Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Frodo Lives, Santorum Sinks (in Polls)

As noted in a previous post from yesterday, embattled Shire (ooops... I mean Pennsylvania) Senator Rick Santorum made an interesting analogy comparing the Iraq War to events in The Lord of the Rings.
"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum said. "It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."
The MoJo blog rounds up some responses from rabid Tolkien fans:
Really, Santorum should have known better. By invoking LOTR, he was inviting the scrutiny of hordes of Tolkien fans, who, sure enough, are unleashing their fantasy-lit fury on him. First off, Santorum called it the Eye of Mordor, when it's really the Eye of Sauron. Jeeze! Scott Rosenberg exposes more flaws in Santorum's comments:

First of all, in Tolkien's saga, the good guys are outgunned and outmanned by the Dark Lord, whereas in our world, the U.S. is a "hyperpower" whose military, in 2001-2, seemed to bestride the world. Second, in Tolkien, the good guys sent Frodo with the Ring into the depths of Mordor as a sort of last-ditch, bet-everything gamble; then they sent an army to the gates of Mordor as a diversion — to keep the Eye occupied and distract it from the hobbits headed for Mount Doom.

David Weigel at Reason's Hit and Run further explains how Santorum's comments failed to reflect the geopolitical complexities of Middle Earth:

Was Santorum referring to the hobbits' final approach up Mount Doom, when Aragorn (George Bush) was convincing the men of Gondor (Tony Blair) and Rohan (John Howard) to make a final, diversionary push at the Black Gates? Or is he referring to the entire quest of Frodo and Sam (300 million Americans), which was aided at various points by mystical creatures - the Ents, the Dead Men of Dunharrow - that don't have any easy relations in the real war on terror?

And Rosenberg again:

It's hard, in truth, to find any useful Middle Earth analogy to the Iraq War: the parallels break down across the board. Still, you might think of Bush's invasion of Iraq as the equivalent of a beleaguered Gondor, attacked by the armies of Mordor across the River Anduin, sending its army off on an expedition to Far Harad, after its leaders issued proclamations that the White Council had incontrovertible evidence of the Haradrim's possession of Rings of Mass Destruction.
Here's the latest on the race between Santorum and Democratic challenger Bob Casey from PBS's News Hour:

For Santorum, the hard ball tactics underscore the dire straights his campaign finds itself with less than three weeks to go. Combined, the two campaigns have raised some $38.8 million, the most in Pennsylvania history, and the latest numbers show both campaigns have about $3.5 million left. That means the financial advantage Santorum carried into the race has evaporated and the two will battle to the end with the same resources.

Santorum has poured more than $20 million into his campaign, while the latest poll shows Casey ahead with 49 percent to Santorum's 40 percent.

"Looking at all of the polls conducted in the state since February, not a single one has shown him ahead of Casey," Berwood Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College, wrote in a Philadelphia Inquirer online chat. "Recent polls, in fact, show Casey with a comfortable lead, although he is not over the magical 50 percent mark yet. Only rarely does a candidate who is consistently behind, particularly in a race that is as heavily polled as this one, win."


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