At the college convention yesterday, Rick Santorum took a lot of questions from a liberal crowd of College students, bu the question that a lot of people were waiting for was one on Gay Marriage. ABC’s Shushannah Walshe has this piece up:
Santorum answered that for “230 years marriage has been between one man and woman. So if you want to change the law … you have to make the positive argument about why.”
At that point, several members of the audience started trying to engage the candidate.
Santorum said, “We’re not shouting out here,” before asking the students to raise their hands.
They include a video of about 4 minutes excluding the base question and is cut excluding his base speech and jumps right to the Gay Marriage question asked in the middle of the event
Well not the whole question they start in the middle of the question and cuts at a key point when the audience applauds the suggestion that marriage means whatever people says it means. A bit deceptive, but a better job than Think progress uses even a smaller cut from CNN
and states that Santorum is “on the defensive”.
1. Santorum is on the offensive NOT the defensive.
2. The students unable to cope with his arguments.
Let’s begin with the full unedited video and see what we actually have from the start.
Take a look at the interaction here. Santorum uses logic and reason starting that as people trying to change the law, the positive case to be made is theirs to make for the change:
“Don’t you have to make the positive argument to make the change?” He uses the example of proposing to build a bridge, the necessity to provide the public purpose is a fundamental question and puts the case in the intellectual rather than the emotional case. The hostile crowd is put on the defensive, Santorum is not going to back down and once the argument is over logic and reason the ball is now in his court?
When the student answers the medical visit business Santorum responds with the fact that hospital visitation can be handled with a legal written contract and that this was ALWAYS true.
He then asks for another reason and a young lady answers:
“How about the argument that all men are created equal and the right to happiness?” Santorum pounces:
“Are we saying everyone has the right to marry?”
The crowd claps and agrees with loud shouts, Santorum continues
“So anyone can marry anyone else?” when the crowd approves, he asks “So anyone can marry several people?”
At once the crowd starts to object, filibuster and interrupt, or as ABC calls it “engaging” Santorum calls for order and continues to demand an answer: “If every person has a right to be happy, so if you aren’t happy unless you are married to five other people then that’s OK.”
Again members of the crowd, confronted with the need to reason, decides to filibuster again, he will have none of it. The young lady quickly ads…“As long as you don’t harm other people.”
It’s the same argument that Chris used during our debate on the subject at the center of mass podcast and Santorum asks the question: “Who determines what harms someone else?” and the “everybody can understand it” comes out.
These kids are apparently too young to remember the days when “everybody could understand” that homosexuality was wrong. They unknowingly make the ICK factor argument. But they are looking not for a discussion but a sound bite.
Finally the young lady says that her person opinion on 3 is “yeah, go for it.” and Santorum delivers the coup de grace.
“If she reflects the values of everyone else…Marriage really means whatever you want it to mean.” the college crowd applauds not realizing what they’ve just done but ABC apparently did since they cut the video right before the applause here.
Santorum then makes is closing argument, disagreeing with what NH did but conceding that they did it the “right way” via legislative action and urges that if you want to make the case for or against, make the case in the public square, and makes his own case for the unique status of marriage.
It was very illustrative. First rather than pandering Santorum challenges them on an intellectual level in a way that apparently they have not been before on this issue. The students who on other question would take and give become unable to make their case without shouts and interruptions. (These are college students?)
Like many young people they don’t understand that there are hundreds of years of reason, logic and intellect behind the Santorum argument and their response proves them, despite the education they are paying for, are not intellectually armed to make their case. They are used to a sound bite wars and in the arena of ideas, at least for this idea, come unarmed.
The final dagger through the heart came much later. At the very end of the day as Santorum is leaving groups of college kids as he is going to his car pepper him with questions when as he enters the car he gives a response to a question (that although I was filming I couldn’t’ hear and the camera didn’t pick up) saying: “The federal government doesn’t do that.” Here is the video:
When he gets in I shut off the camera and boy to I regret that, because the reaction of these kids is the story. The kids start whooping. They hi-five and cheer each other as the car leave bragging that this will end up on Huff Po. Think progress will likely be recruiting here.
Run that through your head a second, their engagement with the candidate was not to learn, to make a case for what they believe, they were looking for a sound bite to spin and it was that moment rather than the chance to actually engage a former senator and candidate for president that made all the difference to them.
Ladies and gentlemen I present you with the future Mainstream media!
If you want to know why citizen media is important, this is it.
Update: If the MSM really wanted the big quote from that appearance, it came before this
Update 2: he took a similar question in Windham, here is my the video (missed the start of the question running down the aisle after dumping my memory card)
Update 4: One last thing, although there was confrontation on Gay Marriage there crowd was not confrontational on other issues and there were very good exchanges otherwise. I’m thinking that question might not have been representative of the entire convention. As for the convention itself, I’d never heard of it but Mike Farrell who was kind enough to tell me about it:
It seems a worthwhile event and I look forward to covering it in 4 years again
Update 5: Kudos to MSNBC for showing the whole video
Update 6: Stacy McCain calls the MSM out:
Permit me to say that this headline is a lie:
Rick Santorum focuses on gay marriage
Rick Santorum is not “focusing on gay marriage.” He is being asked — asked repeatedly by reporters and by people at town-hall meetings — about his opposition to gay marriage, and he is explaining his opposition. He is not obsessed with the issue, but neither is he never going to back down from what he believes.
It is the media that is focused on Gay Marriage because they don’t dare talk about the record of Barack Obama, not if they wont to see him re-elected.