This is not a question of “IF,” but “WHEN.” In previous debates, Santorum was considered a sidelight. Always stuck at the end of the stage and not treated as a serious candidate. Remember when Newt and Herman were once in that position? When they get moved to the center the heat is turned up. Everyone but Romney has cracked under this scrutiny. Well Rick, welcome to the bigs. It is your turn in the ring.

During the next couple of weeks he will get the attention he has longed desired and will find it a double-edged sword. He can’t help himself. He will be asked question after question to define and explain his 18th century views on contraception. He has no good answer. No matter what he does he is done. Why? Because he only has two options.

(HERE IS TODAY’S Santorum appearance on FACE THE NATION)

Option one–lie. Pretend he has never said the stupid shit he has long espoused. Like what? Oh, for instance, the notion that contraception is bad because it encourages kids to have sex. In the book of Rick, sex is only for procreation and should only occur in marriage between a man and woman. Now that may be a swell position if you want to be pastor of a Southern Baptist congregation, but that dog don’t hunt if you want to be President.

Option two–tell the truth. Try to defend that nonsense described above. Oh sure, it will send a tingle up the legs of hardcore conservatives. But that kind of religious extremism (think of it as the Christian version of Sharia law) scares the hell out of the average American voter. Why? Folks like sex. Folks like having sex without having to worry about getting preggers. Santorum’s religious extremism, akin to that of an imam at a radical Madrassa, encourages the kind of intolerance eschewed by most Americans.

America will have a chance to meet the real Mr. Santorum over the next two weeks. It ain’t going to be pretty. Instead of holding an aspirin between his knees, Santorum may want to consider sticking it up his ass.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.