“Too many people have lied in the name of Christ
for anyone to heed the call.”
(Crosby Stills and Nash, “Cathedral” c1977, Atlantic Records)
As February draws to a close and the GOP race continues, I find myself in a bit of a quandry. The quandry that I’m in is over the pre-Christmas endorsement of Rick Santorum’s campaign by Iowa evangelical leader and Family Leader head Bob Vander Plaats. According to a December 23rd article from ABC News, questions arose regarding the endorsement and its being conditioned on a monetary contribution to Vander Plaats by the Santorum campaign, to the tune of 1M. Santorum’s account of the arrangement subsequently vascillated between admissions and denials that the topic of money was ever discussed.
In a CNN interview conducted prior to the Vander Plaats endorsement press conference, Santorum indicated that money was among the topics discussed with the evangelical leader. Then, during a campaign event in Indianola, Iowa, Santorum stated to ABC News that the topic of money hadn’t ever come up in his discussions with Bob Vander Plaats. The statement to ABC was mere hours before the endorsement.
For Vander Plaats’ part, the evangelical leader’s account of the situation also seems to have varied within the same time period. At one point, Vander Plaats’ organisation issued a statement, which read in part; “The allegation by an unnamed source that Bob Vander Plaats asked any campaigns for money in exchange for his endorsement is absolutely false…” Then, in a subsequent interview with the Des Moines Register, Vander Plaats stated that it was his “ethical responsibility” to have the endorsement backed with funding. He stated that, “You can’t say, ‘We endorsed you. Now see you later,’ that’s not going to do a lot in the long run.”(1) (2)
Rick Santorum went on to win the Iowa Caucuses in a close race with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.(3)
“Lies in disguise, in the name of trust,
Put your head in the sand, it’ll turn to dust…
What’s your problem, what’s your curse,
won’t it make the matter worse?”
(Tears For Fears, “Badman’s Song” c1989, Fontana Records)
The problem that I have with this whole scandal is that, in the intervening months since the Iowa Caucuses, the story seems to have all but disappeared from the political landscape. If one googles the terms “Santorum Vander Plaats endorsement,” the most recent articles are from back in late December. It’s almost like the whole holiday season controversy has been swept under the proverbial rug of public consciousness.
Looking back at what we know, it would seem evident that Santorum lied about the endorsement’s monetary factor. Either he lied to CNN, or he lied to ABC, because what he told one is directly opposite of what he told the other according to the articles from each news outlet. Vander Plaats also apparently told his share of fibs regarding the arrangement. And, since the endorsement of Santorum from a prominent Republican in Iowa quite possibly resulted in the Santorum win in the caucuses, I would expect that somebody would have some “‘splainin’ to do!”
It appears however, that the American penchant for having short attention spans is in full effect on this one. What, no one has a problem with the extreme likelihood that Rick Santorum, a candidate who has worn his Christian faith on his chest like a breastplate, lied about a possible 1M dollar endorsement purchase? Or is it that we have become so complacent, that we automatically expect that Santorum, being a politician, is going to lie? Now folks, I know that politicians aren’t the most honest people, but what does this say for the integrity of someone who might be sent to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in November?