- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, recently met with about 200 conservatives at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Wilmington, Del., to discuss his new book, “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good.”

After his Aug. 10 speech, Mr. Santorum talked to Nathan Burchfiel of The Washington Times about the book. The following are excerpts from the interview:

Q. Do you think that you’re being misrepresented [in press accounts] or some of your ideas are being taken out of context?

A. Sure, absolutely. And that’s exactly their point. I mean, their point is to try take those things out of context and misrepresent what I said. Most of these reporters got these lines not from their own reading of the book, they got them from the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] — or from my [2006 Senate] opponent [Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat]. And those people selected quotes that they believed would be wedge quotes that they’ll target toward specific voting groups that they felt were important.

I didn’t see anything from the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] on the issue of abortion, not one thing. Why? This is an issue that’s a very cutting-edge issue, it’s out there, so why? Because my opponent’s pro-life, and so they just decided they’re not going to put those quotes out there because they don’t set up the wedge for my opponent.

A. How has writing thebook affected the wayyou think about politics and the way you act in the political arena?

Q. I think it helps me better answer the questions that politicians get in the area of public policy when it comes to some of the more controversial issues of the day. Because I get this question: Well, how does the fact that two people want to get married who happen to be the same sex, how does that affect the world? Well, in a sense what this book is, is how everything affects the world, how all of our public policies have impact on different areas and sectors of society.

Q. Have you always had conservative inclinations, and where do they come from?

A. I was raised in sort of an average American family and had average American values and would not have considered myself in college by any stretch of the imagination to be conservative. I considered myself a Republican, but not a conservative. … Time, experience, marriage, children — all those things have a way of forming your views.

Q. What role has your Catholic faith played?

A. That’s certainly been a huge role throughout my life. … Certainly, I can say the more religious I’ve become, the more orthodox in my faith, the more conservative principles and traditional viewpoints make sense.

Q. Given the title, it makes one wonder to what extent the book is intended to be a counterattack on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 1996 book “It Takes a Village.”

A. It’s not contra-Hillary’s book, it’s contra-philosophy of the left. The philosophy of the left is the village being the federal government and the elite trying to run, in a top-down way, our society, as opposed to institutions at the local level — family, churches, community organizations — meeting the needs of those in our society at the local level.

Q. You talk a lot in the book about the idea of “No-Fault Freedom” being the ideology of the left. How much do you think that stems from government instituting liberal policies, as opposed to societal changes.

A. It’s both, and one begets the other. I quote the [Planned Parenthood vs. Casey Supreme Court] decision repeatedly throughout the book, the phrase where we have the right to define our own concept of existence … that is a government edict, which is an encapsulation of No-Fault Freedom in its extreme. … It is a 1992 Supreme Court decision.

Does the culture hold that decision? Sure, but that reinforces the culture and takes it … to a new level. I would say that certainly the postmodernist philosophical view of the world is embraced by liberals and is reflected in the culture, in the elites of the culture, which have a downstream affect on the rest of the culture.

Q. Where do you think we should draw the line between government involvement in social engineering and the church’s responsibility or the responsibility of the society in general to maintain itself? How involved does the government really need to be?

A. I said earlier that I don’t believe everything that is immoral should be illegal. I mention in the book the [1965 Griswold vs. Connecticut Supreme Court] decision. Connecticut had a statute that prohibited contraception. In my opinion, that’s not something the government should be involved in, not because I think it’s right, I don’t think it’s right … but I don’t think it’s the government’s role to make it illicit or illegal.

There are things in our country that people can hold as immoral that … there is not a compelling societal interest to make it illegal. On the other hand, there are. When you get to the issue of life, for example, when there is a life, I think the government has a compelling reason to be involved in the decision, and that’s why I believe they should regulate abortion, but they shouldn’t with respect to contraception.

From my perspective — I am concerned that the church, churches have not laid out the moral viewpoint that I try to lay out here that underpins why we should oppose contraception and oppose abortion and a whole host of other things when it comes to the interference in that sacred relationship between a man and a woman in marriage, but when it comes to the government, it is indifferent.

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