Moments before I began working on this commentary in February, I decided to sift quickly through my mail. Among seven solicitations for donations were (as you might expect in this election year) a total of five notices from politicians. But the politicians weren't alone that day. Nonprofit enterprises and lawyers were also pushing their favorite causes. Some of them also wanted to keep the political kettle bubbling.
Money, money, money. Although my routine donation in response to requests was $0.00, 1 know that much of that day's mail dealt with valid and even admirable projects. It didn't matter since I was in no position to help for the moment. I was one of 30 staffers laid off in our weak economy three years ago by the last paper where I worked, after two decades as a copy editor there. Despite Social Security and retirement checks, I'm still trying to halt a downhill slide in resources. Money still matters.
I am far from alone. At this writing, some estimates suggest that almost 25 million Americans are either out of work or underemployed. Creating new jobs and reviving an economy that has been improving only at a snail's pace initially occupied the attention of roughly a dozen candidates in pursuit of the Republican nomination for the presidency - a field that by February had finally narrowed down to four. Many of those candidates were sent to the sidelines by sniping from their own rivals. In fact, many of the negative attack ads were created not by the candidates themselves, but by new Super PACs - political organizations outside any candidate's control, operating without the power to endorse. The candidates, however, regularly picked up on the nastier aspects of those attack ads to sling mud at their rivals.
Meanwhile, with no opposition in the primaries, our current White House occupant had to have been watching gleefully from the sidelines.
Each of the four GOP contestants still in the running as of early March had his own strengths: Mitt Romney, the up-and-down front-runner with executive experience as a former governor, had a financing and campaign organization that his rivals envied. Rick Santorum, happily married and the father of seven children, not only sought to rejuvenate U.S. manufacturing, but stressed the importance of family life, showing a passion about his convictions that enticed some voters. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was widely perceived as politically the most knowledgeable and the best debater still in the chase. And longtime House member Ron Paul stressed the nation's need to bring Washington's spiraling debt back under control, an idea most taxpayers favored.
Which brings us back to the question: Is money all that matters? Important as it is, it's not everything. That applies not only to people in shaky personal situations like mine, but to our country as well. Let's explore why.
In the face of current economic conflicts, international threats, and widespread dissatisfaction with the political class, the candidate who devoted the most attention to America's social issues was undoubtedly Rick Santorum. And at times he paid a severe price - especially from our nation's left-leaning media elite.
A great case in point comes from the pages of my hometown daily, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, when between February 21-23 the paper ran three blistering commentaries about the Catholic Santorum and/or his Church under the following headlines and subheads:
Headline 1: "Rick's religious fanaticism." Subhead: "Politics: Santorum thinks he's found electoral gold in societal wedge issues."
Setting the stage here for Post readers was New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. To put it mildly, she was less than thrilled with this alleged fanatic's entire brand of politics.
Headline 2: "Reclaiming religious freedom." Subhead: "Contraception: Catholics are called to respect the rights of others as well as their own consciences."
In this piece, published on the same day as Dowd's, the politically correct president of Catholics for Choice, Jon O'Brien, "chose," as a dissenter from both Church teaching and natural law, to hustle artificial birth-control as the best way to keep unwanted children out of our way. …