Hoping all had a marvelous holiday! Lowell and I have been purposefully “out of the loop” for the last several days. As we present the news today, we have been very selective, this is not our usual “if it is written, we will link” approach.
Frankly, I am somewhat saddened that there is this much to talk about inside this blogs portfolio over this holiday. Why, just before Christmas I had a wonderful discussion with a Hindu friend about his family’s Christmas celebration. Did you know Christmas is a holiday, even in India? You would think this holiday would be the one where this kind of chatter would cease.
However, between front loaded primaries, and the willingness of some to win at all costs, the show continues. And so . . .
Let’s start on the left hand side of things…
Mitt — Huck — Mitt — Huck, there seems to be two ways to see this. One the one hand there is the all religions are the same approach:
But what enrages me is that increasingly they insist that their beliefs should become the law of the land. They want the power of the state to be used to force me and others who don’t share their beliefs to abide by their beliefs. By what right do these believers demand that the power of the state be used to enforce their particular moral views?
Now that is anti-religious bigotry and it says mountains about why we have to be careful here. That is the real enemy in all this. More of that, though citing Huckabee extensively, is the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
Some, on the other hand have some sympathy for Romney:
If the Democrats want to be a majority party, they should reject religious bigotry. Romney has said a lot of appalling things on the campaign trail. But no one should hold his religion against him.
The left in its MSM guise is using this whole thing to make us look bad:
Many evangelicals are taking the high road, avoiding any public attacks on Romney or his faith. Many remain tight-lipped on the issue.
But they make no secret of what they will do when they walk into the voting booth on Jan. 19, when South Carolina holds its Republican primary.
They will vote for Huckabee.
Lowell chiming in: The problem is that more than a few Evangelicals are making this easy for the MSM. We’ve actually heard a leading Evangelical, Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost, tell us that he thinks many Evangelicals will say they’re voting against Romney for non-religious reasons (e.g., his “flip-flopping”), but the real basis for their vote is that Romney is a Mormon. Joe’s comments in that regard are quite significant; he announced his support for Huck last October and is now the Huckabee campaign’s research director. He’s also prominent in the campaign’s outreach efforts to Evangelicals, and it’s no surprise that Joe’s blog postings mark him as deeply partisan. We have Joe’s interview with us recorded but have been too preoccupied with other things to transcribe it. We hope to publish it soon.
My point? The MSM and the left (excuse my redundancy) are ready to jump on such attitudes. Their love for a fight is matched only by their disdain for conservative religious people. When people like Joe Carter (whose candor is admirable) say what they really think, it’s music to MSM ears and it will get published.
Meanwhile, Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame is a Mormon Democrat who probably would never vote for Mitt Romney. Yet even he has joined in the religious food fight that has erupted from The Question. Jennings’ New York Daily news op-ed is here. The entire piece is worth reading. Jennings concludes:
I’m tired of being a punch line and a punching bag. If the only way to get Mormonism out of the arena is to get Romney out of the race, then I’m counting the days. This is one Mormon who would rather have a little civility and tolerance than one of our own in the White House.
Of course that’s what we might expect from a Mormon Democrat, but just the same, it’s a little sad to see that we have come to this.
Turning to the right . . .
There seems to be a little more reason. Some are still trying to defend looking at a candidate’s faith:
It is always legitimate to want information about a candidate’s bedrock beliefs, whether they are religious or not. If Americans are pressing for such information more urgently in recent elections, the reason is not that they are turning into fanatics. It is that, when basic institutions and social rules are in flux, convictions about first principles matter more than they once appeared to.
In other words, it is legitimate to look into a candidate’s character. Agreed, but as we have discussed here many, many times, religion does not equate to character in a direct fashion. The list of reprobate religious people and “saintly” atheists is long indeed.
In these times of political and religious polarization, we Americans need to hear a serious voice of moral courage, and Mike Huckabee is imminently [sic] equipped to deliver it. In beating back the demon of religious prejudice, Huckabee should give Romney some help, not for the sake of either of their campaigns, but for the good of our country.
I think we are heading towards a theme here. Some understand how negative all this is on religion:
Mike Huckabee, by all accounts a faithful Christian, may not have crossed any bright lines yet — but he’s edging close to them. He should pull back now, before his political ambitions injure what he claims to care about, and undoubtedly does care about, most.
But What It Really Boils Down To . . .
Rising Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee risked his standing with Catholic voters on Sunday by courting his evangelical base at the church of a controversial preacher accused of disparaging Catholics.
See, it is all about what Dan Riehl quotes Rush Limbaugh as saying concerning Huckabee:
The commenters at Hot Air are speculating as to the whys and wherefores of Rush Limbaugh’s response to Huckabee as reported at The Politico. But Rush’s response comes with a landmine that Huckabee doesn’t dare go near.
“Gov. Huckabee’s campaign is engaged in identity politics at this moment, ….
We’ve been beating the identity politics drum around here for quite some time. And Ramesh Ponnuru has finally picked up that meme and analyzed Huckabee’s campaign carefully in its light. His conclusion:
Huckabee seems to be talking about class resentments rather than religious ones in this passage, but the similarity of the language he uses in both cases is striking. Evangelical victimization is one of his campaign themes.
Yep, Huckabee is running a campaign based almost entirely on identity politics. Ramesh concludes that such is not smart politics:
- For one thing, it runs the risk of undermining a social-conservative coalition that has been increasingly successful over the last generation.
- For another, a campaign strategy based on building a coalition starting from an evangelical base and then expanding outward is highly unlikely to secure the Republican nomination, much less make for a winning general-election campaign.
On Monday, OpinionJournal carried a piece looking at the history of racism in both parties, but primarily bagging on Democrats and their claim to be the party that defeated racism. There are some ugly, ugly quotations in that piece. I hope 100 years from now we are not reading similar things about Republicans and religion.
Lowell adds: Austin Hill offers some thoughts from the conservative side, wondering where to find the Republican party he knows. Among other things, he observes that some religious conservatives don’t seem to mind it if a candidate wraps himself in religion, as long as the religion in question is one those particular conservatives agree with:
Huckabee has repeatedly invoked the name of Christ; has fired off innuendos criticizing the theology of other candidates (primarily Romney’s theology); has dismissed any criticism of his behavior as “political correctness;” and has generally sought to present himself as the “most Christian” of the candidates. Yet the same “leaders” who are so afraid that Romney might “mix politics and religion” can’t even bring themselves to question Huckabee’s behavior as he forces theological arguments into the political debate. . . .
[T]he reaction (or “non-reaction” as the case may be) to the Huckabee campaign from the religious social conservative movement affirms the worst suspicions of the critics. Rather than being a movement that proposes policies that are good for ALL Americans and then seeks to build consensus around those policies, the movement now appears to be fraught with a “double standard,” just as it also appears to support only candidates that profess the “right” theology – - policies and job qualifications not withstanding.
To understand Austin’s full meaning, you need to read the whole thing.
…is offered in an unsigned op-ed out of Buffalo.
There is nothing new in that. That foundational describer of America, Alexis de Tocqueville, approvingly noted the symbiotic relationship of freedom and religion in his “Democracy in America,” published in 1835. In his homeland of France, the traveler and author noted, “I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses dramatically opposed to each other. But in America, I found that they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.”
Today’s Christmas bells ring for many Americans. The bells of liberty — including a freedom of religion that, at its intended best, neither favors nor derides denominations — ring throughout the year. This year, the echoes of one will hardly have faded before the peals of the other will usher in caucuses and primaries where religion has already become more of an issue than it should be. Can faith be a factor, but not a test? Iowa will set the tone.