Rick Santorum Is a 'Snob' by His Own Definition

Santorum demonizes parts of the electorate as "snobs" while seeking the snobbiest job in America.

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So Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Barack Obama, and a whole bunch of other people in politics want to be president.

What a bunch of snobs.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

That is, of course, if we use Santorum's definition, which seems oddly to equate the quest for success with snobbery. Santorum called Obama a "snob" for encouraging young people to go to college, which is pretty much the opposite of what most parents say to their kids. It's especially odd when we consider that Santorum has his MBA and law degree, and is encouraging his own children to go to college. And as for Santorum's claim that all Obama wants is for young people to be recreated in his image by liberal college professors ready to indoctrinate them, is that how Santorum explains Harvard Law and Business grad Romney? With an estimated wealth of $250 million and a wife who, the candidate disclosed recently drives "a couple of Cadillacs," Romney's not exactly from the 'hood.

Snobbery isn't defined by inclusion. It's defined by willful exclusion. Wanting more people to attend college isn't snobbery; it's advocating a route that statistically puts the individual in a place of higher wealth and lower unemployment. Refusing to talk to someone at the PTA meeting who didn't go to college is snobbery. Refusing to associate with people simply because they don't have money or fancy cars is snobbery. It may be more than that, of course. It may just be that people tend to hang around people from similar backgrounds. But encouraging someone to seek higher education isn't snobbery at all. It's the opposite.

[See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

Santorum is correct if he was saying that four-year colleges aren't for everyone. Not everyone has the interest or the intellect to attend such institutions, and the world indeed needs laborers, artists, performers, and technicians who can do their work well with other kinds of training. Community colleges in particular provide critical education for people not suited to four-year school, and they have the added advantage of training people for jobs that for the most part can't be outsourced. As Rep. Barney Frank once astutely observed, "You can't stick a needle in somebody's ass from Mumbai."

But what's really happening on the campaign trail is the tired and unbelievably hypocritical effort to seek the snobbiest job in America by demonizing parts of the electorate as "snobs." And where does the concern for the non-snobby among us go after the campaign? Candidates may tout the value of "Joe The Plumber," but they let guys like "Sheldon The Las Vegas Casino Billionaire" bankroll their campaign through unlimited super PAC donations. All the candidates have at least one million-dollar donor helping out. Santorum, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports, just got $1 million from Louisiana businessman William Dore; Foster Friess has also been dumping cash into the Red, White and Blue Fund for the former Pennsylvania senator. If Santorum wins the White House, who will guide his decisions—Joe the Unsnobby, or the billionaires who paid for his campaign?

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  • See a collection of political cartoons on Rick Santorum