The opening weekend of The Gardener’s Lament went brilliantly. Mrs. Squirrel and I were there on opening night, of course. We even brought the toddlers, Nancy and Michelle, who chittered in delight every time Regis came on stage. The audience seemed swept up in the story of a squirrel and a gardener whose conflicting needs and worldviews offered, according to one reviewer, “a compelling and insightful commentary on property ownership.”

Regis didn’t like that review, and said the play was not a “commentary on property ownership” or anything else. It was, he insisted, simply a story of an unlikely friendship. I agreed with him, but I also noted that reviewers often see what they want to see.

“Like politicians and pundits,” Regis said.

Well yes, in fact. For example, in 2008 Rick Santorum told students at Ave Maria University that Satan was destroying America:

This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country – the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost two hundred years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.

He didn’t have much success in the early days. Our foundation was very strong, in fact, is very strong. But over time, that great, acidic quality of time corrodes even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.

It was hardly a novel argument. Whether you believe in evil deities or think humans are more than capable of evil on their own, claims of social decay are probably as old as humanity itself. I think the U.S. is generally a good society, and is getting better in many important ways. Santorum disagrees. Oh well.

Oh well … unless Santorum is leading Mitt Romney in nationwide polls of Republican primary voters. Then it’s time to sound the alarm. The Drudge Report excerpted Santorum’s speech. The Washington Post‘s conservative Jennifer Rubin railed that Santorum is not conservative but reactionary:

A reactionary is one who seeks to return to a previous state of affairs. It is not a conservative outlook, which in the Burkean sense looks to people as they are, prefers modest over the radical solutions and builds on the existing morals and habits of the society. It is conservative to argue the president should respect and accommodate religious institutions; It is reactionary to go on a quest against contraception and pre-natal testing, both of which the vast majority of Americans utilize or approve of.
Unlike a think tanker or pundit who wants to elucidate the adverse impact of social trends, he is running for president where, through policy and the bully pulpit, he intends to wage war on post-1960 America.

Rush Limbaugh, hardly progressive by any sane definition, said Santorum’s comments were “not ordinary:”

It’s part of the predictable attempt to impugn Santorum as an absolute religious nut and wacko. But he did say these things and he’ll have to have an answer for these things when queried.
That stuff is out there. It’s headlined on Drudge and the left has it, and Santorum will have to deal with it. He’ll have to answer it. I don’t know. It’s just not the kind of stuff you hear a presidential candidate talk about. It’s not ordinary in that sense.

While the National Review‘s Rich Lowry insists “The media has unleashed the hounds on Rick Santorum,” Lowry ignores that the conservative media are leading this charge. Laura Ingraham posted a video of Santorum’s ‘Satan Speech’ on her website and invited Newt Gingrich to criticize Santorum’s “message discipline” on the air.

Obviously, Satan is a Republican who wants Mitt Romney as the GOP nominee. Or maybe I’m seeing what I want to see….

Good day and good nuts.