[Government might need to cull the herd]

— BOOK: Sample Chapter —

Observers sighted a two-headed Washington panderer in the northeast Chicago suburbs this past week. Though not well-known by its scientific classification, this variety of bipedal primate is spotted periodically throughout the United States. Its close cousin, the ubiquitous Washington panderer, is a subspecies of Homo sapiens politicus, which itself is a subspecies of Homo sapiens, of the genus Homo. (Look, Ma, I know how to use an encyclopedia.) This mammal is a cute, cuddly creature during pandering season, while offseason it exhibits aggressive, vicious, and fiercely territorial behavior.

The Washington panderer, as its name implies, is indigenous to the metropolitan area surrounding the U.S. capitol. But during pandering (election) season, this creature leaves its den in search of ballot nourishment, just as the honeybee leaves its hive to collect pollen. Unlike the honeybee, which does the honest work of hunting for and gathering its sustenance, the panderer emits an unsavory, insipid warbling in an attempt to speciously attract its prey and extract votes. Votes are the lifeblood of the Washington panderer, without which this beast would perish — and many do.

The two-headed Washington panderer is even more desperately in need of its voter lifeblood. But unlike the nocturnal vampires they emulate, this animal is on the prowl night AND day.

Rick Santorum is a two-headed Washington panderer (of the genus Homo, by the way). Let me explain.

First, don’t confuse two-headed with two-faced. By definition, panderous mammals of any type are multifaced. To lure votes from a particular voting bloc, they’ll say anything, no matter how patronizing or contradictory to what they might have said previously. But the two-headed of the species is truly skilled. It can pander to two opposite voting blocs, at the same time, in the same place, and in the same sentence.

Mitt Romney is a common panderer. He visits the American South just before their Republican presidential primaries to declare in his Massachusetts twang, “Mornin’, y’all,” and wax poetic about enjoying “cheesy grits” (sic). In early June Mitt will migrate to New Jersey and exclaim, “Yo, guidos and guidettes. Let’s go beat the beat. Additionally, don’t smush except for purposes of procreation.”

Here’s the difference. Even Mitt Romney would not be a fugazi and use lame colloquialisms to woo voters from Alabama and New Jersey — at the same time, in the same breath. Even Mitt would not stoop to, “Mornin’, y’all. Everyone grab their chuckys and let’s go down the shore. Y’all are fabuliciously fresh to death.”

But this is exactly what Rick Santorum does: two-headed pandering, to doves and hawks simultaneously.

You’ve probably heard by now that on March 11, 2012, 17 Afghan civilians were viciously murdered, allegedly by a U.S. Army staff sergeant who apparently snapped. This incident prompted legitimate, renewed debate surrounding American military involvement in the Middle East and the timetable for withdrawal. Doves are emboldened and hawks are backtracking. Former hawks (read: those who normally support war but since Obama is handling it, they now oppose it) are also emboldened by any perceived opportunity to criticize the president. But some in government, Republicans and Democrats, still support sticking to President Obama’s original timeline (to be out of Afghanistan by 2014) or even extending it.

This is all fine and typical: leaders falling on both sides of an issue, some out of honest conviction and some out of dishonest manipulation. But Rick Santorum is a panderer of the highest two-headed order. Santorum has positioned himself as supporting AND opposing the war in Afghanistan at the same time. On March 18, 2012, he summed up his position to Jonathan Karl on ABC’s This Week: “Let’s either commit to winning or let’s get out.”

Karl pressed: “OK, so what does President Santorum do? Do you commit to winning, and what does that take? Or do you say it’s time to get out?”

Santorum responded: “Well, I think if you commit to winning, you change the entire dynamic in the region. You change the dynamic with respect to the Taliban, and you recognize that we’re going to stay there, and we’re going to finish the job.”

What!? Sen. Santorum wants to give “respect to the Taliban”!? (reference Sarah Palin’s fourth-grade homeschool reader, Just Say No to Gotcha Politics).

Rick’s nonresponse to Jonathan Karl — Santorum never answered the question — is the epitome of meaningless, noncommittal doubletalk. Let me translate: “If you’re for the war and want victory for America, I’m with you. If you’re against the war and want to bring our troops home now, I’m with you.”

And Newt Gingrich is saying to himself, “I can’t believe I’m losin’ to this guy” (— thanks to SNL).

Rick Santorum, the quintessential two-headed Washington panderer, wants to “change the entire dynamic in the region” — or not. If a Santorum presidency weren’t so terrifying, I’d say those who vote for him deserve what they get. But even joking about this scenario scares the dynamics right out of me. ■