It is hard to believe some things are real, but it is clear the Mormon assault has begun. The first volley was World Magazine last weekend. That was unsurprising – they’d done it before, it figures they’d do it again. The difference is they are nullified as the whole world now knows them for the close-minded nincompoops they are. I considered for a time not even putting up the post, but a big part of what we do here is make a record of such stuff so we had to say something simply for the record.
But it continued this week. CNN started this morning by raising our suspicions with the headline:
OK – that’s a political story, but it implies the Mormon question. But what it really accomplishes is to get the juices flowing for an interview they did with someone named Tricia Erickson, who has written a book, “Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters? The Mormon Church Versus The Office Of The Presidency of the United States of America.” She is, almost predictably, an ex-Mormon. What more she is now a dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalist Christian. There’s a good combination. So bad was this interview, that even CNN felt the need to start the piece with an apology:
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the provocative–and in some cases, inflammatory– nature of Erickson’s answers, we asked for a response from Mormon historian Richard Bushman, the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California. His remarks follow the answers below, along with reactions from Corey P. Saylor, National Legislative Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Ahmed M. Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago.)
OK – nutcase on our hands. It is not worth fisking the interview.
Then Alana Goodman at the Contentions blog turned me on to this video. (You can see it in the video widget at left or follow the link.) You really should watch it to get the effect. Some local anchor interviews some local reporter about the Mormon Question. Clearly they have more time to fill than they have information as the local reporter repeats himself half-a-dozen times in the lead-in interview. He seems to be saying “It’s not an issue this cycle.” But then they turn to a man-in-the-street Q&A in which our intrepid, and idiotic, reporter asks people if they know which candidate believes – insert unusual Mormon doctrine here. Clearly since it is not going to be an issue, this reporter is going to make it one. When they come back to the studio, the reporter says he was “trying to have a little fun.” Oops, all he really was was inflammatory, demeaning and oh yeah, obnoxious.
This is a lot of stuff, but it does not seem worth getting too worked up about. It’s impotent. This is not Robert Novak or the Corner at NRO. This is local television, a highly partisan CNN, and a flat-out rude fundamentalist looking to hawk a book and make a buck. These are not people whose opinion matters. Not to mention the fact it all has the stink of moldy, stale bread.
That seems to be the story on The Question so far this cycle. It’s the toy of the second, even third string. Its a hand-me-down of an issue. People are trying to capitalize, but to date even the bigger name lefties can’t make anything out of it.
Of course, there is a long time between here and votes actually being cast. A lot could happen, but if it is going to involve Romney, or Huntsman’s, faith it is going to have to get a whole lot better than this pile of nonsense.
Post Script (7/8/11 – morning) – Matt Lewis @ The Daily Caller points out that the barbs are out for more than Mormons. He looks at a recent interview that Frank Schaeffer did on MSNBC in which Schaeffer accuses Michelle Bachmann of wanting to stone gays. Of course, Bachmann has never contended anything of the kind, and the incident is even more sad because Frank Schaeffer is the son of Francis Schaeffer a leading light of Evangelicalism and one of the founders of the movement that brought Evangelicals into political action.
Most telling; however, is Lewis’ concluding remarks:
The bigger question, of course, is whether this an isolated incident, or whether this may foreshadow an attempt to cast evangelical Protestant candidates as weirdos. If that’s the case, at least one observer may have seen it coming. Prior to the 2008 election, Romney supporter, author, and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt warned that evangelicals should defend Romney against attacks on his religion, lest attacks on their faith be next.
After hearing him give a speech on the topic, one blogger summed up Hewitt’s argument, writing: “If we question whether [Romney] wears strange underwear, the next evangelical that runs will be asked if he really believes the Bible, and the next Catholic will be asked if he goes to confession. It will open the door to biased tests against religion for candidates.”
Regardless of whether or not this is a canary in the coal mine, it is fair to say the attacks on Bachmann’s religious faith are just as bigoted as the attacks on John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism or Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Let’s hope this isn’t a harbinger of things to come.
Oh, it’s a harbinger to be sure – one that should make Evangelicals everywhere hope for a Romney nomination. That way the barbs will remain aimed primarily at the Mormons and not spread out so much. And don’t say we did not warn you.