The thing has happened that pretty much everyone knew would happen, though we didn't know when, or how, exactly. Rick Santorum has left the proverbial building, or, less proverbially, the election playing field upon which he'd been hoping to win the GOP nomination for president. This is by his choice, as he announced: "We made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we'll suspend our campaign effective today... we are not done fighting we are going to continue to fight."

It's been something of a rocky round between women and Rick Santorum in the past, as he seemed to have had a special way of offending some female or another at nearly every turn. And now that he's gracefully bowed out, we'd like to gracefully thank him. Because, in as much as he said almost everything wrong that he possibly could—single moms are creating criminals! Birth control is immoral! Women cannot control their emotions! (Wah!)—he may have done more for women than the cool, collected, reasonable and pro-woman Barack Obama ever could. This is a counterintuitive argument, of course, but there's a truth here: When people say extreme things that showcase ignorance and irrelevance, other people are better able to counter their statements with rationality and intelligence, and tend to come out all the better for it. (See "Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke.") It throws the ridiculousness in high relief, if you will. So while many will say Santorum (and more broadly the entire GOP) set us back 50 years, or even 60, we're going to say, sure, maybe he thrust the conversation back into the Mad Men era for a moment...but in doing that, the rest of us have become that much more adamant about taking it back to 2012. Or at least, that's the upside.

In honor of this momentous occasion, a little walk down memory lane with our favorite Santorum statements about women (and sometimes men, too):

On women in combat:

"I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. It already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat. And I think that’s not in the best interests of men, women or the mission.”—Santorum, February 2012

On feminists ruining traditional families:

 "The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness"—Santorum, from his 2005 book

On blaming his wife for that part about feminists ruining families:

When Karen quit her job to raise her kids, she "felt very much like society and those radical feminists that I was referring to were not affirming her choice..." said Santorum in February 2012. "All I'm saying is... we should affirm both choices... That's what the book says, and I stand by what I said."

On traditional families: 

“You can say I’m a hater. But I would argue I’m a lover. I’m a lover of traditional families and of the right of children to have a mother and father. I would argue that the future of America hangs in the balance, because the future of the family hangs in the balance. Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?”—Santorum, July 2004

On arresting abortion doctors:

“I believe that any doctor that performs an abortion, I would advocate that any doctor that performs an abortion, should be criminally charged for doing so.”—Santorum, June 2011

On abortion in cases of rape or incest:

“Even in the case of rape or incest? That would be taking a life?” [NBC’s David Gregory] pressed. “That would be taking a life”—Santorum, June 2011

On abortion ruining America:

“The Social Security system, in my opinion, is a flawed design, period. But having said that, the design would work a lot better if we had stable demographic trends. We don’t have enough workers to support the retirees . . . A third of the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion.“—Santorum, March 2011

On pre-natal testing:

"The bottom line is that a lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in utero and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions”—Santorum, during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” in February 2012. 

On birth control:

"One of the things that I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the sexual liberty idea and many in the Christian faith have said, you know contraception is OK. It's not OK because it's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."—Santorum, October 2011

On his birth control stance, via his deep-pocketed supporter, Foster Friess, who was trying to minimize the discussion of Santorum's opposition to birth control (whoopsie):

"Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives -- the gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly."—Friess, February 2012

On Sandra Fluke (note the "even" here):

"Even Santorum says Rush's 'slut' remark is 'absurd'—New York Daily News quoting Santorum in a piece in March 2012

On single moms: 

  • "We are seeing it. We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it's falling apart because of single moms."
  • "What we have is moms raising children in single-parent households simply breeding more criminals."
  • Single moms need "kicking in the butt."—Santorum, February 1994

And more on single moms: 

Single moms are "the political base of the Democratic party"..."Because it's so tough economically that they look to the government for help and therefore they're going to vote. So if you want to reduce the Democratic advantage, what you want to do is build two-parent families; you eliminate that desire for government."—Santorum, October 2011

So for all that, we thank you, Santorum. And also for your sweater vests, because...why not? You at least kept things moderately amusing when you weren't making mistakes, saying asinine things, and keeping us so very riled up about not actually having you as president. But most of all, thank you for not being president.