Savage Love Extra: Rick Santorum

Savage Love Extra: Rick Santorum

You would think I had single-handedly defeated Rick Santorum, judging by the thousands of e-mails I've received since last Tuesday. A sampling…

You toppled a senator, Dan! And while Rick Santorum may be gone, the word for the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex will live on for all time.

 

Congratulations for helping orchestrate the crushing defeat of that frothy shitmeister from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

 

Thanks so much for helping those of us in Pennsylvania who fought long and hard to kick that homophobic theocrat out of the Senate. We may have done the voting, but your helping raise awareness on a national scale certainly played a part in his ousting. You're the best, Dan!

 

That messy, unsatisfying, nonconsensual ass-fuck of a senator is gone! I am sure your inbox will be flooded with congratulations, hopes, dreams, unicorns, and offers for sexual favors because of your huge role in publicizing what a terrorist this guy was, but I couldn't help myself: THANK YOU!

 

The power of satire should never be underestimated! Thanks for fighting such a good and necessary fight!

 

As a Philly resident, I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for all of your efforts to get rid of this jerk. I am so happy we are now a Santorum-free state!

Okay, that's enough! My head is so swollen after reading my e-mail this week that my hair is in danger of popping off.

For the record…

While I appreciate the accolades, and while I recognize that most were offered with tongues planted firmly in cheeks, I can't take credit for Rick Santorum's crushing defeat last week. The lion's share of the credit goes to the wise voters of Pennsylvania. (It would be churlish of me to point out that those same wise voters sent Santorum to the Senate in the first place—twice—so I won't point that out.) Pennsylvania voters poured into the polls last week to vote against the frothy mix, and by doing so earned themselves the love and gratitude of a grateful nation. As the kids once said, "props."

The second-largest share of the credit goes to Bob Casey, who beat Santorum—a sitting U.S. Senator and the number three Republican in the Senate leadership—by a whopping 18 motherfucking percentage points. Well done, Mr. Casey. (And gee, it looks like you could have risked taking my money after all—but political hindsight is 20/20, I realize, and all is now forgiven.) And there were the activists on the ground—Democrats and progressives in Pennsylvania that worked like hell to register new voters and get everyone to the polls. I'm thinking of groups like Philadelphians Against Santorum. You guys rocked the nation last week. As the kids once said, "mad props."

But there's a smidgen of credit I will take: I did help to make Rick Santorum into a national laughingstock—an international laughingstock (the new definition of "santorum" is known all over the world)—with an invaluable assist from Rick Santorum, of course.

There's a reason why monarchs and despots used to lock up political cartoonists and satirists. Being made ridiculous, being turned into the butt of a joke—that's politically disempowering fairy dust. It's hard to rule when you aren't taken seriously, and it's hard to be taken seriously after your name has been reduced to a dirty joke. Indeed, the power of satire should never be underestimated.

And can we pause here to marvel at just how far Rick Santorum has fallen? His name—pre-punchline—was seriously tossed around as a 2008 Republican presidential prospect. Post-man-on-dog, post-lowercase "santorum," and pre-defeat, no one was seriously contemplating swearing in President Santorum in January of 2009.

But even the small smidge of credit I'm claiming today needs to be shared. So let's take a moment to thank the Savage Love reader who first suggested having a contest to rename a sex act in honor of Rick Santorum. And let's thank the Savage Love readers who sent in so many great definitions. And finally, a big thanks to all the Savage Love readers who voted on the winning definition: "the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex." And thanks to everyone who made "frothy mix" the number-one result when you Google "Santorum."

Like the substance itself, the new definition for "santorum" proved to be sticky. Too dirty to print in "family newspapers," the new definition has nevertheless been alluded to on the pages of mainstream daily newspapers, in classy magazines like the Economist, on cable news programs, and on The Daily Show (twice!), directing hundreds of thousands of people that had never heard of my column to spreadingsantorum.com. Barely a week has gone by in the last three years that some mischievous headline writer somewhere hasn't worked "frothy" or "mix" into a header about Rick Santorum. The new definition of santorum proved irresistible because it forever associated Santorum with the sex act that so clearly obsesses him. It made sense, it had an internal logic and smacked of poetic justice. It worked.

But the new definition's real power is revealed in its ability to keep the heads of Santorum supporters everywhere spinning so briskly. I haven't updated spreadingsantorum.com for more than two years now, yet National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez was fuming about the new definition of santorum in a column published on Election Day:

If polls are an indication, some angry people will get the chance to celebrate Tuesday night. They may want Dems to win generally, but they'll be watching one Senate seat in particular: They want to watch the defeat of Rick Santorum.

I'm not talking about people who disagree with him on, say, the threat from Iran. I'm not talking about people who disagree with him on privatizing Social Security. I don't mean people who disagree with him on a federal marriage amendment. I mean people who think it's pretty funny that when you Google the senator's name, you get a repulsive lowercase version of his last name, a word invented by sex columnist Dan Savage that refers to anal sex.

Next to President Bush—type in "miserable failure" on Google—Santorum is the politician most successfully victimized by nasty Internet political tactics. Reasonable people are doing it. The libertarian magazine Reason has even nodded to the reference in their web log in the last week. Otherwise smart people succumb to the temptation.

Yup, reasonable people are doing it, Kathryn, and they will continue to do it. Because reasonable people know that mocking politically powerful, bigoted, sex-obsessed, deranged national figures is often the only weapon we have at our disposal. (And, yes, I'd say Rick Santorum is way more obsessed with sex than I am.) Mockery is a potent political weapon, one that Republicans are only too happy to use. Remember those Band-Aids with purple hearts on them that the party faithful wore at the GOP convention in 2004 to mock John Kerry?

But, oh man, Republicans sure are pussies. Give them a taste of their own fucking medicine—when are Democrats going to start employing dirty-trick tactics on Election Day to suppress the Republican vote?—and listen to them whine. (How long until we hear the sad cries of the oppressed Republican minority in the House?) It was perfectly okay for Santorum—a politically powerful figure—to say the most vile, offensive, disgusting things about his fellow Americans (he was railing against oral and anal sodomy for anyone, gay or straight, in that infamous man-on-dog interview), but when politically powerless people come together to make Santorum the butt of, yes, a vile, offensive, disgusting, and effective joke, well, that's just rude!

You know what? Fuck that. Fuck Rick Santorum. Fuck you too, Kathryn. We gave Santorum a taste of his own butt-sex-obsessed medicine—if he was going to obsess about our sex lives, we were going to give him a goddamn reason to—and it served him right. He was asking for it. Lowercase santorum couldn't have happened to a not-nicer guy.

Here's another piece of mail that came in today…

I need to revel in Rick Santorum's defeat, Dan. I need to gloat some more! You've gotta post YOUR gloat TODAY!

Well, here it is—a week after you wanted to see it, I realize, but weekly paper deadlines are what they are. (I did post a version of this on the web, however, the day after the election.) I hope you enjoyed it. I have to say, though, that it wasn't as easy to write as I thought it would be.

It would have been a lot easier to be a total dick about Santorum's defeat if he hadn't made such a gracious—and apparently sincere—concession speech. I almost fell off the couch when Santorum asked the crowd to give a round of applause to Bob Casey.

Where was this graciousness and respect for political differences while Rick Santorum was in the U.S. Senate? And where was this graciousness during the actual campaign? Santorum stopped just short of accusing Casey of flying off to Pakistan twice a week to rim Osama bin Laden. If Santorum had spent the last 12 years in the Senate being the person he was for 12 minutes during his concession speech, well, he might not have made so many enemies in Pennsylvania and all over the country.

But to anyone out there who is feeling bad for Santorum, or for his weeping children (what is it about Republicans that always makes you feel so awful for their kids?), I would direct your attention to this video clip. In an interview with CNN during the final days of the campaign, Santorum came out against—no shit—the pursuit of happiness.

The man clearly doesn't get—never got, still doesn't get—what this country is all about. America is a better place now that Rick Santorum has been wiped from the U.S. Senate. It's something to celebrate—so why not whip up a little santorum with someone you love?

That's how I celebrated.

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