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 Week Of Tragedy Just Past, And Yet, News

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:30 am, January 18th 2011     &mdash      2 Comments »

    The week just past was to have belonged to Tim Pawlenty.  The sad Tuscon events rightly eclipsed his roll out in many ways, and yet there was a massive amount of press for him – it just ended up being “below the fold.”  That said, discussing Pawlenty amongst the possible seems like the right place to start.

    Tim Pawlenty – Where Do Nice Guys Finish?

    “The Fix” says it is “go time” for the former governor of Minnesota.  He made the NYTimes and his home town paper said he is finally getting his hair right.  (I am really learning to despise hair references when it comes to POTUS candidates – its just trite at this point.)  His book was reviewed in the right places.  He even floated some unusual ideas.  He was seen in all the right places.

    But the roll out was marred a bit with his own actions, not just the events of the week as noted above.  He starts with a bit of charisma deficit.  He argues that he is not “too nice.”  I’m not convinced.  He is, in my personal estimation too approachable.  He makes Huckabee or Bill Clinton look downright aloof.  I think the public is looking for “presidential” this go around.

    He also made some Palin comments that he had to spend a lot of time backpedaling from.  Then he made what appeared to be a smart move for the Hispanic vote, only to be non-committal on what to do about immigration.  It’s early and only we geeks are watching, but this is a most inauspicious start.

    Mitt Romney – Worst Kept Secret

    He’s running.  Remember last week when we talked about the Bachmann trial balloon raining on the formation of the Pawlenty parade?  Well, Romney himself brought a few showers as he went to Afghanistan and Israel.  He also did some hiring that sent clear signals of his intent.  Of course that has been going on for some time now.  It is looking like April for a formal announcement at the moment.

    He is polling exceptionally well in Nevada and better than might be expected in Iowa.  The left is rapidly lining up in opposition.  And the Obama administration appears to be focusing on him as their likely opponent.

    It continues to look like the Massachusetts health care system will be the biggest opposition meme this time, NOT his faith.  His faith continues to show up in comments all over, but it has not yet emerged as a media meme this cycle.  By this time in 2008 it was all anybody would talk about when it came to Romney.  What is interesting is that the occasional references to his faith that are seen tend to come from he left wing outlets.

    Such leaves me wondering about the wisdom of the left flogging that horse just now.  Last time they flogged it to keep Romney out of the general, but this time, if they really think it his “Achilles’s heel” why not let it rest to help clear a path for him to the general where they can wield the weapon with maximal effectiveness?  I can answer my own question by saying they are thinking our side is serious about Palin, or Huckabee – both of whom they can beat going away, so they still want to keep Romney out of the general.  An Obama v Romney general is one they might actually have to work at.

    Let’s face it, it is really only an effective weapon with a certain segment of the Republican base, and that segment is pretty well neutralized at the moment.

    John Thune – Very Tentative

    Amongst the serious possibles John Thune is showing up in all the right places, but it looks to me like he still only has one toe in the water.

    Mike Huckabee – Filling the Forming Palin Void?

    Is polling best in Iowa – gee, did the sun come up this morning?  Note it is being touted by the lefties.  Speaking of being touted by lefties, “Religion Dispatches” an outlet that I am increasingly thinking was formed purely to push the homosexual agenda against religion, also published a fairly favorable piece (at least on their terms) regarding the ‘Ole Huckster.  Huckabee also sounded just so presidential when he described Jared Loughner as a “whack job nut maggot.”  And yes, I am being sarcastic here.

    The most telling story was the Gallup poll that found Huckabee was “most liked.”

    Look at this profile – well liked, prone to overstatement – sounds more like a media figure than a candidate.  Which of course is why the left is talking so nice about him,  Like Palin, he is polarizing – good for media, lousy to run for president.  Polarizing will keep Obama in office, no problem.

    I hope the MSM keeps touting him.  He gets enough press, he may not have to enter the race to keep his burgeoning media empire going.

    Mitch Daniels – Fading?

    CPAC was attacked for inviting him to speak at a dinner honoring Reagan.  There was a great deal of pushback.  The attackers toned in down a notch.  But this does point out an essential weakness in a potential Daniels candidacy.  Speculation now runs that he is less likely to run. (HT: Taegan Goddard)

    This is a self created weakness based on some of his very early statements.  As I have said, Indiana statehouse rumors have been that his wife is not interested in making a run, and I have wondered all along if some of his very controversial statements early on were designed to quell the growing Daniels movement.  I’m looking to be even smarter than I thought.

    Sarah Palin – Faded?

    CBN is questioning her seriousness and the left is piling on.  TV show over, bubble burst?

    Haley Barbour and Newt Gingrich – Rising?

    Well, Haley is being coy and sounding petulant.  Newt not so much.   They are playing the game, but I continue to think they have a different agenda.

    Mike Pence – Drafts Never Work…

    …but some people just have to try.

    Amongst The Silly…

    Donald Trump keeps building those “Apprentice” ratings.

    Fred Karger is not invited the early Iowa debate.  I am shocked, shocked that such would be the case.  I believe homosexual practice to be a sin, but I also think the nation would seriously look at a homosexual candidate that came to serve the nation rather than promote a specific “homosexual agenda.”  Fred might want to give that some thought.

    There is much talk of “dark horses.”  The press may consider their column inches consumed.

    Serious Analysis

    Chris Cillizza ia wondering if the Tea Party is a movement or a moment?  It’s an excellent question and one that only time can answer.  There are parts of it I hope dearly are retained by the right wing regardless of how it all plays out.

    Religion Generally…

    Well said.

    This is just a crying shame:

    Mark DeMoss said he is halting the initiative, called the Civility Project, due to lack of interest.

    What?  This essay is clearly designed to stir something up between Mormons and Evangelicals, but I am thinking there are only like 4 people in the nation that have a clue what the guy is talking about.

    I can’t tell if this piece is rubbing salt in old wounds, or trying to help.

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    The President’s Speech…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:26 am, January 13th 2011     &mdash      1 Comment »

    I did not hear or watch Barack Obama last night in Tuscon.  I did read the prepared text.  They were good words – marvelous words even.  They were far and away the best thing I have seen from this White House.  The response seems to be laudatory.  Frankly, the words deserve it.

    But that said, I hesitate to add my praise…Why?  We have just been through five days of gross partisan ad hominem – where was he then?  We have just been through two years of partisan trash talk – “I won.“  We have just been through a session of Congress marked by rule against the express will of the people through brute legislative force and parliamentary trickery – Scott Brown/Obamacare/the repeal of DADT.

    Words ring hollow when confronted with such facts.  Appeals to bipartisan civility in the face of such facts are robbed of much of their force.  His appeals to scripture, so absent from all that has preceded this speech (think about his “forgetting” appeals to the Almighty in recitation of the Declaration of Independence) seem somehow to ring hollow.

    And so, my praise awaits action.  If the president conducts himself from this point forward in a fashion consistent with this rhetoric, I shall join the chorus of praises.  But until that time these are just good words.

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    Conservative Havens for Anti-Mormonism: Taking Our Eye Off the Ball in a Big Way

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 07:20 am, January 12th 2011     &mdash      3 Comments »

    As John predicted below, I do have a few words about the Free Republic anti-Mormon kerfluffle.  Apparently there has been quite a stir over at Free Republic, where the site’s proprietor has pretty much said Mormon posters are not welcome on his site. Granted, it appears that what upsets the Freepers’ leader, Jim Robinson, are posts by Mormons that actually state Mormon beliefs in either an apologetic or proselytizing manner.  Apparently those posts were confined to a certain part of the forum.  (A Mormon belief ghetto?)

    Traditionally, caucus threads on the Free Republic site are set aside as “safe zones” for people of a particular religious persuasion or political activists to congregate and discuss their issues free from undue harassment. Generally these are devotional threads.  There are such groups designated for Catholics, Jews, Reformed (Calvinists), and Latter-day Saints.

    Now, however, that special portion of the FreeRep site has been moved to an unprotected location, where the predictable bashing has taken place.  According to one unscientific but seemingly straightforward study, Free Republic is pretty tough on Mormons:

    Beginning in December 2008 and continuing up to February 2010, there were a total of 702 discussions about Mormonism on Free Republic. 144 of them or 21 percent were favorable towards the Church. These consisted primarily of “devotional” or “LDS Caucus” discussions where site rules prohibit debates or hostile expressions by non-caucus members.

    A total of 51 “neutral” discussions were found for a total of 7 percent. These were generally discussions where mention of Mormons and Mormonism were incidental, such as a political discussion about Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck. There was a considerable amount of anti-Mormon activity in these threads, but for the purposes of the survey, they were not counted as such because the intent of the the individuals initiating the topics was clearly not to attack the Church.

    That leaves us with a total of 507 discussions that were initiated by known anti-Mormons with the intention of bashing Mormons and their religion. That’s 72 percent! The level of hatred, derision, mockery, and ridicule heaped upon any latter-day saint who defends their faith is incredible.

    To an outside, unconcerned observer, it often appears that Mormons are trying to use the Free Republic site to proselytize and spread their faith. The numbers reveal that nearly three-quarters of all posts about the Church are initiated by individuals who are extremely hostile to the Church and seek to foster ill feelings towards it.

    This is nothing especially new or upsetting to most Mormons, but it is worth noting.  I never read Free Republic, because it seems to be a conservative echo chamber for people who espouse “stupid Republicanism” – i.e., they’d rather have a Democrat in office than a Republican who agrees with them on 85% of the issues. Still, for a political site that is frequented by conservative activists openly to espouse anti-Mormonism only serves to make conservative coalition-building more difficult.  It also fosters a climate where religious bigotry is downright welcome, and that should always be unacceptable.

    Post-script: I agree with John’s comments below.  I don’t know “who started it,” either, and sometimes my Mormon brethren are injudicious in the manner in which they seek to share their faith.  Still, religious tolerance is a wonderful thing among people who are trying to build and maintain political coalitions, and it doesn’t look like FreeRep is a shining example of that right now.

    John Adds…

    This points to one of the biggest issues in the religion/politics mix – how to argue about something.  For example, we discuss marriage and I say “The Bible prohibits polygamy,” and cite passages to that effect.  Someone else can then come along and cite the numerous counter-passages in the Old Testament.  Soon what was to be a discussion of same-sex marriage law has become a theological debate.  And there are no winners of those.

    I know that many Mormons believe that describing Mormon belief is the answer to many of the misunderstandings that are out there concerning their faith.  The question is always “On what level?”  There are people out there that legitimately, religiously believe that Mormons will spend eternity in Hell for their beliefs and that Mormon belief is a perversion – that is an equally valid religious stance as Mormon belief itself.

    But that does not mean it is impossible to build a political coalition across that line, provided people are willing to park their religious baggage at the door  of the political discussion.

    I have not looked into this enough to suggest who “started it,” but I am suggesting that there are appropriate places to being up specific beliefs and inappropriate places.

    We learned in our early experiments here that bulletin board sites are simply impossible to police.  There are always going to be nutters out there that cannot resist the temptation.  When even well-funded sites like Politico rely on a “complaint” system to police comments, what can be expected from someplace like Free Republic?  Not much.

    The best thing to do is avoid such places, and to mind our own “p’s and q’s” when it comes to how we frame a discussion.  Sometimes it is best to let a religious misunderstanding lay – or simply deny it – rather than let a political discussion degrade into a theological one.

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    Minnesota Rising?

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:31 am, January 10th 2011     &mdash      3 Comments »

    A while back everybody was proclaiming 2012 the “Hoosier election” as Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence’s stars ascended.  Now I think it is turning to the “Nice Election” (“Minnesota nice” that is) as last week saw rumors abound around Michele Bachmann and the release of Tim Pawlenty’s book.

    Frankly the Bachmann thing caught me flat footed – never saw it coming, but then that could be because there is nothing there.  The story is very different depending on who you read – NRO, the Atlantic, or Politco.  Some say her office confirmed she was considering a run and some say she is not saying – that typically spells trial balloon, and one that faded as fast as this did means it did not travel far.  Bachmann is a star, and in my book the best female Republicans have to offer for the slot.  That said; however, more seasoning would make her a much better shot.  The more I think about it, the more I think she is positioning to be considered for VP – and she’d be very good there.  Although as Politico notes, her “coming out” at this moment does put a bit of a burr in the saddle on one of the more serious possibles – Tim Pawlenty.  Her timing is perfect as Pawlenty’s book tour begins – she could be helping a friend here, but what friend I have no idea.

    And the Pawlenty blitz is upon us.  He was interviewed by Jim Geraghty and Matt Lewis.  (Geraghty hits the highlights here.)  Politico reviewed the book.  There was commentary from Chris Good, ans snide remarks from Weigel who noted the same thing Ben Smith did both via Christian Heinze:

    He’s really milking the implicit blue-collar vs. white-collar war with Mitt Romney.

    And that is a huge mistake.  The primary has got to differentiate, not divide, or we guarantee another Obama term – ala the Huckster last go around.  I like Tim Pawlenty, but this is a very bad tactic.  It is also worthy of note that he is trying to play on a Palin-like image here.  Another clue this is going to fail – that space is taken.  In the meantime, Bachmann does have him worried.

    Before we get to the other possibles individually, let’s see…

    …What’s At Play With The Field In General

    HuffPo is a little late to the partyHotline is a week behind usScott Conroy came up with an interesting typology.  But the most interesting news is this:

    An Iowa evangelical Christian group is inviting 13 potential presidential candidates to what likely will be the first caucus forum.

    Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, says the group invited the potential candidates to attend the March 7 forum in West Des Moines.

    What I found most interesting was David Brody of CBN’s coverage of that announcement:

    I think I better be in Iowa March 7. Have a look below at the big 2012 presidential event that will take place. The 2012 GOP primary may end up turning in to the “Evangelical Primary”. The GOP race may include Huckabee, Palin, Pence, Thune, Pawlenty, Santorum (Okay, Catholic but Evangelicals love him), etc.

    No mention of Romney (who is invited) and a snide shot at Santorum!  Brody was sure smarter about Romney last time around.  I did speak to him at the “Faith in America” speech and I thought he got it.  If it were not for the Santorum shot I would think that Brody simply did not believe Romney could overcome what he saw last time, but with that remark this seems to be pure religious identity politics.  Huge mistake.

    What’s really sad is that religious prejudices of Iowa have been slowly relegating it to a sideshow in the primary cycle.  This forum is likely to accelerate that process, not stem the tide.  The rest of the country is just not that blatant about its religious preferences in the political arena.  The less Iowa looks like middle American, the less important the caucus’ will be.  This thing, like all the “debates” no one has committed to yet may feature the also-rans.

    But it does point out that Romney still has a religious problem, just one that will play in a very different way than last cycle.  Consider this from Ben Smith – in a piece about local New Hampshire stuff no less:

    As a local GOP activists and county chair during the 2008 cycle, Bergeron is not on record taking a public stance on a candidate, but spoke highly of Romney.

    “There are a lot of people who are politically correct enough to say that these things don’t matter to them, but they do matter to them,” Bergeron told the Dallas Morning News. “I think the word ‘Mormon’ conjures up multiple wives, polygamy, to people. He was wise to address it head-on. I often hear people in New Hampshire say, ‘But he’s a Mormon.’”

    “Spoke highly”? – that’s dripping with sarcasm if you ask me.  But with that, let’s move the discussion to…

    Mitt Romney…

    …is polling very well in New Hampshire, despite the comments noted above.  He also is heavily favored with “Insiders” (I dearly wish I knew who these people were.)  He is traveling smart.  He continues to be a major target, a sign of strength, so much so that even Comedy Central notes how ludicrous some of it is.  He is stepping into enemy territory – which should prove interesting.  Chris Cillizza thinks he is “triangulating” – I just think he is being smart.

    This does bring up, again, the use of “code.”  “Triangulating” is a word strongly associated with Bill Clinton, so in using that word Cillizza connects Romney and Clinton, which plays on the fact that many people wonder if Romney is the real deal as a conservative – a fear rooted in their distrust of his faith.  Which brings me to this piece by Paul Skousen (Yes the son of THAT Skousen.)  Skousen attempts, by comparing and contrasting Romney and Reid, to make the case that Mormonism is a non-factor in politics – but the messaging is all wrong.  First of all, coming from a controversial Mormon figure, it tightens associations which need to be loosened.  Secondly, his argument that Reid is a jerk and Romney is not also screams that therefore Romney is a “genuine” Mormon – something that again tightens associations that are better left loose.

    Finally, we are beginning to see some clues as to how the religion issue will play.  More when we get to the section on Mormon news below.

    Mike Huckabee

    I wish he would just go away, but alas, the lefties seem determined to keep him in the forefront.  Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen, a Democrat said:

    Huckabee’s the only one of the top Republicans who has the combination of electability and base appeal it’s going to take to beat Barack Obama. Romney has the electability but not the base appeal, Palin has the base appeal but not the electability, and Gingrich sort of falls in the middle on both counts. A lot will change over the course of 2011 but at least based on the information we have so far Huckabee looks like the GOP’s best bet.

    The fact that this was uttered by a Democratic pollster, and echoed loudly by a very left outlet and CBN should tell you all you need to know about this.  As noted above, CBN seems to be playing label politics, something I really did think they had the smarts not to do, and of course, the lefties want to run against Huck so bad they can taste it.  With the pardon issue, the overt religious appeal, and not to mention the religious bigotry of the last cycle – they would beat him like a bo-bo doll.

    Mitch Daniels’…

    …wonk appeal continues to grow.  Rumors are he is leaning towards running.  That’s got people on the left worried and the right fawning.  There is a lot to like about Mitch Daniels, and he can contend well for the primary, but I little opportunity for success in a general.  He should; however, be a major player any reasonable Republican administration.

    Rick Santorum…

    …Is going to run – pretty sure.  But his reasons have more to do with advancing an agenda than actually competing.  The thing that bothers me about that approach is that it requires you to pick and choose people when you are generally more effective in advancing an agenda by seeking to be in a position of influence, or at least audience, with likely winners.  Why make enemies that if they prevail you have to patch things up with to advance your agenda, when you can make friends and give your agenda a head start?

    You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me…

    Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump?  Trump is getting his TV ratings up – that’s why he’ll “announce” on the show.  Rudy is making a living being Rudy and POTUS run talk will keep the speaking fees high, so I figure that’s what he is up to, not to mention he is backing away from the rumors a bit.  If I was Rudy, after what happened in ’08 – I’d be embarrassed to show my face in presidential race circles – but then we are in an age where presidential embarrassment seems bear impossible.

    Mormon News

    As I said above, I think we are beginning to see how the Mormon issue will play this time and it will be very different than last time.  It has been established that Romney had a religion issue last cycle – so people are not gong to go there this time.  We have always contended here that such was a two-edged sword and this time around it would cut the other way.

    The first thing we are going to see is increasing coverage of apparently unrelated “Mormon stuff.”  See here, here and here for examples.  Mormonism is simply going to be increasingly in the news outside of the Jello Belt.  Such stories will always strike non-Mormons as “awkward” or “strange.”  Because of the now firmly established link between Romney and his faith, this will serve to encourage people to view him more as oddity than reality.

    Of course, theologians will continue to do their thing, but this I think is also largely played out.

    From the left, you are going to see attacks on “diversity” on the right.  This will serve to batter the right in general, but also serve to reinforce the “difference” between Romney and others without naming faith specifically.  One must remember that a presidential candidate seeks to be inclusive, not exclusive.

    And, sadly, the far right is not going to help.  (Something tells me Lowell is going to have something to say about this one.)  I think what we are beginning to see here is a vicious circle.   The link is about anti-Mormon stuff at Free Republic.  Now in this case, I think the religious bigotry that has developed is not becasue of religious concerns, but political ones.  They don’t like Romney so they are going anti-Mormon to support that dislike rather than disliking Romney because of his faith.  It’s a viscous circle, but I also think it is going to be relegated to some far away corners of the right-leaning public.  You don’t hear about the Freepers much anymore, just like Red State’s star seems to be descendant.  As these outlets have grown radically right wing they are being marginalized.  In an election cycle where simply returning the White House to dead center would be an enormous lurch to the right we cannot let “political purists” get in the way.  That said, this tactic is ugly.

    Evangelical News

    This is just embarassing.  Honestly, sometimes I want to hide my face in shame.

    This is just silly.  The spectrum of belief and practice is so much broader than the labels as to render the labels almost meaningless.

    This is pleasing.  The fact that the Ninth Circuit did not rush to enforce something clearly against the will of the people is laudable.  The fact that they punted the ball to accomplish it is comical.

    This is a bit bizarre.  Given the authors flights to bias, the line he attempts to draw is a mighty fine one.  As disclaimer, I do not think is any way shape or form that Mohler would resort to actual violence, but he has come dangerously close to rhetorical violence in the past.

    A Closing Word Of Warning…

    The events in Tucson this Saturday past are horrible and tragic.  And articles like this are inevitable.  But we must be vigilant because such calls are often used to squelch dissent.  I agree totally that the debate is sometimes unbecoming – but debate is the key, and tone, not content is the answer.

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    The New Year – And The Money Campaign Begins

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 12:04 am, January 4th 2011     &mdash      7 Comments »

    The worst kept secret in politics is that the campaign begins before the campaign actually begins.  That is to say, possibles have to “test the waters” by seeing how much attention they can attract, and most importantly, how much money they can raise, before they make the formal change from “possible” to “candidate.”  Money is the grease of political wheels, and if you can’t get it, you can’t win.

    Which make this the most ridiculous and ill-informed blog post of a very long time.

    USA Today reported yesterday that 6 Republicans considering a run for president in 2012 — Gov. Haley Barbour (MS), Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas governor MIke Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (MN) — have raised millions of dollars in political action committee accounts “that allow them to get around federal campaign laws that limit presidential fundraising”

    Uh, dude – I got news for you.  The Democrats do the same thing.  Everybody does.  They cite how much of the PAC raised money is not given away.  Guess what?  It can’t be.  Campaign finance laws limit how much a PAC can give to a candidate.

    Well, enough arguing with silly people.  As the possibles go about the business of seeing if they should be candidates, the press is going to try and tell them what they should do.  Some are casting about for allies, where simple conversations occurred.  Some look for the “Republican Obama.“  Lord I hope not, we are supposed to be the smart ones.  And then some are just trying to take shots, disguised as news, like the AP, PBS and NPR.  These latter two have become so partisan that they actually remind me of my visit to the Soviet Union.

    This could be a landscape changer.  Although, even if Hillary did step down it is still not necessarily evidence she’d run.  It would; however, signal the exit of the last adult from this adolescent administration.

    And so, on to the candidates…

    Mitt Romney – “The Question” through the back door?  The LATimes manages way too many words about something anyone with any sense is aware of.  Romney is thinking about running.  Some even say he is the frontrunner.  That said, where things got interesting was the rumored departure of Jon Hunstman from the Obama administration (speaking of adults leaving the middle school).  This of course fueled speculation about a possible POTUS run by Huntsman.  Nonsense.  No Republican will take him seriously this soon after leaving a Democrat administration.  More likely he is leaving, if he is in fact leaving, because he does not want to serve under the next Obama appointed SoS, if Hillary is in fact leaving.

    Where this concerns us; however, is the UK Spectator Coffee House blog comment on Huntsman:

    There is, unusually for the Republicans, no clear front-runner. As a successful, tax cutting governor with international experience, Huntsman would be a credible candidate. However, his religion, he’s a Mormon, could cause him difficulties as it did Mitt Romney in 2008.

    Could the press use this move by Huntsman as a lever to open a door that has largely been closed?  Oh yeah, they want to reignite this issue so badly they will stoop to any level.

    And sometimes Mormons are not helping themselves.  Orson Scott Card is quoted in a CNN piece:

    Mormons have delivered the vote for Republicans year after year, but the GOP would be wise to remember that Mormons don’t actually belong to them. We noticed and will not forget Mike Huckabee’s viciously anti-Mormon mockery of Mitt Romney during the 2008 campaign. If Huckabee is the Republican nominee for president, look for substantial numbers of Mormons to defect or abstain. Mormons are the key to Republican victory in many Western swing states; if Huckabee actually wants their votes, he’d better start mending fences now.

    Huckabee will not be the nominee, and to issue threats like this is petulant, unbecoming, and counter productive.  It is reminiscent of some of James Dobson’s bad threats.  Much better to go out there and just beat Huckabee in the primary, in the unlikely event he runs, than pull stunts like this.

    But speaking of Mike Huckabee, I find it fascinating that as Palin’s show recedes from view he starts to poll better.  This is causing some to jump to some interesting conclusions, and I am not at all happy with how CBN is touting the fact.  Look, Huckabee is showing his real stripes and siding with the opposition.  Not to mention being properly chastised for it.  Huck and Palin are in a media battle for the same media space, which the media loves, but serious contenders? – Huck not at all and Palin unlikely.  Recognition and a fan base do not a candidate make.

    Which brings us to the rapidly fading Sarah Palin.  She is playing a media game, not a candidate game, even with silly comparisons like this.  As is Huckabee – but the press has something to talk about…

    There is no fade, at least in wonk circles, in Mitch Daniels.  He is trying to dig himself out of a pretty deep hole, and getting some notable help.  But then he seems to want to be more king maker than king.   Which gives him a lot in common with Haley Barbour.  But this Daniels quote is fascinating:

    “I don’t dispute it. You know, if it comes down to height and hair, I guess we won’t — wouldn’t do too well.”

    Now, there are two ways to take that comment.  The first is to evaluate its truth.  As I have said before, I used to go to church with Governor Daniels, and I can conform he is short and bald, easy to lose in a crowd.  But that also can be taken as a shot at Mitt Romney, given that very unserious people comment on his “matinee good looks” and the left-press was full of hair jokes last go-around.  It makes one wonder if a Barbour/Daniels-centered Romney opposition is forming, even if neither of them runs?

    Meanwhile, Tim Pawlenty continues to posePowerline continues to pull for him.  And Newt Gingrich is “serious.” (About his income I have no doubt….)

    And so the new year begins, and campaign 2012 awaits a formal start int he next few weeks and months.

    Lowell adds . . .

    I must say that the Huntsman rumors certainly got some people excited. Mike Allen, for example.  In his Playbook Allen can always be counted on to soft-pedal any bad news or criticism of the Democrats and President Obama, while becoming downright giddy over what he sees as bad news for Republicans.  Take a look at this, for example:

    Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr., age 50, LEANS STRONGLY toward running in 2012 — Heads will explode at 1600 and in RomneyWorld — Obama-appointed ambassador to China shows his cards in Dec. 12 interview with young Mormon reporter for Newsweek.

    Okay, what is wrong with this picture?  “Heads will explode” where?  The White House?  Really?  Over a little-known former governor from a small state, who has no organization in place or fund-raising underway?  I like Jon Huntsman, Jr., but I think White House crania will remain intact, thank you, if he decides to run.  And what’s “RomneyWorld,” anyway?

    Oh, but I am just getting started; that one Mike Allen paragraph is pure gold.  For example:  The assumption that Romney fears another Mormon candidate reveals an embarrassingly unsophisticated understanding of the Mormon vote and its significance to Romney as a base (of sorts); and the mention of the Newsweek reporter’s Mormon faith.  Regarding the latter, let’s play my favorite game: First, imagine a story about a candidate who is Catholic, Jewish, or Evangelical.  Now insert the word “Catholic” or “Jewish” or “Evangelical” for “Mormon” to describe the reporter.  Can’t see it, can you?

    I think Huntsman might make a fine Secretary of State.  And you can read the Newsweek piece here.

    Back to John . . .

    Evangelical Background Reading

    Sometimes things get silly.

    Reasonable advice.

    Interesting question.  Although I know a whole bunch of people that would get really angry at equating Fundamentalism  and Evangelicalism.  There is a strong fundamentalist streak in today’s Evangelicals, but historically that are contra-movements, and Evangelicalism remains far less dogmatic.

    A brief look at a founder of the “Religious Right.

    Mormon Background Reading

    Sad news.  And surprisingly no one has yet to try and make political hay out of it.

    The state control religion in ways we would never dream of.

    Wishful thinking.  And mischaracterization. (Racism left the building quite a while ago.)

    Serious inside reading.

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