What a Bad Politician Looks Like

Hapless presidential candidate Rick Santorum is not a happy man. Watch how he talks about same-sex marriage, even before being challenged, in this video taken at an event at Penn State (via Andrew Sullivan):

"Does anybody go out there and make the argument as to why this a good thing, because it will happen? Make the argument why this is right! I don't hear those arguments." Really? I'm sure he's not reading a lot of liberal magazines or anything, but it's not as though those arguments, elaborated in hundreds of articles and books over the last few years, are hard to find. And this is a topic Rick Santorum is really, really interested in. You'd think he'd at least pick up a book like this one to see what the other side is saying, if only so he could argue against it more effectively.

What I find really interesting, though, is how unlike other politicians Santorum is. He's frustrated, put upon, and generally pissed off pretty much all the time, and he isn't afraid to show it. No "happy warrior" here. He also doesn't try very hard to tailor his message to the group he's speaking to. A bunch of college students aren't going to be persuaded by his argument that homosexuality is condemned by the Catholic church, but that's his reason and he's sticking to it.

Santorum is also very bad at diffusing hostility. At least some of the people here think he's full of it, but in the face of their objections, he only amps up the conflict. His voice gets louder, his gestures get wider, he juts his head forward at the person disagreeing with him. A more skilled politician knows how to disagree with someone without making them think he's a jerk. But Rick Santorum doesn't play that game.

I'm on record suggesting that politicians be less nice to their constituents, but if you're going to run for president, you really have to learn how to hide your frustration better.