Swerve22 on April 11, 2012 at 7:10 PM

Truly, Rick Santorum is an honorable man.

You can read about how honorable he is here.

You can read about his amazing integrity here.

The excellence of his character really shows in this article.

Thank you Joe Klein, for this inspiring testimony to the monument that is Rick Santorum. I’m sure you will write similar articles when he runs again in 2016.

Mr. Arkadin on April 11, 2012 at 7:16 PM

I fell in line for Santorum. I was a Paulbot, but Santorum was the best out of the bunch! Say what you will, the guy had heart and you knew that he going to deliver on the things he promised including repealing Obamacare! Other than Paul, he’s the only that you KNOW would do it.

I miss him dearly. I hope Bella gets well and grows up to be a wonderful woman. Gob bless him.

With that said… I’m freaking pissed at so many on this site for backstabbing him!! So since I made up my mind that I wont vote this year (it would take a picture of Obama having sex with Ahmadinejad to change my mind….you get the point) I’ll be laughing watching how you guys “true conservatives” are shining Romneys shoes when he gets unzipped aka: supporting the dream act if not amnesty, supporting gay rights, the “good” parts of Obamacare, the contraception mandate, increasing the minimum wage, supporting tax increases, supporting cap and trade…. All of which he stood for as late as 2 yrs ago…yeah… #udzervit

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on April 11, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Remember the “satin” jokes.??.. Yes I have a grudge! You guys could have backed him up!!

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on April 11, 2012 at 7:19 PM

Say what you want about Rick Santorum — that he was whiny or too social-issues-centric or a longshot candidate from the start

Those are all we get to choose from? I don’t have to dig too deep to find “retrograde”, “tone-deaf”, and “ludicrous”.

Santorum was running to be President of the 1950s.

Lehosh on April 11, 2012 at 7:20 PM

Lying is not honorable and that was what Whinetorum did almost everytime he opened his mouth to talk about Mitt Romney.

Falz on April 11, 2012 at 6:57 PM

More B.S. from the Mitt-wit brigade. Keep it up pal, and there will be very few Santorum supporters looking for Romney’s name on a ballot this November. I have soured on Romney considerably this primary due to his nasty supporters. Your post is typical of the crap I and many have had to scroll by for months now.

KickandSwimMom on April 11, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Mr. Arkadin on April 11, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Brutal.

bluealice on April 11, 2012 at 7:43 PM

I don’t think believing stupid things and then acting on those beliefs is very honorable at all.

Rick Santorum is a creepy little fascist. I don’t have any more respect for him because he actually believes the garbage he spews than I do for David Duke, for whom the same could be said.

Armin Tamzarian on April 11, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Now Klein will be fully focused on destroying Romney, Paul and anyone else tho opposes Obama. Like all leftists, Klein will focus on the race factor in order to re-elect Obama.

mike0993 on April 11, 2012 at 7:46 PM

I voted for Santorum as the guaranteed method to defeat Willard McDole in my state. It worked and Santorum whipped Willard’s ass here.

But I’m not a supporter necessarily of Rick Santorum – his social views are a bit extreme. That said – he WAS INFINITELY PREFERABLE to me as a President than Willard was. I would have voted for Rick or Newt for President – I won’t vote for Willard.

If Rick endorses Willard – he loses my respect for the fight he was actually fighting. He chose to pick up the standard and fight for the grassroots against the establishment. If he endo’s anyone it should be the guy who inherits that fight now – which is Newt.

And besides – so many Willard McDole kiddies laughed at Rick and called him names and talked about how bad a father he was when his daughter was sick. The Willard McDole Kid’s Club is the lowest form of swine on this planet and I’ll gladly align with Obama to defeat their asses.

Can’t believe that Rick would allow himself to be “assimilated” by the Establishment – I hope he doesn’t – but it wouldn’t surprise me at this point.

HondaV65 on April 11, 2012 at 7:48 PM

I wonder if this is just a ‘thank you’ for mentioning him in the final address about the campaign?

The Nerve on April 11, 2012 at 7:51 PM

More B.S. from the Mitt-wit brigade. Keep it up pal, and there will be very few Santorum supporters looking for Romney’s name on a ballot this November. I have soured on Romney considerably this primary due to his nasty supporters. Your post is typical of the crap I and many have had to scroll by for months now.

KickandSwimMom on April 11, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Vote Obama for President and vote Republican for everything else.

That’s what I’ll do. We really don’t want the establishment in total control of this nation like it was from 2000 to 2006 – the years that brought us paralyzing disaster and a President like Obama.

Give Obambi another 4 years and a GOP Senate and House that can limit anything he does.

Best we can hope for at this point.

HondaV65 on April 11, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Tina, you’re becoming a heckuva writer. Keep it up.

Chuckles3 on April 11, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Leftard slimeball Klein is saying this simply beacause Santorum’s out.

You think this media cockroach would be saying this if Santorum were the likely nominee?

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on April 11, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Vote Obama for President and vote Republican for everything else.

That’s what I’ll do. We really don’t want the establishment in total control of this nation like it was from 2000 to 2006 – the years that brought us paralyzing disaster and a President like Obama.

Give Obambi another 4 years and a GOP Senate and House that can limit anything he does.

Best we can hope for at this point.

HondaV65 on April 11, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Except for not actually voting for Obama, you’ve described my thoughts and intent to a T. We’ve been dealt some pretty cr@ppy cards this time around and that seems to be the best we can do at this point.

MelonCollie on April 11, 2012 at 8:06 PM

Joe Klein…there’s a fart in the wind!

KOOLAID2 on April 11, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Vote Obama for President and vote Republican for everything else.

That’s what I’ll do. We really don’t want the establishment in total control of this nation like it was from 2000 to 2006 – the years that brought us paralyzing disaster and a President like Obama.

Give Obambi another 4 years and a GOP Senate and House that can limit anything he does.

Best we can hope for at this point.

HondaV65 on April 11, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Whoa, voting Obama is a bridge too far for me! However, I had decided months ago that if Romney gets the nomination and does not pick a running mate who is a solid conservative with grassroots support, then I was going to do a write-in and focus on conservatives down ticket. I do agree with you that if we were able to keep the House and gain the Senate then even if Obama did win another 4 years (very likely at this point) the House and Senate could keep him in check.

So, I’m basically of the mind of you and MelonCollie.

KickandSwimMom on April 11, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Great piece, Tina.

Interesting personal tidbit about Walker and Santorum.

aquaviva on April 11, 2012 at 8:31 PM

“Honorable” would not be the first word to come to mind to describe Santorum. “Smug” would be more like it.

writeblock on April 11, 2012 at 9:04 PM

I know Tina is sincere and I agree, Rick was honorable. I do not know if Joe Klein was being sincere.

Mr. Joe on April 11, 2012 at 9:15 PM

As a conservative, It will be a cold day in hell when I vote for the lying POS liberal Obama lite Romney.

they lie on April 11, 2012 at 10:27 PM

I don’t think believing stupid things and then acting on those beliefs is very honorable at all

It’s pretty obvious that if you believe that faith and a belief in the conservative moral underpinning of society is “stupid” then anyone acting on those principles would not be honorable…you’re even more transparent than Klein…

ironmarshal on April 11, 2012 at 10:51 PM

Great.. another GOP candidate drops out,.. after a hard fought campaign with feelings raw all around..

and we get another chorus of “I F*&*%*#^ YOU A*^&%^$&^*…. and YOUR DOG TOO”…..

Just enough ok.. more than a few folks here were gracious in both victory, and in defeat.. some others couldn’t be gracious if they were handed the winning Lotto ticket, a cure for cancer and a personal note from Jesus Christ.

Some always rush to be small..

Is it so damned hard to say, congratulations on doing your best, and I hope we can all shake hands after this..?

That hard?

Some so bitter they’ vote for Obama rather than Romney… and their opposite number, who if they can’t have Mitt, would vote Obama out of spite for the hated..”so-cons”_…

I figure the real number of folks who are genuinely for a GOP candidate no mattter who, that could pull the lever for Obama out of rage is quite small.

Rage is cheap.. real vengence is hard, takes work,

mark81150 on April 11, 2012 at 11:38 PM

Just a brief thought to those who have been hurling poo at Rick on this thread..

is being polite and halfway civil so hard, that you’d rather loose votes for Romney than just act like a good sport?

Does it always have to wind up the war of links as to who’s candidate is closer to being the anti-Christ?

Most everybody is past caring what the latest attack line against Rick is tonight.. it’s not about winning after this, just about being a classless jerk.

All we should be doing right now, is mending bridges between the two camps,.. not out buying more matches and gas.

mark81150 on April 11, 2012 at 11:49 PM

That little stunt that Santorum pulled with the robocaller in Michigan was not honorable. Attacking Romney for opposing the auto bailout, and insinuating that Santorum had favored the bailout was a lie. Lying to advance oneself is not honorable.

And I would not use Joe Klein as an authority on anything, least of all on honor. The man has been a hack for a very long time.

ghostwriter on April 12, 2012 at 6:22 AM

Just a brief thought to those who have been hurling poo at Rick on this thread..

is being polite and halfway civil so hard, that you’d rather loose votes for Romney than just act like a good sport?

Does it always have to wind up the war of links as to who’s candidate is closer to being the anti-Christ?

Most everybody is past caring what the latest attack line against Rick is tonight.. it’s not about winning after this, just about being a classless jerk.

All we should be doing right now, is mending bridges between the two camps,.. not out buying more matches and gas.

mark81150 on April 11, 2012 at 11:49 PM

I’vew been polite and civil to Santorum throughout the race. However, I call them like them. In order for me to call Santorum’s campaign honorable, I would have to ignore any number of dihonorable things that he did (like lying with the robocallers in Michigan). Sanotrum ran a good, hard-nosed campaign, but he took some liberties with the truth when it suited him. (For that matter, so did Romney, when he accused Gingrich of having resigned in disgrace from the House, knowing that Newt was exonerated of any wrongdoing in the matter.)

ghostwriter on April 12, 2012 at 6:28 AM

I don’t think believing stupid things and then acting on those beliefs is very honorable at all.

Rick Santorum is a creepy little fascist. I don’t have any more respect for him because he actually believes the garbage he spews than I do for David Duke, for whom the same could be said.

Armin Tamzarian on April 11, 2012 at 7:45 PM

I guess that you would know about believing stupid things and acting on those beliefs. You really shouldn’t use words that you don’t understand (e.g., fascist); it just makes you look foolish and mean-spirited.

ghostwriter on April 12, 2012 at 6:48 AM

I wish I could say I cannot believe some of the comments here. But they’re just all too common since this primary started. Some of you people are so filled with hate and vile that I cannot believe I used to call myself a Republican. You are backstabbing, uncivil and near evil in your thoughts and words. The manner in which you attack and eat your own guarantees your future as a minor third party. And it’ll deserve it.

hawkdriver on April 12, 2012 at 9:20 AM

hawkdriver on April 12, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Zackly.

So much for Reagan’s 11th commandment.

VelvetElvis on April 12, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Santorum ran an honorable campaign – That’s the funniest nonsense I’ve heard in ages.

Getting in bed with the LSM, democrats and unions in an attempt to defeat a fellow party member is not honorable. Recommending that people vote for the democrat incumbent if they’re not voting for you is not honorable.

Say what you want about the Romney campaign (and there’s plenty to say), but to pretend that Little Ricky ran one that was as pure as the driven snow is ridiculous. All you’re doing is cheapening the meaning of the word “honorable” (just like the media has cheapened “hero”).

JFS61 on April 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM