I’ve watched almost all the Republican Presidential Debates this time around, and I’ve
I don’t like his stance on homosexuality and gay and lesbian civil rights. I don’t like his stance on abortion. I don’t like how he intends to balance the books in the US.
And I especially didn’t like the video to which I’ve linked below.
Rick Santorum and People with Intellectual Disabilities
It seems inappropriate to me that he use Bella, his daughter with Trisomy-18 (which is like Down’s Syndrome, but more severe), to generate warm-fuzzy “vote-for-me” feelings, granted that some of the services that he’s pledged to cut will be services that will affect her ability to get a good education, good health care, and enjoy a stable future.
(For an excellent break-down of why this video is offensive, see the following link: http://badcripple.blogspot.com/2011/11/republicans-emotional-use-of-disability_16.html He explains it much better than I do)
However, at a symposium on November 21, Rick Santorum told a deeply personal story about how for the first couple of months of Bella’s life, he actually withheld love from her, figuring that doing so would make it easier to take when he lost her (as all the doctors told him was inevitably going to happen). The story of Bella’s birth and first few months is too reminiscent of what many parents of children with Down’s Syndrome say that they go through right after their babies are born. (I wrote about this at http://www.girlwiththecane.com/downs-syndrome/ ) Santorum and his wife were told that Bella would soon die, were encouraged to “let go”, and had to fight to get a prescription for oxygen for her when they took her home from the hospital. The doctors apparently didn’t feel that her life was worth fighting for. However, the little girl that doctors said wouldn’t live a week is now three years old, and Santorum is obviously committed to making sure that these children that doctors want to give up on get a chance.
Rick Santorum talks about all this in this video, taken at the November 21 symposium:
Rick Santorum, You Were Doing So Well…
You’ll notice that the title on that page is “Watch this Rick Santorum Video and Not Cry”. I couldn’t. Until I heard him talk about how in societies where there’s socialized medicine, children like Bella die. This is simply not true. Nations with universal health care do not single out children with disabilities as targets for death. There does seem to be a perception among the medical community that some children are too “disabled” to bother giving intensive life-saving treatments, but, news flash – that happened within Santorum’s own family, within the good ol’ USA, with its decidedly non-socialized health care.
Then I was just annoyed again.
And so, I’m still torn about Rick Santorum. However…
Politicians Are People Too
I found George Bush’s Press Secretary, Tony Snow, appallingly annoying. I couldn’t even really say why. I think I wondered how he could sleep at night, doing the job that he was doing. I had zero respect for him.
After he died of cancer, I saw a couple of documentaries on him. I saw that he was actually a pretty stand-up guy. He was devoted to his family, he’d hosted FOX News Sunday (one of the only FOX News shows that I find even remotely balanced), and it seemed like he’d actually done a lot of good in his career.
Since then, I’ve tried hard to keep reminding myself that politics just isn’t an arena where the likable parts of people often get to shine. I know from watching the bit of the November 21 Rick Santorum video that made me cry that we probably share some core beliefs and values about people with intellectual disabilities that could probably keep us talking for a while.
Would Rick Santorum and I be lifelong friends? Would I vote for him if I was able to? Probably not. But he’s a person too.
And isn’t this all about looking more at our commonalities than our differences?
I would just hope that he would show me the same respect…