The paperwork is done. – The website is up. It matters, it's kind of like the supply function in a military campaign, but it sure isn't the sharp point of the stick. The amount of ink devoted to this news in light of that fact is truly, truly astonishing.
Rich Lowry responds to Linker at TNR. He sees an inoculation effect. This I think is undeniable, the more the left plays "the Mormon card" the more Evangelicals are likely to ignore it altogether.
Lowell adds: For those who missed the late update to our post below, here's a scholarly rebuttal in The New Republic to the Damon Linker essay we commented on yesterday. (The New Republic links require subscription, but we quote much of the key text in our post.)
Also, Times and Seasons delves into the Linker piece from a distinctly Mormon intellectual perspective. Lots of "inside Mormon baseball" here, but interesting nonetheless. The comments are especially entertaining, some correctly noting the appalling graphics and related captions in the Linker essay. Again, no Evangelical publication could ever get away with printing such inaccurate, over-the-top nonsense. TNR shouldn't either.
Finally, The Economist describes Linker's essay as "In Defense of Bigotry."
A poll at World Net Daily. WND is pretty sloppy as journalism goes, but it is a reasonable read of the right wing. There is a bit of push polling in the way this thing is constructed. The poll results are not great for Romney, but they are for the Mormon question; as an objection to Romney from this crowd it's way down the list.
Hugh Hewitt interviews Jon Meacham on Gerald Ford's faith. Here is an interesting bit:
JM: Certainly, there were clearly political and civic reasons to do it, but if you actually read the text of both the speech on August 9th, when he took office, and the pardon speech from that Sunday morning, September 8th, there’s an intense amount of theological language. On August 9th, right after the ‘our long national nightmare’ sentence, he talked about how there’s a higher power to which we are accountable, who is also interested in mercy and righteousness, as well as justice. And then the pardon decision itself says the Constitution is the supreme law of he land, superseded only by the laws of God. And then remarkably, he says as a president and as a man, I feel I have to exercise the dictates of my conscience, because if I do not act with mercy, I may not be treated mercifully, which puts Ford right in the center, I think, of what I think of as America’s public religion, which is a phrase of Benjamin Franklin’s, and the idea that there is a Creator God, who is interested in the United States, and who will reward or punish individuals or nations for their behavior, either in this world, or the next. It’s all of that theology, which you know well, behind, say, national days of fast and thanksgiving that we had from the Revolution forward, and that Lincoln was so articulate about, that we are, collectively, as a nation, and our leaders, are accountable to an order beyond time and space for what we do here.
HH: Now Jon Meacham, do you think the reason that’s been forgotten is that it was little noticed at the time, so unexceptional was the language, or that simply it was obscured by the brouhaha? I think it’s the former, really, that only in recent times has the nerve ending begun to tingle, collectively, when presidents use God talk. I think it was very common up through Ford’s presidency. Your thinking on that?
JM: I agree with you mostly, I think. I think it’s been from…I think Carter did it, I think Reagan did it, George Herbert Walker Bush opened his inaugural address in 1989 with a prayer. Didn’t close it, didn’t just say God Bless America, he said let us bow our heads in prayer. And because he was an Episcopalian, and I sometimes joke, perhaps badly, that George H.W. Bush thinks of being born again as a mulligan on a golf course. You know, he’s not intensely interested in these matters. And Clinton…you know, the best speech Bill Clinton ever gave was that extemporaneous talk in Memphis in 1993, when he talked about what would Martin Luther King say about black America today if he came back, did it in a Church to a group…I think it was a gathering of AME bishops. So I think President Bush the second, I think the 43rd president, is completely within the mainstream of presidential religious expression, and I think people who attack him, and say he’s overly religious, or too much God talk, I think are wrong.
The question is, where would a Mormon fit in this picture? I, for one, don't see a distinction. The differences between Mormon and creedal Christian thought do not extend into these areas.