But one person did get it right: Four years ago, Savage Love readers—the new definition of "santorum" was a reader's idea—set a single stone in motion. While Santorum would have been defeated even without a filthy, lowercase definition of his last name floating around out there, having a name that can barely be mentioned in polite company anymore didn't help. So effective was our "frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex" campaign that the editor of the National Review was fuming about it in a column published on Election Day itself. We helped to make Rick Santorum into a national laughingstock—with an invaluable assist from Rick Santorum, of course.
The political power of satire should never be underestimated. There's a reason monarchs and despots once locked up cartoonists and satirists. Being made ridiculous? That's politically disempowering fairy dust.
However, the real credit and mad props, as the kids once said, go to the people of Pennsylvania. You wiped Santorum from the floor of the U.S. Senate, and a grateful nation salutes you! Bravo! Well done! (Electing him in the first place? Not so well done. But all is forgiven.)
As for Santorum's kids, well, once again we're put in the position of having to feel sorry for the offspring—the oddly attired offspring—of a delusional bigot. But just how bad should we feel? I remember listening to the radio when Santorum said something obnoxious about gay couples: An anti-gay-marriage amendment was a homeland-security measure, Santorum said, which makes gay couples terrorists. My son, who happens to be the same age as Santorum's younger daughter (the one weeping and clutching a doll in that widely circulated photo), was in the room at the time and he got pretty upset. So, yeah, we should all feel bad for Santorum's kids—what kind of parent drags a sobbing child in front of the national media?—but let's also feel bad for all the other kids that Santorum hurt.