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Sen. Rick Santantrum

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It's ironic how personal traits that are liabilities one minute can become assets the next.  Speaking for myself, I have a sharp tongue.  And I'm fairly quick at using it.  It took me years to train myself not to slip in a sharp, funny zinger the moment the other guy finished his sentence.  In short, I was a smart ass.

In 1999, Bob Rosenthal, then editor of the Inquirer, approached me and asked me to take over the Metro column.  His rationale at the time:  You're funny and good at zingers, maybe you should do the column.

My liability suddenly became an asset.

I would now be getting paid to be a smart ass.

The same is true of Rick Santorum.  His liability is that he has anger issues.  It was a turn off for a lot of people to hear him lecture them on what is good and evil and then glare at them if they disagreed.  His anger -- and his arrogance -- ended up being a factor in his defeat in 2006 in his bid to be re-elected to the U.S. Senate.  The voters were tired of it.

Fast forward to 2012.  Santorum is the flavor of the moment in the Republican race for President.  He's outpolling Mitt Romney nationally.  He has a chance to win the Michigan primary next Tuesday and the Ohio primary in early March.

What is Santorum's appeal to Republican voters?  My theory is it is his anger.  Many of these conservatives are angry -- at President Obama, at the sinful ways of America, at just about everything -- and they have latched onto an angry candidate.   How far it will carry Santorum remains to be seen.

The New York Times online has a feature called Campaign Stops where they offer guest writers a chance to opine about the race for President  This week they asked me to do a piece about Santorum and I built it around the theme of his anger.

It's called Campaigning Against the Modern World.

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