Guy Benson
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For months, super star conservative author and blogger Michelle Malkin has described the Republican presidential primary as a "pageant of the imperfects," lamenting that the GOP field represents an uninspiring, "nose plugs" choice for conservatives.  Despite her public misgivings, she's finally donned the requisite odor blockers and made her selection: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.  The entire piece is worth a thorough read, but here is a small sampling of Malkin's pro-Santorum case:
 

Santorum opposed individual health care mandates — clearly and forcefully — as far back as his 1994 U.S. Senate run. He has launched the most cogent, forceful fusillade against both Romney and Gingrich for their muddied, pro-individual health care mandate waters. He voted against cap and trade in 2003, voted yes to drilling in ANWR, and unlike Romney and Gingrich, Santorum has never dabbled with eco-radicals like John Holdren, Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. He hasn’t written any “Contracts with the Earth.”

Santorum is strong on border security, national security, and defense. Mitt the Flip-Flopper and Open Borders-Pandering Newt have been far less trustworthy on immigration enforcement.  Santorum is an eloquent spokesperson for the culture of life. He has been savaged and ridiculed by leftist elites for upholding traditional family values — not just in word, but in deed. He rose above the fray by sticking to issues.  Most commendably, he refused to join Gingrich and Perry in indulging in the contemptible Occupier rhetoric against Romney. Character and honor matter. Santorum has it.


Malkin assures readers that she has "no illusions" about her pick, enumerating several of Santorum's drawbacks:
 

He lost his Senate re-election bid in 2006, an abysmal year for conservatives. He was a go-along, get-along Big Government Republican in the Bush era. He supported No Child Left Behind, the prescription drug benefit entitlement, steel tariffs, and earmarks and outraged us movement conservatives by endorsing RINO Arlen Specter over stalwart conservative Pat Toomey.


Just as striking as Malkin's case for Santorum is her detailed indictment against the rest of the field -- which singles out one candidate for especially harsh treatment.  After declaring Ron Paul disqualifyingly unacceptable on foreign policy, Malkin addresses current frontrunner Mitt Romney:
 

Mitt Romney has the backing of many solid conservatives whom I will always hold in high esteem — including Kansas Secretary of State and immigration enforcement stalwart Kris Kobach, former U.N. ambassacor John Bolton, and GOP Govs. Nikki Haley and Bob McDonnell. With such conservative advisers in his camp, Romney would be better than Obama. And a GOP Congress with a staunch Tea Party-backed contingent of fresh-blood leaders in the House and Senate will help keep any GOP president in line. Romney’s private-sector experience and achievements are the best things he’s got going. Only recently has he risen to defend himself effectively. But between his health care debacle, eco-nitwittery, and expedient and unconvincing political metamorphosis, Mitt Romney had way too much ideological baggage for me in 2008 to earn an endorsement — and it still hasn’t changed for me in 2012.


Clearly not a vote of confidence for the former governor, but not exactly a comprehensive smack-down either.  Which brings us to Malkin's assessment of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich:
 

Then there’s Newt, who has long made a career out of trashing progressive Saul Alinsky while employing his tactics at every turn. I’ve been making this point for years and have chronicled his dalliances with leftists as long as anyone in the conservative blogosphere.  Many grass-roots conservatives were awakened to Newt’s double-talk and double-dealing during the NY-23 race. Inconvenient truth: Newt’s transgressions are not from decades ago. It’s not ancient history.  It’s here and now. Readers of this blog know the truth: It’s not just “the GOP establishment” that’s repulsed by Gingrich’s combination of moral baggage and K Street/Beltway culture of corruption. It’s the very grass-roots that Gingrich’s cheerleaders purport to represent.


Malkin runs through a lengthy list of grievances against Gingrich, including his gratuitous slaps at Paul Ryan's budget, and his 2009 endorsement of RINOlicious moderate Dede Scozzafava in a contested Congressional race in upstate New York.  Malkin concludes her essay with a conspicuous jab at Sarah Palin, who suggested over the weekend that primary voters should "rage against" the establishment "machine" by casting their ballots for Gingrich:
 

Lest we forget, this election is not about choosing a showboat candidate to run against John King or Juan Williams or Wolf Blitzer.  It’s not about “raging against” some arbitrarily defined GOP “machine.”  For many grass-roots conservatives across the country, Romney and Gingrich are the machine...Question of the day: Who is the “machine?”


In posing that final question, Malkin practically defies conservatives of any stripe to question her movement bona fides.  Anyone want to take a stab at that?

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Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography