Where Was Santorum's Safety Net?

Written by David Frum on Tuesday November 22, 2011

Serious question: Why didn't the Bush administration give Rick Santorum some kind of consolation prize after his defeat in 2006?

Here's a two-term senator, brought down by no mistake of his own, who had performed well in Congress and stood by the party leadership when called upon--eg, endorsing Arlen Specter in 2004.

Yet when Santorum fell casualty to the wave election of 2006, there was no ambassadorship for him. Nobody conveyed to a DC law firm that it would be appreciated at the White House if an "of counsel" position could be found for him. I don't want to exaggerate, Santorum made a decent living after his defeat. But in the couple of conversations with him a year or so after his defeat, he projected the air of a man who felt friendless and abandoned. This presidential run seems to emerge from that experience, and of course it won't end well.

That's not how political parties normally work. People who take a bullet for the team are looked after. Not Santorum. Why not?

Updated: The commentators are probably right: it must have been Santorum's toxicity within the gay community that deprived him of his hope of administration patronage after his defeat in 2006. If so, that's a fascinating glimpse of the actual balance of power within the GOP as it stood five years ago--as compared to today.