Liberals define virtue not by one’s personal behavior but by one’s political positions. Thus, Bill Clinton could, without risking the ire of liberals, behave like a caveman with women who actually came into his orbit because he supported unrestricted abortion for those who didn’t. Similarly, Tim Geithner gets a pass on failing to pay his own taxes because he favors raising taxes on “the rich.”
Rick Santorum understands these fault lines viscerally. Mitt Romney lives and thinks like a conservative, but he’s not a good polemical conservative. One aspect of his stump speech that falls particularly flat with Republican primary voters is when he describes President Obama as a “good man” who “just doesn’t get it.”
It isn’t that conservatives think Obama is personally evil (well, okay, some do), but they don’t want their candidate to concede the moral high ground. That really rankles. Romney fell into that trap by conceding that he would raise the minimum wage after his gaffe about the “very poor.” No! Everyone knows that the minimum wage increases youth unemployment. The answer to the problems of the very poor (at least those not mentally or physically disabled), as Romney has elsewhere emphasized, is to unshackle the private sector to create jobs and to remove the government incentives to idleness (such as 99 weeks of unemployment benefits).