A few progressive commentators have pointed out that the phrase "government n****r" is sometimes used by white people in the south to describe black people who receive welfare or other government benefits. Is it possible that Santorum was about to trip up by spouting a colloquialism that might be accepted in his inner circle, but certainly isn't acceptable for use in the public arena?
Well, maybe. Neither phrase really makes any sense in context. Santorum was describing how Obama's anti-war politics turned out to be more of a facade than anything, luring voters in with the promise of peace when really he's continued to maintain more or less the military status quo. What does that have to do with welfare? By contrast, I've never heard of such a thing as an "anti-war governmentnik" either. Was he trying to Sovietize common English? Is he calling Obama a communist? What's going on in there?
To me, it sounds like Santorum's just burping up word salad for a minute there. I'm pretty sure even he knows that the n-word isn't allowed in political speeches (or any white person's speech, ever) and he doesn't look like he was half a second away from a verbal land mine. You'd think if he caught himself about to use that word about the president, he'd have a bit more of an oops-face going on.
There are plenty of reasons to dislike Santorum as he stands. He doesn't even need to slip up this late in the game. His entire platform is enough to demonstrate his incompetence. But this widespread accusation of racist language might be the nail in the coffin for him. In which case, I guess it's a good thing that he's being misheard. The thought of even the slightest possibility of a President Frothy makes me want to curl up under my bed for the next four years.