With the economy improving, troops coming home from Iraq, unemployment dropping and President Obama’s poll numbers improving, Republicans are desperately looking for something – ANYTHING – to pin on the president, and they’re going back to their playbook from 2008: President Obama is a secret Muslim who wants to take away your bibles and force you to have premarital sex with government-funded condoms.

It’s no surprise hearing this type of rhetoric coming from a wackjob like Santorum, who has all but promised to replace the US Constitution and hundreds of years of case law with selected, out-of-context passages from The Book of Leviticus. President Kennedy promised to keep his Catholic faith out of the White House, Santorum has promised to turn the Lincoln Bedroom into the Papal suite.

When Santorum said the President possess a “phony theology”, one doesn’t necessarily think he’s speaking on behalf of all Republicans or even all conservatives. Most people – I HOPE – don’t take the homophobic, misogynistic, my-religion-is-the-only-true-religion-and-you’re-going-straight-to-hell extremist garbage Santorum spews seriously. I’d like to think this includes the other candidates in the race for GOP presidential nominee.

Unfortunately for Republicans – and America as a whole – Santorum seems to have gotten a bump in the polls from his crazy talk, so stressed out Republican campaign strategists keep advising their candidates to follow Santorum and jump on the crazy train. Santorum keeps getting crazier, and each time he does, the other candidates feel obligated to keep up.

Our male readers should be reminded of the urinals at the mall. In the morning, one guy with poor aim drips a little on the floor. Each new person steps back a little further trying to avoid the spill, in turn causing the pool to get bigger. The pattern repeats. And by the end of the day, anyone willing bear the stench of the men’s room is standing two feet back from the target trying to avoid the huge yellow lake of urine covering the white tile.

This, my friends, is the impact Santorum is having on the GOP race this year.

The GOP’s remaining presidential candidates have started using Santorum’s talking points – and it’s starting to trickle down to the state level as well. Typically this type of crazed religious zealotry coming from mainstream political candidates would spark fear and disgust. This year it just seems sad and kind of pathetic.

Newt Gingrich would like you to believe that President Obama has spent the past three-plus years PRETENDING to be a moderate who has worked with religious leaders on reasonable compromises over complicated issues. When, in fact, he is ACTUALLY a secret Muslim who wants to burn your bible and make you practice Sharia law. But, you know, he’s just waiting until his second term to tell everyone.

And Mitt Romney – whose own Mormon beliefs severely differ from Gingrich and Santorum’s Catholicism on some very basic principles like original sin and belief in the Trinity – has jumped on the bandwagon, calling the President’s contraception policies an “assault on religion.” This despite the fact that his own church doesn’t even have a rigid position on birth control.

In Ohio, AG Mike DeWine, who is often attacked by members of his own party for not being conservative enough, has not only endorsed Santorum, but brought Ohio into a lawsuit over contraception – wasting taxpayer dollars and his employees’ time – on a lawsuit that can’t be won and should never have been initiated – just because Santorum’s brand of craziness seems to be polling well this week.

While I can’t forgive Santorum, his behavior is certainly understandable because he actually believes the ridiculous stuff he’s saying. But for the rest of the candidates, and local Republicans, this Santorum-led race to the bottom of the crazy jar is going to damage their own campaigns and tarnish the GOP brand for years to come.

Republican strategists are so focused on winning the votes of a few religious extremists in this primary battle that they have totally forgotten about the 50+% of voters who are women, the 75% of Americans who aren’t Catholic, the 90+%% of Catholics who actually use birth control and millions of men who aren’t Rick Santorum – men who would, occasionally, like to have sex without worrying that 9 months later they might have an 9th baby to feed.

Watching the Republican candidates try to out-crazy one another over abortion, contraception and whether women should just stay home and make babies and homeschool their kids is, ultimately, good news for President Obama and the Democrats this fall. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t painful to watch.

Fortunately, or unfortunately – depending on how you look at it – there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. If Santorum wins in Michigan today it will only give him more incentive to take another step back, and for the rest of the candidates to follow. If things keep going the way they’ve been, the proud and victorious GOP Presidential nominee will be giving his acceptance speech alone in the middle of a flooded men’s room. And it will be their own damn fault for letting Rick Santorum piss all over their floor.

 

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