Periscope

Article excerpt

Byline: Tina Brown

A prayer for Clint. Save us from Saint Santorum.

What bliss to find the culture wars come roaring back. TV pundits were visibly wilting at the thought of eight more months of an election fought only over a wretched economy. Then a cluster of Catholic, contraception, and gay-marriage firecrackers exploded over the caucuses and primary contests. Saint Santorum was in business at last: he's raised $2.2 million since Tuesday night. It's no more than a rounding error in Romney parlance, with his $56.8 million haul in 2011, but Romney's low-wattage intonations of "America the Beautiful" will never rally the base like a candidate who has compared homosexuality to bestiality.

For many believers, faith doesn't just comfort and guide. It condemns the world for being so morally porous in the first place. Santorum's ideology--derived from papal encyclicals--seeks to bring the U.S. in all of its teeming diversity under the universal "natural" laws preached

by the Vatican. His ideal America would be a place without the abomination of moral "disorder" that afflicts our country, and--as Andrew Sullivan writes in this issue--the abortion controversy "could finally unite the Christian fundamentalist right behind" him.

But Santorum's traction in winning four state contests was about more than trampled moral conservatism. There's a wider animating fear--not just among the GOP base--that modern life has become a scary, unmanageable vortex of social and economic change. We all have low-tech hungers when we shut the door at night, even if those hungers are satisfied by other solutions than those offered by Rick?... That's why it was so inspired of Chrysler to rent Clint Eastwood's big, craggy survivor's face and whispery golden-oldie diction for its Super Bowl ad. …