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."

From The Sublime To The Ridiculous

Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:08 am, April 18th 2011     —    2 Comments »

The Left-Leaning MSM is Pathetic, Just Pathetic

Last Thursday, Romney’s sworn enemy, the Boston Globe, carried a piece trying to figure out whether “Mitt” was a nickname or his “real” name – so they asked for his birth certificate.  Josh Green at The Atlantic tried to turn it into a full-throated left-side-of-the-aisle birther movement.  Even Time’s “Swampland” blog passed the meme on.

I am fairly sure these people had their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, but there is a problem here.  Some things are self-parody – namely Donald Trump and his birther strains.  Parodying a self-parody is kind of like a double negative – you end up with something people take seriously, and then you end up looking even more foolish than Donald Trump.  Even Ben Smith as figured out Trump is a joke.

But if you really need evidence that Trump is playing for media cred, consider that he continues to say he will announce his candidacy, or lack thereof, on the finale of “Celebrity Apprentice,” as reported in Contentions and the NYTimes.  The only people that seem to take Trump seriously are the left (who want to use him to smear the right), WorldNetDaily, and Newsmax.  Even the Tea Party, looking desperately for a frontperson, is not considering Trump, despite his polling. or nonsense like this.  A sign that polling is meaningless at this stage and that the Tea Party is smarter than the press wants to paint them.

And before we leave silly behind completely, can you believe someone took the time to write this up? – or this for that matter.  And this made me ROTFL – maybe even LMAO.

Meanwhile, in serious Romney Land…

He is making good hires.  He is getting good endorsements.  He is polling quite well strategically.  He is writing hard-hitting op-eds, and making very truthful statements.  And, he is being attacked.

Some attacks are from the right.  Some are from the farther right, and some from the muddled middle may not be attacks at all.  In this last link, David Frum wonders if Romney’s “not cynical enough.”  As to the right-wingers, I wonder when they will learn from their own futility?  If they would quit playing for “purity” and starting playing for the party, we might actually get somewhere.  As things are, with this bunch they split the party and we end up with McCain and Dole.

As to Frum (the muddled middle), he wonders if Romney is “not cynical enough.”  I think that is a poor choice of words, but an idea worthy of exploration.  I do think Romney has great faith in the innate intelligence of the American people and would rather treat them that way, than pander to the lowest common denominator, which is what most of the political consultants push candidate towards these days.  I think Romney’s approach stands a chance to actually challenge the nation to pull itself out of the seemingly ever-downward cycle of garbage that has passed for politics of late.  (Even if it does account for the fact that some will not be pulled forward, regardless.)

The religious attacks are starting to get a little serious.  The was a HuffPo piece on the Mormon view of Eden, designed seemingly to paint Mormons as the worst of the end-timers.  (I sure have not experienced that.)  But it was up to our old friend Peggy Fletcher Stack to turn that into a broadside at  Romney.  I think Peggy is thinking “wishfully” here.  I just do not think that the Mormon issue is going to play this time like it did last time, except among the rabid and unimportant right.  (Well, until and if we get to the general, then the left will bang the Mormon drum LOUDLY!)

Besides, with the left trying to co-opt religion as a straw man for the homosexual agenda, ala Fred Karger (hogwash) the right will not be able to get any media air.  But even that effort is going to fail, because no one can get the story straight when it comes to Romney, religion, and homosexual marriage.

And while we are talking attacks, Peggy Noonan last Friday (subscription required) was no attack, despite the fears and emails of some of our regular readers.  She’s one of the good “guys.”  This, however, is an attack, but it is so without genuine substance, so much having made up it’s mind before it was written or explored as to almost be beneath notice.

Do We Suffer From Ennui?

Many in the press seem to think so.  Despite a burgeoning field, some say we are “praying” for better options.  Even Christian outlets are getting into this act.  It finally dawned on me when I read this brief post from a respected philosopher/theologian in Denver.  (He rains plaudits upon Michelle Bachmann.)  The Republican Party is coming together just find, but Evangelicals find themselves adrift and the press cannot tell the difference between the Religious Right and the Republican Party generally.

We talked a lot last cycle about Evangelicals cordoning themselves off in an Evangelical ghetto if the continued to insist on candidates that walked, talked, ate, and smelled like them.  We talked about the fact that if they continued to think that “authenticity” meant some sort of similar identity, they would end up without influence.  And so, it seems it has come to pass.

Politics and governance is a particular art and skill that comes with a particular approach.  If it did not, we would all be doing it.  That means people who do it will, by definition, be different than us.  At least those that do it well.  and so, with that let’s look at…

…That Burgeoning Field

Haley Barbour went to New Hampshire (as told by Politico and The Fix) and he won a straw poll in South Carolina. (Sorry Huckster.)

Tim Pawlenty continues to hire and make pronouncements, but is anyone listening?  He courts the Tea Party, rallies them with talk of his fiscal conservatism, but is he fiscally conservative?

Jon Huntsman made a major gaffe, I mean MAJOR!  So now the story is  who leaked? – an effort to make the story about something other than Huntsman’s MAJOR GAFFE.  I don’t think so Huntsman, too little too late.

Mike Huckabee won’t run so he can continue to paint the picture that he was not the religious bigot – they were – maybe these folks too.

Reading About Religion

What’s this?  Mormons experiencing other religions?  Can it be they’re…open minded?

And while we are talking about Mormon students, this story really gets my goat:

After all, the honor code had been created during the 1960s in an effort by ultra-conservative BYU President Ernest Wilkinson to root out liberals, and honor code enforcement (including anonymous referrals) had been used to bait and harrass feminist, liberal, and gay students, shut down campus free speech, and compromise the privacy of pastoral counseling for students.

[...]

According to Smith, athletes of color, who make up about 23% of the athletes at BYU, make up nearly 80% of the athletes suspended, dismissed, or forced to withdraw for alleged honor code violations.  African-American athletes are experiencing a disproportionate rate of honor code enforcement.

Oh, please.  In an age where political correctness is so rampant that students are denied degrees for their religious stances, an honor code is a “weapon?”  The simple fact of the matter is universities are allowed to have policies and enforce them.  Some will have left-leaning policies, some right and students should respond accordingly in their personal choices about where to go to school.

But to assert racism!?!?!  That is simply chicken-and-egg.  Before you DARE make that assertion, you best prove that African-Americans do not actually violate more frequently than others.  The article goes on to provide anecdotal evidence of a racial problem and “bait-and-switch” recruitment tactics, but there is a huge difference between mistakes made and institutional racism.

A look at the religious left.

Lowell adds . . .

Our regular readers are probably wondering if I am still alive.  I happily report that as far as I know, I am  indeed still here, and grateful to John for keeping the ship afloat.  All is well; I have simply had a little more employment than is reasonable, if a man wants to have a little extra time for blogging.

Through all of that I have been watching developments and have been mildly intrigued by the chatter surrounding the “Book of Mormon” musical.  A few thoughts about that:

1. My co-blogger at The Hedgehog Blog, Ralph Kostant, posted some interesting thoughts: Why “The Book of Mormon” is a Broadway Hit, But No One is Staging “The Koran.” Highly recommended.

2. Kathleen Flake wrote a Washington Post op-ed a couple of weeks ago, in which she comments on the significance  of the musical.  Flake’s work on Mormon engagement with American society is well-known to our long-time readers; she is the author of  The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle, about which we have commented much.

Flake has some specific advice for Romney:

So what’s a Mormon presidential candidate to do? I say embrace “The Book of Mormon” — Stone and Parker’s version, not just Joseph Smith’s. Oddly enough, the characters in “South Park” have been making a compelling case for religious tolerance for almost 15 years. In 2003, its take on Mormonism was voiced by Stan’s spurned friend Gary. After a half-hour of hilarity about what Mormons believe, and after Gary realizes that his religion is just too much for Stan, the otherwise mild-mannered boy yells: “Maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up. But I have a great life and a great family, and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up, because what the church teaches now is loving your family, being nice and helping people.”

This appears to be the point of the Broadway musical, as well. But the point most relevant to politics comes in Gary’s last words to Stan: “And even though people in this town might think that’s stupid, I still choose to believe in it. All I ever did was try to be your friend, Stan, but you’re so high and mighty, you couldn’t look past my religion and just be my friend back. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, buddy.” Expletive deleted, of course.

I don’t plan to see “The Book of Mormon” myself, but it occurs to me that the musical’s success it isn’t a bad omen at all for Mormons who, like Mitt Romney, want to participate in American society at the highest levels.  We are starting to be like the Catholics:  fair game for any kind of ridicule, but also beyond the point where most people see anything scary in what what is being ridiculed.  In other words, just part of the American religious landscape.   All in all, I think that is a good thing for everyone.

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