Jeff Greenfield appears to be the first to note this factoid:
Ryan only 2nd Catholic ever on GOP national ticket (Wm. Miller, ’64, only other one).
That Ryan’s faith came up pretty much as an afterthought is significant in itself.
"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
Jeff Greenfield appears to be the first to note this factoid:
Ryan only 2nd Catholic ever on GOP national ticket (Wm. Miller, ’64, only other one).
That Ryan’s faith came up pretty much as an afterthought is significant in itself.
This weekend Mitt Romney won the presidency, because he won the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans. If you are in the sizable minority immune to his message, you will not understand this, but in the hills of West Virginia, in upstate Michigan, and in rural Nevada they will get it.
They may not know it yet, but the man who spoke at Liberty University is the man Evangelicals have awaited. He was honest, he was plain, he was a gentleman. He did not pretend to agree with the theology of the Liberty University audience, but the crowd there knows their Bible and they know that a God who can anoint the Persian Cyrus can find his man any place.
And Romney, or at least his speech writer, was on point. He did not fall for the latest shiny distraction of the Obama campaign, but laid out the essential differences. Romney stands with Liberty for the future. There is no future in adopting ancient decadence sped up with technology. There is no victory in growing angry and merely reacting with the slogans of past campaigns.
Some media did not understand his message. They wanted the Governor to fixate on one issue, but Romney is not a hater. He is an American, so he is happy to see people left alone, but unwilling to change the Constitution and our heritage lightly or because of one generation’s claims. Romney likes Christian morality.
Many Americans have seen the future President Obama has painted and have decided: “No thank you.” Governor Romney suggested an alternate view at Liberty and the forty-six percent that voted for John McCain will be behind him with a large chunk of the middle that gave the President a chance.
Decent men will not lightly abandon a good man like President Obama, but a majority will vote him out of office if he fails. Romney is pressing the case that he is failing. Americans develop dispositions based on the economy, but they vote their consciences.
The economy has made them surly, but Romney refused to play to their fears. At Liberty, he appealed to the better angels within us.
Mitt Romney only needs Evangelicals to come home, moderates to trust him, and the base to give him a chance. Mitt Romney in Lynchburg showed the capacity to do all three. He did not ignore difference, but stressed common ground with the vast Evangelical plurality. He is a moderate man by nature and expressed his views without rancor and he appealed to the grandness of the Grand Old Party.
He tied economic progress to moral decency. A rich, but wicked Babylon is no fit place for republicans. A poor, but virtuous nation cannot defend herself in a dangerous world.
This man will win. Count on it. This weekend made Mitt Romney the next President of the United States . . . if he can repeat the Lynchburg mantra: a decent America works.
It started late last week when a homosexual adviser to Romney resigned – perhaps in a set-up. Obama turned up the volume on the gay agenda when he endorsed same sex marriage yesterday. The narrative came to fruition this morning with the “in-depth expose’” concerning Romney’s high school years in the Washington Post. The WaPo story tell a couple of interesting tales. The lede:
Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.
“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.
A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.
and a few pages later:
But Friedemann and several people closest to Romney in those formative years say there was a sharp edge to him. In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, “Atta girl!” In the culture of that time and place, that was not entirely out of the norm. Hummel recalled some teachers using similar language.
And there you have it – Romney painted as bully, and specifically a bully that aims himself at homosexuals.
“Anti-bullying” campaigns have been springing up all over the nation in the last few years, and I have wondered if they weren’t just a new cover for the homosexual agenda. This seems to make it transparently so. Make no mistake, behind the development of this “Romney as bully” narrative is anti-Mormon fervor – a grudge that has been nursed and coddled and matured to incredibly vile levels within the LGBT community since the passage, with significant help from the Mormon community, of Prop 8 in California.
I personally think it is a huge mistake for Obama to dance this dance with this constituency - the man has plenty of skeletons in his youthful closet; one’s that involve actually illegalities and self-admission. Reports of the Romney events are however, hearsay at best. (“While the Post reports White as having “long been bothered” by the haircutting incident,” he told ABC News he was not present for the prank,….) Daniel Foster said at the Corner:
It reminded me that I spent my youth first getting incessantly picked on — mostly fatso stuff, but also some nerd stuff and poor kid stuff — and then, as soon as I got physically strong and clever enough, returning the favor with gusto. (I recall middle school in rural Florida mostly as a series of fistfights of mixed result.) It wasn’t until sometime later in high school that the question of how to be a Man, much less a Good Man, even occurred to me, and I’m still trying to sort out the answer.
The point is that kids — especially teenage boys — are %#&!s. If we’re to be judged by the people we were at 14, then I’m doomed. I don’t suspect I’m alone, either.
My point would be that is Obama is to be forgiven his rather extensive drug use, then what is the big deal here.
But let’s examine this for what it really is. For Team Obama this is a much needed distraction. For the LGBT community this is an opportunity to paint religion, and especially the Mormon faith, not just as wrong, but evil.
Obama cannot talk about the economy, national security or foreign policy. In those places he is a known loser – there is his entire administration to date to prove it. Social issues are all he has, and he knows they are Romney’s weak point.
Obama welcomes any opportunity to talk about anything other than his record. The more he can make this election about anything besides those big three, the economy, national security, and foreign policy, the better off he will be. That’s just politics, but what is truly said is that he is willing to sacrifice religion to that effect. Such reminds me the the separation of church and state was devised more to save religion from the state than vice versa. Obama seems more than willing to throw church under the bus; not for his agenda (given how fast and complete his turn has been on this issue how can he be represented as having an agenda at all?) but for his mere reelection.
Because I do not tread such places readily, I do not know what the left-wing blogosphere is saying, but I am fairly certain that they are saying Romney was prone to such things because of the teachings of his faith, and if they are not, they will soon enough. It has long been a meme of the left that religion, being so “intractable” inevitably leads to conflict. And yet, in the wake of the passage of Prop 8, it was the LGBT incarnation of the left that took to violence in the form of vandalism committed on Mormon houses of worship, the ruination of businesses via boycott, and threats upon the life and safety of leaders of the pro-Prop 8 forces.
It appears these stories concerning Romney’s youth are true, if suspiciously and conveniently timed, but they are due to the misjudgement of youth, not the workings of his faith. We all made mistakes in our youth, some worse than others, but we share this in common. Religion does not cause such mistakes, but rather helps us overcome them. Hence the pro-Prop 8 forces used civil argument and the ballot box to win the day and those in opposition took to the streets.
Religion is a force for good in our society.
My family follows politics for two reason: we care about our nation and we enjoy the game.
The second motive is not a noble one, but politics is entertaining.
Nothing would be more thrilling to the political fan than an open convention where anyone could become president. A boy-orator like William Jennings Bryan could electrify the convention with a speech . . . if he came with support already. A Dick Cheney-type, too grumpy to run in the primaries, could be the nominee as a senior statesman. Delegates can vote the man or woman they wish to be President of the United States and nobody can be sure what would happen.
Just as a Constitutional Convention, once called, could do almost anything so could an open GOP convention.
That’s why most sane Americans oppose calling a Con-Con and all good Republicans dread an open convention.
For the very reason it is appealing: anything could happen and when anything can happen the result is generally worse not better.
Call me a cynic, but if so the Founders were cynical. They knew that when called to revise the Articles of Confederation, they had gone a bit mad and written an entirely new document. With men like Washington around, they did not go aground, but they might have. Counting on James Madison or George Washington getting the ear of a Convention is like counting on politicians to do the right thing: it happens, but should always make us grateful when it does.
Mitt Romney will have the most delegates and have received the most primary votes at the start of an Open Convention. If he is denied the nomination, what happens to those votes? Would we really nominate someone who received fewer votes than Romney or someone who received none at all? What would happen to the fourth of the Party that really likes Romney?
Secondly, primary vetting exposes candidates strengths and weaknesses in ways that a convention would not. Rick Perry was the kind of guy, with his big block of Texas delegates, who might have come out of the Convention. Imagine that first debate with Obama.
Third, open conventions would be nasty. Romney has built his campaign for years. He would not go down without a fight. That fight would in HD in living rooms all over America.
Fourth, we are less likely to get a unifying figure than a bland character acceptable to everyone. For every cool (though untested) General Petraeus, there is a Tim Pawlenty waiting to happen. If you think the Romney campaign is dull, imagine being The Guy Nobody Hated running against Obama.
Finally, an open convention would end up being a brokered convention. Most delegates would find their natural leaders and those natural leaders would meet in caffeine driven rooms (where Mormons would have a disadvantage!) late at night to pick someone. This unseemly method of picking the GOP nominee would be fatal. Picking under pressure usually produces Scott Campbell not Aaron Rodgers.
For any candidate to run hoping to produce an open convention is to pander to the political junkies watching Cable News while ignoring the regular voters would hate the ugliness on display.
Santorum should run no further than Pennsylvania. If he doesn’t do as well there as Romney did in Massachusetts (or at least Michigan) . . . then he cannot win. Gingrich has no pathway. Ron Paul has no pathway. Ideally, all three would bow out now so Team Romney can switch to positive ads building up his favorables and negative ads focussed on the President.
By any reasonable measure, Romney had a great Super Tuesday – He won the critical Ohio, he won 6 of 10 and he got an enormous delegate lead. And yet, to survey the press, he barely survived. David Brody says he is the Roger Maris of modern politics – that is to say he has an asterik. Some, if not much, of this is, of course, attributable to a left-leaning press wanted to make the winner look weak becasue it makes their guy look strong. But there as more at play.
Lowell gave you the Evangelical numbers much earlier today. Rachel Maddow and Reuters are wondering about The Question. I do think The Question is at play here,but I have a slightly different analysis of it than the typical theological bigotry. I want to call it “The Clinton Effect.”
Optically, when I think of the Clinton years I think of three things:
These things changed radically how people view the presidency. Now, to be fair, it’s not all Clinton’s fault, much of it is a general societal shift that Clinton reflected more than caused, but he represents the change nonetheless. With the optics, the presidency became less about leadership and more about relationship. What these optics represent is that people do not want a president that leads them somewhere, but a president that validates them – makes them “feel good about themselves.”
I think we can understand how “I feel your pain” does that. The B or B question makes him seem like just one of the guys. People can feel good about themselves becasue one of the guys does not challenge you, he just “hangs out” as it were. The Lewinsky affair demonstrates that the president is flawed, just like the rest of us – again, it’s validating, not leading.
Bush ran on “compassionate conservatism” and reluctantly as a reformed drinker. These are also validating, not leading. The circumstances of 9-11 forced Bush to move from this amiable stance to serious leadership. And when he did so he became one of the most reviled presidents of recent times.
Obama has actually advanced this to some extent. He implicitly tells us it is not our fault we are having a hard time making ends meet and that he will take care of us. We are not only validated, we are cared for.
This message is very much an evangelical message. The salvation message of Evangelicalism is one of “come as you are” and let Jesus make it all better. The gospel of Evangelicalism is largely the gospel of “God loves you just as you are and will take care of you.”
Mitt Romney by both who he is and his faith sends a very different message. Mitt Romney by the nature of his personal achievements challenges us not to be content with who we are, but to do much better. The Mormon faith is a “high demand” faith. Any Evangelical looking at the time and personal commitments that Romney has made in church service over the years is flabbergasted. My church is very low demand by comparison yet we have a constant problem getting volunteers. Romney’s commitment to his church would be intimidating to the average Evangelical. Some years ago I was actually chastised for asking too much of volunteers in my church when I was tasked with recruiting them.
I am beginning to think that this is Romney’s real Mormon problem. It’s not that his religion is so different, it is that the nature of his religion and how he has practiced it demands that Evangelicals take their faith and their committment to their religion far more seriously than they actually do.
We have created this thing where there is money in speaking to the conservative subculture that conservatives can’t speak to the country. When you can make a decent living off Fox appearances and book contracts, you aren’t going to change when you run for President. There is strikingly little thought given to applying conservative principles to the median voter. That doesn’t mean compromise. Compromise is unnecessary because voters don’t care about ideology. Rather its selling yourself as one of them. Success lies in selling whatever ideology you have as moderate, sensible and normal. That is the essence of politics. Reagan was a conservative. You know what he also was? A salesman. [emphasis added]
Clinton was not bad doing the job as Democrat presidents go – not great, but not bad. But it is not his function in office that we have walked away with – it’s the things I looked at earlier.
Much has been said about Mitt Romney “running on biography.” It is great and inspiring biography, but there are not many of us left that want to be inspired anymore – most of us want to be validated. Evangelicalism is the most populous form of Christianity in the nation today because it is less inspiring and more validating.
This I think is the source of much of the resistance that we see to Romney, particularly amongst Evangelicals. Frankly, I think such reflects poorly on Evangelicals. If this nation is going to return to the kind of economic engine it should be, it’s not going to be because the president makes it alright – it is going to be because we – all of us- get busy making it so. It is going to be because we work hard and stretch and challenge ourselves. We will have to take risks and not simply be validated. We will have to once again be willing to fail in order to learn how to succeed.
Romney does not need to change who he is, but he does need to learn to inspire us to be more like him, in matters both of character and of hard work. We don’t have to believe like him, we just have to e committed as he was, to our work and to our faith.
Something to consider – briefly. If Mormonism is the issue, either as I describe it here or in as a more straightforward bias, what does that say about the general? Religious motivations being what they are, I think that if it is the problem those that have it will be more likely to stay home in the general than those that simply have the standard sort of political issue with Romney. But as Salon analyzes most of those are in the south where there are other issues with Obama, equally distasteful. Is it a wash? Can these issues be decisive?
One thing seems certain to me – as Romney continues to solidify his lead he will have to make some efforts specifically to smooth over this particular rough patch.
John and I feel stymied. We’re both buried in work right now, but there is so much to write about. I know I will be back here tomorrow with more, but for now will limit myself to some quick hits.
I’ll start with a short rant. It is clear to anyone following the conservative Twitterverse and blogosphere — or anywhere the right-of-center punditocracy hangs out — that the overwhelming majority of those writers will give Rick Santorum a pass on every ill-considered statement he makes, but will crucify Mitt Romney for calling himself “severely conservative,” which was simply a slip of the tongue.
I am a conservative but I recognize that our side can often be truly boorish too. I was not a Harriet Miers fan, but I remember when National Review compared her to Caligula’s horse, in an apparent attempt at humor that many of them seemed to find hilarious.
Romney’s conservative critics are relentlessly bringing the same snarky humor to bear on him. In the last two days Donald Douglas has referred to Jen Rubin as “the resident Romney shill at the Washington Post.” Douglas’s post was tweeted and retweeted multiple times by approving conservative writers.
One of Romney’s daughters in-law posted candid family photos, which are described snidely as “25 Photos Of Mitt Romney Looking Perfectly Normal.“ Really? I thought they were simply nice pictures of an exemplary American family.
That’s Daily Kos stuff. We cons are better than that, or at least I like to think we should be.
John wrote eloquently in yesterday’s post about needing the right man or woman at the right time.
To me, the problem is that Santorum makes bombastic statements capable of multiple interpretations, and often has to walk them back. It doesn’t help that he has a record of being a vocal social conservative, so that his ambiguous statements are given the most damaging interpretations. This is not the news media’s fault, in my opinion, and we conservatives should stop apologizing for Santorum.
Not everyone on the right is apologizing. In Commentary Pete Wehner eloquently addresses, and adds to, the point Bill McGurn made in the Wall Street Journal (and which John cited yesterday).
The main (though not exclusive) problem for Santorum is his rhetorical approach to social issues. He’s said he would be the one president who would talk about the damage contraception does to American society. He’s spoken quite openly about criminalizing doctors who perform abortions. He’s made a passionate case against prenatal testing. He’s been quite forthright in his views against homosexual acts, about women in combat, and about women in the workforce. He’s given a speech in which he’s said Satan has systematically targeted the key institutions in American life. The danger for Santorum is that, fairly or not, these statements and stands, separately and (especially) combined, create a portrait of a person who is censorious and sits in critical judgment of the lifestyle of most Americans….
It’s almost impossible to overstate how important tone and countenance are when it comes to social issues. There is a great deal to be said for those who care about the cultural condition of American society. But the arguments on behalf of moral truth need to be made in ways that are winsome, in a manner that is meant to persuade. What this means, in part, is the person making the arguments needs to radiate some measure of grace and tolerance rather than condemnation and zeal. What we’re talking about is using a light touch rather than a heavy hand. To understand the difference, think about how the language (and spirit) of the pro-life movement shifted from accusing people of being “baby killers” to asking Americans to join a movement in which every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life. Social conservatism, if it ever hopes to succeed, needs to be articulated in a way that is seen as promoting the human good and advancing human dignity, rather than declaring a series of forbidden acts that are leading us to Gomorrah.
..Santorum’s problem is — forgive the technical graduate-school political-science terminology here — that he’s a sourpuss, and sourpusses don’t get elected president.
The former Pennsylvania senator looks like he swallowed a lemon — and he acts like America is the lemon he swallowed….
Remember: This entire process is a job interview in which the candidates are trying to get hired by the electorate. Insulting the electorate and accusing it of spiritual weakness and sinfulness are not the ways to get yourself the job of president.
I am less sanguine about Santorum than John is. I don’t think he has the right mix of policy views and leadership traits to be a good president, now or in the future. If the Senator is nominated I’d vote for him against Barack Obama, who I think has even less of those necessary attributes, but I am convinced my vote would be merely a statement of position, made while Obama wins 40 states. We’ll see.
That’s putting it mildly Lowell! And you accuse me of being sanguine. Robert Jeffress says “Mormons are not Christians” and they right leaning punditry erupts in a furor. Rick Santorum says “mainline Protestants are gone from the world of Christianity” and the sound of crickets fills the night – at least on the right side of the aisle. Jeffress was saying what he believes and so was Santorum, it is in fact Catholic doctrine that none of us are Christians but them. That’s OK – America is about differing religious views co-existing to the benefit of the nation as a whole. But that co-existence is based on knowing when to invoke religious doctrine and when not to.
Well, Jeffress made his comments at a political event and Santorum made his comments in a religious setting. Maybe Santorum never anticipated running for president, I don’t know, but let’s look at another double standard. It is Mormon doctrine that they are the church restored, and rest of us have corrupted in one fashion or the other – they are not willing to condemn us to hell (just lower levels of heaven) on that basis, as some would, but that is their doctrine. (Lowell, please correct me if I got this wrong.)
Now, let’s imagine a future general election is which an audio or video tape of Mitt Romney speaking at a Mormon gathering of some sort on the Mormon doctrine I just laid out – “Mormonism is the church properly restored!” What precisely do you think is going to happen? Are the leading Christians on the right going to stand silently by while the left savages him as they are with Santorum? Somehow, I don’t think so. Somehow, I think the outrage would be immense, not to mention the election lost.
There are two points to make out of this imagined scenario. One, there is definitely a double standard on the right – there is a tolerance of Catholic doctrine where there is not of Mormon doctrine. That’s a huge problem. But the second point is a more subtle one.
I think what we are witnessing with Santorum is a dress rehearsal for the general. Team Obama is going to try to use religion to drive a wedge in his opposition. That’s probably why everyone is so silent about Santorum’s missteps here – they do not want to supply Obama with the ammo. But it is too late for that – The anti-Mormon bias that is so evident and the prior reactions to it mean we will only be discounted as hypocritical. Setting of comments not withstanding, it is public knowledge now, we have no choice but to condemn Santorum’s statements.
So what happens if such a tape of Romney does appear? Firstly, I don’t think it will, but secondly Mormon doctrine is much more subtle than Catholic or Evangelical. Mormons don’t think the rest of us non-Christian, just lesser-Christian. That’s a pretty big difference. You’ll NEVER find evidence of Romney saying someone of a different church is “not a Christian” or “gone from the world of Christianity” because they don’t believe it.
And then there is Romney’s “Faith in America” speech from December 2007. (The video is in our widget on the left – scroll through) In that speech Romney made an excellent case for the religious pluralism that is this nation while defending his right to his personal faith. Do we have such a speech from Santorum? If we did, Santorum could quit stumblin’ — bumblin’ — fumblin’ (Nod to Chris Berman) his way through the last few days and just point to said speech. Is Santorum trying to articulate the case for religious pluralism in America while defending his personal faith? Nope. he’s trying to play the spin game.
That’s why this attack IS working against Santorum, but will not work when Obama tries it in the general – at least if we are smart enough to nominate Mitt Romney. But if we do not acknowledge the problems with Santorum’s statements we still run a grave risk of being discounted as hypocritical religious bigots because of what has gone before. That is not where we want to be.