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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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Some Stories We’ve Been Following and the Usual Stack of Stuff

Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:46 pm, March 13th 2011     —    Comment on this post »

More I – Gingrich’s Marriage Problems

Newt Gingrich did the CBN thing last week trying to do a mea culpa about his serial marital problems, but ended up stepping in it.  David Brody was his usual fawning self in the actual interview,  and featured the Christian forgiveness part of the interview in his postings on it.  But it did not take long for those on the left and the right to find the real news in the interview.  Quoth Newt:

“There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate,” said Gingrich. “And what I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn’t trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them.”

OK Newt, here’s the deal – part of the whole seeking confession/forgiveness thing,  is that we own our mistakes, we do not excuse them, and we certainly do not work to make our excuses look somehow more noble than a typical excuse.  David Frum, seconded by Josh Marshall (and I do not typically agree with Frum on much), got this one just right: “It’s not the infidelity.  It’s the arrogance….”  Others go even farther.

Frankly, this early in a race and this deep in political geek land, I doubt this will have much affect on the campaign Gingrich appears poised to begin – but it is certainly enough to move me from thinking he merely had little chance of  success, to thinking he would be an actual bad move.   This is pretty distasteful to me.

More II – That Evangelical/Mormon Meeting in Utah

It seemed to go well, and drew lots of press and analysis.  But the most interesting Mormon/Evangelical story of the week was an article by Marvin Olasky.  Olasky, you will recall is an editor at World Magazine – home of the famous “Mormons lie” meme.  Olasky’s personal stance on things Mormon has been a bit confusing at times.  So it is hard to guess if the piece linked earlier about an appearance he did on Glenn Back is a Mormon shot or not.  He certainly tries to make the case that Beck is somehow sub-Christian, but the word Mormon never comes up.

Here’s my analysis:  Overt anti-Mormonism has been wholly discredited, both by the campaign last time and more importantly be Prop 8.  Anti-Mormons remain and they are searching for rhetorical means to express their distinct viewpoint without getting pilloried.  My thought is that if they want to retain their credibility, whatever may be left of it, they probably need to just go ahead and give up the viewpoint.  Rhetorical flourish is just too easy to see through.

More III – The “Death Hug” around Romney

“Death Hug” is what Time is calling the Obama Administration’s continued efforts to use Massachusetts health care as an argument for Obamacare.  Personally, given how hard they are sawing this string and how little traction it is getting, I think they are playing more defense than offense.  Obamacare is currently suffering the death of a thousands cuts.  By the time the general election rolls around it may be on life support.

In the meantime, there were a couple of very silly Romney stories out there.  There were also some endorsements and analysis.

There was also some silly Mormon stuff.  I defy anyone to tell me that this blurb from the SLTrib is not a veiled reference to Mormon sacred garment.   And then there was an interview with the South Park guys about their forthcoming Mormon themes musical.  They may know entertainment, but they view religion and politics purely as fodder for their comedy and when they try to discuss them seriously, they just make no sense.

Looking Around The Field…

It’s kind of fun sometimes to look at how the media covers the GOP race.  You can pretty much rest assured the spin will be designed to make us look as disorganized as possible.  NPR’s take that there “is no frontrunner” is designed to weaken the frontrunner (Romney.)  A weakened frontrunner means a harder primary fight which is less time to organize for the general.

This Politico piece, calling the nascent campaign currently underway a “Kabuki,” is nothing more than an effort to make Republicans look weird and foreign.

Whoever wrote this AP piece trying to spin Mike Huckabee‘s recent gaffes as calculated political maneuvers is clearly trying to revive the fortunes of a known mischief maker so that he can do what he does best – make mischief.

Politco calling Rick Santorum‘s chances in Iowa “unlikely” repeats a mantra that only the press believe, that Iowa is so hugely important.  Iowa is important if a candidate makes it so strategically, but it is an oddball when it comes to measuring national trends.  Santorum’s social issue credentials make him a player in Iowa – but then so was Pat Robertson.

What’s really funny about all of this is the expend all this ammunition at a time when people are barely paying attention, and they are arguments that the vast majority of voters won’t get anyway.  Most voters watch the ads for a week or so before they go to the polling place.  This is just ineffective trouble making

Sarah Palin still looks as divisive as almost any figure in history.  And in the unlikely event she runs, it will most assuredly be in an unconventional fashion.  Evidence to me that she would not be serious about the attempt.

For some reason, Scott Conroy is trying to heap Jon Huntsman recover from a hard right to the jaw in New Hampshire.  Sununu’s comments are not Huntsman’s problem; the fact that he worked for Obama is.

Tim Pawlenty hired a Huck guy in Iowa.  Huck’s Iowa campaign last time around was enormously effective, but it was also underhanded and nasty – not negative mind you, underhanded.  Not sure I’d want to associate with that bunch.

Geeks still love Mitch Daniels.  Come on, I like the guy too, how can I not?  He’s an acquaintance.  But he is not presidential candidate material.  It would be much better for his small legion of devotees to focus on how best to use his obvious smarts and capabilities than try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Lowell adds . . .

The attempted Obama “death hug” around Obamacare is fascinating to watch.  I think the president’s problem is that the tactic is so obvious – no one is buying it.  If anything, the Obami’s efforts are calling so much attention to the issue that it will become old news.  The key point here is that Romney actually does have an argument: Romneycare is vastly different from Obamacare.  Whether one buys that argument or not, it exists – but it is somewhat esoteric.  The more opportunities Obama creates for Romney to explain himself on the issue, the clearer his position becomes.   Obama is gambling that instead, his Romneycare-Obamacare death hug will create a narrative that Romney won’t be able to shake.  We’ll see which of the two outcomes result.

I agree with John about Gingrich.  I’ve always hoped that the other Republicans who are running will listen to Gingrich, but that Newt himself will not run.  Ego is a powerful thing in politics.

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