“In the (still unlikely) event that Rick Santorum captures the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign would probably be to social conservatism what Barry Goldwater‘s 1964 campaign was to small-government conservatism: A losing effort that would inspire countless observers to declare the loser’s worldview discredited, rejected, finished.

“In the longer run, a Santorum candidacy might suggest a path that a more electable pro-life populist could follow, much as Reagan ultimately followed Goldwater. But in the short run, it would almost certainly be a debacle – a sweeping defeat for the candidate himself, and a sweeping setback for the causes that he champions.” — N.Y. Times contributor Ross Douthat in a 2.21 “Campaign Stops” column.