(Salon) – In 2012, long-ago Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum got attention as the only Catholic in the GOP presidential primary race. It’s sadly noteworthy: our country has had only one Catholic president in its history (Joe Biden is our first Catholic vice president). Rather than looking out for Catholics, though, Santorum made a big splash when he attacked that first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, and lied about Kennedy’s famous speech in defense of religious freedom.
The speech “makes me throw up and it should make every American,” Santorum told ABC in February 2012. “Now we’re going to turn around and say we’re going to impose our values from the government on people of faith, which of course is the next logical step when people of faith, at least according to John Kennedy, have no role in the public square.”
Of course Kennedy said no such thing. In a historic speech tailored to address anti-Catholic prejudice head on, he insisted the “public square” should be safe territory for people of all religions, including Catholics like him, and Rick Santorum. Santorum himself should have been shamed from the public square for telling such clumsy and ugly lies about our 35th president. But Republicans can’t be shamed.