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

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Bachmann? For Real? Romney Dominates the Discussion, and a Bit More…

Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:50 am, March 28th 2011     —    10 Comments »

Michelle Bachmann – Real or Rogue?

So, she announced she was going to form an exploratory committee last Thursday.  This drew some interesting commentary from Geraghty.  Sean Scallon filled in a lot of the background:

Then another born-again evangelical, Jimmy Carter, ran for president, and Bachmann worked for his election. But evangelicals like the Bachmanns quickly became disillusioned with Carter’s liberal positions on social questions when they conflicted with conservative evangelical teachings—especially over abortion.

Carter-era evangelicals were profoundly influenced by the Christian writer Francis Schaeffer. His articles, books, and lectures convinced many Protestants who were living separate cultural and political lives to join the fray and get involved in the culture war. Organizations like the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, and the Family Research Council would not have emerged without Francis Schaeffer encouraging people like the Bachmanns to engage with secular politics and culture. Schaeffer was particularly influential in changing the attitudes of evangelicals towards abortion.

Schaffer challenged new evangelicals to action through his documentary film “How Then Should We Live?” The Bachmanns became pro-life activists, demonstrating outside abortion clinics and undertaking sidewalk interventions. When the Republican Party in 1980 added a pro-life plank to its platform and nominated a foe of abortion, Ronald Reagan, for president, millions of evangelicals like the Bachmanns became reliable GOP voters. This experience as part of a generational transformation among evangelicals gives Bachmann an edge with a constituency one would think a Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin would automatically dominate. Huckabee is a preacher, but he comes from the already well-established Baptist Church. Palin is a Pentacostal [sic], but religious activism has never been the driving force behind her career.  And for some religion-centered voters, there’s nothing more compelling than a conversion story and a life of faith-centered action.

Does that scare anybody besides me?  There are a couple of things that seem problematic.  One is the extreme difficulty of sorting “the call of the Holy Spirit” from our own egos.  The decision to run for president must be undertaken prayerfully, of that there is no doubt, but it needs to be a matter careful consideration, thought and political calculation.  So often, ego creeps into the equation and we harm the cause we think we are trying to serve.  The issues confronting Evangelicals today are not ones that will be corrected quickly.  They will require a long march.  Frankly, very little of the action on them will come from the White House.

As to the second issue.  Donald Trump is still making noise about running, but even the left is on to his game.  So, it is a little disturbing when Bachmann is being grouped with Trump – and both are compared to Palin.  Running for president indeed requires a media strategy, but it is about far more than achieving media popularity.  When it is hard to tell the media game from the campaign game – there is a problem, and Bachmann seems to have it as much as Palin, Huckabee and Trump.  Again, ego makes these two games difficult to separate.

Frankly, the current administration seems unable to divorce ego from office and media from campaign – I’ve had enough of it.

Talking Romney

Despite the fact that he has not actually said he is going to run, even though that decision does appear to be a foregone conclusion, Mitt Romney absolutely dominated the discussion last week.  He did so through a series of events and actions, all well timed, and well executed.

Answering Massachusetts Health Care Critics. The week past marked the one-year anniversary of the passage of Obamacare.  The left, predictably, used the occasion to attack Romney.  I know I had to spend a significant portion of the week changing my plan because the premiums on the one I have had for 20 years were going to double.  (So much for “keeping your current plan if you like it!”)  Romney used the occasion to take to NRO’s blog “The Corner” and say:

If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states.

Some said it wasn’t enough – some said it lacked ‘humility.‘  Come on people -let’s have some common sense here.  First of all, complaining like this is totally irrelevant.  What people in Massachusetts are experiencing is totally different than what Romney proposed, or even than what was in place when he left office.  Governors, or presidents, do not dictate law – that’s kinda what the country was founded to avoid.  Which brings me to the “not enough” argument.  Repeal would be a good thing, but legislatively it is nearly impossible.  What Romney proposes is a great way to remove the teeth from the tiger.  We may not be able, in reality, to kill the beast, but rendering it harmless is the next best thing.

And as to the humility thing – PUH LEAZE.  Political leadership cannot afford much that way – it’s akin to bowing before foreign potentates.  What is needed here is smart thinking on how to undo the damage that has been done.  Romney has made a serious proposal here and it deserves to be looked at seriously.  These objections seem born from the fact that people have decided they find Romney distasteful and nothing he can do, or does, can change the fact.  What bothers me is that finding the root cause of the distaste.

Eric Fehrnstrom used Twitter to call out David Axelrod on this issue.  That’s smart new media stuff there.  It also points out, as Axelrod “embraces” Massachusetts healthcare in the ole ‘Death Hug,’  that people should not confuse hatred of Obama with their suspicions of Romney.

Winning Important PollsHe is favored among Tea Partiers.  Some may try to minimize the poll, but they would be mistaken.  (USAToday seems to have missed it altogether.)  The Tea Party can be a little fanatic, and the press would certainly like to drive them that way, but they appear to be working very hard to be smart about getting where they are going.  Backing winners is a smart move.  Not to mention the fact that the Tea Party is all about finances, and they do not come any better in that area than Romney.

Getting Endorsed.  Nevada grows in primary importance and this endorsement helps there, especially this early.  We link to this version of the story over any other because it fails to discuss the “M” word.  Good journalism, almost by definition.   There is a bit of “damning with faint praise” to James Carville saying he thinks Romney will be the nominee, but it’s interesting nonetheless.  And while talking endorsements, Jim DeMint is playing a really funny game so far this cycle – not sure what’s up there.

Fund-Raising Juggernaut.  Romney hit the road this week, to raise $50M.  The NYTimes (no one else mind you, just the Old Grey Mare, er Lady) claims the number is exaggerated.  Forget picking the number, the idea is simple.  Romney is a great fund-raiser, and he wants to show his opponents some over-whelming force in that arena.

Elsewhere, we got some insight into how the insiders see the Romney campaign going.  It’s going to be a long primary season.  The MSM keeps pushing Iowa.  They forget it is not about them, it’s about us, the voter.  There was some Mormon stuff from unreliable sources that don’t matter.  (Speaking of which, as if there was any doubt, Maureen Dowd is a fool.)

The Field In General

Fox’s Special Report looks at Pawlenty and the field.  The Weekly Standard looks at T-Paw’s “path.”  Ramesh thinks neighboring Iowa may not be that big a deal for him.

Haley Barbour says race is a non-starter with him.  What race is with Barbour is not the issue, what race is in terms of public perception is the issue.

And that’s it for serious news from the field.  (Unless you count the fact that Gingrich has already adopted the royal imperative which is not at all a good thing.)  A clear sign it is narrowing rapidly.

But of course in the area of unserious news there is Fred Karger and friends.  Sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if the homosexual agenda is going to be the trigger for a new civil war?

Religious Reading

WOW!  Reliable reporting on Mormon missionaries.  And even the pro-homosexual agenda left rails against some anti-Mormon bigotry.  Signs of hope friends, signs of hope.

Deep philosophy, united and divided Catholics and Evangelicals.  This is very deep stuff, but provides some interesting insight.  From the original CT piece that sparked the discussion:

Yet evangelicals have been wary of natural law arguments. As heirs of the Reformation, most evangelical ethicists have argued that the brokenness of human reason makes it insufficient to successfully persuade people in public on the basis of universally accepted moral norms.

Folks, I have been an Evangelical virtually all of my life, and I have to tell you, that is news to me.  I have been and am aware that there are some, we used to call them Fundamentalists, that think that, but Evangelicals? – not to my knowledge.  Second of all, the Reformation is all about human reason, and the assertion that the Reformed think reason flawed is just nonsense.  “Reason” is very much a concept that came out of Christianity – have we really turned things this far over?

One thing is for sure – if reason is not reliable for public debate, we have lost.  You cannot build a religiously diverse nation on the dictates of one religion.


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