McCain continues to pile on the "Mormon network" issue. This time in the form of the Utah governor who long ago declared his support for McCain. You know, for a guy whose claim to the White House lies in his amazing and courageous military service, you'd think the guy would fight a stand-up campaign instead of all these cut-outs and sneak attacks, on issues where he really has no quarrel.
Lowell: Yes, and all this from a guy who calls his PAC "Straight Talk America." From a political science perspective, the slyness of McCain's effort here is actually kind of impressive, if one finds Clintonian tactics to be impressive. McCain uses the Mormon Republican governor of Utah to keep alive the Globe "story" about Romney's Mormon network. Brilliant. Disappointing. Execrable.
Speaking of which – Ponnuru says ABP more or less on the level (all we have said is he is mis-reporting) and K-Lo says McCain denies culpability. Of course he does, because religious attacks ain't playing fair. Maybe that is why all the cut-outs!?
Lowell: All Ramesh Ponnuru says is:
I have no dog in this fight, but from the posts to which you've linked, Kathryn, I don't think Patrick Hynes (the McCainite) has anything for which to apologize to Romneyites.
That comment misses the point, I think. No one is asking for an apology, at least not here on this humble blog. We're just shining a spotlight on what a paid McCain consultant (Patrick Hynes of Ankle-Biting Pundits) is doing on his blog. Our concern is clear and reasonable: A political consultant who works for McCain, and whose business model is to create "buzz" for his clients, is repeatedly posting negative information about Romney's religion, all the while denying that he has any agenda at all. We think that smells pretty bad, frankly, and McCain should either (a) tell Hynes to stop it, or (b) own up to it. That's all.
Rather tellingly, Patrick Hynes has posted a response (sort of) to our analysis of his blogging. He refers to John in personally derogatory terms, and attacks arguments we did not make. (Maybe Patrick should rename his blog "Straw Man-Biting Pundit.") Meanwhile, as Patrick does all those things, he fails even to link to the Article VI post he was attacking. Why is that? So readers can't check to see the arguments raised against his tactics? The question remains unanswered: Is he planting anti-Romney religious buzz or not?
I am happy to report that we are not reluctant to link to Patrick Hynes' post. Take a look. He certainly creates the perception of someone running away from a real debate. Does he confront that question as we raise it here or here?
John interrupts: I was going to leave it be, but since Lowell brought it up, I never suggested Hynes was the source of the Globe stories – I said that I thought it likely someone in the McCain camp fed material to the Globe. I based this not on my own insight but on Halperin and Harris' assertion, in The Way to Win, that the MSM usually never digs up such stories on thier own, but are very willing, if stories are fed to them, to chase those stories down. My point was that Hynes' willingness, as a McCain operative, to pass on the Globe story in an exaggerated and unquestioned form, lent credence to my conjecture. As to Hynes choice of adjectives regarding yours truly? Goethe comes to mind:
He who wishes to exert a useful influence must be careful to insult nothing. Let him not be troubled by what seems absurd, but concentrate his energies to the creation of what is good. He must not demolish, but build. He must raise temples where mankind may come and partake of the purest pleasure.
Finally, we are not interested in a battle with Patrick Hynes. Although he made a personal dig, I hope he doesn't take this disagreement personally. I simply disagree profoundly with his blog's approach so far to the religious issues related to Romney's campaign. I also think Patrick's approach is potentially embarrassing to John McCain and to the GOP generally. He is free to continue in the same way, of course, and we'll keep on responding if he does.
By the way, K-Lo links to this rather interesting post about "Mormonism 101," for those interested. No proselytizing here, just a brief "traveler's guide" to part of the faith and culture.
And it echoes. This blurb, now three generations from the Boston Globe's flawed and exaggerated original reporting, reduces the story to the precise formulation Romney's opponents want it to circulate in. And the role for the new media is reaffirmed.
Lowell: Indeed. It will be interesting to watch whether these kinds of stories will proliferate. My guess is that there will be many such kerfluffles in 2007, and after a while most of it will become boring and the MSM will start to focus on things like real issues. At least that's what I hope happens. In any event, blogs and other new media will be in the arena. Heck, they may be the arena.
This is the least surprising political announcement of the last several decades. To say otherwise would be self-incrimination.
Lowell: Kennedy's comments are actually pretty fair. I happen to know that Kennedy knows a lot about Mormons and Mormonism, has had at least one very close Mormon aide, and is close to Orrin Hatch, a very orthodox Mormon. Which is why Kennedy's own campaign's religious low blows against Romney back in 1994 were all the more, well, interesting.
Meanwhile, and interestingly, the Globe returns to absolutely straight political reporting regarding Romney. Could it be because the Salt Lake Tribune has picked up the story with a gusto? This SLTrib piece does point out how all churches and candidates can suffer from the kind of attack we have witnessed on Romney and the CJCLDS this past week plus.
Lowell: The Tribune may be so interested because the Globe controversy raises such a high- interest local story in Utah. In my younger days, when I still lived in Utah, I worked on several statewide political campaigns. It was always understood that everyone had to stay away from using LDS Church mailing lists, facilities, and so forth. I understand that's still the prevailing approach. If so, the notion that there would be any official church involvement in Romney's campaign would be quite startling (and disturbing) to most people in Utah. Hence the high "news value" of the story there. What's interesting about the Globe story is that there's still not a shred of evidence that there was any official church involvement, apart from the BYU business school mailing that was detected and corrected by BYU itself, before the story ran. Some "scandal!"
This blog post is typical of so many anti-Romney blog posts. I link to it purely because it illustrates so well how any attack on Romney for his religion, is really an attack on all of us of faith using that faith to inform our politics.
It is becoming increasingly clear to this observer that the forces alligned against religious conservatism in general, whether they be from the left or the right, are going to use the position of relative cultural weakness and acceptance of the Mormon faith to attempt to rob power from the movement in general. We creedal Christians may not agree with Mormons on theological things, but when it comes to politics, we are definitely on the same ship and need to do all we can to keep it afloat.