Santorum on Leno: Not Tough Enough

 

Former Pennsylvania Senator, GOP presidential candidate and sweater-vest enthusiast Rick Santorum appeared last night on NBC’s The Tonight Show where he was courteously greeted by Jay Leno. The talk-show host is conservatives’ primary choice whenever they feel a need to appear on late-night TV. After all, David Letterman seems to be completely unpredictable at times, and Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel are also what you might call wild cards. After the debacle last fall where Michele Bachmann was greeted on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon by The Roots playing “Lyin’ Ass Bitch”, this is not likely to change. With Jay Leno you get safe. You get predictable. Conservatives would probably say you get professional. So, there’s no surprise in Santorum’s visit with Leno.

I don’t have to review Santorum on the show. He did what he does best – look like a wholesome family man to right-wingers and a Bible-thumping gay-basher to everyone else. And to Leno’s credit, he made sure that we don’t forget about that last thing. The host often takes flack for being too submissive to the powers that be, but in the past he’s shown that he knows how to take advantage of his friendly personality and ask politicians tough questions about subjects they would prefer not to talk about. In this case, he presses Santorum quite well… but not hard enough. For example, when they’re discussing gay adoption and Santorum starts talking about his seven children, why not ask the man why he would use the powers of government to take away that right from a gay man or woman who wants to experience the same bliss? It would be a tough but fair question.

Leno did better with his interview with Bachmann last September where his seemingly softball questions exposed the candidate’s ignorant stand on the HPV vaccine. 

 

Jay Leno’s critics want the host to take a stand and denounce his guests. That’s simply not going to happen; he’s not going to embarrass them. He may disagree with them (Leno supports gay marriage, for instance), but there are subtler ways of criticizing them. Inviting them over for a chat that inevitably turns to the topics they hate to talk about is one way of exposing what they believe in.

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