One of the harder things on this blog is knowing what to pay attention to, and what not. The simple fact of the matter is that, despite appearances, there is no shortage of Romney/religion stories – there is only a shortage of such stories in places that matter. Dozens of such stories land on my desk every day, but they are from places like the Omaha Gazette and the Janesville Argus. Do such stories matter?
They certainly do not in the sense that they do not reach a lot of people and they do not reach a lot of people in positions of serious leadership. They are very repetitive and very uninformative to anyone that is paying attention to the issue. However, the sheer numbers indicate that there remains a low level “buzz.” I am not sure people are worried about Romney as president so much as they are simply curious about Mormonism which they only know of from stories in history class about polygamy and if they are church going they have heard the word “cult” thrown around. At this point, I wonder if people do not simply need to reconcile their “weird” picture of Mormonism from such sources with the very normal Romney they are meeting in the press every day?
Right now in terms of the election, the whole thing just seems like the buzzing of gnats, you know its there, and if you bother to pay attention it is a bit annoying, but it is not that big a deal. However, if enough people can be made to pay attention to the buzz, then it becomes an issue and it has to be dealt with. How does one get enough people to pay attention, should one want to?
Well, there are a lot of attempts. The LA Times has been beating the drum for a long time now – here is their latest effort. However, the LA Times now carries about as much punch as the Columbus Dispatch. The far left, is actually going crazy over it. Most of it stays at places like Kos, Democratic Underground, and occasionally HuffPo, but every now and then the craziness surfaces in places like The Daily Beast. I think the race card and religion is going to backfire. Most people are smart enough to know discrimination is discrimination and one is not more important than the other. This stuff is easily dismissible.
But I worry about something like this, as reported in the SLTrib:
If Mitt Romney has, perhaps, soft-pedaled his Mormon faith as he campaigns for the presidency, PBS’s “Frontline” won’t.
Filmmaker Michael Kirk promises that when “The Choice 2012″ airs nationally on Oct. 9, “We are going full speed, ears back, head down, right at it to understand it in every possible way.”
He promised to delve into “every bit of it — his mission to France, and the politics of it. I think when we are done, you’ll understand it in a much better way.”
Which is the point for “Frontline.” Since 1988, the various editions of “The Choice” have proven to be some of the most enlightening of the presidential campaigns.
He’s in the midst of reporting on Romney and his campaign, and promises the GOP candidate’s religion will be a major focus of “The Choice.”
Hmmmm. Why should Romney’s religion be a major part of the reporting? I thought the idea was religion did not matter? And consider the timing – could a religion play be Obama’s “October surprise?” It would not be the smartest such shot, but given the ineptitude this campaign is currently demonstrating it is a possibility. And with mid-major media support like PBS, it could have an effect. Will Jeremiah Wright be examined in similar detail, or the president’s current lack of religious affiliation? I can hear them now saying, “Wright is so last cycle,” and “Not going to church is nothing to report.”
I fear the buzz of gnats could yet become an issue.
As I understand the American Founders, the most brilliant and daring idea they had was that it’s possible to create a free society that could stay free forever.
The founders were not merely revolutionary. They were rooted. They knew their classics, and they knew from writers such as Cicero and especially Polybius that no system ever lasted, and free systems are especially precarious because freedom is the greatest enemy of freedom. So they devised a system that would have antidotes built into it. I think their system was positively brilliant, and yet the present generation either totally ignores it or pretends that it has something better. I think modern American freedom is unsustainable.
We need to continue to enjoy our summers – it might just be a longer fall than we expect.