Romney – Gingrich – Gingrich – Romney — The game, as they say, is afoot. When the top two are so politically, but nowhere near personally, indistinguishable, this campaign has nowhere to go but ugly. Snipe and counter-snipe. Oppo dump and innuendo. The question for this blog is will that ugliness get religious?
The result of these petty obsessions has been a pathological flirtation with a parade of lesser candidates who could replace Romney. This parade has persisted despite polls consistently showing Romney as the most likely to defeat Obama. It continues even though it’s perfectly clear the White House worries most about Romney.
The obsession runs deeper than we may believe – some people are still talking about Christie?! We wrote last week about Mormon suspicion (Hugh Hewitt called it the Mormon “reservation”) and I find myself wondering if it is this phenomena that makes the petty so powerful. Jim Talent in the aforelinked Hewitt interview said:
Well you know, I think, I’ll tell you what, it doesn’t come up a lot when I talk to people.
No, it doesn’t, because last cycle, and Jeffress this, have effectively rendered it illegitimate as a talking point, but so much of what is being discussed is in fact so trivial that one just has to wonder. We have to keep this background in mind as we review the news.
Of course, in Iowa, religion plays overtly – The Fix said so. Of course, the usual suspects are behaving as usual. (Is it just me or is Vander Plaats really starting to sound childish?) The religion-hating Slate also sees it. And Salon. There are even personal religious appeals to Iowa voters.
And while it may not come up vis-a-vis Romney (although and elsewhere), Mormonism sure does some up a lot generally. Time magazine is taking a oblique shot at it, but what they fail to realize is that with religion and Romney it was all asked and answered last cycle. It’s coming up in stories on entertainment and about jeans?! Some say the answer is better coverage, but I think that’s a personal axe. If Romney and Huntsman were not around, the “sensational” coverage of Mormonism would not exist outside of a few western states – and they could ask their neighbors for the truth. We’re talking about Mormonism because we are talking about Romney, even when we are not talking about Romney.
Then there are the stories about religion in the race generally. Whether it be the NYTimes, ABC, UPI, or the Columbus Indiana Republic, everybody is writing about the religious voter and the race. And a virtually all of them have an axe to grind – never taking religion on its own terms. Some of it just gets silly.
Gingrich is taking some religious fire too. His structural problems remain. Passion can only carry you so far. The attack from inside the beltway is unparallelled. Romney took a shot on something that actually kinda matters. (If you can keep your promises in marriage, chances are good you’ll do it elsewhere.) Even Trump needs more than Newt. (The fact that Newt is more-or-less the last man standing at that thing should be a disqualifier in its own right.) Some that are rooting for him, well…. And this has just got to make you laugh.
So, yeah, religion is playing hard and heavy in the snipes and counter-snipes. But while it does we cannot let that deter us from jointly dealing with what truly matters:
Religious beliefs and cultural values do not justify the failure to uphold the human rights of homosexuals, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the United Nations in Geneva on Tuesday.
“Now, raising this issue, I know, is sensitive for many people and that the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs,” Clinton said.
Religion stands to be crushed. Not rendered irrelevant, crushed. Our internal battles are not helping.