Wednesday, 4 January 2012

In which I do not talk about Rick Santorum

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I was going to do a whole thing about Rick Santorum. I was going to write about Biblical literalism, with specific reference to the bit about the entire town stoning the adulterous daughters to death. Oh, I was on a roll, in my mind, at that point. I was going to do moral relativism, moral absolutism, Leviticus, separation of Church and State, the finer points of Catholicism.

Since Santorum’s views on abortion are so strict, and he has stated categorically that he would have doctors arrested and imprisoned for performing the procedure, I was going to go into a whole existential exploration of personhood.

The definition of personhood (horrible word, but the one that is used in this context, I’m afraid) is absolutely fascinating, once you get to thinking about it for more than five minutes. It can’t be thought or language or even self-consciousness, since babies have none of those things; nor do some very mentally disabled people, or those who suffer traumatic brain injury or are in the end states of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ah, I thought, as I walked down to give the pig a treat of carrots and tomatoes (she adores tomatoes), this is properly interesting. I shall be like the majestic Lord Bragg on In Our Time: I shall unpack it. Melvyn Bragg is always unpacking things. He is the shining light of unpacking. I think he must think a day wasted if he does not unpack something really recondite.

I got back from the pig. She was in ferociously fine fettle today, skipping across the walled garden with her little twisty tail high in the air. She actually wags her tail when she sees me, like a happy dog. I made some yellow split pea soup. I had forgotten quite how good the split pea soup is.

Sustained, I sat down at my desk, fingers itching to get to the bottom of the Santorum madness. I watched a couple of his interviews, I found some very, very strange quotes. I began to write. Two sentences in, the will to live drained from me. I could not do it. It was too depressing.

I know I am supposed to be a fearless examiner of the human condition. Oh, look at me, shining a light into the darkest corners, without favour or fear. I don’t believe in pablum or whitewash or glossing over the nasty parts. There must be the truth, or nothing. I have always been faintly disturbed by those people who refuse to read the news, because it is too demoralising, although occasionally I have a faint envy for them. My own idiot construction is that one must face the news, in order to be a concerned citizen. How earnest and po-faced I sometimes am. But today, faced with the full strangeness and sadness of a Rick Santorum, I could not do it.

Oh, said the tired part of my brain, please can we think about puppies or penguins instead? Tell them about the pig with her wiggly, piggly tail, eating the carrots and grinning all over her sweet porcine face. Come on, said the post-Christmas exhaustion, you really don’t have to go into battle against every piece of egregious reasoning that you encounter. And, said the low realist, are you really going to change anyone’s mind? Is that even your job? You are, I tell myself firmly, not Lord Bragg, King of the Reithian imperative.

This last thought is rather a relief. Although of course, it then sets up a new dilemma: where is the fine line between practical reality, and copping out? One should fight for something, after all. Yet it is fabulously dull to be lecturing people all the time. There is something very tiring about that finger-wagging conviction of one’s own rightness. On the other hand, without conviction one is just a straw in the wind. So that is the new conundrum that I shall be pondering for the rest of the day.


Now for the pictures.

It was another dull, dirty day. The sleet and gales have subsided, and there is just a flat, brown nothing. I cannot complain. Looking back over the pictures of the last weeks, I see day after day of dazzling sunshine. And in some ways, the bad weather is quite good, because it makes me look at the small things of beauty. The only loveliness one can find outside on a day like this is in the minute elements: the texture of the stone walls, the bark on the trees, the moss and lichen. I always feel there is something rather symbolic in that.


4 Dec 1 04-01-2012 14-27-34

4 Dec 2 04-01-2012 14-28-05

4 Dec 3 04-01-2012 14-28-37

4 Dec 5 04-01-2012 14-31-19

4 Dec 6 04-01-2012 14-31-30

4 Dec 9 04-01-2012 14-34-28

4 Dec 10 04-01-2012 14-34-44

4 Dec 11 04-01-2012 14-35-17

4 Dec 12 04-01-2012 14-35-56

4 Dec 15 04-01-2012 14-27-55

The Pigeon did her every-good-girl-deserves-a-treat pose:

4 Dec 16 04-01-2012 14-31-57

And her I'm really bored of this now, can I please move pose:

4 Dec 17 04-01-2012 14-32-10

And her little blinky eyes face, which is almost too much to take:

4 Dec 18 04-01-2012 14-32-25.ORF

Funnily enough, even on this drab day, with its flat grey sky, the hill looked rather vivid and glorious:

4 Dec 19 04-01-2012 14-36-40

Oh, and in case you think I am being a bit melodramatic about the strangeness of Rick Santorum, here is just one quote from him from the campaign trail. He told a crowd in Sioux City: 'I do not want to make black people's lives better by giving them other people's money'.

I'm not being funny: I genuinely, genuinely do not understand what that means. I mean: why black people? It's like a nonsense poem. Those are recognisably English words, strung together in a phrase, but making no sense at all. I do, however, think that anyone who could come up with such a bizarre sentiment should not be taken seriously as a potential president of the local Rotary Club, let alone the United States of America.

If you have the heart for it, you can see the whole thing here.


  1. Oh, I do this all the time. I get all riled up by listening to people like Rick Santorum, and then I shut down and stay away from the news for a while. It is simply too maddening. Not only to recognize that there are people like him out there in the world, but that there are so many Americans who would actually vote for him! Depressing.

  2. Just when I think the Republicans could not come up with one more undesirable candidate . . . they do. What is amazing and frightening is that a segment of the US populations then dances around and yells, "Yes! Yes! This is who we need!" And everyone with even one sparking brain cell begins to investigate imigrating to Canada. Or New Zealand. Or anywhere else.

    Thank heavens for The Pigeon. She brightens any day. And so does your blog. ;-)


  3. America terrifies me sometimes, I'm join to go listen to the link, I haven't been paying any attention to this.

    Oh these gales, we've had no power and so many ancient trees have been uprooted not to mention roofs whipped off in the frenzy. I don't remember a winter like this one ever before.

  4. The Iowa caucuses are just a little drop of lunacy in the whole Niagara Falls of the current American political idiocy. So, I here's another idiot fact to remember--no Iowa caucus winner has ever become president. How's that for hope for us.

  5. Um a far away voice from the conservative state of Virginia screams for asylum.

    A liberal. Democratic. Lesbian voice.

    He'd eat me for dinner if he had any teeth.


  6. I suppose the bottom line is that no-one who reads your blog is going to be pro Rick Santorum (or indeed on the fence about him), so you aren't doing us a diservice in not writing about him. Whereas I am somewhat disappointed not to have more pictures of the pig and her wiggly tail. Call it politically naive or mentally lazy of me, but there's only so much conservative idiocy I can take in January but my capacity for a good pig story is near bottomless :-)

  7. That man! It's almost impossible to believe that things that come out of his mouth are listened to. People will vote for him!
    I need to lie down.

  8. Thank goodness for Pidge and the hill. xx

  9. Politics -- and American politics in particular -- gets more Pythonesque as the federal election date draws nearer. It would be gut-wrenchingly funny except that it's "real" and so, (for me) more just plain gut-wrenching.
    One political pundit has counseled to ignore most of what's being said until closer to the November election date (when the actual candidates are known)...because, right now, talk is cheap. An incredible amount "of sound and fury signifying NOTHING".
    However, it IS hard (for me) not to be a bit depressed about who has/ have risen to the "top", what is covered in the "mainstream media" and who or what is blatantly being ignored (as opposed to being ignorant).

  10. speaking of penguins, i stopped on my very wet and windy walk through regent's park this morning to say hello to the humboldt boys in the zoo. i love watchng them swim, especially when they build up a head of steam and break the surface of the water to floof* along the surface before diving back in.

    *floof: only (non)word i can think of to describe what they do!


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