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."

Meddling in The Other Party’s Primary, Gays Think They Are God, Romney’s “Strategy,” and more…

Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:28 am, October 18th 2010     —    5 Comments »

Trying to Muck Up The Works…

The NYTimes magazine did a big story on Obama containing this tidbit (HT: Taegan Goddard):

“Obama advisers expect to incorporate the reelection campaign around March and think the Tea Party ultimately will reelect him by pulling Republican nominee to the right. They doubt Sarah Palin will run, figure Mitt Romney can’t get nomination because of his Massachusetts health care program and guess that Obama may end up running against Mike Huckabee.”

My first reaction is that they still are not listening to the American people, nor do they have any comprehension of the other side of the aisle.  In fact, I find some of what the president is saying about me and the general populace downright insulting.  My second reaction is what a stunning admission they are making that Romney cannot succeed because of how unpopular their signature initiative is.  (I disagree about Romney, of course, but that they are conceding that is incredible.)

But here is the bottom line – they are using their willing accomplices at the Old Grey Mare, er, Lady,  to attempt to define the 2012 Republican narrative.  It’s just that simple.  I mean if you were Obama who would you want to run against?  I’m thinking Huckabee.  Narrative matters.  Romney’s faith would not have mattered nearly so much in 2008 had the press not beat the drum to death.  It became the narrative on Romney.  Here is the Obama camp attempting to send a signal to the MSM:  Tell this story and tell it often.

Remember, elections are not decided by the faithful, they are decided by the uncommitted, “unwashed” masses that pay attention just a few weeks before the voting, and they are still very prone to buying the MSM narrative.

Those politics done, I must make one side comment on religion.  The president’s comments in the link to Powerline not quoted above represent the ultimate in narcissism.  His presumptions of his wisdom and everyone else’s lack thereof are, sadly, indicative of this narcissistic age.  It also helps focus us on the ultimate role of religion in public life.  In this era it is less about issues and more about building people that understand there is something beyond and above themselves.  Deity and humility are the important lessons of the day and those are close to universal religious values.  In such an age can we really afford to fight over doctrine?

I visited Mt. Vernon when in Washington last week and was reminded of the tone for the presidency set by George Washington – a tone of service and sacrifice, certainly not the kind of grandstanding and puffery we see here.  The last time I heard power grabs and politics this naked I was in the Soviet Union, the ultimate secular state.  Only a solid belief in the Almighty can teach us about service instead of self-aggrandizement.   George Washington was a nominal Anglican whose personal faith is little documented, but likely quite different from mine.  Nonetheless, he managed to set a tone for the office that has served this nation extraordinarily well.  I doubt it is mere coincidence that as the civic religion slips from general public discourse, so does that tone.

Added to the insult, the president’s comments visited upon me a deep sadness.  The damage being wrought transcends the awful realities of overwhelming debt and crushing regulation; it’s on a level that strikes at the very soul of the nation.

Gays and God…

Maggie Gallagher says social issues still matter.  Yes they do.  Nicole Neroulias points out how much news there was regarding Mormons, homosexuals and so  forth.  And there was.  Packer’s statement continues to reverberate, despite the church having declared cruelty and violence as wrong.  As I read all this, I cannot help but see the forces that support the homosexual agenda trying to create a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” trap for those of us that disagree with their program.  Mormon and protestant alike.

We try really hard not to preach here, but I cannot help but reflect that Jesus said:

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

It seems like the GLBT community is trying to make the same claim for themselves.  And therein lies the problem.  Jesus can get away with such rhetoric – He was after all the Son of God.  We, on the other hand are not – we are all sinners and to make such claims without the proper status is about as wrong as one can get.

Supporters of the homosexual agenda are working very hard to create a situation where the only way to oppose them is to be ugly.  Here is a classic example of such.  Opposition is not ipso facto ugly or violent.  And yet, by refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the opposition, the opposition is often forced to resort to less than savory tactics to be heard.

This is going to get very interesting.

The Romney Strategy

Is NOT about selling books.  This story about institutional buys of Romney’s book as been all over the left-leaning blogosphere.  This is standard practice for most political books, on the left and the right.  It’s just not news.  But since when has that ever stopped the left from trying scoring points?

He is raising a lot of money.

Allahpundit looks at the real issue.

“That means that winning the Republican nomination next time might require a long, Clinton-versus-Obama-style slog. Under those circumstances, Republicans say, those Maryland or Kansas primary voters could end up being important. It might mean that Romney has to bank on winning states like Georgia and Virginia, where he could be competitive in an otherwise inhospitable region…

As Politico puts it:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is grinding through the 2010 campaign state by state and district by district, adhering to a go-everywhere, never-say-no campaign schedule that will have recorded visits to 30 states before Election Day.

In the current environment, that sounds smart – thoroughness matters.  The potential fly in the ointment lies with the so-called independent money, as described by Howard Fineman (HT: Ben Smith)

“I could see a Mormon-Harvard-Bain Capital coalition getting out there to defend Mitt Romney even before he is attacked,” said [Evan] Tracey. It’s a potential gold mine for an enterprising “independent” consultant. (I wouldn’t be surprised if some guy with a Power Point isn’t on his way to Boston even as I write.)

Before he is attacked!?  Can you say “2008?”  There was a lot of such “secret” money floating around in 2008 and much of it fueled the anti-Mormon stuff that did happen.  It was whisper campaign material but it was there.  I, for one, wish I knew there was such a defensive coalition forming right now.  I know for a fact there will never be a Mormon one – I don’t think the Quorum or the First Presidency would like it.

Romney is known for playing hardball, but it is also straightforward ball.  He will out-work anyone else out there, but I do not see a lot of “secret” anything happening.

What About The Rest Of The Field?

Well, Tim Pawlenty is raising money and doing some evangelical press.  Good stuff but he just is not getting significant traction.  He is a serious player, not a press hound like most of the more commonly mentioned names, but I just don’t see this coming together at the moment.

Mitch Daniels on the other hand continues to garner coverage and favor.  Michael Barone gave him a little coverage saying:

He’s got strong, mostly conservative convictions; he doesn’t suffer fools (and elected politicians) gladly; he doesn’t care if others don’t like him.

His public statements continue to prove Barone’s point.  This keep up, Daniels is likely to have very significant appeal to the Tea Party crowd.  He really is something completely different.  But the Tea Party is not an American majority.  The American majority wants change, but not that much change – that’s the lesson of the current administration.

Sarah Palin seems to be walking the same ground.

Rick Santorum stakes out the Huckabee territory.

Finally, That “And More…” Part

The left is not nearly so religiously neutral as they let on.  And are definitely playing religious favorites on even the small political scale.  This is all about Muslim appeasement.  Why does such a bad idea, like appeasing the bully, hang on so tightly after the lesson of the school yard, not to mention Chamberlain and Hitler?  I can only think of one reason – cowardice – such fear of the fight that we would rather be bullied.  (Hmmmm – there’s another lesson religion can teach.)

“First Thoughts” does a marvelous job of illustrating how extraordinarily diverse traditional Christianity is.  Such differences are why, despite some thinking the “religious right” is a leviathan, we may never be a truly cohesive political force.  Even the Mormons cannot hold it completely together and they are a lot more cohesive than traditional Christian expressions.  If we are ugly on the blogs, then when it really matters, what do we expect?

Lowell adds . . .

Dear readers:

As with Mark Twain, Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.  I have been buried in  administrative hearings (a type of legal trial) and am just now able to rejoin the fray.  I am delighted to be back.

On the subject of gay marriage, I’ll simply add that the debate has become severely warped.  I commented on that here and don’t have much more to say.  At least not right now.

John and I have talked a few times about why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have the equivalent of an Anti-Defamation League.  All I can say is, that’s not the way the Church  approaches news media relations, at least not in the last 100 years or so.  It’s pretty much “get the facts out and turn the other cheek.”  There are private groups like FAIR, the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, a self-described “non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS (Mormon) doctrine, belief and practice.”   As good as FAIR is, however, it’s not about politics and it is not an activist “attack” type group.

That Idaho Statesmen article John cites, about Romney’s endorsement of a Catholic Republican over a Mormon Democrat, is simply wonderful on several levels.  One is the sheer ordinariness of the story.  I’ve been watching Mormon politicians do battle that way all my life.  They want to win elections, not win one for the “Mormon team.”  It’s as simple as that.  Another more important level is that newcomers to Intermountain West politics — especially the coastal news media — don’t get that at all.  To them Mormons are just one big clan.  I am here to tell you, it ain’t so.

AND FINALLY:  I’ve been trying to get to this On Faith piece for a week now.  I found it fascinating.  Why?  Because it strongly denounces the use of the term “cultist” when that term is used to describe … Harry Reid:

Now, about that term “cult.” There is no more incendiary four-letter word that one can toss around religious circles. It amounts to a total rejection of the spiritual values of a particular organization. To call a group a “cult” is the pretty much the equivalent of calling an individual an “infidel.”

“Cult” might possibly work as a description of an isolated, fenced, armed compound in which people were being held against their wills. Jonestown, circa 1978, comes to mind. But outside this very limited context, it amounts to little more than a fighting word.

Well. Wouldn’t it be nice to see that kind of outrage expressed in the Washington Post when the same term is used to describe Mitt Romney?

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