Tradition has it that the presidential election cycle unofficially begins after the mid-terms – but not this time. As a massive move towards the GOP seems more and more apparent in the mid-terms, people’s minds are turning to what that means in terms of POTUS 2012. That’s not entirely unreasonable, but given that Romney remains firmly in the mix, what is unreasonable is that the Mormon shots are starting to abound. I really thought we’d be over it this cycle, but if the sheer number of hits our many internet-combing robots are getting is any indication, it’s not going to be pretty. The discussion currently really has four epicenters -
The Idiot, Bill Keller…
I am through being civil with this guy, he’s just a media whore, pure and simple. He never comes up unless he puts out a press release which he did this week. This time he is attacking Beck, not Romney, but it is just more of same. Needless to say, this bit of stuff stuck to the bottom our our shoes was picked up and passed on. Keller’s antics would be funny if they weren’t so pathetic – and predictable.
Seems like any time there is a media storm surrounding a widely known Mormon, Romney in 2008 and Beck now, Keller starts putting out his press releases and trying to gin up some new names on his mailing list so he can continue to solicit donations.
In this instance, he charges Beck with “lying” because Mormonism itself is a lie. Rarely have I seen such a myopic, self-absorbed, needless to say self-aggrandizing, view of belief and faith. By definition people believe their faith to be true, which means all others are false. Until a specific faith can be proven true (now there is a tall order) a claim like Keller’s defies reason.
From this point forward, unless he takes a specific shot at Romney that makes sense, Keller is Persona Non Grata around here. I am embarrassed that most people think he and I are of the same faith.
The Financial Times…
…did a piece on the changing face of Mormonism. (registration required) The piece is not all bad, but it fails to even directly pose, let alone answer, the essential question that lies at its heart. The article is about the amazing success being enjoyed by many Mormons in many fields of endeavor. But in its early stages it talks about Romney’s religion problems in ’08. It demands that one ask, “Why are Mormons so successful at so many things, but NOT at running for POTUS?”
Of course, if we could answer that the country would likely be in a very different place than it is at the moment.
The Discussion Around the Boston Globe Piece Continues…
We talked about it last week, but typically it takes people a while to catch up to us. A Mormon I have never heard of thinks the proposed strategy makes sense. Meanwhile, Mark Silk seems to think it’s all wrong. Silk’s analysis discounts a number of pertinent factors like the Tea Party movement and the fact that people can, and likely will in the current climate, have a very different idea about what matters in the next election cycle.
Silk is right that the Romney campaign has to acknowledge the differences between Mormonism and traditional Christianity, but to ask Mormons not to call themselves Christians is simply to ask too much. That is like saying, “I’ll vote for a socialist provided they don’t really believe that stuff.”
Evangelical numbers remain impressive, but they are not going to be concentrating on social issues next cycle.
David Frum Makes Trouble…
Of course, that in and of itself is hardly news. He starts by putting forth Jon Huntsman as “the Mormon.“ – Old, tired, not buying it. Huntsman took himself out of the hunt (pun intended) when he took the China ambassador job. Do you honestly think anyone that has worked for Barack Obama is going to get the Republican nomination in 2012? Be real!
But then Frum had to go and call out Mike Huckabee. He specifically called out the Huckster for his use of religion last time:
Faith-based politics is fine. But Huckabee’s support in 2008 often seemed sectarian. He says his words were taken out of context, but at least once in the campaign he seemed to criticize Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith. This too-narrow religious appeal offended not only many American Mormons, but also a much larger group, Catholics, who readily inferred: “Huckabee, a Baptist, seems to disapprove of Mormonism as non-Christian. What must he think of us?”
Given the vitriolic reaction we have seen on this blog from former Huckabee staffers, and now Huckabee’s personal response to similar accusations, it seems to me that Huckabee wants to do whatever he can to try and erase the record of his obvious playing of the religion card in Iowa in 2008. The inherent dishonesty in such efforts is what really gets under my skin. Instead of owning up to the mistake – the Huckster “apologizes” but denies he really did anything wrong. We analyzed this completely when we did our review of the 2008 cycle.
That’s a lot of Romney/Mormon stuff when the mid-term general is just heating up – a whole lot. One must wonder if it is the issue in its death throes or a portent of things to come. If one analyzes the sources for the noise, one sees that the trouble seems to be coming from the left – Huckabee did not raise the issue, he tried to run away from it – Frum caused the stir.
I think what we are seeing is this – Romney is rapidly emerging as presumptive. If it was entirely a party insider vote, it’d be done. The only reason there is a window for others is the party insiders are concerned about whether they can convince the rank-and-file on Romney. Romney’s credentials on the economy are overwhelmingly good – no one comes close. The economy is likely to be issue #1 come 2012 which puts Obama in a very precarious position against Romney. The left wants to kill a Romney candidacy before there really is one because they only have a chance in ’12 if the Republican candidate is not Romney.
So, I think we are going to see a lot of Mormon stuff this cycle, but I think it is going to be more like what we expected last cycle. It’s going to emanate almost entirely from the left in an effort to stir up divisions on our side. This is why the proposed Romney strategy of more-or-less punting the hardcore social conservative vote makes a great deal of sense. If Romney pursues that group he emphasizes a division the other side wants to open up – a division he wants to close. Better to operate as the presumptive and let them come alongside because they will have little choice if they want a seat at the table.
So, watch the sources when the issue arises, chances are it will be nutbars like Keller or lefties. Look for Huckabee to keep his head low on the issue, but watch the undercurrent (comments, etc.) Look for lefties to be making comments on the internet where ever they can, trying to stir the issue, and they will pose as Republicans to do it. Call them out and fight back.
Meanwhile, In Other Romney News…
A bunch of very left-leaning Republicans are “wishy-washy” on Romney. So where’s the news there?
Romney, Dobson help Hoekstra in Mich. gov. race
I really do like seeing those names linked. Now, if we can just keep Dobson from stepping on himself….
…For RNC Chair makes an enormous amount of sense to me. She is just not a serious candidate, but she is a valuable political asset to our side. Polarizing? Yeah, as a candidate, but as party chair she could solidify a link between the party and the Tea Party. Her fund raising capability is enormous. Polarization is also energy and that is a large part of what a party chair is supposed to do – generate energy in the party. This idea strikes me as allowing us to get the best of what Sarah Palin has to offer while being able to largely ignore her weaknesses.
Steele has to go and hiring Palin has all the plus side stuff Howard Dean offered the Dems without the foot-in-mouth disease.
General God Stuff…
The Dalai Lama, who just celebrated his 75th birthday, often refers to the ‘oneness’ of all religions, the idea that all religions preach the same message of love, tolerance and compassion. Historians Karen Asmstrong and Huston Smith agree that major faiths are more alike than not.
But in his new book “God is not One,” religion scholar and On Faith panelist Steve Prothero says views by the Dalai Lama, Armstrong and Smith that all religions “are different paths to the same God” is untrue, disrespectful and dangerous.
Who’s right? Why?
As we discussed above, believers must, by definition believe in the bottom-line truth of their faith, and therefore the less-than-truth status of others. Otherwise, they do not truly believe what they claim to believe. The idea that “all religion is the same” is designed not to do away with religious conflict, but to do away with religion itself. That’s part of what makes American truly unique – we want and cherish religious conflict (within civil bounds) as we seek to live together with our different convictions. We know we are better people for it and better people make a better nation.
This is ugly. It is also what we seek to avoid on the national level.