Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

  • Today’s Reading List – October 1, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 11:18 pm, September 30th 2007     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    So Much For Sobriety… 

    …on The Question, that is.  Mitt makes the cover of Newsweek, in a bio piece that is alternately fair and frustrating.  For starters, there is nothing new in the story. In fact, while telling essentially the same story, it is not nearly as well researched as Hugh Hewitt's book and comparing the two demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt the power of an author's persuasions when "reporting."  By sprinkling a recitation of the facts with breathless dives into Mormon practice, the Newsweek piece gives a sinister sheen to what is, simply, another man's religion.  Yet at other times, the piece is quite sober and fair in its treatment of Romney, his faith, and his candidacy.

    There are some odd, almost oxymoronic, passages as well.  Consider:

    Romney and his campaign wanted to deal with the Mormon question quickly and move on. The Massachusetts experience taught that Mitt the Mormon lost elections and Mitt the turnaround artist won them. In the first weeks of the campaign, Romney sat for lengthy interviews on his faith with The New York Times and USA Today; if the campaign could make the Mormon factor a tired story line, reporters would have no choice but to write about something else.

    Fair enough, and as we have documented here, that strategy appeared to be working.  And the article goes on to claim that it worked as well, as writers shifted to the "flip-flop."  So why does Newsweek go to this extent to hammer a dead horse?  Could there be an agenda at play?

    In the end, despite its length and more depth than usual, I think the piece is is yet another challenge by the media to get Romney to say more on his faith – they smell a story and they are not getting it.  Consider this passage, discussing Romney's Senate run, from the piece that seems ominous in its presentation:

    From the start, Romney made clear that questions about his faith were out of bounds, and from the start, his faith was all anyone wanted to talk about. The Boston papers were filled with tales of his secret Mormon life. As bishop, he'd counseled a Mormon woman not to have an abortion. As stake president, he'd called homosexuality "perverse." (Romney denied making this comment.) The tales fed the notion that there was something sinister inside Romney, that beneath the mild-mannered moderate lurked a secret extremist. When Kennedy suggested that Romney should have to answer for the LDS history on race (until 1978, African-Americans couldn't hold the priesthood), Romney called an angry news conference to condemn Kennedy for forgetting his own brother's admonition that a candidate's religious beliefs had no place in the public sphere. George—who was shredded by the press during his presidential run, but not on account of his religion—stood behind Mitt as he made his statement. Growing impatient, George seized the microphone: "I think it is absolutely wrong to keep hammering on the religious issues." The high road turned out to be a problematic course.

    They admit that Mitt is taking the "high road" upholding, if you will, the great traditions of the American understanding of religion and politics, and yet they "warn' him that such is "problematic."  Could it be they are frustrated?  In the accompanying Q&A, the talk presented is purely political, despite claims in the lead-in paragraph that Romney "touched on" his religion, there is no there, there.

    Lowell and I are just amateur journalists here, but we do have a few interviews under our belt and they are not as easy as they seem.  A good interview requires an enormous amount of preparation, and with that preparation the interviewer will develop an understanding of the subject that they will attempt to impose on the interview.  If the subject refuses to allow that imposition, it is easy to grow petulant.  That seems to be the case here.  Back in the opening paragraphs of the bio piece:

    Another presidential candidate, upon learning of a reporter's visit there, might jump on the opportunity to reminisce about the faith of his childhood, to trot out fond stories about his pastor and the inspirational lessons learned at his knee. But not Romney. Seated in a plane between campaign stops near the olive groves of northern California, Romney hears of such a visit and the wattage seeps out of his smile.

    Too bad it wasn't on camera, because I am betting the reporter's face was far more downcast at the brevity of Romney's answers than Romney's face was at being asked.  Besides, if you had been asked the same questions more times than the US Treasury has printed bills, you too might lose interest at the questions.

    It is a fair observation that religion has been far more prominent in recent elections, but this is this election, not the last one.  It seems increasingly clear that the MSM wants to frame this election by the old – something that just makes no sense – even though it appears "juicy" because of Mormon angle.  These are different candidates and different circumstances.  Not to mention that fact that, even from the perspective of this individual highly-religiously motivated voter, the role of religion may have grown to unwise proportions, and could easily step over the line into dangerous ones.

    This country works, better than any in history, because we know how far to go, and how far not to go, with these questions.  It used to the the MSM also understood that and worked to observe the line.  Sadly that commonsense has long since left the building.

    LOWELL:  It would be interesting to know some of the goings-on from inside Newsweek's editing rooms on this story.  One of the contributors was Elise Soukup. who was the lead author on a Newsweek cover story about the LDS Church that many critics of the Church found too positive.  (Ms. Soukup is a Mormon herself.)  I don't know which parts she wrote, but I'm guessing the story's last 3 paragraphs — hammering Romney for supposedly not knowing his own mind– weren't among them.  Someone who really doesn't like the man wrote those. AND NOT INCIDENTALLY: Did anyone else find the cover headline offensive? “A Mormon’s Journey.” It is hard to imagine any other faith being highlighted that way. Isn’t it?

    Compare and Contrast…

    Interesting comments from Republican front runners, and one surging, but hopeless former leader on the religion issue.

    National Journal recently interviewed Romney:

    Q: Is there any issue in this campaign that you think is off limits? For example, do you think that the personal life of a candidate is a legitimate thing to focus on in a campaign?

     

    Romney: I think the American people will focus on whatever they like to focus on. I don't tell them, "Don't look at this, or don't look at that." I know they'll give every aspect of my life a full review. There are some things where I'm probably not the right person to respond to an issue, but I can direct them elsewhere. There are certainly topics where, if I'm asked about, I'll say, "Sorry, I'm not going there. I'm not going to get into that kind of personal matter." But that's true for every candidate. But that doesn't mean the American people are not going to get a full review of everything they think is important in their decision and that's the right of a democracy: Let people make their own choice.

    In an interview with David Brody, Rudy Giuliani commented on his personal life:

    "I'm guided very, very often about, 'Don't judge others, lest you be judged,'" Giuliani told CBN interviewer David Brody. "I'm guided a lot by the story of the woman that was going to be stoned, and Jesus put the stones down and said, 'He that hasn't sinned, cast the first stone,' and everybody disappeared.

     

    "It seems like nowadays in America, we have people that think they could've passed that test," he said. "And I don't think anybody

    And in a Beliefnet interview, John McCain comments:

    In a wide-ranging interview about religion and faith with the Web site Beliefnet, McCain said he wouldn't "rule out under any circumstance" someone who wasn't Christian, but said, "I just feel that that's an important part of our qualifications to lead."

    OK, for starters, McCain disqualifies himself, finally and completely, from serious consideration at this point.  His comment is a de facto religious test, not to mention speaking with a forked tongue.  Can't have it both ways, John!  He tries to backpedal later in the interview but he has here dug a hole just too deep.  Indeed, a lack of Christianity may be a political obstacle to election, but a qualification for leadership?!?!?!  What about Joe Lieberman?  What about Gandhi?  There are a lot of non-Christian leaders in history.  Give me a break.

    LOWELL:  A political observation:  My biggest problem with McCain is that his standard operating procedure seems to be "ready, fire, aim!"  This foolish religion comment is just another example.

    Giuliani's comments are fascinating, and very reminiscent of the things I hear from the Christian left all the time.  In his book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton talks about religion being a marvelous construct that seems to have something for everyone.  Specific enough to be useful, but vague enough to make claims to universality.  Giuliani's comments, and those of the likes of Jim Wallis and Hillary Clinton, demonstrate Chesterton's contention quite well.

    They also demonstrate why there are limits to religious discussion in a political setting, because it creates an inevitability to religious conflict.  You see my natural reaction to Giuliani's comments are to rip out my Bible and exegete the passage in in its fullest context, demonstrating the difference between forgiveness and consequence of sin.  Not to mention he is forgetting the passages of the Bible that talk about what is required from leaders.  You see where this goes, very fast.  Now we have sectarian squabbles instead of a discussion on the constitutionally defined duties of the state.

    Which brings me to Romney.  He works very hard to strike the balance between what people care about and his duties as a potential president.  He understands that people are very concerned about religion and he does not want to negate that concern.  But he also understands that he is applying for a job to carry out duties of state, duties that can be carried out by people of various faiths – John McCain's idiotic comments notwithstanding.

    It is not that religion cannot be discussed in a political context, it has been throughout American history.  It is how it is discussed that matters.  In these excerpts, Mitt Romney demonstrates that he, despite our religious differences, has a much better handle on how to discuss, or not discuss, religion in a political context than the other two – by a long shot.

    The Key To Political Irrelevancy…

    Well, not really.  If a group of "breakaway" conservative Evangelicals make good on a threat, reported by The Caucus, Jonathon Martin's Politco Blog, and Powerline, to go third party in the event of a Guiliani nomination, they will be far from irrelevant. They will succeed in virtually handing the election to Hillary.  How stupid will they feel then?

    LOWELL:  They won't feel stupid at all.  They will feel proud that they stood for principle.  These are people, after all, who would rather be certain than right, and would rather be self-satisfied than have a Republican in office. 

    There is some delicious irony here.  For one thing, the meeting happening in Salt Lake City of all places.

    Most visible in the group was James Dobson.  PowerLine contends that Dobson does not support Romney.  For the record, he has never been that direct, the door is technically open for Dobson to declare he is a Romney guy, but in light of his prior comments he will need quite the epiphany to be able to walk through that dor.  But then, the thought of contributing to a Clinton win sounds like one heck of an epiphany to me.

    Most importantly, a move of this sort shows the political silliness of having a litmus test of any sort – issue, race, religion, you name it – when in comes to casting votes for candidates.  The best odds in a such a situation are that you will end up on the outside looking in.

    My initial motivation for this blog was because I was afraid my Evangelical brethren would shoot themselves in the foot this cycle becasue of Romney's religion.  That self-inflicted wound is continuing to shape up, but not necessarily from the choice expected.

    Quick Takes…

    Interesting background info, with a liberal bent.

    Speaking of how we discuss religion in politics – obviously reporters, in large part, do not get it.

    Because, well, conspiracy theories regarding Mormonism are just not enough – now we have to bring the communists into the picture?  Mitt Romney no longer works for Bain Capital, just in case anybody with two-brain cells doesn't get it.

    Oh yeah, remeber how South Carolina was going to be THE primary where the question was played out?  Check out these numbers.  Maybe Newsweek really is barking up the wrong tree.

    LOWELL:  If those numbers are right, then there's been a major shift in Dixie.  All I can say is, when it comes to political prognosticating, no one knows anything, especially the pundits.  (Sorry, Hugh!)  

    Speaking of pundits, one final comment:  This morning the Meet The Press wise men seemed to agree it's a Rudy-Mitt race.  In the midst of that discussion, Pat Buchanan said the early primary schedule is so favorable to Romney "it looks like it was planned by the Mormon Church."  Everyone laughed or smiled.  Just think about that a bit.  I am sensitive to the problem of being over-sensitive, but again, could Buchanan have gotten away with such a comment  about a Jew or a Catholic?

    John adds: Here's the MTP transcript.  And Buchanan's exact comment:

    But this thing almost looks like it was scheduled by the Mormon Church. Look the primaries—you got—Iowa’s coming in at the 5th of January as of now, New Hampshire’s the 8th, three days later. That’s not enough time to slow down the winner. Then you got Michigan seven days later. Now, I think the real question is, if Romney can run those three, does he go up enough in the national polls that he can take the negative attack ads? Who’s got the money for negative attack ads?

    Well, Pat has never been known for his decorum.

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    Today’s Reading List – September 28, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:57 am, September 28th 2007     &mdash      3 Comments »

    As Proof…

    …that Evangelicals are squandering the power they have accumulated, a blogger reports on Richard Land on Laura Ingraham.  We have already seen Land virtually endorse Thompson and nothing changes here.  He also repeats his call for Romney to "explain," while contending that he has the right to believe as he sees fit.  There is something quite odd about that, if it is Romney's right to believe as he sees fit, then why is explanation necessary?  More importantly, to whom?

    Parsed as Land has so many times now, it just sort of sounds like "guilty until proven innocent."

    From the left…

    Comes what amounts to a hate piece.  Starting with Warren Jeffs, Jackson Williams winds his way through racism and ends up calling for Romney and the CJCLDS to be "put it on the table and under the microscope…."  It is, of course, courtesy of the Huffington Post.

    Williams, in a obvious drive to get somewhere that the facts just do not lead, makes connections so tenuous as to qualify as an old school free association psych test.  But more importantly, the bottom line is that an evil act by someone not even vaguely related to a religion calls for the religion to lose its constitutional right to free practice.

    Only from the left.

    And while we are talking hit pieces…

    here's one from the far religious right.  It is, sadly funny; however.  Being headlined "White Evangelicals Have Least Positive View of Mormons" I think it hurts white Evangelicals (Hey! Wait! – That's me?!?!?!) more than it hurts Mormons.  Won't be long before someone at the Huffington Post uses it to prove we are all bigots.

    And a letter writer to the SLTrib shoots back.  Guy has a heck of a point.  I think I have heard it somewhere before.

    And now, I'll take a shot…

    Ron Paul people, even those that are my Evangelical brethren, are just flat out not entirely attached to reality.

    I will be grateful when the also-rans are out of the game.

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    Today’s Reading List – September 27, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:40 am, September 27th 2007     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Finally…

    The Christianity Today interview with Romney goes on line.  Highlights:

    Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler has said that he worries a Romney presidency would bring greater credibility to Mormonism and harm evangelical missions. How would you encourage him to vote for you?

     

    I hope everyone votes for the person they think can be the best leader for America. Each person is entitled to make his or her assessment. But I would note that my church is very demanding in terms of the requirements it places on people who join. It requires tithing 10 percent of gross income; abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea; and [chastity] before and [fidelity] after marriage. I doubt very seriously anyone in the world is going to join my church simply because they see a leader who is a member of it.

     

    Even though I was governor of Massachusetts for four years, our chapel did not swell with supporters who wanted to join my church. Joining a faith is a far more serious matter than choosing something fashionable.

     

    [...]

     

    How do you answer evangelicals who want their President to have faith but not your faith?

     

    It depends on what they worry about. Do they want agreement on doctrine, and does that really effect how someone leads as President? Or does someone want a President who shares values and will preserve the values and culture of America? That will only happen if people band together where we share common values.

    LOWELL:  Romney's been answering those same questions the same way ever since he answered them for Hugh Hewitt's book.  I have yet to see anyone, anywhere, attempt a serious rebuttal to his answers, particularly the one about the fear that Romney's success will "legitimize" Mormonism.  

    Wisecracks…

    Well, as a card-carrying Evangelical what do I do now?  Fred's out and Guiliani's weird.  Wait!   I know, maybe I should stop worrying about labels and start being smart about my vote – There's a concept.

    And of course, the answer to Michael Gerson's question is, "Oh, h#$% NO!"

    LOWELL:  Seriously, the question in the minds of many, many voters about Senator Clinton's apparent religious devotion will be, "Is this real, or just more Clinton posturing?"  That's just the way it is with the Clintons, I'm afraid; nothing can be taken at face value.

    Since when to self-selecting polls become news?  Well, sorta.

    The last word…

    Hmmm….

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    Today’s Reading List – September 26, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:32 am, September 26th 2007     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Baffled or Serious?

    Reid Wilson does another analysis of South Carolina (we saw one a couple of weeks ago) and he never mentions The Question.  South Carolina is supposed to be the religious showdown in the Republican primary.  What's up?  Is it as Charles Mitchell contended back in July, that the "flip-flop" thing has enough traction that opponents don't need to take the risk of the religious angle?  Well, that is certainly what Wilson's analysis would contend.  But I don't think Wilson has an axe to grind, he is doing straight analysis.

    So again, I wonder why the issue isn't coming up any more?  Do we indeed have a tacit admission that The Question just something to talk about and never serious?

    There Is Evidence…

    New Pew Poll

    Highlights and numbers from a Pew Forum survey released today on Americans’ views of Islam and Mormonism. Read the full report here.

     

    [...]

     

    “Overall, a slim majority of the public (53 percent) expresses a favorable view of Mormons, while 27 percent view Mormons unfavorably.”

    Hmmmm . . . .

    LOWELL:  This is an interesting graph: 

    “When asked to describe their impression of the Mormon religion in a single word, somewhat more offer a negative word than a positive one (27 percent versus 23 percent); 19 percent give a neutral descriptor. The most common negative word expresses is ‘polygamy,’ including ‘bigamy or some other reference to plural marriage (75 total responses), followed by ‘cult’ (57 total mentions). But while many think of polygamy when they think of Mormonism, nearly as many think of ‘family’ or ‘family values’ (74 total mentions).”

    This is not surprising at all, and seems to support what we have been saying here for a long time:  If Romney were to begin addressing his religious beliefs, he would take on the burden of clearing up all those stubborn misconceptions about Mormonism.  No single person can accomplish that, no presidential candidate has ever been asked to do such a thing, and any candidate would certainly fail in the attempt.  At the same time, Romney and his family do embody those favorable impressions of Mormons that the Pew poll detects.  He has been focusing on helping people feel comfortable with him and with his values, rather than with his  theology, and that strategy, so far, has been working.

    And Yet…

    In early September, The Chronicle of Higher Education printed a summary of academic comment on The Question, only now available as a free link.  What is interesting is it is all conjecture.  When it comes down to votes being cast, admittedly straw polls, Romney seems to be performing pretty doggone well.

    I think one thing is for sure, recent developments, or rather the lack thereof, do in fact indicate a tacit admission that Romney's religion is a somehow unsavory issue.  That does not mean it will not surface again, I'm thinking we can bet on it.  If Romney loses, the conjecture will be back.  If he wins the underground attacks will surface.

    But this period, the period where the primaries first turned serious, should be remembered for its sobriety on The Question.

    LOWELL:  Agreed.  It has been a remarkably calm period.  Look for The Question to recede as Romney is continually seen as a contender.  My crystal ball tells me this, however:  The Question will come up every time anyone does an analysis of South Carolina and as that primary gets closer.  If Romney doesn't do well there, The Question will be mentioned as a factor (probably regardless of any polling data).  And, if Romney is the GOP nominee, The Question will come up once again, not from the Clinton campaign directly, but from Democratic operatives like Garry South and from their Greek chorus in the MSM (think, for example, Jacob Weisberg and Michael Kinsley).

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    Today’s Reading List – September 25, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:45 am, September 25th 2007     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Man it's thin today…

    All I got is a really interesting post from Charles Mitchell at EFM about how Evangelicals seem in political disarray, something we have contended here for a while:

    So, looking at the whole picture here, we're squabbling among ourselves, we're disappointed in the Republicans, and in the meantime the Democrats are picking off whomever they can.

     

    I must admit that I see a serious problem at the core of this–and quite frankly, it's not that the GOP candidates stink. It's the way we have put absolutely inordinate faith in politics. Put another way, it's not the speck in their eyes–it's the log in our own.

    Amen to that.

    But it raises some interesting questions…

    Just about the time of the Ames straw poll The Question went from being the hottest political discussion out there to almost completely off the radar amongst the serious.  Sure, it shows up from time-to-time, but things have just gotten dull around here.  I'm wondering why that is.

    Well, for one thing, The Question is less speculative and the data is not coming out as people hoped.  In straw poll after straw poll Romney is coming out the winner, so if they are any measure, and they are the best we have at the moment, apparently The Question is not a question at all.

    But if that was the whole case I wonder why no one is writing about that.  A lot of people are looking to discount the straw polls, but when they do, they no longer bring up The Question.  I would think if they had been legitimately interested in The Question as question, they would be willing to start drawing conclusions based on the data received.

    Rather I wonder if the Ames straw poll, as a marker of the transition from fund-raising to campaigning, put the punditry into "serious" mode and they realized The Question was an issue for the silly season and not the real deal campaign.  And if that is true, is that not an implicit admission that The Question is a somehow "illegitimate" consideration?  And if it is so illegitimate why do we engage it to begin with?

    Here's what really bothers me: This season's "harmless" speculation discussed when things are silly often becomes next season's serious concern.  The mere discussion, even in pure speculation, legitimizes the discussion when things are more serious, if not this cycle, then the next.

    This is where the exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Jim Geraghty a couple of months ago, along with our commentary, see especially here and here, matters.  By legitimizing the issue through seemingly serious discussion we give heed to those that are bigots, insignificant though they increasingly appear to be.  By considering their viewpoint instead of denouncing it, it gains traction.

    If indeed The Question is not so much of a question then there needs to be a raft of articles declaring it such, just as there were innumerable, and loud, articles declaring it everything from unclearable hurdle, to "concern."  Where are the pieces announcing the Republican voters as smarter than we figured?  Where are the mea culpas?

    Or is The Question "going underground"?  No longer a matter of serious discussion, has it become the ephemeral stuff of viral emails and rapidly disappearing YouTube postings?  Lowell and I are too clearly identified for our stances here for such drivel to ever make its way to our inbox.  And if it has gone underground, why is that not being reported and denounced?  Is that not just as much a tacit acceptance of the bigotry as the prior outloud discussions?

    Hugh Hewitt concluded his book by saying that Romney's Mormon problem was real.  If it is, why has the coverage dried up?  Has the punditry caved to the bigotry as inevitable?  If so, shame on them.  If the Mormon problem is not real, Mitt Romney, and more importantly the average Republican voter, is owed one huge punditry apology.  I'm still waiting.

    LOWELL:  You might be waiting a long time, John.  News reporters will say, "The question was asked, the subject came up, and so we reported on it.  No apology is due."  Among the punditry so very few of them actually gave careful thought to the question that I don't think it will even occur to them to revisit the issue, let alone to say, "You know, I was wrong about that after all."  Some of the more thoughtful ones might say something along those lines.  Robert Novak, for example; maybe John Podhoretz.  I still have faith in Geraghty, too.  It will be interesting to see . . . .

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    Today’s Reading List – September 24, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:34 am, September 24th 2007     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    CoMITTed To Romney linked to an OpinionJournal piece on interfaith activity that said some interesting things.

    There is an assumption by commentators on the right and the left that as far as religion goes, it is liberals who work–and care to work–across faith lines. Interfaith activity is understood as a politically and theologically liberal enterprise. This stems in part from the fact that the most widely recognized examples of interfaith cooperation have occurred on the left. Martin Luther King Jr.'s partnership with Abraham Joshua Heschel (the prominent Jewish theologian and civil-rights leader) is probably the most famous. Other figures who have reached across religious lines include The Very Reverend James Parks Morton (former dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine) and international icons like Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

     

    But during my years at the Interfaith Center of New York, a nonprofit organization devoted to fostering interreligious civic relationships, I found that the stereotypes about who is willing to form partnerships were wrong. When the center first opened, we received enthusiastic support from liberals and were ignored by conservatives. Our programs looked diverse, and they were, religiously speaking. But participants were homogeneously liberal.

     

    The more conservative religious folks were not interested in talking about spirituality, peace-building and social justice. So we refocused our programs to include seminars and information sessions on issues such as domestic violence, health-care access and immigration rights. Suddenly, every kind of religious leader came, including conservatives. Their religious perspectives did not change, but our assumptions did.

    I am confident we see these assumptions in play when it comes to much that has been written about Romney.  The left and the ill-informed, like the press, assume that religious and conservative means close-minded.  Nothing could be further from the truth, but it does mean a different agenda.

    That said; however, we do play into the stereotype from time-to-time, and I think we are right now.  From my perspective some well-documented Evangelicals have been running from candidate to candidate to candidate "Looking for Mr. GoodEvangelical."  They are disappointed in Bush because while most think he has been marvelous in foreign affairs, they are disappointed domestically, for reasons I simply cannot understand.  What did they think "compassionate conservatism" meant anyway?  So now they demand some abstract ideal of perfection where none exists.  That is a recipe for political irrelevancy.

    But it is worse in this case.  With people looking to paint us with the bigot brush, and a candidate like Romney in the race, whatever the reasons are for being fickle, they are going to get labeled as religously biased, or worse.

    Politics is a game with its own rules, and if Evangelicals want to get serious about playing it they need to learn them and work within them.  They can do so with out compromising what they believe.  Otherwise, they are gong to find themselves on the bench.

    As evidence…

    Consider this article out of Florida that depicts a Christian Right in considerable disarray.  The piece does not mention Romney at all, which is good, but as we saw last week in the poorly attended and participated "values voters" debate.  The liberals often find themselves feckless because all they have to offer is opposition.  I fear the same fate for much of Evangelical political activism.

    But then as also, the press makes an awful filter.  It is the far right that is in such disarray.

    Meanwhile…

    The Question appears less and less in the bigger media and the small local papers say the same old thing again and again. 

    LOWELL:  Well, it's kind of an interesting local angle, I guess.

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