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HOW SHE SEES IT Wild ideas revealed in senator's book



Published: Sat, July 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



By ROCHELLE RILEY

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

Sometimes, in our pursuit of winning and of being right, we say some stupid things.

That's what happened to Sen. Rick Santorum, who either is gearing up his 2008 presidential campaign and needs to rally his conservative base -- or is on drugs.

How else to explain his recent comments offending women, black people and compassionate conservatives?

The Pennsylvania Republican has written a book, or contributed to a book with his name on it, that offers views diametrically opposed to those espoused by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in her 1996 book, "It Takes a Village."

I'm not buying "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good," but his most dangerous views made the news. The worst? "The notion that college education is a cost-effective way to help poor, low-skill unmarried mothers with high school diplomas or GEDs move up the economic ladder is just wrong."

He has not disputed that this statement is in the book. He has not held press conferences to refute it. He has neither tearfully claimed to have been under the influence nor wondered aloud whether he'd been kidnapped by aliens.

But I can't imagine that President Bush, who touts his No Child Left Behind policy like it works, would embrace the idea that America should leave low-skilled, unmarried mothers behind, as if they don't deserve a college education.

I can't imagine the party of Lincoln (and if you haven't heard, Republicans are claiming Abraham Lincoln like never before, even revising a historical video at the Lincoln Memorial to better reflect their views) embracing the outspoken leader when it is trying harder than ever to convince Americans that it is the party that understands moral values, individual accomplishment and education.

Just getting started

But the senator didn't stop there. In the book, he likened abortion to slavery:

"This was tried once before in America. ... But unlike abortion today, in most states even the slaveholder did not have the unlimited right to kill his slave."

Tried? Did not have the right to kill? What history books did he read?

And he painted us moms who work outside the home -- most because we have to -- as victims of a grave conspiracy:

"Respect for stay-at-home mothers has been poisoned by a toxic combination of the village elders' war on the traditional family and radical feminism's misogynistic crusade to make working outside the home the only marker of social value and self-respect."

My daughter would prefer that I stay at home. She even wants to be home-schooled. I told her that if we tried that, we'd be homeless, since I'm the only one working.

If a Pennsylvania senator wants to make light of slavery and malign feminists and turn his back on young women, it's a good thing he lives in America. It's allowed.

But if he thinks it's going to make him a better candidate, he's wrong. In fact, he may have already used up his 15 minutes of fame. Think about it: I mentioned his name only once. Do you remember it?

X Rochelle Riley is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.




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