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

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More on Massachusetts – Prop 8, “Romneycare”, and more…

Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:43 am, January 25th 2010     —    2 Comments »

When Smart People Analyze Scott Brown’s “Massachusetts Miracle”. . .

They say what we said the night of the event – that after Scott Brown himself, Mitt Romney and 2008′s (soon to be 2012′s?) Team Romney were the biggest winners.   Consider:

Let’s consider a pull quote from that last link:

“Scott Brown has certainly put a lot of wind in the sails of my campaign,’’ said Charles Djou of Hawaii . . . .

Now, first of all, it is a huge story if the Globe has to write it, as they are loath to say anything nice about Mitt Romney or anyone associated with him.  Even this piece reads like it was written with gritted teeth.   But let’s do a little political math here.  Scott Brown has completely changed the equation in the current Congress.  Jam-downs are now impossible.  Scott Brown owes that to Team Romney – thus every Republican in Congress owes Team Romney.  Now, Team Romney spreads out and works with new candidates, who in all likelihood are  going to ride this wave into office, at least a majority of them.  So now a large segment of the Republican elected officials in the nation owe Team Romney.

That, dear friends, is how presidential elections are typically won.  The hitch in this get-along are poll results like this showing Huckabee as the only candidate out-polling Obama at the moment.  What the many independents that elected Brown, and currently seem to favor the Huckster, have to realize is that parties are necessary, very necessary, for actual governance.  Scott Brown’s effectiveness in Congress is not based on Scott Brown himself, but on the fact that he allows a filibuster to hold in the Senate along party lines.  The Party Matters.

And of course, religion matters, but not in the way you might think.  The Brown election has been described as “ecumenical.”  Now, that can be a loaded word.  Religious ecumenism is not something I favor, but political ecumenism – across religious lines – well, that’s a different story.  Mike Potemra at The Corner points out:

Some on the Internet are upset because Senator Brown is pro-choice, but most are wise enough to realize that he is a friend to life in many ways that will actually count over the next couple of years. Brown, like the rest of us, is what religious folk like to call a “work in progress” – and he is an instance of yet another notable development in American religious history, one First Things editor Jody Bottum recently pointed to: “As my friend Paul Mankowski, S.J., once remarked, the Catholic Church’s moral agenda would be much advanced if every Catholic in Congress was replaced with a Mormon or a Muslim.” When I first read that, I thought it was somewhat overstated, but the longer I think about it the more true it appears.

Mitt Romney is now clearly the most influential Republican in the country.  Voting for Huckabee, or Palin, or any other presidential possible other than him is to vote against the party – which means it is to vote against effectiveness, even on so-called social issues.  At this point, all one could do by supporting someone other than Mitt Romney, should he decide to run, would be to express whatever negative feelings they might have towards the Republican party.  They can accomplish nothing else, because without the party, nothing can be accomplished.

Scott Brown’s victory was such a coup for Team Romney, that if I am Tim Pawlenty, I am thinking about shelving my presidential hopes for at least a cycle.  What was an obstacle (Romney’s prior run and the experience and friends that brings) has, with the Brown victory, become a fortress that is well-nigh unassailable.

Which is why. . .

Romney Is  In The Crosshairs . . .

. . . Of the Prop 8 Foes

The federal Prop 8 trial continues in San Francisco, and all we can do is read and pray for the lawyers and judges.  Frankly the trial is flawed by its very existence – Prop 8 is none of the federal government’s business, nor is it the place of any court to override the twice expressed will of the electorate (even the California Supreme Court could figure that one out), yet here we are.  Courts are also supposed to be about facts and law, not feelings, but in our society of abundance feelings seems to have taken a disproportionate place.  (Now there is something for religion to ponder!)

The plaintiffs in the case, that is to say opponents to Prop 8, appear to be rank religious bigots and act like it too.  But likely fearing a loss, they have launched a campaign aimed right at Mitt Romney.   You can read about it here and here.  From the latter of those two links:

Coming just two years ahead of New Hampshire’s First-in-the-Nation Presidential Primary, Californians Against Hate’s Fred Karger is running “Call MittRomney” ads in three major daily newspapers in states where Romney resides: the New Hampshire Union-Leader, the Boston Globe, and the Salt Lake Tribune.

The online ads ask former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to use his vast influence with the president of his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), to get them out of the anti-gay marriage business.

Folks, that is massively ugly, but in many ways it is brilliant politics.  What Karger is doing here is reminding everybody he can that Mitt Romney is, oh no, a Mormon.  And sadly, that fact makes some Republicans very unsettled.  Unsettled enough that in the last cycle, divided Republicans suffered huge electoral losses.  The ideological overreach of the current administration and Congress has reunited us in the Brown victory and that spells serious trouble for Democrats and liberals.  So in a matter of days we see our opponents start hammering on the wedge that divided us last time.  One can only hope, and pray, that we are smarter this time around.

. . . And Others

There have been a lot of people trying to make political hay out of some surface similarities between the now dead Obamacare and the healthcare plan that passed in Massachusetts when Romney was governor.  The Wall Street Journal fired the latest salvo in that effort just last Thursday.  As we have discussed here many times, what was enacted in Massachusetts and what Mitt Romney wanted and proposed were two very different things.  Not to mention Romney veoted, only to have that veto overridden, the most objectionable portions of the package.  And of course, Romney has said from the inception that the states should be doing this, not the fed.  On this latter point, it looks like a lot of people in Massachusetts agree.

It is nothing more than anti-Romney spin to try and make a case that he is tarred by the now dead-in-the-water Obamacare.  As we show above, Romney had a huge role in electing Scott Brown which is what made Obamacare dead-in-the-water.  One cannot possibly reasonably assert that Mitt Romney wants some sort of federal health care package when he just worked so hard to defeat it.

Of course, reason has often been absent when it comes to opposition to Mitt Romney.  As I have said many times, the Massachusetts health care legislation kept me off the Romney bandwagon, even if I was on the anti-religious bigotry one, for a very long time.  But actions speak louder than words and more recent actions matter more than the past;  we all learn things.  Anyone beating this issue now is beating a dead horse.

Related Things . . .

From a reader we get a story about a Ponzi scheme with Mormon overtones.  Is it a sign of bigotry against Mormons?  In a sense, yes, but Ponzi schemes thrive in faith communities of all sorts.  The grandest of them all, the Madoff scandal, was largely a Jewish phenomena, and that fact is definitely under-reported in comparison to something like this.  But I personally tend to look at these stories as more testament to the fact that in our faith communities we tend to suspend our faculties for reason and caution.  On an emotional level its part of where religious bigotry comes from – we trust those within our group and suspect those without.  The real lesson to learn here is that our faith communities, whether Mormon, Evangelical, or Jewish, contain both good people and bad people.  The trick is not to figure out who is of our religious community, but who is good or bad.

Finally, Joe Carter writes on why a pro-life president matters, even when abortion is largely a judicial issue.  I would like to challenge Mr. Carter to explain how the religious affiliation of any pro-life president matters to any of those reasons.  What matters, simply, is that they are pro-life.

Lowell adds . . .

These are fascinating subjects. A few quick hits:

Isn’t it interesting that no one is asking Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader who is an active Mormon in good standing, to influence The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on same-sex marriage?  Reid opposes such marriages, as this Salt Lake Tribune article, reprinted by Californians Against Hate themselves, reported:

Even on the most recent issue of gay marriage, Reid says he doesn’t disagree with the church’s position on traditional marriage. The senator says he voted in Nevada for the state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. But he says he’s expressed his concern for years to leaders about the church stepping into the debate and that the millions the church invested in the Prop 8 campaign was bad strategy.

Reid said he’s not suggesting the church change its position, just that it not speak out so strongly. “It’s just bad strategy to create so much ill-will in California.”.

Well, that’s a reasonably nuanced position to take, and one that more than a few politically liberal Mormons have adopted.  But Reid voted for Nevada’s constitutional rule on same-sex marriage that is just like Prop 8. So why is Californians Against Hate not running ads, asking people to call Harry Reid and urge him to lobby the Church on the issue?  The most logical explanation is that Fred Karger and company want to hurt Romney and not Reid. (Yes, Karger has historically been a Republican but this is an attack coming from the left.)  We will see more of this as Romney’s 2012 campaign efforts become more prominent.

Regarding Ponzi schemes:  It’s well known that some Mormons prey on other Mormons.  As John notes, this goes on in all kinds of affinity groups.  Utah was once known as the penny stock fraud capital of the United States.  Church leaders have warned members against investing in schemes in which the promoters tout their Mormon faith as a basis for trust.  Enough said about that sad human tendency.

And One More Thought About Haiti

If you have not felt moved to donate to the Haiti relief efforts before, you will after watching this privately-produced video:

Have I Done Any Good?

(HT: Meridian Magazine.)

And the week is off to a great start!

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