At a tea party rally in 2009, Glenn Beck said that tea parties were as much about criticizing Republicans' and George Bush's wasteful spending as they were about criticizing that of Democrats. According to The American Conservative's Jack Hunter:
Today, Santorum remains the personification of Bush Republicanism. Heading into the 2012 campaign, the former senator sounds more like the ghost of Republicans past, invoking Bush’s name more often and favorably than any other candidate, while seeming to hope his beating of the culture and foreign war drums might drown out his big government record.Santorum voted for No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and many other "compassionate conservative" socialist schemes signed into law by George W. Bush. Indeed, Santorum's recent voting record is that of a George Bush Big Government Republican. Santorum seems to have swayed that way from 2001-2006, during the Bush years. Some things he says today like that he would have opposed TARP match the more conservative Santorum of the '90s, but most bespeak the big government Santorum of the 2000s, and therefore Santorum is as antithetical to the tea party philosophy as George Bush is.
Santorum conflicts with the tea party on foreign policy. Shortly before the 2006 election that he lost to Democrat Bob Casey, Santorum said that it would be worth it to lose his senate seat for being such an apologist for the Iraq war. But the tea party represents grassroots beliefs. The urge to attack Iraqis who live thousands of miles away, across the vast Atlantic Ocean, that have never attacked you is not a grassroots impulse.
On March 20th, Santorum stated that NATO should have imposed a no fly zone in Libya sooner(!) than it did.
But on June 23rd he told Glenn Beck that he didn't "think we had an interest [in Lybia.]" Santorum then proceeded to contradict himself by saying "I think we should get out of [Libya], but I don't think we can immediately pull the plug [because among other things] it would threaten to "destabilize NATO"--whatever that means. So although we don't have an interest in Libya, we should have gone in sooner and we can't pull out immediately. Contradicting oneself is not celebrated by the tea party. Moreover, doesn't that line about "destabilizing NATO" sound just like some nonsensical excuse he would give to justify lingering in Iraq? Santorum's apparent deep concern for the alleged interests of NATO seems to have superseded his concerns for the US's interests because he himself has said that the US doesn't have any interest in Libya, implying that he knows it is not good for the US to be there. Putting the interests of internationalist entities above those of the United States is not a tea party cause and neither is making troops linger in theaters of recreational war.
Santorum has faultily insinuated that it was "Reaganesque" to attack Libya even though Libya has not attacked the US in any way whatsoever in the past 20 years. When the Reagan administration attacked Libya, it was in response to an assassination allegedly performed by Libyan government agents against two US armymen. Therefore the war in Libya that Reagan supported was defensive--albeit a little hawkish. But the present war in Libya that Santorum supports is clearly non-defensive. Supporting non-defensive foreign wars that enlarge deficits in not tea partyesque.
Santorum went on to tell Beck that he was concerned that the government was not doing enough to convince people of the need to "win" in Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm sure that's what so many tea partiers are yearning for: propaganda in support of recreational wars.
Santorum also belittled Obama's unfulfilled obligation to get congressional approval for the war, and implied that the main task for Obama was to make the mission clearer. Santorum wants a more purposed unconstitutional war, but an unconstitutional war nonetheless. Most tea partiers would place more emphasis on the unconstitutional status of the Libya war.
Perhaps Santorum does, however facially, represent some social conservatives in the tea party since he is ardently pro-life, but according to Jack Hunter:
In positioning himself as the most socially conservative candidate, Santorum has been successful in spending as many taxpayer dollars as the Democrats by seeking right-wing refuge in his pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-gay-marriage positions. The problem is, “conservatives” of Santorum’s stripe rarely do much to actually advance these issues. Is America any closer to overturning Roe v. Wade? Do we generally have more federal gun laws today or less? Has homosexuality become more or less culturally acceptable? For most Republican politicians, social conservatism has always been more of a fashion statement than a mission statement. You even get the sense that politicians like Santorum know full well they can’t do much legislatively on these issues and thus enjoy the conservative cover it always provides them. A 10th Amendment revolution [that only Ron Paul would champion] in this country might give social conservatives more political victories than they’ve had in decades—but it would also mean the loss of a valuable election tool for Republican politicians [like Santorum] who not-so-coincidentally seem to always favor impossible-to-pass federal legislation.Even if Santorum does give good lip service to social causes, it does not absolve him from doing the right thing fiscally. Some would even say that Santorum's votes for fiscal prodigality were downright immoral. Moreover, would it be okay for someone to rob you as long as they were pro-life? To be irresponsible with your money? To make shady quid pro quo deals?
Indeed, more support is needed on the ground level to overturn Roe v Wade. A recent Gallup Poll reveals that 49% of Americans identify as pro-choice and 45% as pro-life with the rest being either unsure or choosing neither. Electing a pro-life politician while doing nothing to convince pro-choicers to become pro-life is like putting the cart before the horse. Public opinion needs to be swayed to at least 70% pro-life to ensure a lasting reversal of Roe v Wade. But because people are lazy or don't want to hurt their pro-choice friends' feelings, they prefer to elect Santorum and let him do all the talking. Meanwhile Santorum does all kinds of other bad things, and again, because people are lazy, they re-elect him based solely on his pro-life stance. Again, being pro-life does not confer absolution from fiscal responsibility, etc.
According to a column quoted by Jack Hunter:
“Reagan was a small government conservative who declared in his inauguration address that government was the problem, not the solution. There, Bush begs to differ. The essence of Bush’s big government conservatism is a trade-off. To gain free-market reforms and expand individual choice, he’s willing to broaden programs and increase spending.”These sorts of bargains are faustian because they make conservatives seem fiscally irresponsible to liberals and prevent liberals from becoming conservative. In keeping with this faustian method, Rick Santorum endorsed the liberal Arlen Specter over less liberal Pat Toomey in 2004 in return for Specter's alleged pledge to support Bush's supreme court nominees. But there is no evidence to suggest that Toomey wouldn't have voted to nominate George Bush's selections Roberts and Alito. Unless Santorum knew for certain that Toomey would have lost the 2004 general election and that Specter would have won it, then Santorum's excuse is outright deceitful. We suspect Santorum endorsed Specter as part of some other quid pro quo deal--perhaps in return for Specter's vote for the Bush tax cuts. Santorum's endorsement may have been the key to Arlen Specter's victory over Toomey in the primary. Even if it wasn't, it was intended to help Specter beat Toomey. Santorum either played a role or tried to play a role in the retention of Arlen Specter, who eventually was a key vote for Obamacare. The tea party patriots I know stand firm on principle and do not indulge in such deleterious faustian tactics.
The US federal government is drifting further and further toward enforcing atheistic despotism within the confines of government buildings and institutions. So why would a socially conservative tea partier vote for someone with a record of growing government? Santorum talks the talk of stopping big government, but he didn't do much to walk the walk while in office, ie, vote against it--at least not in the Bush era. Who's to say that Santorum wouldn't resort to supporting more big government in the future, as long as the bill in question had a Republican stamp on it? Even if such a bill were well-intentioned, the power it would grant the government may be used for evil in the future, as in the case of the TSA.
Although Santorum has criticized the body scanners used by the TSA, he voted to create the TSA back in 2002 despite the fact that some said stricter rules for private security forces in aeroports was a sufficient security measure and that creating the TSA was not necessary. Indeed Israeli aeroports are the safest in the world and are not enforced by government goon squads. Creating government agencies to "keep us safe" is not exactly a tea party cause.
Maybe Santorum does fit into the Republican co-opted notion of the tea party, but he is certainly not tea party Kosher.