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."

  • WE REMEMBER

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:44 am, May 31st 2010     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Memorial Day 10

    Share

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    When Satire Crosses The Line, Beck and Baptists, Evangelicals and Politics, plus…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:32 am, May 24th 2010     &mdash      1 Comment »

    It’s Not Satire, It’s Just Mean…

    Normally we ignore “Wonkette” around here, it’s unhappy people saying nasty things because they think, for some unknown reason, it’s funny.  They obviously have a strong distaste for Mitt Romney.  So be it, but this week has seen a couple of “Mormon shots” that need to be called out.  In a “story” on the demolition of Romney’s childhood home, they flat out call him an obscene name, and make this crack:

    The Romneys and their servants once lived a life of Mormon Aristocracy…

    I had no idea Mormons had an aristocracy?  But the one that got to me really was this one, from a picture of signs of political figures appearing in Iowa:

    Well, that’s Mitt Romney on the left. He emerges from the Iowa dirt every four years, like Mormon Jeebus, to once again haunt the people of Iowa, who will (like every year) refuse to nominate him for anything.

    OK, that manages to insult Christians of every stripe – it is pure religious shot.  “Jeebus,” which I had to look up, is apparently a term for Christ that is derogatory, demeaning, blasphemous to many, and dismissive.  In this one piece they manage to make light of Romney’s faith, and the Evangelicals that populate Iowa.

    But it does not end there.  Some columnist in Philadelphia chose to refer to a new Mormon temple being constructed in town as “phallic.

    I fail to understand how any of this qualifies as “civil discourse.”  I am not trying to squelch free speech here, I am just calling for decency and respect for other people and their view points.  The preceding link talks about:

    Apparently we’re no longer allowed to laugh at anything remotely unflattering to ourselves or certain minorities, and that’s not only a shame, it’s downright dangerous.

    Joan Rivers used to tell jokes about Italians; Don Rickles insulted everybody, and Jackie Mason still tells jokes about Jews. Now it seems as if some Hispanics are now being encouraged to be as testy over slights as are certain Muslims over perceived disses of the prophet Mohammed.

    You know, both Joan Rivers and Don Rickles were funny – their humor was offered in a spirit of affection – but that is not what we are considering here.  There is also indeed a problem with some ethnicities of perceiving barbs, even if offered in affection, as offensive.  But that is not the case here – these comments are meant to be insults.  They are uncivil and they are ugly.

    There is too much at stake in this nation to tolerate ugliness – it demeans us all.  Shame on these people.

    Doing It Well…

    As a Christian, I was once openly, publicly ridiculed in very liberal Santa Rosa, California – by some Wiccans no less.  Which is why I set aside for further study, this profile in the Santa Rosa paper on Mormon Missionaries.  It is actually reasonable in tone and fair – I’ll leave it to our Mormon readers to judge its accuracy.  We should encourage this kind of journalism as it so rarely presents itself anymore.

    Beck @ Liberty U…

    Yep – the Mormon Glenn Beck was the commencement speaker at Jerry Falwell’s pretty fundamentalist Liberty University.  Here’s coverage from Politics Daily and The Moderate Voice.  This did stir up some “politics before religion” discussion as you can read at the links, but what I find truly amazing is it got no MSM play at all – none, nada, nix.  But of course that would mean pointing out that conservatives can be reasonable, inclusive and a number of other things that the left and its cohorts in the MSM do not believe that we are.

    I keep trying to look at my political tea leaves and see what this might portend for a Romney candidacy; but frankly I have Beck and Romney in such different worlds that I find it impossible to draw a conclusion about one based on what happens to the other.  Which is, I think the point.  Shared religion does not automatically mean shared anything else.

    Liberal Evangelicals…

    Apparently the majority of Obama’s base are not church attenders.  Interesting fact made all the more interesting by this American Thinker piece:

    Dear Black Church,

    What I am about to say will probably anger you. As a black Christian, I have struggled with whether or not to address this sensitive topic. I only ask that you give my statements prayerful consideration.

    Ninety-six percent of black voters, many of whom are Christians, cast their votes for Barack Obama. I question: Did your desire to see a black man in the White House trump your commitment to Christ and Christian values and principles? While I believe many white Christians also made a racist decision by voting for Obama solely because he is black, I am taking this occasion to address my fellow black Christians.

    Interesting point, particularly in light of the “politics before religion” discussion surrounding Beck at Liberty.

    I think the lesson is that we do not vote based on identity – racial, religious, or musical taste.  But then that goes back to the first section, It’s the left that is just flat out mean when it comes to identity issues.  The right is at risk of becoming reactionary to that fact and returning in kind.  We MUST avoid that temptation.  Which is why Beck should have been welcomed at Liberty U.  The university is a place of ideas – it’s not church, even if religiously based.

    Some Interesting Stuff on Church and Politics…

    I would remind Mike Lux that church and individual charity are good, even excellent things.  However, when church becomes government, or government enforces charity, it ceases to be charity and becomes simply coercive.

    We have encountered Gary North before on this blog.  I think he has a penchant for overstatement of his case.

    Hospitality is a good word.

    Equally good words about the church and its members.

    I think the formula “Evangelicals = conservative and Mainlines = liberals” is going to get us in trouble.  I am a quite conservative mainliner.  I really don’t like the implication that mainline denominations are therefore just wrong and doomed to death.  They are dying, but they can be resuscitated and there is a whole lot correct about them.

    And Finally, In the World of Pure Politics…

    Chris Cillizza pronounces his list of “Most Influential Republican Leaders.“  He places Romney at number two, but then declares him the “frontrunner” in the POTUS race.  Other than the fact that his #1, Palin, is unlikely to run, is there not something a little oxymoronic about that?

    Share

    Posted in Reading List | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    What Must Be Remembered

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:45 am, May 15th 2010     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Maggie Gallagher is one of the best columnists out there on religion and politics, and this week she wrote one of the most important columns that has ever been written on the subject:

    Hunter is right: Religious conservatives who make “reclaiming the culture” their political goal are doomed to fail; more modesty and a tighter mission focus are essential. For politics to be an effective tool, values must be transformed into a political objective, i.e., something a politician can vote for or against (partial-birth abortion, conscience protection in health care legislation, waiting periods for abortions, parental notification).

    You go to culture war with the army you have — and then you figure out what you really need, or you lose.

    She, via James Davison Hunter, comes at this argument a little differently than I would – but then, it is essentially the same argument.  There are a couple of salient points that bear emphasis.  The first from from Hunter:

    One cannot “engage the culture” by converting individual hearts and minds or accumulating majority votes. Culture simply does not work like that. Culture is the power to “name reality,” and that power is in itself inevitably intertwined with high cultural status. Culture is a product of elites, not of moral majorities.

    The second point, which Gallagher makes:

    You go to culture war with the army you have. The reason people with traditional religious and sexual moralities gravitated into politics is that structures of the political elites are among the most open and easy to penetrate. To put it another way, politics is one field of culture-making that secular elites do not control. Political power thus operates in a partial and limited fashion as a break on elites’ cultural power, since it raises the potential costs of attempting to de-legitimize those who disagree with them in the public square. The risk of backlash tempers Harvard’s dreams for America.

    [...]

    Politics is only one tool of cultural power, and not the best. But it is a potentially useful tool.

    Gallagher concludes:

    My own complaint about the religious right is not that it is too much in politics, but that it is not enough. In too many cases, religious conservatives talk like they are in politics, make demands like they are in politics, issue threats like they are in politics — but they do not create the institutions that are at the heart of politics: organizations that raise money and spend it electing politicians who will vote for their cause.

    Now, I look at this and conclude that there are two essential lessons for religious people.  Firstly, we do not do politics very well.  That is Gallagher’s conclusion about organizations, etc.  I would add to her list of complaints in this department theological based bias when political action is the goal.  Winning the culture war does not mean winning converts.

    Note Hunter’s comment about “naming reality.”  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis called this “pre-evangelism.”  The book C.S. Lewis in a Time of War by Justin Phillips, cites some correspondence Lewis wrote while preparing the radio lectures that became “Mere Christianity:”

    At this time, he had begun to correspond regularly with an Anglican nun called Sister Penelope. She was a prolific writer herself and was preparing some talks. C.S. Lewis explained to here what he hoped to achieve in his broadcast work for the BBC. The purpose was pre-evangelistic rather than direct appeal. Writing to her on 15 May 1941, Lewis was keen to discuss his scripts with her.

    Mine are praeparatio evangelica rather than evangelium, an attempt to convince people that there is a moral law, that we disobey it, and that the existence of a Lawgiver is at least very probable and also (unless you add the Christian doctrine of the Atonement) imparts despair rather than comfort.

    In Lewis’ view, and implied in Gallagher’s argument here, there is something a society must agree to before evangelism to a specific religion can occur.  In our battles in the culture war, it is these things we seek to establish.  We seek, through cultural influence to prepare the battlefield for the religious battles – which are fought with different tools and different armies, which leads us to the second point I draw from this.

    Gallagher’s point that politics is not the best tool of cultural power is extremely important.  Religious people generally, and Evangelicals especially have chosen to withdraw virtually completely from the other tools of cultural engagement.  We form our own universities rather than teach in the existing ones.  Such segregation places us in a ghetto, outside of culture rather than in a position to influence and change it.  Christian media is largely distinct from other media – again ghettoized.

    Many Evangelicals think this withdrawal is necessary to maintain some sort of “Christian purity,” but it is also a form of monasticism.  Monks indeed live very “pure” Christian lives, but how much do they affect culture?  During his lifetime, St. Francis of Assisi fought very hard to prevent his movement from becoming an order – it was in his vision to be simply a community.  His reasoning was because in monasticism the impulse to “Spread the Word.” in generally lost.

    I would argue one further point to Gallagher’s that politics is not the best tool in the culture war, and that is that politics alone cannot win it.  In a republican democracy such as ours, politics resides in a strange space between leading and following.  It tends to follow the cultural mores rather than define them, generally at best it codifies that which is already culturally established.  That is why it is so vitally important for religious people of every stripe to engage culture not only politically, but in all the other areas where the “elite” define it.

    It also seems reasonable that making politics our sole tool of cultural engagement leads to the sort of inter-religious battles that we have seen in conservative politics.  We seem to think politics is the war when it is but a single battle.

    Share

    Posted in Doctrinal Obedience, Political Strategy, Religious Bigotry, Religious Freedom, Understanding Religion | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Tampa, SCOTUS, Thune, Daniels, and Vanishing Leads

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:52 am, May 13th 2010     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Looks like we are going to Tampa in 2012.  Hugh Hewitt spent a lot of time last night complaining about the weather in Tampa in August, which would indeed be better in Salt Lake City, one of the other cities in the running until yesterday.  One thing is for sure, while holding the convention in SLC would have been problematic for Romney, this is not true:

    Mitt Romney is a Mormon and many think the GOP isn’t going to want to highlight Mormonism in Utah during the convention.

    Come on – that presumes a Romney nomination – far from a done deal.  There was a Salon blog post along the same lines that strikes as extraordinarily poor writing for an outlet like Salon.  (We make no claim to be great writers here)

    The other two sites in the running, after all, were Salt Lake City and Phoenix. Salt Lake City would have seemed risky for the GOP — Mitt Romney, after all, may well be their presidential nominee. And Romney, like many of the residents of Salt Lake, is Mormon. The church’s headquarters and holy places are all over downtown. Did Republicans really want to have thousands of reporters taking tours of Temple Square with young missionaries in between political speeches and writing about the quirkier elements of the church’s theology? (Romney, when he ran for president in 2008, kept a low profile when he went to Utah for the funeral of the church’s leader.) Besides that, Salt Lake is 80 percent white, which would actually mean the Republican convention might add diversity to the population.

    But if you want to find a reason why the GOP rejected SLC, you might think about Bob Bennett.  Why should the party reward a state that rejected one of its stalwarts?  But there is more…

    …Bennett Rejection Fall-out

    The religiously-based attacks on Romney continue:

    But unless you were there you wouldn’t have noticed that when Bennett took the podium, he was given a rousing intro by Mitt Romney. There in the land of Mormons, where respect of the elders is elementary, Romney paid homage to the elder. And the crowd turned away from Bennett and from Romney.

    Which is interesting because another 2012 possible, John Thune, defended Bennett.  Which is interesting because…

    …Thune was in the News

    Not to mention, a distant possible Mitch Daniels got a little press too.

    And I wonder if Whitman’s slip in California is part of the same mindset that nailed Bennett.  If it is, its not too bright.  Poisner is far more centrist, even liberal, than Whitman.  He is running a campaign pretty far at odds with his record of governance.

    SCOTUS

    So what about Kagan? Well, her nomination means there are no Protestants on the court.  Do I care?  Not really, but I think it is instructive.  I think it is symptomatic of the same phenomena that makes Evangelicals seem like such a potent political force, but rarely effective.  Most issues of Evangelical concern are based in the courts, you would think if we really cared, we’d be breeding justices.

    Although leading protestant legal force Jay Sekulow is asking the right questions about the Kagan nomination.  And his blogging counterpoint, Barry Lynn seems to agree – strange bedfellows indeed.

    Other Stuff…

    The National Day of Prayer discussion continues.  I hate to say this, but I agree with Kathleen Parker’s thesis, even if her argument for it is garbage.  The issue is not belief, but the perception that the government is endorsing some specific form, object, or understanding of prayer.

    Thinking about where the Tea Party and the Religious Right part company.  The former is fiscal, the later social – but the left cannot seem to tell them apart.

    Which makes this extended piece on how, “The Left’s political zealotry increasingly resembles religious experience,” quite interesting.  One of the primary thesis of this blog is that tying religion and political stances too tightly generally results in politics subsuming genuine spiritual experiences.  It has happened on the left. We should guard against it on the Right or religion is gone completely.

    Share

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    The Return of “What’s Funny?”

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:45 am, May 10th 2010     &mdash      8 Comments »

    Apparently, Comedy Central, even after censoring “South Park” for its Islamic insults, is considering developing a program all about Jesus.  I agree with Joseph Bottum and The Anchoress – I’ m not offended, and there will be no riots or terrorism.   But I also bet it will not be very funny, and therefore, few people will watch.  Of course, in this day and age it does not take a lot of viewers to keep something on the air – so don’t be surprised if “success” is claimed – but don’t be fooled either.

    “South Park” and Comedy Central lead “On Faith” to ask:

    What is the obligation of a Western, democratic government to protect individual freedoms in light of a realistic terrorist threat? Are the producers of South Park right to forfeit their freedom of expression in the interests of protecting their employees? Are the governments of Europe right to ban burqas in the interest of fostering a more open society?

    Frankly, that question is a reflection of why Newsweek is on life support.  In many ways it was asked and answered a century ago.  Yeah, I’m talking about the legal battles over Mormon polygamy.  Simply put, government should not interfere with religious belief, and generally not religious speech, but it can and should interfere with religious practice when said practice harms the normal operation of society.  The problem is not South Park or burqas – it’s terrorism.

    Here’s what I know:  We hunt down terrorists – they die in battle, they are executed, or they spend the rest of their natural lives in jail.  Pretty soon Islam will reform to the point where it does not produce them.  Behavioral consequences drive philosophy just as much as philosophy drives behavior, it just takes patience.

    Which brings us back to presidential politics.  Because of that very phenomenon, we need worry less about a candidate’s religion and more about his policy.  Think about it.

    Spinning…

    Sometimes spin is so obvious that it needs to be pointed out just for giggles.  Consider:

    HuffPo trying to spin the unspinnable, and

    Michael Gerson trying to make an economic case for Tim Pawlenty.  There are a lot of reasons to like Tim Pawlenty, but economics? Over Romney?  Yeah, that’s giggle inducing.

    Hubris…

    Look, rescinding Franklin Graham’s invitation to pray at the Pentagon is a no-class move typical of this administration.  But Graham’s response is not doing Evangelicals any good either:

    Continuing to escalate his criticisms of President Obama for not restoring Graham’s rescinded invitation to a prayer event at the Pentagon, Graham has warned the president that “millions of Evangelical Christians that voted for Barack Obama in this last election” likely won’t “be at the table next time” because Obama is not giving Graham and his allies their due.

    There should be a National Day of Prayer, but Evangelical hubris is a large part of why we are in this mess.  When they got exclusionary over Mormons, they almost guaranteed this kind of stuff.  Mormons weren’t going to protest, but you knew someone would.

    It is time for politically active Evangelicals to grow up just a little.  We have got to learn how to build coalitions and think more broadly – it’s not always “us against them.”  Or more prudently, sometimes what helps us, also helps them.  First we had to beat Hitler, therefore we allied with Stalin.  Eventually we beat Stalin too.  First we need a National Day of Prayer at all, eventually people will figure out whose prayers are best.

    Raw Bigotry…

    One letter writer to the MormonTimes in re Beck/Liberty University:

    “The real question is how the radical LDS right wing is going to live with the evangelical radical right. I think this is the craziest conflict on the globe. Both sides trying to stake out their pure version of the cultural right. Maybe, we LDS ought to rethink our infatuation with that line of political thought. The telestial kingdom will freeze over before Mormons are accepted by ‘those people.’ Just ask Mitt Romney.”

    There is some serious wisdom there.

    And the next time anybody talks about “right wing hate speech, consider this (forwarded by a reader) from The San Fran Chron:

    This is the good news: many of the world’s most powerful, hurtful, wretched old men will soon be dead.

    Does that sound cruel? Unkind? I might be OK with that. In fact, I might very much be in the mood to not really mind at all if a whole slew of these nefarious creatures of sociospiritual corrosion were to, say, spontaneously combust, or be struck by lightning, or perhaps accidentally fall into a giant, roiling vat of Astroglide and turpentine and a million duplicitous prayers. Whoops! Sorry, Monsignor!

    [...]

    Because here we find a very bizarre cluster of powerful, pale, sickly old men who are now sliding back into view thanks to a new documentary, “8: The Mormon Proposition,” the trailer for which is available for your deep sighing and open cringing right now.

    While I have no idea as to the overall quality of the film itself, the trailer alone seems to reveal a fine-looking flick that, at bare minimum, details just how ruthlessly, how hatefully the Church of Latter Day Homophobes worked to terrify and intimidate its own uninformed followers into funding — to the tune of nearly $18 million — one of the most detestable pieces of legislation in California’s history, not to mention the church’s own “secretive, decades-long crusade against gay rights.”

    You know, I am struck by the fact that only on the left is perceived hatred considered justification for the real thing.  Those of us on the religious right operate by an entirely different paradigm – something about “return no man evil for evil….”

    Lowell adds . . .

    By the way, Senator Robert Bennett has been ignominiously denied nomination, not in a Republican primary, but by Utah’s caucus-style GOP nominating convention. Like most caucuses, the Utah process produces some pretty extreme results. This was one of those occasions.

    But why is Bennett’s public political execution relevant to this blog? Because it gives rise to yet another of Lowell’s Political Prophecies: First, the hard-right in Utah is going to start attacking Romney because he supported Bennett, even coming into Utah to campaign for him. Romney has stated publicly that voting for TARP was the right thing to do, even though he’s not happy with the execution. Bennett’s support for TARP was cited by the ultra-conservative oracles in Utah as a major reason that the 3-term Republican senator had to go. Second, the Utah hard right’s attacks on Romney will give cover to Romney opponent who oppose him because of his faith, or who want to take advantage of discomfort over his faith (think Mike Huckabee). They will simply say, “Hey! Even Romney’s fellow Mormons in Utah think he’s a RINO!” It is certainly not a bad thing that people will be talking about Romney’s position on the issues, and not about his religion, but I don’t think positions will be the real reason that a lot of those folks oppose the man.

    John chimes back in…

    We sometimes write our Monday posts “thorough the weekend.”   That Lowell was being prophetic above, we both agreed Saturday night, but neither of us knew it would come to pass as soon as Sunday morning.  Consider the NYTimes:

    Mr. Bennett, 76, was outmatched in delegate votes by two relative newcomers despite an enthusiastic endorsement and convention speech from Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and local Utah hero, and a political pedigree of deep Mormon roots and public service.

    And Politico:

    Bennett was dogged by his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and for co-sponsoring a healthcare bill with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.). To help make his case to the 3,452 delegates, he even tapped the star power of former Massachusetts governor – and fellow Mormon – Mitt Romney to make a final pitch.

    Well, there you have it – the line has been drawn and now it will just be up to Romney’s opposition to walk it.

    But typically, the national press does not tell the whole story.  Consider this from the SLTrib:

    Lee’s campaign said it was damaged by a controversial mailer that showed up in delegates’ mailboxes on Friday. It pictured Lee’s picture over the LDS temple and Bennett’s picture over the Capitol, questioning “Which candidate really has Utah values?”

    It was sent by a group calling itself “Utah Defenders of Constitutional Integrity,” and was apparently sent from Cleveland, but there is nothing else known about the group. Both Lee and Bennett’s camp denied having any hand in the mailing and Lee condemned the attack ad during his speech.

    “Some falsely accused me of accepting illegal contributions. Others that appeared to support me are patently offensive,” he said, denying that they were in any way connected to his campaign.

    But Lee’s spokesman, Dan Hauser, said before the final vote that there was no question the Mormon mailer hurt the campaign.

    “If you asked us in January if we would be happy with the position we’re in, absolutely,” he said. “Do I think we lost some votes because of the mailers? Absolutely. And I think it was a slow drip over the week of all the false attacks. It was just drip, drip, drip.”

    Michael Richards of Herriman who is LDS and a Mike Lee supporter said the ad was “repulsive. “

    “It’s not a religious thing. This is not about religion… it’s about who supports the Constitution,” he said.

    Normally, we would attack such a thing on its face – playing the religion card in this fashion is repulsive.  But consider it in light of Romney’s plight in this mess as described by Lowell.  “The Mormon Card” was played not against Bennett, but against Bennett’s opposition, regardless of who played it, and yet MSM is trying to use it against Romney who endorsed Bennett.  Talk about trying to have your cake and eat it too!

    But I think the best take on the Bennett thing came from Robet Costa in The Corner:

    Seeing Romney out on a limb, daring to debate the tea party about the future of the GOP, is refreshing. Right or wrong, he’s at least showing that he can lead.

    And just a little more from Lowell:

    Amid the chorus of glee over Sen. Bennett’s needlessly ignominious  political execution, let me sound a discordant note:  This event is more about Utah’s caucus-style political nominating system than about Bennett’s supposed sins.  Apparently the Senator’s worst misdeed was to vote for TARP.  Is anyone really suggesting that vote as a basis for throwing out not only Bennett, who is Utah’s Mr. Republican, but the rest of the GOP senators?

    In Utah’s caucuses,  the political parties’ base rules the nominating process more than in just about any other state.  Before we get too excited about the significance of Bennett’s ouster as an expression of conservative outrage, let’s note that Representative Jim Matheson now faces a primary.  Matheson is the lone Democrat in Utah’s delegation.  His sin?  Voting against Obamacare.   In Utah’s caucus system, being insufficiently liberal can get you in as much trouble as not being conservative enough.  I like this comment:

    Much in the same fashion as what Utah Conservatives accomplished against Senator Bennett, an ideological sense of pureness has overcome Utah Liberals, who want to remove their one chance of representation in Washington, because he isn’t big government enough…. if the Republican Caucus wants to emerge a stronger and healthier coalition come November, I would suggest a gameplan for maintaining a sense of Ronald Reagan’s big tent and his 80 percent friend, not a 20 percent foe approach. If we lose the Ronald Reagan Republican formation, than our movement will shrivel and die, especially if we don’t reinstate the Eleventh Commandment of Republican politics.

    Incumbents might be safe in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina and other states, but in Utah they better watch out, because the ideologues are coming for them!

    Writers in the blogosphere (including yours truly) often criticize our national political class.  Well, Bennett is one of the good guys: decent, thoughtful,  conservative, classy, and well-spoken.  The hard-core right-wingers in Utah who, amid their gloating, are calling Bennett a RINO have a very heavy lift in winning that argument.  Others, like Dan Riehl, wonder whether the tea partiers are controlling the situation quite as much as they think they are.

    The tea partiers are mostly a great and important phenomenon, but excesses are excesses, no matter who commits them, and  the Bennett episode was one.  Excuse me if I don’t join in the celebration.

    Share

    Posted in Political Strategy, Reading List, Religious Bigotry, Understanding Religion | 8 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    The Gratititous Mormon Shot

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:16 am, May 6th 2010     &mdash      1 Comment »

    The increasingly less-read Los Angeles Times, in its “Top of the Ticket” blog, was discussing Utah Senator Bob Bennett the other day and had this to say:

    Davidson reports that Bennett has a plan to boost his poor ratings. He’s lined up Mitt Romney to introduce him at the state convention. Pardon the expression, but Romney is a god in Utah (note the lowercase ‘g’).

    That is so typical of the left and it is despicable.  At best it is a rhetorical cheat (“I’m not going to talk about the fact that you are a pompous self-righteous jerk”) but in this instance, about this issue, it is an attempt to be prejudicial and appeal to prejudice while at the same time denying it. (“I didn’t say you were a n*&^%$#”)

    But then the left has played these kinds of games for decades now.  While underhanded and disingenuous, it is also unsurprising and hardly news from the LAT.  But the gratuitous Mormon shot is unexpected from the right and particularly from nationally syndicated talk radio.

    Very early in the 2008 cycle Salem host Mike Gallagher struggled with the Mormon issue.  But in November of ’07, when Iowa really started to heat up, he wrote a piece on Townhall and said:

    I had an epiphany this week over the so-called “Mormon Factor” as it applies to the candidacy of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

    [...]

    And it might have taken me awhile, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the “Mormon Factor” isn’t really a factor at all.

    Gallagher was basically a Giuliani guy, which is fair enough, and once he wrote this and took the Mormon issue off the table, it became politics as usual, which is all we can ask for.  Gallagher has never struck me as a deep political thinker, but he is entitled to his opinions and ideas just like the rest of us.  Gallagher is still not a Romney fan, currently touting Sarah Palin at every opportunity.

    In the third hour of his Monday May 3, 2010 show (podcast available here by paid subscription) he chose to look at the Massachusetts Health care vs. Obamacare issue and essentially tar Romney with the brush.   That’s politics as usual and its a shot everyone who is opposed to Romney has been taking of late.  It may be the toughest issue facing Romney for the next cycle.  During the two segments on the topic, Gallagher made continual references to the fact that Romney won’t do his show.  As he started to change the subject for the remainder of the hour, Gallagher made this remark:

    “Lance thinks it has something to do with the Mormon factor.  I’m not sure if that’s what it is or not, but surely he has thick enough skin to deal with all those issues.”

    And there it is, the plausibly deniable Mormon shot – just like the LAT.  I will not pretend to know why Romney does not do Gallagher’s show.  I would surmise that it has more to do with Gallagher’s aforementioned lack of serious depth than anything else, but that’s just a guess on my part.  But this I know – it has nothing to do with “the Mormon factor.”  Governor Romney has stood in the mouth of the lion on that one way too many times already for such an accusation to even be made, let alone hold water.

    Clearly Gallagher’s ’07 “epiphany” was not quite as determinative as he let on, or he would have known better than to take this seemingly plausibly deniable shot.

    Meanwhile, in other news . . .

    OK, it’s become apparent that with his departure from Focus on the Family, James Dobson remains politically inept.  The man needs to get himself some serious political consultants, or give it up.

    Nonsense.

    What do you think?

    The Workplace Religious Freedom Act would revise and strengthen the existing requirements imposed on employers to accommodate the religious practices of their employees.

    “The bill will be introduced to Congress soon in a fashion that will eliminate the concerns some folks had since its inception,” said Richard Foltin, the director of national and legislative affairs for the American Jewish Committee.

    Touted in certain circles as the “WRFA god,” Foltin co-chairs an unusually broad coalition of almost 40 religious groups, from Sikhs to Seventh-Day Adventists to Southern Baptists, who support the bill’s religious freedom expansions.

    If passed, the now narrowly tailored legislation would require employers to make reasonable accommodation in the three areas where the vast majority of religious accommodation claims fall: religious clothing, grooming, and scheduling of religious holidays.

    This is a tough call.  Private employers have a right to conduct business as they see fit, but by the same token there should be room for reasonable accommodation.

    Lowell adds . . .

    I happened to hear the Mike Gallagher shot live, while driving to work.  (I sometimes – sometimes! – tune Gallagher’s show in when I am really bored.  The guy’s about one inch deep, borders on buffoonery, and plays to his very conservative audience.)  I thought about calling in to ask what he meant by “the Mormon factor” but decided it wasn’t worth the time. Most talk radio shows are just that – shows, and the hosts have to keep serving up what their audiences want. Gallagher is no exception.

    As for poor Bob Bennett, I am afraid that fine public servant is going to be tossed out of office by his own party. Prediction: The victorious anti-Bennett crowd will then dance, shamefully, on his dead political corpse. I grew up in Utah politics and the antics of the hard right there are no credit to the state. I also predict that many hard-core anti-Romney types will point to his support for Bennett as evidence that the Governor is a RINO. To any knowledgeable observer anywhere outside the Utah GOP or the hard right (but I repeat myself) the idea of either Bob Bennett or Mitt Romney as a RINO is downright laughable. But politics is an odd business.

    Share

    Posted in Political Strategy, Reading List, Religious Bigotry | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    « Previous« Distractions?…  |  Next Page »The Return of “What’s Funny?” »