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Joel Stein writes a weekly column for TIME, and has appeared on VH-1’s I Love the ‘80’s and any other show that asks him. On May 15, Grand Central Publishing is releasing his first book, Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity, in which he finally learns to be a man; you can pre-order it here: http://tinyurl.com/6sghjok. You can follow him on twitter at @thejoelstein, but it's just going to be more of the same stuff.

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Leave Rick Santorum Alone!

By Joel Stein |

Rick Santorum

Chandler Bing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People who would never, ever vote for Rick Santorum keep telling me – a person who would never, ever vote for Rick Santorum – why they think he’s unfit to be President.

 

It’s not his prejudice against gay people. It’s not his rejection of evolution and global warming. It’s not his anti-immigrant stances. It’s not even that he opposes any use of birth control, arguing that “it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” Which is just dumb. When women I slept with weren’t on birth control is when I started to get creative and do all kinds of things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.

No, my friends keep saying that Santorum is a crazy man we need to keep far away from the nuclear football because of this: After his wife – who had been a neo-natal intensive care nurse – gave birth to a premature baby that died two hours later, they brought the corpse home so their other kids could see their brother before they buried him. My friends are convinced that this proves that this church-going family guy is hiding some serious macabre, Rob Zombie gothic creepiness under his sweater vest. This guy, they are arguing, is way too into dead babies. Which is stupid. If there’s one thing Rick Santorum clearly loves is living white babies.

Before I had a kid, I didn’t get what the big deal was about miscarriages. The only thing I figured sucked about even a stillborn birth was that it was a lot of time wasted for a woman, and a lot of wasted time for her partner, who had to watch that woman get fat. What I didn’t understand was how long nine months is, and how the pressure of impending parenthood focuses your attention on someone you’ve never seen so much that he already is a real member of your family. I did not comprehend the loss of the expected. I figured you just came home from the hospital, told your other kids that it didn’t work out, and went right back to playing Chutes and Ladders together.

During the fifth month of Cassandra’s pregnancy she bled for two days. And I felt what damage losing our son might to do our relationship, to my optimism. I don’t how I would have handled it, but I’m sure it would not be well. I can’t handle letting go of much less important things. In fact, far creepier than what Santorum does: Cassandra and I each have encouraged Laszlo to sleep with the dirty, mangled favorite stuffed animals we had as kids. We might as well have given him a smallpox blanket.

What I don’t like about Santorum is that he can’t leave other people alone. He’s way too sure of his fundamental convictions. He believes that anyone not born into his circumstance of having a drive for heterosexual sex and yearlong caroling is just not bearing down enough. Although, in his defense, living Rick Santorum’s life doesn’t look like a lot of fun even for Rick Santorum.

If I’m going to protest Santorum’s inability to accept how others respond to situations different than his, I’ve got to accept how he dealt with situations different than mine. Maybe his whole family got a lot of healing from him taking that baby home. Maybe Santorum’s chest and stomach get a lot colder than mine, but his arms get much hotter. Or maybe he just really, really, really loved Chandler Bing. Or just maybe, he wears the sweater vests to cover up his heart, which got hurt too much. Though I’m guessing it’s the Chandler Bing thing.

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About Joel Stein

joelstein

Joel Stein

Joel Stein writes a weekly column for TIME, and has appeared on VH-1’s I Love the ‘80’s and any other show that asks him. On May 15, Grand Central Publishing is releasing his first book, Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity, in which he finally learns to be a man.

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7 thoughts on “Leave Rick Santorum Alone!

  1. Joanne Bamberger aka PunditMom says:

    I think the problem for me with the Santorum’s decision wasn’t about how they dealt with “letting go.” The bigger issue is that Santorum is a candidate who claims he is against abortion in ALL cases. Except that, according to news reports, when doctors told him that his wife would die if they didn’t perform an abortion, he was ready to tell them to go ahead. His wife said no to the procedure. I don’t care about their personal decisions, or even the sweater vest. But I do care when candidates take “do as I say, not as I do” positions on issues.

  2. betsy says:

    i have to admit that i, too, have thought about the theoretical loss associated with a miscarriage in terms of missed opportunities to drink and unnecessary weight gain. that said, i’m sure i’d be an unholy mess if i had really suffered one.

  3. Vincent aka CuteMonsterDad says:

    I find Santorum to be a complex man. To me it’s quite remarkable he’s had any success as a politician given his steadfast positions on a variety of issues. I find him troubling because it’s in his nature to not compromise if it goes contrary to any of his beliefs. I could imagine if he lived when the consensus was that the world was flat, he would be front and center demanding to execute the heretics who claimed the world to be round. I don’t condemn Mr. Santorum for his beliefs. As a parent, I too would be shaken to the core by a miscarriage. Much like Joel’s wife, my own wife also has some trouble midway through her pregnancy which in her case was thankfully resolved with mandatory bed rest. Yet, Mr. Santorum leaves no door open for new ways of thinking. You simply can’t have a leader who demonstrates such inflexibility. Especially not in a world that’s changing so rapidly each day.

    Vincent | Editor-in-Chief of CuteMonster (dot) com

  4. Meaghan says:

    I don’t know much about Santorum, but I get taking the baby home to meet the family. I can see how it is a little weird, too. I had a miscarriage after only 6 weeks and it has been so painful for my husband and me. I cannot imagine going through almost the whole pregnancy and lose the baby at the end. I understand needing a few extra hours to share the child with your family.
    Similarly, my aunt had a still born baby after carrying him to term. She lives across country and they all flew home and we had a full funeral for him. I feel blessed to have gotten to see him. It made me more empathetic to my aunt and uncle. They were in agony and it was helpful for them to share with family and close friends.

  5. Kim says:

    While I don’t like the man, I totally understand,
    “…: After his wife – who had been a neo-natal intensive care nurse – gave birth to a premature baby that died two hours later, they brought the corpse home so their other kids could see their brother before they buried him…”

    I lost my son due to premature birth, he lived 2 weeks and 4 days. We held him as he passed when we took him off of all the equipment. We also bathed him then dressed him and took Pictures of him with different fanily members. I have been called some nasty things due to this.

    All this means is that to them it wasnt just a thing it was their child and their other children deserved to get to say goodbye

  6. Caitlin says:

    So, I read one of your articles for the first time today and thought it was hilarious and really spot on when it comes to parenthood and raising baby boys. Then I decided I wanted to read more because I liked you. I wish I didn’t. I thought this blog was about parenting and caring for our children…not making fun of people who are different from you. You don’t sound much nicer than the people who write mean comments to you.

  7. Scott says:

    Why, Mr. Stein, you ol’ softy. I’ve always said the only likable thing about the bastard was this bit of grief-driven crazy that made him seem almost human…which was seized upon as proof that he was a freak. No, his political beliefs make him a freak. This incident makes him an (admittedly rather odd) heartbroken father.

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