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August 19, 2009

McKinnon: Santorum May be "Dangerous," But you are Vile
Updated and Bumped

Hot Air linked this article a week ago, but I just stumbled across it again and after reading it a second time, I'm struck anew by how truly nasty it is. After a string of anonymous anecdotes and ad hominem attacks, Mark McKinnon sets a new low in the annals of political discourse while communicating his disdain for former senator Rick Santorum:

I’m a pretty tolerant guy, but beyond his ideology, some of Santorum’s behavior is just a little bizarre. For example, Santorum has six children. In 1996, he had son born prematurely who lived for only two hours. He and wife brought the child home and introduced the dead infant to the rest of their children as “your brother Gabriel” and slept with the body overnight.
As readers of my blog know, I have two beautiful daughters. Thankfully, both of them were born alive and healthy and I love them both. My affection, though, began not when I first held them, but when I first knew they existed - from the moment I saw a heartbeat on the first sonogram. At that moment, I could not wait to hold them. It's a hard feeling to describe, but 'intense anticipation' comes closest to describing it. Had I lost either of them before realizing that initial hope, it would have been devastating, and I cannot imagine what Santorum and his family experienced. If their mourning ritual brought them peace, who is Mark McKinnon to snidely judge it? Does he really believe his political differences with Santorum justifies such a malicious assault upon the former senator's painful experience?

George W. Bush and John McCain hired this man to help them win elections. After reading McKinnon's hateful screed, I think less of both men for having done so, and cannot in the future support any GOP candidate who chooses to have such a dishonorable man on his or her staff. Criticisms based on policy and ideology are fair and within bounds. Attacking a man for how he chose to mourn the death of a child, however, is beyond the pale. It is a paragraph McKinnon should apologize for writing and publishing, and one that should force McKinnon's former clients - Bush and McCain - to disavow the man who wrote it.

Politics may not be beanbag, but there should be some limits to what is fair game. McKinnon seems incapable of respecting those limits, and for that reason should earn nothing less than disdain from those who value civil debate.

Update - Here's the thing about blogging. You never know who is going to read what you've written. Earlier this evening, I received an email from Mark McKinnon. He's given me permission to quote the correspondence:

Thanks for the slap in the face. I deserved it.

I thought because Karen Santorum wrote a book about their son’s death and because it had been written about in a New York Times profile that I had license to bring it up. Whether I had license may be a debatable point but under any circumstance it was in very poor taste. It was unnecessary, mean spirited and it distracted from the main thesis of my column (which questioned Santorum for asking McCain to appear at fundraiser for him to raise money then turning on him and calling him “dangerous”).

I allowed my anger at Santorum to color my judgment and I regret it. I’ve tried very hard to promote comity in politics and I obviously failed miserably in this instance to practice what I preach. Thanks for helping me realize just how far I crossed the line. I’ve extended an apology to Senator Santorum.

Frankly, the fact that a man who's advised presidents and candidates would take the time to write this to a lowly blogger from Maine shows that I was wrong about his sense of honor. Good for him.

Also, I should say that I do feel somewhat guilty for calling McKinnon "vile" in the headline, and not just because he emailed me. I should have been more specific in my language - I was referring to his words, not him personally. Maybe that makes me a softy - blame my daughters.






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