Rick Santorum Has a Baby, And He's Not Afraid to Use Her

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 2 2011 1:59 PM

Rick Santorum Has a Baby, And He's Not Afraid to Use Her

Back in the spring, I saw Rick Santorum work on a group of South Carolina voters and field a pretty open question: If he had a reality show, what would it be? (That fluff question had been given to Gary Johnson at the debate.) To my surprise, and to the surprise of the person who asked, Santorum suggested that he'd let cameras into the flock to show what life was like for his youngest daughter, Bella. She was born with a life-threatening disability, Trisomy-18. Since then, Santorum has brought up his daughter and her condition at debates, mentioned this in a web ad, and talked about how successful and compelling the ad is. Melinda Henneberger has an affecting story up today that asks the uncomfortable question: If she's so ill, why run?

Even in his own mind, Bella’s condition argued both for and against a run.
“Life expectancy wasn’t particularly long, and just the idea of going off and doing something like this was something I really struggled with,” he said.

The deciding factor, he said, was that “we see with every socialized-medicine country, which is absolutely where we’re headed, those on the margins of life are treated differently. . . . They’re not given the care, the resources aren’t allocated because it is very costly, and my little girl would probably be seen as — I hear, not only from anecdotal but actual evidence from other countries — that children like this simply do not get care.”

Andrew Kaczynski keeps digging through the C-Span landfill, and resurrects this Rick Santorum ad from his 1994 Senate race.

To make a pretty ordinary point of government waste, Santorum literally cradles his child as if he was about to be sacrified to Baal and the candidate rescued him from the pyre. This either sits easy with a voter, or it comes off as exploitative. It's a personal choice. Santorum has chosen, throughout his career, to tie the personal and the political. Government policies affect his kids. He's campaigning, and spending a bit less time with them, because he is worried about how things will affect his kids.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.