Rick Santorum now appears to have solid leads over Mitt Romney both nationally and in Michigan. According to Pew, Santorum is preferred by conservatives 36 percent to 25 percent. Meanwhile, moderate and liberal Republicans prefer Romney 34 percent to 20 percent.
Which is a bit odd, considering that The New York Times in-house Republican-moderate David Brooks loves Santorum. Here is Brooks on Santorum on January 2nd:
His worldview is not individualistic. His book, “It Takes a Family,” was infused with the conservative wing of Catholic social teaching. It was a broadside against Barry Goldwater-style conservatism in favor of one that emphasized family and social solidarity. While in Congress, he was a leader in nearly every serious piece of antipoverty legislation. On the stump, he cries, “The left has a religion, too. It’s just not based on the Bible. It’s based on the religion of self.”
Here is he again on January 5th:
Santorum argues that government cannot be agnostic about the character of its citizens because the less disciplined the people are, the more government must step in to provide order. ... Over the years, Santorum has sought to use the federal government to nurture healthy communities. ... After initial opposition, he came to support AmeriCorps, the federal community service program. Santorum believes Head Start should teach manners to children. He has supported efforts to police the airwaves and corporate marketing campaigns.
Now here is Brooks again today, not on Santorum, but just on the proper role of the federal government in society:
The American social fabric is now so depleted that even if manufacturing jobs miraculously came back we still would not be producing enough stable, skilled workers to fill them. It’s not enough just to have economic growth policies. The country also needs to rebuild orderly communities.
This requires bourgeois paternalism: Building organizations and structures that induce people to behave responsibly rather than irresponsibly and, yes, sometimes using government to do so.
There is no bigger fan of big government-nanny state paternalism than David Brooks. He just offers up a slightly different flavor of what the federal government should be mandating than Obama. The fact that Brooks sees Santorum is an ideological ally should send conservatives running in the opposite direction.
Santorum is a perfectly decent alternative Romney. He may even be a more electable alternative to Romney. But he is not a conservative alternative to Romney.