It would be amusing to watch Sen. Rick Santorum lash around to the left and right as he tries to redefine himself for the voters as the November elections approach, except that sometimes he comes up with something truly ridiculous.Can't say I disagree with this all that much.
In a speech Thursday to students at Valley Forge Military Academy and College outside Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Republican really went off the deep end, attacking the media -- we assume modestly that he included us -- for drawing the public's attention to the deaths of American servicemen and -women in Iraq. To focus attention on the "tragic consequences" of the war, he said, was "helping Islamic fascism win the battle."
We would answer Sen. Santorum in two ways. First of all, the Post-Gazette's coverage of the Iraq war seeks to be as broad and as comprehensive as space permits. We write factually about the progress of the war, including full coverage of the elections there; efforts to form a democratic, inclusive government of the different Iraqi political and religious factions; and American cooperation with Iraqi police and military units that is meant to establish the level of security that will permit U.S. troops to be withdrawn.
We write about the speeches of President Bush and other members of his administration that seek to provide a positive interpretation of what is occurring in Iraq, alongside interpretative evaluation of developments there.
For Sen. Santorum to suggest that we and other American media should not report about the tragic loss of American lives -- a death toll that now stands above 2,200 -- is to sell our readers short and to suggest that they do not need to know, nor do they want to know, how many brave Americans are dying there.
It is to say that they are either immature -- fragile souls who need to be protected from such information -- or that they don't care, which everyone knows is not the case. For Sen. Santorum to cite national security and the claim that knowledge of U.S. losses might encourage America's enemies, as reasons for not telling the public the truth, is insulting to the American people.
Mr. Santorum's other campaign-season gyrations -- his participation in the Justice Sunday III rally with the far right's culture warriors, his ending of affiliation with a key defender of intelligent design after staunchly supporting the concept and his call for a nonpartisan panel to assess the Iraq situation while echoing the administration's fierce defense of the war -- are bad enough.
Telling Americans that they shouldn't be told how many are dying in Iraq is way too much, even for Mr. Santorum.