I've spent hours poring over the e-mails and faxes that continue to come in from all over the country on the Santorum controversy. One theme showed up over and over again: Conservatives will no longer tolerate the politicians they elect surrendering on cultural and moral issues. What will we have gained if we defeat the "axis of evil" abroad and lower our taxes, but at home abandon our Founders' conviction that only a virtuous people can remain free?
Late last Friday, the White House was pressed again by reporters on where it stands on the Santorum flap. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer broke the silence with this comment, "The President has confidence in the senator and believes he's doing a good job as senator." He then added that the President "believes the senator is an inclusive man." The White House refused to comment on the specifics of the debate.
From my years of experience working inside the White House, I can tell you, without fear of contradiction, that Fleischer's "endorsement" was "written by committee" and had as its first goal a desire to not offend anyone. That's not the way you win a debate. It is the way to lose the war over America's culture.
Imagine if this had been the White House statement: "The President believes Senator Santorum was raising a valid concern about the future of marriage and children in our country.The President supports the senator and agrees with him that we should reject same-sex marriage and the other demands of a small, radical movement that wants to repeal 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian morality."
Would the New York Times, various gay and lesbian organizations, Senators Kerry, Clinton and Kennedy condemn such a statement? Yes they would. But millions of Americans in both parties, Christians, Jews and, yes, even Muslims would have welcomed it. These Americans are in synagogues on Saturday, in churches on Sunday, at work on Monday and in the voting booth on Tuesday.
The larger battle over our culture will become red hot this summer when the Massachusetts Supreme Court likely legalizes same-sex marriage. Stay tuned.