One must wonder, Gingrich is pretty damaged goods and yet, here we are.
Gingrich may be reaching out to South Carolina Christians, but Richard Land points out he has a big issue with Evangelical women. He is waaaay behind on the ground game curve. Jim Geraghty points out that his past is full of statements that are far from “conservative.“ All this makes him look like just another not-Romney surge.
But when you focus on Iowa, things get a bit more interesting. There was a meeting of Iowa social conservatives designed specifically to STOP ROMNEY. But they cannot seem to find someone to stand behind. So, the usual suspects do not appear to be behind this surge. But then it seems to be a new game in Iowa.
Then there is the fact that FOXNews says Romney may be in for the fight of his life. And then there was that “testy” interview Romney did with Brett Baier of Fox yesterday. And now, I think we are figuring out where this surge feels different than the last three (Bachmann-Perry-Cain). Gingrich has spent the last many years as a “Fox News Contributor.” And when you listen to Hugh Hewitt’s interview with Gingrich from yesterday, he sounds like he is still a media guy, counting heads (counting gate?!) at appearances and plugging his wife’s book at every possible turn. Is it just me, or does it seem like Fox wants “their” guy to succeed. Therein lies the difference with this surge. That and timing. Voting is barely a month away, there is no more time for another surge – this one dies, it’s over.
So the confluence of forces behind this surge are a bit different than the last three, (even though the NYTimes cannot seem to figure it out) but there is one constant…
The Mormon Factor
Make no mistake, this issue is far from dead. As Richard Salsman points out at Forbes:
Yet most GOP conservatives, especially the more religious ones, despise Mr. Romney and actively oppose him – and thus bolster Obama’s re-election chances.
Clearly religion is playing in this whole surge-after-surge phenomena somewhere. Nobody wants to be pinned with the religious bigot label, so post-Jeffress they are playing their cards close to their chest, but there remains just enough buzz about the issue to know that it is in play. Gingrich danced around, if not directly with, the “Mormons lie” thing. Efforts to turn the Mormon card to the race card continue. The Washington Post even notes it is an issue. But most interesting to me was this little tidbit:
A group of 73 evangelicals and counting have joined together in a shared declaration stating that when it comes to the three persons of God, it’s one-for-all and all-for one.
Titled “An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity,” the document was posted in early November on TrinityStatement.com and affirms that God is one being comprised of three aspects that are co-equal and co-eternal. It was a necessary move, signees say, given the lingering debate over Trinity doctrine in the Christian community.
Now, there is no word on who is behind this, but I find it highly suspicious. The doctrine of the Trinity is the most fundamental difference between Mormons and traditional Christians. It is also not a doctrine that, within the bounds of traditional Christianity, is in any particular need of reinforcement or clarification. There is no information about who is behind this effort, but when this shows up roughly the same time there is a STOP ROMNEY meeting in Iowa (see above), and sounding threatening, one has to catch a little anti-Mormon odor.
What’s really sad is that some Mormon sources are just not helping. In light of the “Mormon lie” meme, accusing Romney – any Mormon for that matter – of “bearing false witness” is a non-starter. And pointing out that if his presidential run fails, Romney could take a position high in the CJCLDS is a bit like waving a red cape in front of a bull.
Romney, and his faith, are getting some good defense from people like Walter Russell Mead, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and Joseph Knippenberg. But in the new media age, such serious and thoughtful reason seems a whisper in a mighty wind. It’s funny how the media is all over the negative stuff and the positive stuff has to be ferreted out. Good thing internet bloodhounds are cheap and easy.
Next Morning Postscript: In his newsletter this morning (subscribe here, it is well worth it), Jim Geraghty follows up on his post (linked above) on some of Gingrich’s less than stellar past utterances, by piling on some more and then concludes this way:
If you prefer Gingrich to Romney or any other candidate, fine. But don’t tell me you’re choosing Gingrich over Romney because the latter is an inconsistent, unreliable, fair-weather conservative, and the former isn’t.
And therein lies the crux of all of this. This really is another not-Romney surge, one fraught with desperation as time runs out. The key question is what motivates the anti-Romney sentiment? There are a lot of factors ranging from adolescent-like rebellion against “the establishment” to simple ignorance. Nonetheless, given the latest choice in the not-Romney candidate, one must assume that simple hatred plays a role. From whence the hatred? Well, we know that in one very vocal, but not majoratarian, group it is animated by religious prejudice. Their public rhetoric in Robert Jeffress, and Mike Huckabee before him, and their whisper campaigns may have been more effective than we suspect.
In light of such, I think it would behoove this latest not-Romney to publicly denounce such sentiment. Yes, Gingrich denounced Jeffress, but more is called for. He needs to make it publicly plain that there is no room in his camp for anti-Mormon whispers, as Romney should make it plain there is no room for anti-Catholic whispers. (BTW, why Gingrich and not Santorum? Could it be that with his two divorces, Gingrich is only “kinda Catholic”?) Gingrich needs to make it plain that he only wants to be president on his own merits – not on the back of religious distaste for another. And now back to the original post.