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."

  • A Root of Evangelical and Mormon Political Conflict?

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:19 pm, February 28th 2010     &mdash      4 Comments »

    Some guy in Utah thinks Evangelicals will still be a problem for Romney in 2012.  It is not exactly a penetrating analysis and up until this week I would have been dismissive – but now I begin to wonder.  We alluded to the issue on Friday, but further discussion makes it worthy of deeper examination.

    A little background – Romney’s religion will not overtly be a problem from the right side of the aisle in 2012.  Huckabee was too harshly chastised after he tried in Iowa last time for that to ever happen again.  As an overt issue on the right it was abandoned by New Hampshire.  Of course, on the left, all religion is an overt issue, but we are here concentrating on the primaries and specifically on Evangelicals.

    However, chastising a prejudice does not necessarily eliminate it – it just forces it underground and into diferent guises.  Last time the “Mormons lie” meme fed the “flip-flop” charge which made Romney “inauthentic.”  We see the inauthenticity thing discussed a lot even now.  In the last week, a new discussion has arisen that could also develop as a guise for anti-Mormon sentiment amongst Evangelicals.

    It starts with the a piece by Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru in NRO last week on American Exceptionalism.

    What do we, as American conservatives, want to conserve? The answer is simple: the pillars of American exceptionalism. Our country has always been exceptional. It is freer, more individualistic, more democratic, and more open and dynamic than any other nation on earth. These qualities are the bequest of our Founding and of our cultural heritage. They have always marked America as special, with a unique role and mission in the world: as a model of ordered liberty and self-government and as an exemplar of freedom and a vindicator of it, through persuasion when possible and force of arms when absolutely necessary.

    [...]

    To find the roots of American exceptionalism, you have to start at the beginning — or even before the beginning. They go back to our mother country. Historian Alan Macfarlane argues that England never had a peasantry in the way that other European countries did, or as extensive an established church, or as powerful a monarchy. English society thus had a more individualistic cast than the rest of Europe, which was centralized, hierarchical, and feudal by comparison.

    It was, to simplify, the most individualistic elements of En­glish society — basically, dissenting low-church Protestants — who came to the eastern seaboard of North America. And the most liberal fringe of English political thought, the anti-court “country” Whigs and republican theorists such as James Harrington, came to predominate here. All of this made Amer­ica an outlier compared with England, which was an outlier compared with Europe. The U.S. was the spawn of English liberalism, fated to carry it out to its logical conclusion and become the most liberal polity ever known to man.

    America was blessedly unencumbered by an ancien régime. Compared with Europe, it had no church hierarchy, no aristocracy, no entrenched economic interests, no ingrained distaste for commercial activity. It almost entirely lacked the hallmarks of a traditional post-feudal agrarian society. It was as close as you could get to John Locke’s state of nature. It was ruled from England, but lightly; Edmund Burke famously described English rule here as “salutary neglect.” Even before the Rev­olution, America was the freest country on earth.

    These endowments made it possible for the Americans to have a revolution with an extraordinary element of continuity. Tocqueville may have been exaggerating when he said that Americans were able to enjoy the benefits of a revolution without really having one, but he wasn’t far off the mark. The remnants of old Europe that did exist here — state-supported churches, primogeniture, etc. — were quickly wiped out. Amer­icans took inherited English liberties, extended them, and made them into a creed open to all.

    Exact renderings of the creed differ, but the basic outlines are clear enough. The late Seymour Martin Lipset defined it as liberty, equality (of opportunity and respect), individualism, populism, and laissez-faire economics. The creed combines with other aspects of the American character — especially our religiousness and our willingness to defend ourselves by force — to form the core of American exceptionalism.

    Good stuff this, so why is it problematic?  Well, first of all, I have to guess (we do not have pre-publication copies) that Mitt Romney’s soon to be released book, No Apology: The Case For American Greatness, is going to – with a title like that – in some way address similar ideas.  Secondly, our nation holds a very special place in Mormon thought, philosophy, and even theology.  Finally, since Lowry and Ponnuru’s piece, a number of leading Evangelical bloggers have been pointing out that American Exceptionalism is not a “Christian” ideal.

    Matt Anderson objects to them “borrowing” religious language:

    I am occasionally asked by folks how to help young evangelicals understand and sympathize with conservative political ideology.

    Here’s a hint:

    Don’t steal religious language to make the case for American exceptionalism, as Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru unfortunately do.

    Ponnuru and Lowry’s piece is a tremendous example of the sort of one-eyed shut conservatism that has disenchanted many of my peers.  Their’s is a defense of the American creed, which they describe as a blend of “liberty, equality (of opportunity and respect), individualism, populism, and laissez-faire economics.”

    Samuel Goldman finds them imprecise:

    But the most serious problem is conceptual. Lowry and Ponnuru don’t distinguish between two ideas, one of which can be called American exceptionalism, the other American exclusivism.

    Doug Wilson finds the idea idolatrous:

    American exceptionalism is objectionable because it is a false religion, a false faith. It is a smooth and attractive idol, and probably the idol most likely to ensnare conservative evangelicals.

    Boy there is a lot of semantics going on here – and a lot of semantic territoriality.  That is troubling, we are so busy arguing words and their meanings, and who gets to decide their meanings, that we are losing the central idea.  This is very reflective of the common debate, theologically, between Evangelicals and Mormons.  Given that, one has to wonder if this debate will not continue in force when Romney’s book is in general release in a couple of weeks.

    It is important in these types of situations to focus on the central ideas on which we can all agree, so that is what I am going to do here.  First of all, everyone understands that we can hold our nation in front of our God and that such is idolatrous.  The Mormons I know, even with their deep faith in the special place America has in history as ordained by God, know that America is NOT God.  Any person of faith must guard against idolatry of all sorts, and this sort is no exception.

    So what are the essential ideas that we can focus on and can agree upon?  Well, first of all, it cannot be denied that the Unites States of America is the most successful nation-state in history.  We have grown faster and larger than any other.  It cannot be denied that while imperfect, we have done more good for our citizenry and the world than any prior nation-state.  It is also inarguable that the varied religious nature of our citizenry is, to some extent, responsible for that latter fact.

    It also cannot be denied that religion, and especially Christianity, has flourished in American like no place else on earth – and like no other religion in history – as matter of choice and free practice.

    For Evangelicals, and those like us, who believe that God acts in history, we must conclude that God, to some extent, has ordained this special place in history that America has obtained.  This is a matter of reason.  It is fair for Evangelicals to say that American Exceptionalism is not biblical (and here the different canons of Orthodox and Mormon Christians is very important), but to say it is ungodly is to deny history and that God acts in it.  We can no more deny the exceptional nature of this nation than we can deny that the earth rotates around the sun (but then we did try to do that for a while as well.)

    So argue the precise formulations of the statements if you will, but let us not lose focus on what really matters.  America is unique in history.  It will not last forever, but it is destined to have influence far beyond its existence.  Only Israel and the Roman Empire can claim the kind of historical significance that the United States is likely to claim when it is all said and done.  That uniqueness is worthy of our defense, and it is defending it that should unite us.

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    Possibles, Pundits, Polls and 40 Pounds…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 11:18 pm, February 25th 2010     &mdash      5 Comments »

    Starting With Our Friend Mike Huckabee . . .

    The Huckster was typically petulant about his non-appearance at CPAC last weekend.   Of course, such a  “rift” among Republicans is cause for a story from the press.  Which leads me to this bit by James Lewis at “American Thinker:

    See a pattern? If they can’t win honestly, the Left is happy to split the conservative vote by hook or by crook. They do it all the time.

    heavyHuckWhich leads me to wonder whose side the Huckster is on anyway?  And while we are discussing Huck it seems that he was in Iowa this week, and according to the Des Moines Register, “shows no signs of running for president.“  The picture at left here is what appeared with the piece.  It put me in mind of the oft-repeated quote from Haley Barbour at CPAC last weekend, “If you see me lose 40 pounds, you’ll know I’m running for president….”

    I’d say the Register is dead nuts on with that one.

    The Book Tour Begins . . .

    Actually not.  The tour for No Apology does not officially kick off until 3/13 in SLC, but the pre-release copies are out and the discussion is getting hot and heavy.  Not to mention, Romney is on Letterman next week.  The discussion of the week concerned Romney’s assertion in the book that the White House is “calling shots” at GM.   I thought this NRO “Planet Gore” post took care of that pretty readily.

    One more thing before we leave Romney:  Was the rapper/plane incident pivotal?  My thought is that if you are the kind of person that thinks TMZ is “news” then maybe, but if you are someone that actually pays attention to things like issues, probably not.

    The Others . . .

    Thoughts on Mitch Daniels.  Interesting – good stuff, but I’m telling you, if Daniels runs this time it will be with a gun to his head.  Not a winning formula.

    Palin continues to poll.

    Read this and remember.  Marc Ambinder, while very smart, is a leftie with a vested interest in stirring the Republican pot.

    Our best sources tell us Thune is in, so this is more than “buzz.”

    Religion and Politics . . .

    There was a conference between Catholics and Mormons this week at BYU.  Here’s the Deseret News coverage and the audio and video is here.

    “In recent years, Catholics and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have stood more frequently side by side in the public square to defend human life and dignity,” Cardinal Francis George told nearly 12,000 students, faculty and community members gathered Tuesday at BYU.

    “I’m personally grateful that after 180 years of living mostly apart from one another, Catholics and Latter-day Saints have begun to see each other as trustworthy partners in defense of shared moral principles.”

    You know, Evangelicals might find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to political activism when solid alliances like this get built.

    According to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, secularism is not all it’s cracked up to be.

    American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and “uncompromising Western secularism” that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights, according to a two-year study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

    The council’s 32-member task force, which included former government officials and scholars representing all major faiths, delivered its report to the White House on Tuesday. The report warns of a serious “capabilities gap” and recommends that President Obama make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy.”

    And note that religion generally, NOT religion specifically, is what matters.  Because tying religion and politics too tightly is not good for religion either.  It is interesting that in the UK, conservatives are suspicious of religious influence.  (HT: Ross Douthat)

    That also seems to be a concern among younger Evangelicals in this country.  My friend Matt Anderson thinks the problem is the appropriation of religious language for discussing American exceptionalism.  I think such a mixture of language is unavoidable.  It’s where the whole problem we look at on this blog arises.  For the average American politics, patriotism, and religion are matters to a great extent of faith.  Most people, through lack of interest or capability simply do not understand how the nation works, anymore than they understand how church works. They approach both in much the same fashion.  That language would bleed from one to the other is almost unavoidable.

    The difference lies in the fact that church really is an institution of faith, while government is an institution of immense practicality.  As long as we have to convince people to vote one way or the other, we will borrow the tools of religion which is also in the convincing business.   The question is how to motivate people to learn more how their government works.  But then that’s a problem the church has as well.

    Lowell adds . . .

    Mike Huckabee’s weight is not something we bring up to poke fun. It’s simply an indication that he probably isn’t running in 2012, unless we see a rapid and dramatic weight loss. In addition to the photo John posts above, take a look at the video clip here. That’s a far different Huck than the one we saw jogging with reporters back in 2007.

    As for interfaith alliances, it will be interesting to see if Mormons and Evangelicals can openly join forces on matters of joint interest the way Mormons and Catholics are doing that. A lot of progress in that direction was made in California’s Prop 8 election, but the uneasiness remains. That’s a subject for another post, I think. Maybe for a book!

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    A few thoughts on the “but he’s a Mormon” meme

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 07:39 pm, February 22nd 2010     &mdash      4 Comments »

    USA today ran a long article today on Romney’s efforts to position himself for 2012.  It’s a fairly thorough piece, but these two paragraphs (not surprisingly) caught our eye:

    Romney’s 323-page book is laced with lists and policy prescriptions — three “pillars,” 14 priority points, 64 agenda items — that focus mostly on the economy and national security. He defends the Bay State health care plan and argues it differs in fundamental ways from the one congressional Democrats have drafted, noting that it didn’t include a tax increase or government-run plan.

    But he doesn’t discuss his conversion from supporting abortion rights while running in his home state to opposing them when he sought national office. Nor does he try to explain or defend his Mormon faith, an issue in 2008.

    (Emphasis added.)  It is interesting – and significant, I think – that the reporter, Susan Page, apparently considers Romney’s Mormonism a significant omission from his book, which is about public policy.  She also equates his religious faith with his past position on abortion, as if both things were of the same importance.  But abortion is also a matter of public policy.  Ms. Page’s treatment of both subjects suggests that she thinks each one is politically embarrassing to Romney.

    I wonder if this is a harbinger of coming MSM treatment of the issue.

    John Chimes in…

    OK – maybe I spoke too soon yesterday when I said there was no religion chatter.  In addition to the USAToday piece that Lowell cites above, Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government site had this to say:

    As for Romney’s weakness, besides his Mormonism which may again hurt him nationally, the fact of the matter is that this is a Governor that implemented a state-run healthcare system.

    OK, so there is some religion chatter, but it is a of a very different tenor than last time.  Both these mentions of religion make mention of 2008 as if to say, “It was such fun last time, let’s not let it go.”  Note that in both cases the mentions are asides.  By this time last cycle we had detailed and heavily researched articles from Terry Eastland and Amy Sullivan.

    It’s too early to say if we are seeing a template for how it will be discussed, but it seems reasonable.  The left wing media, not wanting to get their bell rung as bigots,  are going to discuss policy, and mention religion – just evoke the emotion from last cycle.  But I think its a losing way to approach it, the near universal revulsion at Obama’s policy initiatives and the continued high rates of unemployment are just going to make people read over this stuff in a effort to get to the central issues.

    There is one other thing that I think bears mention – These mentions come from reporters, not analysts, not pundits, not columnists.  In the world of journalism there are people that report and people that set the agenda.  Reporters are good people that do good work, but its the agenda setters that make me worried.

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    CPAC Starts the Sorting…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:53 am, February 22nd 2010     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Mitt Romney’s life as a presidential candidate seems to revolve around the various CPAC conferences, and the one that was conducted this past weekend was no exception.  He seems to have wowed the crowd – which is typical for him at CPAC.  Race42012 has the video, and the transcript is here – it is typically good Mitt.  There were, needless to say, massive amounts of commentary in the wake of not only Romney but the other possibles that appeared.  We will forgo most of it, but there are a few interesting bits.

    First of all, Romney was introduced, quite successfully, by Scott Brown.    Some of the punditry/”journalism” crowd are trying to use Brown to make trouble for Romney, but if Brown is that disloyal this soon after getting into the Senate, he would suffer from levels of hubris that make Obama look like a piker, and I do not read Brown that way.

    With his book tour coming on the heels of this appearance Romney appears poised to take maximum advantage of the momentum gained.

    Jennifer Rubin quotes Ben Smith in a way that puts just the right read on it, even if Smith (or his headline writers anyway) are putting a less accurate spin on it.  Quoting Smith:

    Mitt Romney has gone from being an overeager suitor to being a favored son of the Conservative Political Action Conference since he ended his presidential campaign here in 2008 . . .

    Romney has matured as a presidential possible.  But there are a lot of people out there, including Smith, talking about “the New Mitt,” both on the left and within Romney supporters.  There is nothing “new” about Mitt or what he is doing.  Yes, he is maturing, yes he is better learning how to handle the overwhelming scrutiny that his current position brings upon him, yes he is learning better how to manage message – but nothing, really, has changed.  It is an odd phenomenon amongst the punditry, and the electorate for that matter, to assume a candidate has changed, when they are, in fact, just figuring the guy out.  What we are seeing here is the Romney I have known since I met him – smart, capable, genuinely conservative.

    The other interesting comment came from, of all places, E.J. Dionne:

    And I am starting to think that Sarah Palin is Mitt Romney’s other best friend.

    [...]

    Third, I am absolutely convinced that Palin will not run for president, but that it’s in her interest not to say so until the very last moment. Attention is what she needs for all her other enterprises, and being a possible candidate for as long as possible will get her lots of attention. Romney wants her out there as long as possible as his blocking back. This will make it harder and harder for the alternative to him to emerge.

    Allapundit agrees with Dionne’s analysis, amplifying:

    There’s some sense to that. Like it or not, the prefab narrative for the 2012 primaries is Palin vs. anti-Palin, partly because the media wants/needs a moderate opposite their Grim Reaper of “true conservatism” and partly because everyone likes a simplistic binary “hero vs. villain” storyline. Huckabee’s too much like her to qualify as anti-Palin — he’s rural, Christian, and all that other supposedly bad stuff — but Mitt, as a wealthy northeastern child of privilege, fits the role to a T. And of course he’s almost certainly running, so all that’s left to lock in the storyline is for Sarahcuda herself to declare her candidacy.

    What is amazing from all of this, is the lack of religion talk.  When this stuff was happening last cycle, these kinds of things simply could not be written without the seemingly mandatory, “BUT . . . the Mormon thing,” being inserted into the discussions somewhere.  By this point last cycle we had been treated to any number of stories asking, if not answering The Question.  But the issue barely gets a rise anymore.  Given the further circumstances that emerged from the airplane incident last week, one would have expected all sorts of religiously based mischief at Romney’s expense.  And yet, with the exception of one virtually unnotable attempt and one extremely lame one, it is simply NOT being discussed.

    So why the lack of religious chatter?  One big reason is that from the perspective of the punditry it’s an old worn out toy.  But there is another, perhaps bigger, reason.

    From my part of this blog, it began with a thesis – that if Evangelicals insisted on “playing the religion card” when it concerns Romney, they would set themselves apart into some sort of Evangelical ghetto of political non-relevance.  It would seem that the current situation bears out that thesis.  There is no religious discussion in re: Romney because at the moment, Evangelical voters, those that would oppose Romney on religious grounds, just don’t matter that much.

    Consider, the presumed spokesman of the gang, Mike Huckabee, is reduced to television stunts. and throwing tantrums.  And George Will’s penetrating analysis of the other possible for that role, Sarah Palin, points out that such behavior is never a route to actual power.

    It is a long time between now and 2012.  Things will change a lot, and coalitions can regroup, but I frankly do not think Evangelicals have it in them to get back to a point where they truly matter before 2012.  I do not think Romney will win in Iowa – the anti-Mormon strain there is simply too virulent, thanks to the Huckster.  But the issue will likely begin and end there, and the rest of the nation will not care that much what happened in Iowa.

    The religious battle this time will be with the left almost exclusively, and it will be very different.  It will be against Mormons as representative of all religious people.  The key question is will Evangelicals and other Christians have it in them to rise to the defense of Romney and Mormons from those attacks.  They’d better, because they will be next.

    Other Possibles Did Appear At CPAC . . .

    Tim Pawlenty . . .

    . . . seems to be trying very hard, but falling very flat.  His CPAC speech was derided by Jennifer Rubin at Contentions and Andrew Stuttaford at The Corner.  Even his “Minnesota Home Boys” at Powerline were unimpressed.  TPaw has time to regroup, but he better get busy or his possible candidacy is over before it actually gets started.

    Haley Barbour . . .

    . . . is trying to stir the pot a little.  Frankly, I just do not see it.  Barbour is a consummate insider and an amazing fundraiser, but he has virtually no profile outside of the south and people in a position to know tell me that there is a lot of oppo ammo against him sitting in closets awaiting the appropriate time for use.

    Rick Santorum . . .

    . . . just is not getting any traction.

    Ron Paul . . .

    . . . won the straw poll, but this far in advance, who cares?

    Finally . . .

    This would be a mistake.

    I just attended a forum that got my attention with “Is it time for a Catholic Tea Party?” (The idea is outlined in a column here.)

    Deal Hudson, President of Catholic Advocate, was the main speaker- he feels that Catholics have let Evangelicals take the lead on life and gay marriage issues, and Catholics need to step up, donate money, vote for the right candidates, take the body shots, etc.

    What we need to AVOID is religiously labeled movements of any sort.  We need to learn to work together.  A “Worshiping Tea Party” maybe, but all that would happen if you start dividing things up by denominational/theological lines is we end up infighting.  And as we saw above, that is a recipe for irrelevancy.

    Lowell adds . . .

    This business of “the new Mitt” seems to be the punditry looking for an angle.  Like some nations, they want to fight the last war, this one about Romney the chameleon.  All Romney is doing is to change his focus – to the economy.  Every single GOP candidate is doing that.  To do otherwise would be crazy.

    As for Governor Palin, if you missed Dorothy Rabinowitz’s analysis, read it right away.  She refers to the

    unsavory echoes of [Palin's] regular references to “the real America” as opposed to those shadowy “elites,” now charged with threats to the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of all real Americans. . . . she [does not] seem to have any idea of how that low soap-box oratory—embracing one kind of American as the real kind, those builders in the towns and cities across America—rings in the ear today. It is not new. . . .

    Mrs. Palin regularly invokes the name of the most revered of her heroes, Ronald Reagan—among the sunniest stars ever to mount the political stage, and a leader who spoke to all of America. He did not appeal to the aggrieved. Nor did he see in the oratory of grievance, or talk of real Americans and those who were not, a political platform.

    Mrs. Palin would do well to look to his model . . . .  At a time when Republican hopes are in the ascendancy, as now (and even when they are not), it’s impossible to imagine the Sarah Palin known to the world today as their leader.

    The contrast with Romney’s message and tone is striking.  I remember hearing him speak to a fund-raiser crowd gathered in the yard of a very fine home.  “Democrats,” he said, “think no one should have a house like this.  I think everyone should have a house like this!”  The Governor seems to be about promoting opportunity and possibility – the American Dream – as opposed to complaining about elites.

    Mike Huckabee’s comments about CPAC are interesting:

    “CPAC has becoming increasingly more libertarian and less Republican over the last years, one of the reasons I didn’t go this year.”

    Golly, I always thought the GOP had a strong libertarian strain.  You know, the three legs to the Republican stool – foreign policy conservatives, fiscal policy conservatives, social policy conservatives.  Sounds like Huck thinks the only one that really means anything is social policy.  I hope he enjoys his small-tent conservativism.

    But enough about that. John and I love to make predictions, and here’s my first one for 2012 – borrowing from John’s comment about anti-religion and anti-Mormon attacks from the left:

    The left will hit Romney hard on same-sex marriage not only because of his own opposition to it in Massachusetts, but also because of his church’s activity on the issue.  It’s just to easy a target for them to pass up.  That will be a tricky strategy, because same-sex marriage is not a popular idea at this point.  But his position on the issue, together with his Mormon faith, can be used to make Romney look scary to independent voters.  So no candidate will use the issue overtly against him.  Instead, the candidates’ surrogates and MSM commentators (excuse my redundancy) will do their level best to use Romney’s position on same-sex marriage to depict him as a knuckle-dragging neo-fascist.

    Mark my words. You read it here first.

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    It’s The Winter Olympics, So Things Are Getting Hot

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:07 am, February 17th 2010     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Let’s see . . .

    . . . the man who first stepped on the national and international stage by rescuing the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics from themselves is starting to look more and more like he will run for President in 2012 – coincidentally, just as the Winter Olympics get underway; and, he has a book coming out.  Here are some clues:

    By the time such clues were showing up last cycle we were hearing ALL about the whole Mormon thing.  Not so much this time.  Does that mean the issue is dead?  Not likely.  It does mean it will have to be played much more shrewdly, or desperately, than last time.  We will continue to here it overtly from the usual places, but in the end they do not matter so much.  Some might try to take shots at Mormonism without naming names, since by now everyone knows Romney is one.

    Where the real danger lies is that it may have transmogrified.  We saw the beginning of such transmogrification in the “authentic” thing last time and that does seem to be hanging about to some  extent, but I’m not sure the change is yet over.

    Also, as the left continues to sink deeper and deeper into irrelevancy, look for them to get VERY shrill about this.  They will likely guise it as all religion, but they will work very hard to split the party over religion.  I mean sometimes even “true Christians” get into it.

    Meanwhile, In The “Opposition” Camps . . .

    A certain Minnesota governor seems to be making a couple of serious missteps.

    Some are having their motives questioned.

    Some are engaging in silly speculation.

    Hugh Hewitt thinks the most startling political news of the week is a set-up.   The object of Hugh’s analysis denies it, but then politicians are often known to do things like that.  What’s for sure is that the Dems are in trouble.

    A “Fun Fact” For Your Next Party . . .

    I almost said “Cocktail Party,” but then remembered most of our readers are Mormon and have probably never been to one of those.  Anyway, this ought to raise a few hairs on the back of the neck of some Palin true believers.

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    It’s Starting To Get Serious…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:44 am, February 12th 2010     &mdash      3 Comments »

    …Mostly Because Romney’s Book is in Pre-release

    Speaking of which – Where’s our copy?  I have one on order, will get it the day of actual release, but….  Sigh, just a humble blogger.

    It starts with a discussion of the electoral map at Utah Policy.   The analysis which they present is by someone else and it is based on Palin as the presumptive and defines a strategy on how to beat her.  Wrong approach, the only two reliably in the running at this point are Romney and Pawlenty.  Both could choose not to run, but Palin has to choose to run – big difference.

    The other thing about the analysis is a discussion of Iowa.  Romney needs to stay very clear of Iowa.  Even if he has a shot at winning it, which he does in many possible opponent scenarios – his participation there this time will give the press too much fodder to raise The Question again.  Iowa is a no-win scenario, even if he wins.

    Romney’s appeal is in it’s breadth.  As noted in statistics like these presented by Race42012.  Romney polls well among Christian Conservatives.  Not as well as Christian identity possibilities like Palin and Huckabee, but well.  He polls far better than anyone else among other Republican groups.  That it what he needs to play on.  Which also means he cannot, as some would try to contend, regionalize his campaign.  Yes, Huckabee owns the South right now, but it’s way too early.  The story of his commutations lasted a single news cycle – wait until the ad makers get a hold of it in a campaign.

    The astute reader may ask, “If he cannot regionalize, how can he skip Iowa?”  Well, there is skipping and there is skipping.  He should not stay off the ballot ala McCain and Giuliani last time, rather he should simply put in a token effort, as if to punch the Iowa ticket, but de-emphasize its importance.  The idea is to create the image that win, lose, or draw Iowa just does not matter that much – which in reality, it does not.

    But The Real ‘Meme’ Out Of the Book Pre-release…

    …seems to be that “Mitt is reinventing himself…again.”  That hurts as it seems purposefully designed to play on the “flip-flop” (“inauthentic”?) charge that resonated strongly last time – based , at least in part, on the religion issue as we have documented endlessly here.   Here it is from Taegan Goddard and here the LATimes.  Goddard is quoting the “Boston Phoenix” – a newspaper devoted to the gay lifestyle that has had Romney in its sights since he opposed the imposition of same sex marriage by the Massachusetts Supreme Court when he was governor.  Nah, there is no agenda here at all.

    Charles Mitchell at EFM had a great response, and he cites Ben Smith as the source of the meme – but Smith is again citing the “Phoenix.”   David French at EFM had a fantastic rebuttal:

    Good leaders respond to objectively existing national conditions. It’s not all positioning and spin and “moves” to this or that part of the political spectrum.

    I could not agree more.  In the first place, Romney did not necessarily play himself that far right last time – the press did, and they did so intentionally to stir up the Mormon issue.  But any smart leader is going to deal with the problems facing the nation now, and social issues are in serious second place at the moment.  If we do not arrest the fiscal slide we are currently on, there will be no reasonable semblance of a nation upon which to have the social debates upon.  It’s not hard to do that math.

    There is a difference between “re-invention” and shifting emphasis.  Anybody who has ever run anything bigger than a breadbox knows that to run it different things will attract your attention at different times.  If I run a factory, at times I emphasize productivity, because I want to improve margins.  But, if parts start coming back for quality reasons, you can bet I am going to start paying less attention to production and more to QC.

    But Speaking of David French…

    Please read this.  I certainly do not have the service-at-arms angle, but I understand completely, agree completely, and add a hearty AMEN!

    And While We Are Getting A Little Sentimental…

    …just a little.  I understand the pain many people feel about Prop 8.  But the law is the law, and that is what it is up to the court to decide – THE LAW.  And frankly, I object strongly into turning our courts into some sort of therapeutic exercise.  Dispassion in the law, not passion, is what insures equal treatment under it.

    Finally…

    This is an interesting church/state issue. I mostly find it sad that downtown churches of other faiths have grow so weak that they no longer can be effective players in re-development.  The Mormons have to be doing something well.

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