PhotobucketI recently discovered a humor columnist at the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri. She has some pretty brilliant humorous but insightful takes on Michele Bachmann’s Newsweek cover, Obama’s fireside chat and others. We could all use some help redirecting our tears to laughs these days, right?

Petri admits with chagrin that she’s enjoying following the Santorum trainwreck of a campaign and although tongue in cheek, her assessment of why the fail is so strong is pretty pretty spot-on. Petri recognizes Santorum faced a fork in the road in dealing with his “Google problem”:

But what can you do? At a certain point you either surrender, call off the dogs, and go sit somewhere wracked with the vague sense that Things Might Have Gone Differently But For Google, or you double down.

Santorum has picked the double down route. It’s profitable enough to keep his name in the news, but it’s not winning him the nomination or the respect of the GOP donor base.

The problem, Rick Santorum is not running against Barack Obama, he’s running against Dan Savage.

In fact there was a graceful way out for Santorum and Dan Savage opened the negotiations last year with this:

“If Rick Santorum wants to make a $5 million donation to [the gay marriage group] Freedom to Marry, I will take it down. Interest starts accruing now.”

Granted, $5 million is a lot of money, but it is opening negotiation point and smart negotiators start high. Dan likely might have settled for less, particularly if it included an agreement that Rick would clean up his potty mouth in public, and stop comparing marriage equality to man-on-dog sex. But Savage never heard from Santorum’s people at all.

Instead, Santorum has adopted a strategy of “doubling down,” thinking, delusionally, if he just fought the gays harder, he’d eventually prevail. Petri examines in WaPo what that strategy has wrought:

What’s worse than Santorum’s Google problem — his Savage problem

The strange irony of all this is that Santorum and Savage are forever bound by this feud, coupled together in the annals of history as arch-nemeses. Batman and Joker. Superman and Lex Luthor. Santorum and Savage. It’s an unbreakable bond, although the identity of the parties (who’s Lex?) varies depending on whom you ask.

This is a bigger problem for Santorum than for Savage, who appears to have other hobbies, including an MTV show in the works.

But for Santorum, it’s been the kiss of death. Santorum hasn’t been running against Barack Obama. He’s been running against Dan Savage, a syndicated sex columnist. It’s hard to blame him. His opposition to Obama is theoretical. But thanks to Dan Savage, his name is quite literally mud.

These days, as Savage grasped instinctively, there is nothing worse than having a Google problem. It’s one thing to embarrass yourself in real life. But people have far shorter attention spans than the Internet. It’s like an elephant with a strong preference for pornography.

And it’s true. Democrats might consider hiring Dan to run a 527, and teach them something about how one controls the conversation in politics to the Republicans’ disadvantage. Santorum continues to exist only because of Dan Savage. And he’s keeping the lights on thanks to Wingnut Welfare, and utilizing his martyrdom to attempt to fill his near-empty coffers.

But he’s not a Presidential player. Serious candidates can’t let themselves get bogged down in protracted feuds with loudmouth syndicated sex columnists. This strategy isn’t helping him break 3% in the GOP primary polling, or attract serious donors from the GOP base (he’s got $229,000 in the bank).

Poor Ricky. The good news is the Wingnut Welfare rolls are lousy with has-beens like Santorum.