National Review’s editors make sense in cautioning Rick Santorum to watch his mouth. Excerpt:

But the press has not had to invent controversial remarks by Santorum, who has supplied them himself. He has said that Satan is undermining America, in part by corrupting mainline Protestantism; that liberal versions of Christianity are distortions of the creed; that as president he would speak out against birth control, and that states should be free to prohibit it; and that John McCain “doesn’t have any” religious views.

Some of his comments are indefensible, and even some of Santorum’s defensible assertions would have been better left to someone else — someone not seeking the presidency — to say. Santorum’s remarks about Senator McCain were unwise and uncharitable. Nor do we need political leaders to share their theological judgments about the various denominations that call themselves Christian. There is no good reason for a prospective president to pledge to lecture Americans about contraception.

Social conservatives have an understandable and mostly laudable impulse to defend Santorum. He is one of us, he has fought for our causes, and he has the political scars to prove it. Santorum is not one of those Republicans about whom Richard Brookhiser once remarked, “In their hearts they know they’re wrong.” He seems serenely confident that with enough time he can change anyone’s mind on the issues. But he has not always shown that he knows how to pick his battles wisely, or that he understands that voters want a president with a suitably modest conception of a president’s proper role in national life.

This points to the thing that troubles me most about Rick Santorum: his temperament, and the cast of his mind. I think he’s dangerous on foreign policy, as I’ve said, though as a social conservative, I share many of his views. A truly conservative temperament, though, relies on innate prudence to resist ideology. This is something that eludes Santorum. It’s a fine, fuzzy line between having convictions and being an ideologue. Santorum doesn’t indicate that he knows where that line is, or that there even is a line.