In an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, on Fox News, Rick Santorum was asked by host Bill O’ Reilly if Republican talk radio hosts should show a little more respect for Senator John McCain who O’Reilly said is being hammered by them. O’Reilly framed the question by comparing John McCain’s position to that of Nelson Mandela. O’Reilly noted that even though Mandela was a communist, he showed respect for him, and that this kind of respect is what Republican talk radio hosts should be offering to John McCain. For some reason, ABC News and others decided to blast to their readers that Santorum made a comparison between Mandela’s fight against Apartheid and the fight against Obamacare. It was actually O’Reilly who brought up Mandela to compare him to McCain. What Santorum compared was the value of fighting against injustice in general.
Watch Rick Santorum’s exchange with Bill O’Reilly.
This quote at ABC News is correct, but the claim that he made a comparison is wrong. O’Reilly compared Mandela to McCain, albeit loosely.
“Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that, and that’s the reason he is mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed,” the former Pennsylvania senator said on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”
“And I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that.”
Nowhere in the article, nor in many other articles on this, do we find mention that it was O’Reilly who brought up Mandela in the context of respecting John McCain. Here’s that part of the transcript. (I had to transcribe this myself, by the way, because O’Reilly didn’t provide this on his website. He did have the transcript for his interview with Sarah Palin, though.)
OREILLY: So, the Republican Party…I mean, do you see it coming together. I mean, you know, Governor Palin says, oh, we have to come together. There’s an awful lot of sniping still going on.
SANTORUM: There is a lot of sniping going on because we’re in a party that, believe it or not, is the big tent party in America. We’re the ones that have a lot of diversity in our party as to the beliefs. As Sarah said, it’s not an unhealthy thing, particularly at a time when you’re out in the wilderness a little bit and not in power.
OREILLY: Philosophically it’s not because you get better ideas when you have robust debate.
OREILLY: However, when you’re trying to get the Senate back and neutralizing a president that the Republican party does not like, you’ve got to really come together or you’re not going to win. And so, on that note…you don’t disagree with that, right?
OREILLY: You’re going to have to come together next year or you’re not going to win.
SANTORUM: Not at all, and look, there…as Sarah talked about, there’s some core principles that we can all get together with. I mean, when I ran for office and ran for president, I traveled around. What people wanted is the same thing that you hear which is that they want limited government. They want someone who cares for those who are in trouble, though.
SANTORUM: That’s one of the weak spots, I think, of the Republicans….
OREILLY: But here’s the problem…
SANTORUM: …because we’ve not been particularly articulate on that front.
OREILLY: Here’s the problem. There is common ground among Republicans. I’m an Independent but I know both parties pretty well. However, the media Republicans, very conservative talk radio people, are very ideological, and they’re just ripping up people like John McCain, you know, “RINOS,” I mean, every day, banging. Just killing them. And that filters into “the folks” and the people who vote Republican. Now, let me give you an example. Ideology has to really leave the building next year and in 2016 or you’re going to have President Hillary Clinton. Nelson Mandela just died. I don’t know whether you’re aware, but…
SANTORUM: I was, yeah.
OREILLY: …Nelson Mandela…I spent some time in South Africa. He was a communist, this man.
OREILLY: He was a communist, alright? But he was a great man. What he did for his people was stunning. The sacrifices that he made. He could have reputiated and got out of that prison. He wouldn’t do it. He was a great man, but he was a communist. So, but I would never attack Nelson Mandela. I mean, I told Bishop Tutu, “I disagree with you and with Mr. Mandela,” because Tutu’s that way, as well, but “I respect you.” So why can’t you guys in the Republican Party bring that to the fore?
SANTORUM: Well, Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that, and that’s the reason he is mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed, but you’re right. I mean, what he was advocating for was not necessarily the right answer, but he was fighting against some great injustice. I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and conrolling people’s lives and Obamacare is front and center in that. I agree with Talking Points…your points earlier which is the center focus of the 2014 election must be Obamacare and all of its aspects. The ghoul thing about Obamacare is that it’s not only bad for the economy, bad for people’s health, it’s also bad for freedom of conscience. It’s also bad o a whole variety of issues that will energize all across America. So, that’s the focus.
It was Bill O’Reilly who, in a rather twisted way, compared Nelson Mandela to John McCain. O’Reilly’s point is that if we can honor the good that Mandela did, we should be able to show respect for John McCain, too. Rick Santorum merely pointed out that the fight isn’t about John McCain. It’s about fighting injustice, as Mandela (whom O’Reilly was using in his point) fought against Apartheid.
Rick Santorum is not the kind of person who is going to attack John McCain on a personal level like many in talk radio do. Bill O’Reilly knows that. Rick Santorum is the kind of person who talks about injustice itself and fights back against it, because it is the right thing to do. This is what Bill O’Reilly is not seeing here. The debate should not be about whether John McCain deserves less or more respect. It should be about the injustices in our society. Apartheid was an injustice. Our ever-expanding government is also unjust, particularly in the case of Obamacare. It’s certainly important to treat people with respect, but…John McCain is not Nelson Mandela, and Obamacare is not a just law.