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."

So Much for “Adieu”

Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:47 am, September 3rd 2008     —    1 Comment »

I always figured we would be back, election postmortems would demand it.  As the race of journalism was replaced by the slow progress of historical writing (and as we attempted to add to it), I figured we’d have things to talk about here, but not this soon!

Old Business

Well, it did not take long for somebody to blame EVERYTHING that happened in re: Romney on religion.  In this case it is a Sprinfield, MO columnist.

We can thank the media for killing Romney’s chance at being two. With constant references to his religion, you’d think he was in the running for Assistant Head Pastor of America.

[...]

There is a double standard when it comes to religion. The media dumps on conservatives of all religious stripes, while giving liberals a free pass.

OK, having spent the last 2.5 years documenting the role religion played in Romney’s political fortunes, I would be a fool to say it was not important – particularly in the primary campaign.  I think, however, that it was not much of a factor in the Veep race.

LDS people need to be careful in how they approach this.  In the final analysis I think this is less about discrimination and more about identity.  Not so much that Romney was hated because he was LDS (save in some dark, dank, ugly corners of traditional Christianity), but that Huckabee, and now Palin, connect, on a pure identity basis, with people that just significantly outnumber the LDS.  In a different election with different players, this would have been a very different story.

It is way too early to start writing the history of this election and make final judgments about what mattered and what did not and whether “Mormons need not apply,” is a conclusion that can be drawn with sufficient evidence to support it.

As Romney supporters, all of us must exercise great care in not allowing our disappointment to override our reason when it comes to responding to the results.

Besides, the bigots still say it was “the flip-flop.”  Remember Lawrence O’Donnell? – The Big Love actor that levelled a rather bigoted diatribe Romney’s way on McLaughlin?  He was reported at the convention yesterday:

Dorchester homey Lawrence O’Donnell, who plays a Mormon attorney on HBO’s “Big Love,” said Mitt Romney’s faith wasn’t his downfall in the 2008 presidential election.

“It was much more do to with his wealth and his flip-flopping, said O’Donnell,” a former political operative for the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and a writer/producer of “The West Wing.” “Being a Mormon was way down the list.

Well, of course it was from O’Donnell’s perspective; otherwise, instead of an astute commentator he would just be a bigot!

Lowell adds:  After McDonnell’s shocking on-air anti-Mormon meltdown on McLaughlin, I’m surprised anyone cares what he thinks about anything.  I don’t.  By the way, he plays a polygamist attorney on “Big Love,” not a Mormon.

Ah, but then Romney was never the victim of his religion in this cycle – it was Mike Huckabee?!

With the mounting complications over John McCain‘s pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate, some conservatives have been asking why the expected Republican nominee didn’t choose former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won eight GOP primary and caucus contests and appeals to the same Christian social conservatives who have hailed the Palin pick. After all, Huckabee has more executive experience, was vetted by the media during the primary season, and honed his debating skills in myriad televised matchups. The answer, according to Richard Land who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is pretty simple. Huckabee is an ordained Baptist minister and, Land says, “polls show that 15 to 20 percent” of the electorate don’t think a minister should be president.

I am going to bet that Land is being taken a bit out of context there, but regardless, talk about being “way down the list.”  Which one of Huckabee’s opponents EVER brought up, even as an “innocent question” to a reporter, his former occupation?  Just wondering.

New Business

Lowell and I cannot seem to stop talking politics.  So, we were discussing the issue of the Palin daughter pregnancy yesterday and  Lowell said this little wonder:

Morally, we are about to see a mini-debate on families, pre-marital sex, sex education, abstinence, parental responsibility, sin, forgiveness, responsibility, unconditional love, and so forth.  Those are not good subjects for the political arena, and are not safe in the hands of the MSM.  Nor are they McCain’s strong suit.  It will be interesting and probably a little depressing.

And, as if on cue, as soon as I turned to my feedreader, Al Mohler had risen to precisely that point:

But the entire nation felt the awkwardness of the situation, and even part of the embarrassment.  Yes, as Steve Schmidt said, “Life happens,” but not always like this.  And Mark Salter is certainly correct in describing the situation as “an American family.”  Still, this is not the script many families would choose — especially evangelical families who had been most encouraged by Gov. Palin’s choice as Sen. McCain’s running mate.

Said Rich Lowry:

The fact is that Palin was largely a political, not a governing choice.

Which Jonathan Martin backed up with:

All that complaining over the years by Republicans about identity politics and political correctness

Yeah, never mind.

But it is probably best summed up in Hugh Hewitt’s repeated citation on his radio show of the Tee shirts he saw at the convention yesterday reading “I am Sarah Palin.”

Palin’s obvious appeal is identity based.  Her daughter’s pregnancy puts us in the unfortunate position of having to “identify” with a family that has responded in the best possible manner to a most unfortunate circumstance, but in so doing we seem to lose sight of the fact that the ideal is to avoid the circumstance altogether.  Reminding people of that is likely to bring charges of “religious zealot.”  Such debate will undoubtedly degenerate into a debate over whether Christianity is essentially about forgiveness or standards – which simply has no place in politics.

Too early to say whether this helps or hurts the McCain campaign.  But not too early to judge that this lowers the level of national debate – again – and that is sad.

And now, hopefully, we can get back to transitioning from events to history on this blog . .  . .

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