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."

  • Romney’s “Challenge,” Pawlenty’s Gaffe, Trump and Evangelicals?! – more

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:34 am, April 14th 2011     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Romney Announcement Rollout

    The coverage of the announcement continued in Bloomberg (“Mormon” mention), NPR blog (yawn), NECN (no “Mormon” mention) and CNN’s John King (no “Mormon” mention).  But it was in the analysis that followed the announcement that things got interesting.  Only Chris Cilizza was willing to take a reasonable look at how Romney might win this thing, acknowledging but not overplaying the Mormon issue.

    Everybody was quick to point out the “problems” that a Romney candidacy would face – like any campaign is not essentially an exercise in problem solving.  Jonathon Martin and Alexander Burns say Romney faces five challenges.  I guess they have to write something.  Anyway, the most mentioned issue was, unsurprisingly, Massachusetts health care.  Erin McPike discussed it at RCP, as did Garance Franke-Rute at The Atlantic.  Romney struck back on this on the Kudlow Report, reported here by NRO and TPM.

    Speaking of striking back – Conan O’Brien took a shot, and Romney hit him back.

    Some chose to start to paint him as “the evil business guy” like this woman at WaPo and this guy in the UK.  Both pile this charge on top of religion and health care, trying to create an image of a loser.  Boy are they wrong about that.  The inherent contradiction of someone that successful being a loser is just hard to ignore.  It’s also just laughable given the Trump bubble.  Romney did spend a bit of time dealing with Trump here covered by a Fox blog and Hot Air.  Much as Trump deserves it, I think that is giving him more credit than he deserves.

    Some say the problem is his videos or logo.  That’s just silly, such things do not matter at this juncture, they just don’t.  No one that those things matter to are paying any attention right now.

    Things get interesting when we get to – what else? – religion.  I found it fascinating that Scott Conroy could write about Romney’s issues in South Carolina and not mention religion.  Religion played a significant role in Romney’s poor performance there last time (a performance accounted for in Romney’s strategy) and it will again.  But the real shot came in an article in The Christian Post that raised the old, and irrelevant, question, “Are Mormons Christian?“  Consider the source on this one and move on.  And of course, Fred Karger continues to use Romney’s faith as an issue vis-a-vis the homosexual agenda.   That is classic misdirection.

    Only Michael Shear seems to get it really right when he says, “Attacks on Romney Confirm Front-Runner Status.”  That’s the real take-away from all this.

    Tim Pawlenty – “OOPS”

    Pawlenty made a great hire early this week, coverage by Roll Call, NRO and TPM.  It seems that Pawlenty as a health care issue too.  There’s a shocker.  Health care is one of the biggest issues facing the nation – governors like Pawlenty and Romney needed to act.  It’s a doggone hard problem.  Mistakes are going to be made – which is Romney’s point as linked above.  And when states do it, things can be fixed.  When the federal government does it, not only is it unconstitutional in its current form, it becomes this juggernaut the course of which simply cannot be altered.

    But this great hire by Pawlenty was counter balanced by a major gaffe on CNN.  He admitted, while still in the exploratory phase, that he was actually “running for president.”  (You have to love Allahpundit’s sarcasm.)   He later walked that statement back, and it drew considerable coverage.  This is not a big legal deal, but it is a major issue in messaging and media management.  Many mistakes like that and he is not going to get very far.

    Donald Trump – From Silly to Ludicrious

    He lead a poll this week.  Geraghty asks, “A sign that name ID counts for everything at this point?”  Gee, ya think?!  Geraghty then goes on to wonder if campaigns really have become “reality” shows.  Lord, I hope not for reality shows are anything but real, and reality show stars enjoy the least substantive form celebrity imaginable.  Such people have no actual skill, not even performance.

    But where things really jumped the shark is when he reached out to Evangelicals by appearing on CBN’s Brody File.  If ever there has been a case of a “candidate” pandering, this is it.  Does anyone really believe this?

    Michael Medved pointed out on his show one day this week that Trump will never run because he could never undergo the financial disclosure.  I think that is right and I think it says everything you need to know about Trump’s game here.  He’s building media cred to make media money.

    Haley Barbour Talks

    Reports out of Mississippi say he has been taking diction lessons, though clandestinely some wonder if he is just drinking less.  Regardless, he continues to act like a candidate – despite some pressing issues.  Virtually all the news came out of an appearance he made in front on Congress on health care.  He used the opportunity to take a very snarky shot at Romney.  It saw coverage at The Hill, the NYTimes, Politico, and CNS News.  If this is how things are going to go, it’s going to be really ugly.

    The Rest of the Field

    Do you need more evidence that Politico has turned left?  Well, how about the fact that they carried a story that Salon picked up on, almost verbatim, about the lack of enthusiasm for POTUS candidates amongst Republicans in Congress.  That would matter if anyone was, you know, actually declared as a candidate.  But at the moment, all we got is Herman Cain, and they’re right about that – no one cares.

    Meanwhile, Wednesday has come and gone.  Anybody heard from Santorum?  (Well, yeah, but you had to listen really hard.) Mitch Daniels quipped, and the agog media shivered.  (He’s not running without a divorce announcement.)  And most fascinating is that even Fred Karger has figured out Huckabee won’t run.  As much as Karger hates Romey, you’d think he’d want the Huckster in.

    Religion Reading

    We’re scary to the left.  So much so that they are now saying our religion prevents us from reading the news properly.  This is going to get interesting in Florida.

    In the meantime, there is some very good news.

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    Kickin’ Things Up A Notch – Romney Announces Exploratory Committee

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:19 pm, April 11th 2011     &mdash      1 Comment »

    So, let’s check the coverage -

    Not Mentioning “Mormon”

    Mentioning “Mormon”

    If this is indicative,, Lowell and I may not have much to do this cycle.  Four years ago, this much coverage without the word “Mormon” and this ratio between those mentioning it and those not was unimaginable.  But how many stories have appeared discussing Massachusetts health care?  Oh, bucket loads.  The story remains the same, the meme seems to be “Romney is untrustworthy.”  That meme started in religion, and for some, despite the rhetoric, it undoubtedly stays there.

    Let the games begin.

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    Chasing Charisma…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:26 am, April 11th 2011     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    No, we are not referring to her.  Rather, I am referring to what seems to be happening in the yet-to-be-formed Republican presidential field.  I was on vacation last week, and while I was reading the news, I was not doing so with blog research in mind, so this post will be more commentary than usual and not so link rich as typical.

    As I watched things develop last week, it just seems like people are looking for “the next big thing” on the Republican side of the aisle.  Nothing adds more credence to this view than the rise of Donald Trump and to a much lesser extent Michelle Bachmann.  The later has legitimate political credentials and is an important part of the Republican/conservative coalition, but is just not presidential material – at least not yet.

    Donald Trump on the other hand is pure theater – on a level that makes Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin look like Abraham Lincoln.  And yet, people are taking him seriously.  Of course, the left and their more-than-willing media allies are going to take him seriously, it’s a straw man writ large; a genuine opportunity to pillory the serious with the unserious.

    There are a couple of troubling aspects to this trend.  Firstly, it seems to say that we are not impressed with ourselves.  We are the party of competence, not “sex appeal” – the grown-ups in the room.  When we go chasing stuff like this we seem to forget that fundamental aspect of what it means to be a conservative Republican.  There is no question that image and media matter in electoral politics, but it is up to us to shape them to our goals, not to be shaped by them.

    Which brings me to the second and more troubling issue.  There simply is no greater evidence of where chasing image gets you than the current administration.  Incompetent and petulant on levels previously incomprehensible for the office of POTUS, we are witnessing a triumph of charisma over substance.  Charisma may help get you elected, but it is not worth the electrons it is transmitted by when it comes to actually governing.  The missteps, mishandlings, evasions, and hiding from serious issues of the Obama administration are really for others to chronicle, but they are stupendous.

    Perhaps not since the Civil War has the nation more needed substance over style.  Abraham Lincoln was not a handsome man, and by many accounts he was not very charismatic.  Yet, he saved the nation and his words are mandatory for even the most casual reader of American history.  The world and our nation are in difficult circumstances.  In two and a half short years, we have gone from containing and perhaps even shrinking the influence of the ugly strains of Islamic nation-building, to looking at numerous nations in the Middle East and southern Med joining that less than savory fold.  The nation has gone from merely overspending to strangling levels of debt.

    Campaigns for the presidency are not “reality” TV shows.  They are very real things with enormously important consequences.  Republicans must, more than ever, do what they have always done – do what they were in fact born doing – electing people that are serious, competent, and energetic enough to put those traits to work pulling the nation back from the brink.

    The media will fight us on this one, so we need to take this to the streets.  Talk amongst your friends – use Facebook like it should be used – start a blog.  Tell people how serious it really is and remind them that serious times call for serious people.

    Certainly More Serious, But…

    My vacation last week was in Mississippi, so Haley Barbour is on my mind.  It continues to look like he will mount a campaign.  The man has some amazing fund raising skills, and his service as head of RGA was excellent.  But I have to be honest, I don’t think he is good for the party on this level.  I could not get anyone in Mississippi to say Barbour is a racist, but I could find a lot of people that would say he was unafraid to push the race button in a plausibly deniable fashion, not unlike the fashion in which Mike Huckabee pushed the Mormon button in Iowa in 2008.  So when I read that Barbour is cozying up to the Huckster, I get a bad feeling.

    Huckabee got away with his deniable bigotry in 2008 because that particular bigotry was shared by the press and the left.  But the Dems and the media tend to view everything as race-based.  They will use Barbour’s history to try to condemn the party as a whole.   They will certainly use it as an excuse to bring up the Mormon’s troubled, but definitely long past, history with race and try to paint Romney with the same brush.

    Normally I would be tolerant of a guy like Barbour playing the game as a way to take a final bow – he has done a lot for the party.  But in this case, I think it is a bad idea.

    The Race Generally

    The primary calendar remains in flux.  You want a reason for the field to emerge slowly – there it is.  You kind of need to know the calendar so you know how to deploy your resources.

    This could get ugly:

    Michelle Goldberg reported this week in Tablet that Karger’s explicit goal in running for president is to use all possible campaign airtime to embarrass the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Mitt Romney by constantly discussing the Church’s role in the Proposition 8 campaign. Karger hopes to torpedo Romney by calling attention to his often misunderstood and disliked faith and antagonize the LDS Church into getting out of the marriage equality business.

    There are a lot of misguided assumptions there, not the least of which is that the CJCLDS has a vested stake in Romney being elected, or at least more of a stake than they do in the marriage equality movement.  But more importantly, it is playing on one form a bigotry to attempt to erase another perceived form a bigotry.  (Bigotry is about innate characteristics, not behavior, but that is a debate for another time.)  That just does not make any sense.

    Religious Reading

    A couple of weeks ago, I drew some email heat about some very brief comments I made on what Evangelicals do and do not think.  At base I was attempting to point out that “Evangelical” is an extraordinarily broad term that simply cannot be categorized so readily.  As this article points out, there is a broad spectrum of belief on such things inside Evangelicalism.

    Religiously based violence is just wrong.

    This makes sense to me.  Cross religion bridges can only go so far.  Praying together might be fine amongst the various expressions of a given faith (Orthodox/Roman Catholic or Sunni/Shiite for example) but hen you try to pray across complete lines you end up praying to no deity at all.

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