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."

When It Is The Only Weapon You Have….

Posted by: John Schroeder at 04:00 am, November 5th 2012     —    1 Comment »

Forgive me an extended metaphor that indulges my personal enthusiasms.

As a near lifelong fan of the superhero comic, one of the more amazing aspects of comicdom has been the military’s continued efforts to try and beat the Hulk.  They, in the form of “Hulkbuster” General Ross, never quite get the message.  Particularly in the early days.  When I was a kid, month-after-month, Ross would send tanks (the mightiest weapons in the Army’s cache, save nukes and well nukes made the Hulk to begin with, so bad idea.)  out to try and get a handle on the nation’s “Hulk problem.”  Month-after-month, the Hulk would tear through the tanks like a hot knife through butter.  All the tanks would ever end up doing is that their fight would serve to distract the Hulk, momentarily, from the really ginormous super-baddie he was fighting, unbeknownst to the myopic Ross, and thus give that ginormous super-baddie enough of an edge that it would look like he had a shot at beating the unbeatable Hulk.

Not to mention the fact that watching the Hulk tear through a squad of tanks like they were children’s playthings was just flat out entertaining.  That is the biggest of the reasons why writers and artists put such scenes in the comics month-after-month-after-month.  Despite the fact he was a dullard by even dullard standards, the sub-lingual green-and-purple monster would find the most creative ways to “smash” the tanks.  The Hulk raised tank wreckage to an art form.

The first modern-era Hulk movie, directed by Ang Lee, was quite a disappointment.  For most it was because it had few echoes of the Bill Bixby starring TV show of the ’70′s, which was how most people knew the character.  I did not think it was a great, even good really, superhero movie, but I was not nearly so disappointed as the average movie goer,  That film contained homage to the old, old comics that fanboys like me just loved – It had a scene where the Hulk did his tank thing.  It was a truly lovely thing to behold – and the lack of such a scene was the biggest weakness in the otherwise much improved Ed Norton-led reboot.  Having gone on for three paragraphs now, I find I must relive that tank smashing scene – it is just too much fun.

Why, Oh Why Am I Carrying On So About The Hulk?

Well, I could not help but think about it as I read through things over the weekend.  As it is becoming increasingly apparent that Mitt Romney will be elected president on Tuesday, his opponents are coming at him with the same weapons that have failed repeatedly throughout the campaign.  While a Romney victory is nowhere near as sure as the Hulk against tanks, tank busting images filled my mind as we saw the Mormon issue roll out one more time.  The Mormon “attacks” came in all sorts of forms.

There was the slightly subtle, as this from CNN:

Should Mitt Romney win the presidency next Tuesday, it will mark an historic first: a Mormon couple moving into the White House.

What would this mean and look like?

Would there be “dry” state dinners, since faithful Mormons don’t do alcohol? Would Secret Service tag along to sacred ceremonies only open to worthy church members? What book would a President Mitt Romney use to take his oath of office?

We can’t be absolutely sure about all the answers. But if the practices and homes of devout Mormons like the Romneys – not to mention his history as governor of Massachusetts – are any indication, we can begin to paint a picture of what a Romney-inhabited White House might look like.

This piece is simply inane.  It asks questions about whether the Romney’s will put pictures of Jesus on the walls in the White House, and whether coffee will be served.  That’s just childish – and at this point in the campaign irritating – like such questions have not be asked and answered about a billion and one times.  And the mention of alcohol at state dinners – let me make this very clear.  I have been to Romney events where I have personally handed my scotch to a guy while I went up and had my picture taken with the Governor.  It’s not an issue.

There are also the less that subtle, but still appearing to be reasonable attacks.  In this case the NYTimes:

On radio and on his Internet network, the influential conservative pundit Glenn Beck frequently invokes God, religious freedom and the founding fathers, but he does not regularly discuss his own Mormon faith.


But as perhaps the best-known Mormon after the Republican presidential candidate and a major influence on evangelical Christians, Mr. Beck has emerged as an unlikely theological bridge between the first Mormon presidential nominee and a critical electorate.

This piece is actually nothing short of an effort to undo what Romney has worked so hard to accomplish – to define himself fully – not simply as “a Mormon.”  It is not the kind of sophomoric garbage that CNN engaged in, but it really is too little too late.  The genie is out of the bottle, and they are not going to get to stuff him back in it.  In the end the piece is an attempt to explain the enormous support Romney is getting from the Evangelical community which is something we will return to in a minute.

WaPo is trying to make very old news new again – discussing a Romney radio interview from last cycle.

Many of those spreading the video were liberals, such as Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, who retweeted the link twice and called it “MUST SEE TV.”

‘Nuff Said.

From England we get the not-subtle-in-any-way, maybe even offensive, attack:

US Elections: How Mormon Mitt Romney overcame the curse of magic underpants

The piece is yet another attempt to explain Romney’s evangelical support, but with a headline like that, give me a break here.

Which brings us to the divisive attack.  National Journal attempts to paint the evangelical support as tepid:

Even some religious conservative leaders came to Romney’s defense, pointing to the stark contrast between him and a Democratic president who champions abortion rights, wants health insurance plans to cover birth control, and backs same-sex marriage. Still, among rank-and-file Christian voters, the default level of enthusiasm and grassroots activity may not be enough to tip the Nov. 6 election. “Social conservatives will vote for him, but I don’t think the passion is there for Mitt Romney,” says Republican strategist Patrick Davis, who lives here. “I’m not seeing as much fervor to make phone calls and knock on doors. He wasn’t their first choice.” The Romney campaign’s challenge is to boost excitement on the Christian Right as much as possible without alienating undecided, more-moderate voters.

Last Thursday we looked at the differences between who the press likes to call “Evangelicals” in the primary and who are “Evangelicals” in the general.  It seems to me that this piece is written with the primary definition in mind, not the general.  Of course there are Evangelicals that are tepid on Romney, but are they the majority? – Not even close, even if feared whisper campaigns take off.

One of the things we mentioned briefly last week was the Evangelicalism is a movement inside Christianity, it is not a religion or even a denomination unto itself.  That movement is alive and well inside Catholicism, and as we have said several time, the Catholics have taken the lead in this election cycle over the Focus on the Families of the world.  We see this in little ways like the Conference of Bishops launching a religious freedom website and in bigger ways as Andrew Malcolm documents:

As a result of what Catholic church leaders regard as some blatant double-dealing by the Democrat president on his ObamaCare regulations, the church has quietly launched a massive national information campaign among millions of church faithful.

Catholics are famously independent when it comes to their votes. Even if they were voting simply by religion, both vice presidential nominees are Roman Catholics, the first such time in U.S. history.

However, in such an apparently close contest, the switch of even a few hundred thousand votes in the right states could well suck sufficient ballots away from Obama to swing next Tuesday’s election toward the Republican ticket.

One of the nice things about having a cross-denominational movement is that such things radiate through the movement and not through more traditional labels the press would have us think about.  The very minority “tepid” Evangelicals have a hard time sharing their movement with Catholics, just like they do with Mormons.  But the vast majority of Evangelicals share a bond with the Catholics through the movement and that is a potent and mighty force indeed.  But Obama, his supporters and his willing allies in the press just do not get this.

And so, like General Ross, they roll out the tanks one more time and expect them to work because they just do not understand what they are up against.  The Mormon weapon lost its potency once the primaries were over – that is a simple numerical and demographic reality.  Once the primaries were over the vast majority of Evangelicals who are center-right and not the fire-breathing, hell-and-damnation spouting radicals of the imaginations of the fevered left, came into play.   Evangelical energy from this moderate majority, Catholic, Protestant and independent coalesced in light of two enormous strategic mistakes by the Obama administration  – the HHS ruling and support of same-sex marriage.

But to change tactics and try new and different weapons would mean they would have to admit they were wrong to begin with.  What is Proverbs 16:18 again?  Oh yeah:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

That was ALWAYS General Ross’ issue.


Posted in Candidate Qualifications, News Media Bias, Political Strategy, Prejudice, Religious Bigotry, Understanding Religion | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

Recently Posted:

« A Call for Prayer: Election Day 2012  |  New Meme: We Only Care About Politics »