Santorum Finally Gets Around to Condemning the Booing of an American Soldier, But He Totally Has A Good Excuse For Not Speaking Up Sooner
September 23rd, 2011
An entire news cycle has passed since the American people witnessed the spectacle of nine GOP presidential candidates remaining silent while audience members booed an American soldier during last night’s debate. Instead of speaking up against the outburst or even thanking Stephen Hill, who is currently stationed in Iraq, for his service, they stood in stone silence while Sen. Rick Santorum railed against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as “playing social experimentation with our military.” Their silence was all the more remarkable considering their willingness to interrupt each other on other topics throughout the debate.
After nearly a full day of mounting criticisms from the left, the right, and everywhere in between, Santorum finally got around to condemning the booing and, very belatedly, to thank him for his service. But only after he was asked directly about it. Furthermore, there was no hint of an apology for last night’s debacle:
Megyn Kelly: Now online this is getting a lot of attention, this video question from a gay soldier. I want to ask you not so much about your answer because you and I did that back and forth last night, but I want to ask you about people are now criticizing the audience last night for their reaction when they heard this video question. Let’s play just the video question:
Stephen Hill: … Iraq, I had to lie about who I was because I’m a gay soldier and I didn’t want to lose my job. My question is, under one of your presidencies do you intend to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military? [Scattered booing]
Kelly: So there were a couple of boos in the audience. I mean there were five thousand people there. And now some people are criticizing you for not responding to it and Republicans for, you know, booing a gay soldier. Your response?
Santorum: Yeah. Well, I condemn the people who booed that gay soldier. That soldier is serving our country. I thank him for his service to our country. I’m sure he’s doing an excellent job. I hope he’s safe and I hope he returns safely and does his mission well. I have to admit, I seriously did not hear those boos. Had I heard them, I certainly would have commented on them, but, as you know, when you’re in that sort of environment, you’re sort of focused on the question and formulating your answer. I just didn’t hear those couple of boos that were out there, but certainly had I, I would have said that that was… I would have said don’t do that. This man is serving our country and we are to thank him for his service.”
I find his excuse that he didn’t hear the boos incredulous. The videotape shows the loudest booing clearly reverberating throughout the hall. It’s also telling that he was more focused on condemning gay people because of all of the sex, sex, and more frothy sex, that he imagines them having all the time in the barracks, in the showers, and on the parade grounds — and you know how much gay people love a good parade — than he was in undertaking the simple decency of thanking the soldier for his service.
Former Utah Gov. John Hunstman called the booing “unfortunate” last night following the debate, adding, “You know, we’re all Americans, and the fact that he is an American who put on the uniform says something good about him.” It would have been good if he had the courage to say that while still on the dais with the cameras rolling. Meanwhile, seven other GOP presidential candidates have continued their radio silence, both on the booing and their own neglect for thanking an American soldier.
Mark this day as a historic first: for the first time in the history of the Republic, not a single Republican freedom-loving, flag-saluting, allegiance-pledging, birth-certificate-waving patriotic presidential candidate tried to step over everyone else to be the first to thank an American soldier for his service to the country.