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."

  • A Double Standard for Mormonism?

    Posted by: JMReynolds at 06:09 pm, October 27th 2012     &mdash      7 Comments »

    Changing one’s mind can be a good thing or a bad thing.

    Before evaluating one needs to know (at least!) two things: motivation and the value of the new opinion.

    We don’t normally praise a man from moving to a new opinion for bad reasons or for shifting from the truth to falsehood.

    His critics oft describe Governor Romney  as a politician with no core. Over his long career in public life, which began as a boy on his father’s knee, Mr. Romney has changed his mind. I am unpersuaded he has done so more often than any other political figure. He is a decent man, but not yet a saint: unless you count the Latter Day kind.

    It is here that desperate critics have hatched a new way to attack the man likely to be the next President of the United States. With some political risk, Mr. Romney has stayed true to the Church of his fathers: he is a Mormon. This appears to be proof positive that he has a core and will not choose expediently.

    “Ah,” the critic says, “but the LDS Church itself is an ‘etch-a-sketch’ church. Look at changes in doctrine like that dealing with African persons in the priesthood.”

    Now the critic has an immediate problem since all philosophical positions change with time.

    Why attack Mormonism? Since all decent Americans believe that the change on issues like the priesthood was a good one, the criticism is surely not with the change.

    The general line of attack is challenge the motives for the change or the reasoning for it. First, the critic argues the “noble” change was driven by a need to increase “market share.” It was a politically or economically motivated shift.

    The problem with such a charge is that it will prove impossible to refute. The LDS claims it came as a result of divine revelation, but “hidden” motives are always possible. The LDS community was under pressure to change their point of view, so the skeptic can always claim they did so for ignoble reasons. What is a citizen to do?

    He must do to other people what he would have done to him. Motives often are hard to judge and so a veil of charity should be placed over the motives of those groups we might be inclined to attack. What else can we do? The hurricane winds of hatred unleashed by any other course would tear the Republic to pieces.

    “But the teachings of the Church are still racist!,” says the critic. “Look at the documents,” he says. “Look at the statements of the founders of Mormonism such as Young.”

    A nation whose greatest President was a slaveholder, George Washington, has long learned to judge men by the standards of their times. It is true that the Founding generation of America defended race-based slavery. Many did so on secular grounds and a few on Christian ones. The least religious portion of the nation, the South before the Civil War, kept slavery longest, but most white Americans were infected with racism.

    It is our ugly original sin as a nation.

    As far as I can tell, and I am no Mormon and no expert, some of the Founders of Mormonism were no better than their times on race. Some Mormons owned slaves. Some Mormons, including important ones like Young, made racist statements wrapped in theology. However, this racism need no more be part of contemporary Mormon doctrine than the precedent of Washington having slaves in the President’s house (which continued for decades) need keep our culture racist forever.

    Mormons have moved on. Young could have been inspired in some areas and not in others . . . a distinction Mormon theology made even at the time! If Washington City can still be named for a slave holder, I see no reason BYU must change her name!

    As for Mormon Scriptures, reading old documents for a living makes me charitable to them. I do not see any passage in the Book of Mormon that is “white supremacist” by nature. A charitable reading of the text, like that I would give Plato or the Bible, shows alternative readings to difficult passages. It is true that Joseph may have translated the Book with the language of his time, but this language was amazingly elevated for a man of his background and education. In fact, it is amazing to me that the Book of Mormon actually has an elevated view of native Americans, Jewish people, and other persons of color given the period in which Joseph lived.

    We must also look at the life of the contemporary Mormon church. It does not show any evidence of being a “white supremacist” movement. In fact, the next few decades should see the balance of power shifting fully from North America to the developing world.

    When my grandmother was a little girl, secular teachers told her that African-Americans were inferior. She was taught to pity them and that science supported racism. Only her church softened these claims. Genesis taught her that all men and women were designed from the same original pair. The concept of “race” itself was foreign to Scripture. Her schooling failed her . . . but I do not, therefore, condemn schooling.

    Secularists have shaken off their racist past and charity commands we allow them to do so. The eugenic ramblings of Sanger and the white-power rants of Jack London are in the past. I can enjoy “Call of the Wild” in any case.

    Mormons must not be held to a higher standard. The Church claims divine revelation clarified old assumptions. Mr. Romney rejoiced in that change. Nobody has charged Mr. Romney with racism . . . and the modern Mormon church shows commendable growth in leadership of color.

    In short, as a non-LDS person, I see no reason in Mormon Scriptures or teachings (as defined by the LDS community) to think the LDS church “racist” or founded on racism . . . except by the same accidental historica associations that exist in the American founding.

     

     

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    Scandal and Christian Charity (Updated)

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:00 am, October 11th 2012     &mdash      1 Comment »

    The Obama administration now finds itself in the middle of a cover-up concerning its misstatements and missteps about the events in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 that some say rivals Watergate.  I’ll leave that judgement up to history.  Here’s the best summary of the state of things that I could find at the moment.  It wasn’t easy to find either as the MSM is making their best efforts to not let this scandal see the light of day.  And while the events, taken at face value, are indeed reminiscent of the most significant political scandal in American history there is a different feel to this situation.  Let me lay it out a bit.

    There are three things about Barack Obama that seem completely transparent right now -

    1. The job he has completely outstrips his capabilities.
    2. His ego will not let him see this fact.
    3. He is so cocksure of himself that anyone trying to help him see that fact is viewed as attacking and must therefore be ignored or destroyed.

    That is a situation that is not merely delusional, but consequentially delusional.  The Benghazi situation is a case in point.  You see, I do not think Obama is lying to us, I think he is lying to himself.  He cannot allow himself to deal with how badly he screwed up here.

    One of the great mysteries of this administration to me has been how could so many seemingly capable people be in the administration and the administration still make so many mistakes.  In other words, was there no one that was willing to tell the president he was wrong?  It seems that there were, at least based on the Benghazi testimony we heard yesterday, but it is equally clear that they were talking to a wall.  Undoubtedly in situation after situation this same thing has been true.  At some point in such a situation you just quit talking to the wall, or the wall tires of your insistence and falls on you.

    You see, Barack Obama is not in this case acting out of a desire to cover up for criminal activity (The facts notwithstanding) – he is protecting his ego.  Should he truly come to grips with what has happened here and that he is responsible, albeit indirectly, for the murder of four Americans that worked for him, he is likely to come completely apart and be rendered non-functioning.  I am no expert at mental health, but I have got to believe that this may not rise to the level of an illness, but I am fairly certain it constitutes a personality disorder of some sort.

    I am honestly beginning to feel pity for the man.

    But this is evil. For one thing, ego and self-regard this large is the very antithesis of Christian teaching. (Consider Phillippians 2:3)  But more, this has cost human life.  Forget the cost to the nation, peace in the Middle East and all the other geo-political stuff and focus on that one simple fact – he got people killed, people he appointed.  Whether it was his direct order or his policy or his failure to properly declare his policy – he got these people killed.

    The cover up only compounds the evil.  This truly is a large, large scandal.

    I find my political instincts, which say Barack Obama needs political crucifixion, at odds with my Christian compassion.  This man needs a lot of help.

    Years ago, a friend of my father’s, and old political hand, said, “Fire them and then help them.”  While he is in the White House, Barack Obama can never get the help he needs.  I am not sure his ego will ever permit it, even if he takes the worst shellacking in history come November 6.  But one thing is for sure, we HAVE to fire him before he can do any more damage.

    But we need to pray for him to.

    Update, about 1 hour after publication – Too late – MORE DAMAGE.

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    The Midsummer Doldrums, 2012

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 03:00 am, July 9th 2012     &mdash      1 Comment »

    With Independence Day behind us and Governor Romney et fils on vacation on Lake Winnipesaukee (photos here), the presidential campaign’s religion beat is a little slow, but it will never go away.  The news media will love Romney-Mormonism stories as long as cats will love catnip.  Take this odd report from Burns and Haberman at Politico, which seems to go to great lengths to take a John Boehner statement out of context:

    “Aside from Romney’s “friends, relatives and fellow Mormons,” Boehner said, most people will be motivated to vote for him in opposition to Obama.

    The Ohio Republican made the remarks when an unidentified woman asked during a question-and-answer session: “Can you make me love Mitt Romney?”

    “No,” Boehner said. “Listen, we’re just politicians. I wasn’t elected to play God. The American people probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney. I’ll tell you this: 95 percent of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth, and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama.

    “Mitt Romney has some friends, relatives and fellow Mormons … some people that are going to vote for him. But that’s not what this election is about. This election is going to be a referendum on the president’s failed economic policies.

    “Mitt Romney believes, just like we do, that if we’re going to get the economy back, if we’re going to put the American people back to work, we need to fix the tax code, we need to stop the regulatory juggernaut that’s going on in Washington and we need to fix our economy. Solid guy, he’s going to do a great job, even if you don’t fall in love with him.”

    It seems to me that all Boehner was saying is that it’s not important to love any presidential candidate. Instead, we need to vote for the candidate who can remove Barack Obama from the White House. Some people will vote for Romney because they are personally devoted to him, and believe in him, as an individual. Mormons will fall disproportionately into that latter category. But if someone uses the “M” word while discussing Romney, the punditry will build a story around that word. No wonder Romney usually avoids the subject.

    Remember what we said about Obama surrogates playing the Mormon card?

    This time it’s Spike Lee, quoted in the Huffington Post:

    Lee, an outspoken Obama supporter, told Vulture that although he believes the presidential election is going to be “very, very, very close,” at the end of the day, it may come down to Romney’s religion.

    “I think there will be a block of people saying, ‘I cannot vote for a Mormon,’” he said. “They got a tough decision: Obama or a Mormon. Their beliefs got them between a rock and a hard place.”

    We’ll be waiting a while for the disavowal or denunciation from the Obama campaign.

    If you can stand the yammering of Chris Matthews, this is an interesting discussion of how “pop culture visibility” has made Mormonism more “mainstream,” which may help Romney.

    Meanwhile, in the “Not Surprising” Department:

    “Pew surveys in November and May show white evangelicals overwhelmingly voting for Mitt Romney, despite serious reservations about his Mormon faith.”

    The next big events are the announcement of Romney’s running mate and the Republican National Convention, followed shortly by Labor Day and the “real” fall campaign. We’re almost off to the races, and The Question will be riding along in a sidecar the entire way.

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    A Gentleman Wins

    Posted by: JMReynolds at 09:18 pm, May 29th 2012     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Watching Mr. Romney bow out of the race in 2008 showed losing can elevate a man.

    His exit was well timed and in the doomed McCain campaign that followed he was a loyal worker. Many of us came to admire his prudence, his resolve, and his intellect. If you think “most improved” soccer players deserve five foot trophies, then Romney will seem cold to you. He is a mature man, a grownup in a nation of Peter Pans.  His heart has a steady beat not the spastic rhythms of the excitable man-child.

    Mitt Romney acts in a nation of actors and the pretenders often misunderstand the man. They play businessmen, governors, Olympic executives, husbands, fathers on television: Mr. Romney succeeded.

    When he lost, Mr. Romney learned from his errors. He reassembled a team and with prudence and without panic proceeded to scare away most of the “A-list” candidates. Bigotry was a barrier, but geniality and calm defeated it. When he faced B-lister after C-lister in the primaries, he scored when he had to so and dismantled their campaigns.

    He never got in the way of his opponents destroying themselves.

    Who is Mitt Romney?

    Mr. Romney is a gentleman and like all gentleman is not afraid of mixing it up if he must. But he does not attack for its own sake, but for the sake of the cause. What is his cause? Romney lives a love for free markets, republican values, faith, and family. He is no Lincoln, risen from poverty, but a Theodore Roosevelt, born to wealth and privilege, who made more of his chances than any of his peers.

    He is a man who used money and position to serve and not to be served.

    And now he is the Republican nominee for President, a title that eluded his father. Mr. Romney will win this fall with the same calm, methodical, and careful campaign he has run so far. It is a mildly Republican year . . . and Romney is a mild Republican. Not for him the false passion of the Internet troll. Not for him the pomposity of stadium orations. He is a good man, a decent man, a gentleman who has finally won.

    He will be the next President of the United States.

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    Super Tuesday Live Blog

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 06:50 am, March 6th 2012     &mdash      3 Comments »

    It’s the biggest day of the 2012 campaign so far, and we’re going to follow it here with posts as long as we are awake.  Watch this space!

    We begin with William McGurn’s reminder that conventional wisdom is often wrong, as in 1980, when the pundits were sure no Republican could beat  Jimmy Carter.

    The real must-read for Romney fans is Gerald Seib’s “Respect or Not, Romney Keeps Winning:”

    Mitt Romney arrives at Super Tuesday as not only the clear favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination, but also as the Rodney Dangerfield of American politics….

    We’ll be back.

    7:15 a.m. PST:  The first honest, fair reporting I’ve seen on Ann Romney’s comment about her wealth: ow.ly/9u0xr

    Just so everyone knows, here’s the full quote from Mrs. Romney:

    “[O]ne thing this disease has been for me has been a wonderful teacher. And with that comes an ability for compassion for others that are suffering. And for me, I want to make my family bigger. Those that are suffering from M.S. or cancer or any disease I feel like I want to throw my arms open and say, welcome to my family and welcome to the place where I’ve been and, so, you know, we can be poor in spirit and I don’t look — I don’t even consider myself wealthy which is am interesting thing. It can be here today and gone tomorrow, and how I measure riches is by the friends I have and the loved ones I have and the people I care about in my life and that is where my values are and those are my riches so for me having done through a difficult period in my life both with M.S. and with breast cancer it has done something to my heart and it’s softened my heart and made me realize there are many people suffering in this country and they are suffering from things that aren’t financial — and some people are suffering from things that are financial, as well — but those that are suffering, for me, I just have a larger capacity for love, and for understanding.”

    And you can watch the video here. After watching it, I think the way her statement, “I don’t even consider myself wealthy which is an interesting thing” has been used is pretty disgusting, especially in light of the true context and the overall warmth of her comments.

    8:13 AM (John here) – Rush Limbaugh seems to be a bigger story than super Tuesday today and Team Obama is trying to make hay out of that.

    And then there is this thought:

    Mark W. Leach at Public Discourse argues that, at least in the case of the selective abortion of Down Syndrome children, being pro-life is simply not enough to stop abortion

    That’s something we have been saying for a long time around here. If abortion is your issue politics is not the best answer. Some thing are church issues, not political ones.

    8:50 (John Mark here):

    Mitt Romney wins Ohio and it is time for the others to leave the race for the good of the party. I know it is old fashioned, but when I was young I learned to type with the phrase: “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party.” After Super Tuesday only Romney will be a national candidate. If he wins Ohio, there will be no path to the nomination for any other candidate.

    A brokered convention harms the Party. If he has the most delegates, Romney would still be the likely nominee. Time for Santorum and Gingrich to get out.

    9:44 a.m. (Lowell)

    Sorry, John Mark, I just saw a report that Newt Gingrich is getting Secret Service protection starting at midnight tonight.  That’s not what a candidate does just before dropping out.

    12:13 p.m. (Lowell)

    NRO’s Brian Bolduc says Santorum Can’t Win 1,144 Delegates.  Bolduc does the math in his article.

    12:17 p.m. (Lowell)

    Romney tells Larry Kudlow why he’s “not going to light his hair on fire.”  Video here.  Partial transcription:

    KUDLOW: All right. And… I’m not going to light my hair on fire.’ That’s you. I don’t have it up here. But you say, `I’m not going to light my hair on fire.’ Was that your way of saying that the economic issues have to be preeminent relative to the social issues? Was that your message?

    Gov. ROMNEY: Well, my message is I’m not going to say outrageous things about the president or about my opponents. It gets headlines and a lot of excitement, and it gets you, by the way, a number of days in the polls to get a nice little bump. But I’m going to talk about the real issues Americans face and talk with respect about people who have differing views. I’m not going to attack them personally. I mean, I know that’s fun, but it’s just not productive. And we need, as a nation, to come together to recognize that even though we have differing views about the country and about where we should go, we all love the country. And I recognize that among Democrats and among Republicans. I want to lead the country. I don’t want to castigate half of Americans. I want to bring us together and finally get the job done of having a stronger economy with a–with a government that’s been kept in the—in the–into the box it ought to be kept into.

    That’s a nice contrast with some of Romney’s opponents.

    12:23 p.m. (Lowell)

    Nancy French: “Voting in Tennessee Is Less Dramatic than Voting in Pennsylvania.”

    12:46 p.m. (Lowell)

    Early Ohio exit poll: Romney 38 Santorum 35 Newt 16 Paul 12… Next update 4 pm EST

    1:05 p.m. (Lowell)

    A Super Tuesday slide show.

    1:45 p.m. (Lowell)

    Rich Lowry throws cold water on the idea that losing the 2012 presidential election won’t be so bad: “No Substitute for Victory.

    If anyone does a year-end wrap-up of the worst ideas of 2012, losing the presidential election deserves to be high on the list.

    A note of gloomy wishfulness has entered Republican thinking of late. Maybe a loss in November (if Mitt Romney wins the nomination) won’t be so bad, because a cleansing fire will rid the party of moderates once and for all. Or, from the opposite point of view (if Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich were somehow to get nominated), a devastating defeat will teach the party’s purists a lesson. In any event, a Republican Congress could foil President Barack Obama’s noxious initiatives in a second term.

    All of this is hopefulness masquerading as hardheadedness. No shift in the balance of power within the Republican party, no congressional check on the president, no silver lining can possibly outweigh the setback the GOP will suffer if President Obama wins a second term.

    1:54 p.m. (Lowell)

    OH EXIT POLL 4PM UPDATE: Romney 39 Santorum 35 Newt 15 Paul 11

    2:12 p.m. (John)

    WaPo reports:

    Among the major Super Tuesday states, Tennessee’s contest is the one where former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum had been, for a time at least, doing best.

    And indeed, at the historic, white clapboard Nolensville First United Methodist Church, about 20 miles southwest of Nashville, Santorum found enthusiastic fans.

    “I think he’s the one who fears God the most,” said Chris Newell, an insurance salesmen, 58, from Nolensville. “I think he stands for conservative principles.”

    Yep, first three paragraphs of the story – no subliminal message there. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

    2:28 (Lowell):

    CNN exit of Ohio: 64% of voters say they’re “conservative.” Romney and Santorum TIED among those.

    4:15 p.m. (John)

    Gingrich wins Georgia, “Virginia too early to call” my sweet Aunt Petunia!  (Gingrich has not achieved pure majority in his home state.)

    4:20 p.m. (John)

    Virginia called for Romney.

    4:28 p.m. (John)

    Vermont called for Romney. (Fox, no link available at the moment)

    4:45 p.m. (John)

    CNN live Blog:

    7:31 p.m. ET – Forty percent of Ohio voters supported Romney, followed by 36% for Santorum, 12% for Gingrich and 11% for Paul, according to CNN exit polling.

    4:50 p.m. (John)

    1% reporting in Ohio – Romney has two point lead.  Has 59% in Virginia with 46% reporting – so much for one of the others could beat Romney if there was no “not Romney” competition.

    4:55 p.m. (John)

    WaPo:

    Romney’s victory in the Commonwealth will almost certainly net him all 46 of Virginia’s delegates due to the fact that only he and Texas Rep. Ron Paul qualified for the ballot.

    Under state rules, if a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, which Romney almost certainly will, then the delegates will be parceled out in a winner-take-all format — both by congressional district and statewide. That means that Romney will claim the three delegates for each of the 11 districts in the state as well as the 13 delegates for winning the statewide vote with more than 50 percent.

    That matters a lot.

    5:00 p.m. (John)

    Massachusetts called for Romney

    4:35 pm (John Mark)

    My family joined the Republican Party before the Civil War.

    I dare you call my room of GOP voters “RINOs.”

    Observations:

    1. Either Gingrich or Santorum must leave the race for any chance that Romney can be stopped.

    2. Gingrich has a win in Georgia, but I cannot see any significance in it.

    3. Ohio for Romney or even close means running for Santorum is a vanity race or looking for a brokered convention. A brokered convention is bad for the Party and would still leave to Romney as the nominee. Could he be denied with the majority of delegates?

    4. Romney is the only candidate running a national campaign.

    5. If Romney is such a weak candidate, why doesn’t someone beat him?

    4:45 John Mark:

    Just read another story on Mormon baptismal practices . . .

    Having read the announcement from the Mormon Church I don’t understand the reason this story continues.

    What is the harm alleged here? What does it have to do with Mitt Romney? Why are errors from some members reflecting on the Church?

    Vote observations:

    1. The fact only Romney is on every ballot today is another reason to support Romney. Fact: if you cannot get on the ballot running for President, you have organizational skill problems.

    2. If Romney comes in even second in the Volunteer State, he will have gotten thousands of Evangelical votes.

    3. Appearance of Obama today indicates some concern on his point about Republican attacks.

     

    5:00 John Mark:

    Oklahoma win for Santorum means he will stay? Why?  Is anyone manly enough to drop out?

    If Santorum wins three states, then Newt should go. If Santorum wins two states, then I don’t get his calculus. He simply will not have the delegates.

    State is Huckabee territory and will go to any GOP nominee. The idea is to win states that are in play. That is why Ohio matters compared to either OK (GOP) or Mass (DEM).

    Ohio is the whole thing tonight.

    Romney shows weakness with the lunch bucket crowd. He needs a blue collar guy . . . a Huckabee like figure as vice-president,

    Romney-Care is unpopular with GOP voters in Massachusetts. That is bad news for Governor Romney, but they voted for him anyone . . . which tells you how not fatal that issue is.

    Romney second in Georgia is a good sign for him. Evangelicals will vote for him since the Mormon vote in Georgia is not massive . . .

    So if Santorum wins Ohio, I get his path. What is Newt’s path?

    National polls are heading Romney’s way . . . GOP voters are warming up.

    Rick Santorum has suffered for my causes. I honor him for it, but he has a horrible personality for a national race. Right?

    My friends who are Ron Paul folk keep arguing elections are stolen from their guy . . . well, how is going tonight?

    Rick Santorum can snatch controversy from the jaws of consensus.

    Newt Gingrich burns through Georgia on his way to where it is hard to see.

    Mitt Romney needs to avoid being Charles X.

    In person, Laura Ingrahuam is just the way she sounds.

    Attacking JFK is foolish. People like JFK, though he was a rotten man and a mediocre President. Reagan never made the mistake of doing so: he admired Franklin Roosevelt as a war-time leader . . . as he should have . . . and promoted what he could about JFK (tax cuts). Santorum must learn.

    Newt’s focus on gas prices is smart, but Newt and gas are a bad image.

    5:39 John Mark

    Santorum victory in Tennessee. Big win. Romney second. That is good as well for him.

    Unfortunate first line for Callista: “Newt and I are engaged . . . ”

    Gussie Fink-Nottle rejoices as Newt wins Georgia.

    Newt wins South Carolina and Georgia . . . heading for the CSA presidency,

    Newt attacks elite, and talks about the hard time he had in the summer (on his cruise) . . . and I think, “Who is the elite of the party? If not you?”

    Newt talks about himself. Newt on Newt means a speaker fascinated with the topic.

    Newt has good ideas. Get to them.

    Look: I have great, brilliant friends who love Newt. They love his ideas. They love his passion. They love his history. Sadly, Newt is not talking about his platform.

    Newt equals gas.

    There I did what he said.

    Callista was sent out . . . and did her best. I felt badly for her. She was over-rehearsed but seems nice.

    Sitting waiting for Ohio is like a Star Wars film festival, you have done it before and it gets worse every time you see the newest iteration.

    Can I just say I love Steubenville? The University there is one of the best I have ever visited.

    Get to the point Rick. Why is everyone talking about themselves?

    Dear Rick: Why do you want to President? I love your family. Why should I vote for you?

    My back of the envelope guess-timate says Romney by two in Ohio.

    Santorum for Veep? Maybe not. Too undisciplined. I like Rubio.

    I have a bad habit of nattering . . . Rick has a bad habit of nattering. I am not running for President. He needs to solve his problem.

    Bad elites are bad, but not because they are elites. Being an elite is generally a good thing . . . being a bad one is bad for the same reason bad poor people are bad.

    I am sorry: but Governor Romney is a gentleman with a decent character.

    What is wrong with him? He has saved friend’s children’s lives. He has worked to keep an Olympic from scandal and shame. He has governed a Democratic state. He has worked for the Party for years . . .

    Romney big family, but right to the point.

    Mitt talks about someone other than himself. Shocking.

    Romney refers to vets. First mention of the night . . . Romney is no robot: he is a humble man. Can a humble man win?

    Watch Romney defer to others story. . . Newt told the story of his campaign, Santorum of his thinking and beliefs, Romney about others. Mitt’s crowd chants: “USA!”  It is about the country.

    Look . . . we don’t need Mitt . . . we need more of us to be like Mitt. We need to be faithful to our wives, give more of our income to charity, innovate, and serve our country.

    I blame Mormonism for Mitt’s good qualities.

    Gosh darn them to heck. (Trying to channel AP.)

    Silver says Santorum will win Ohio. Real race now.

    If Santorum wins Ohio, then Romney and Santorum are the only choices. Santorum will have won against the odds. It is a huge win for him. Period.

    Romney beating Gingrich in Tennessee is big.

    7:22 p.m. (John)

    Looks like Santorum in North Dakota and Romney HUGE in Idaho.  Ohio still pending.  Only surprise tonight to my mind is Tennessee – I expected closer.  Early exit polling says that is all about Evangelicals.  Just makes me sad.

    8:07 p.m. (John)

    Romney just took the lead in Ohio!  It looks to expand…

    9:05 p.pm. (John)

    Romney’s Ohio lead seems stable.  Alaska just closed, no word yet.  I have to get to bed.  Lowell and I have travel days tomorrow, we’ll post as we can, but our detailed analysis may be later inthe day than you are used to.  Watch this delegate count interactive graphic.  It shows just how smart Romney is running this race, and he is winning – big – despite what you hear.  Regardless of how Ohio finishes, Romney has had a great day.

    Here is my quick analysis.  Romney has taken a big bite out of Santorum in Ohio, independent of outcome.  Santorum and Romney took a big bite out of Gingrich in Tennessee.  Time for Newt to fill up with some of that gas and float away.   The failure of Santorum and Gingrich to qualify in VA is just a flat out failure.

    Romney’s the nominee – period.  Everything else is a fantasy, media bias, or a bias of an even more sinister nature.  But that is a story for another time.

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    A “Stop Romney” Effort After Iowa?

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 08:52 am, January 5th 2012     &mdash      16 Comments »

    Dear readers:

    This will be a fast-moving, often-changing story over the next five days (five days!) between now and the New Hampshire primary election.  We’ll try to follow the important developments, and so should you.

    Reports are that a group of “conservative elites” is meeting in Texas “to huddle to stop Mitt Romney.”

    A group of movement conservatives has called an emergency meeting in Texas next weekend to find a “consensus” Republican presidential hopeful, POLITICO has learned.

    “You and your spouse are cordially invited to a private meeting with national conservative leaders of faith at the ranch of Paul and Nancy Pressler near Brenham, Texas, with the purpose of attempting to unite and to come to a consensus on which Republican presidential candidate or candidates to support, or which not to support,” read an invitation that is making its way into in-boxes Wednesday morning.

    The meeting is being hosted by such prominent conservative figures as James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Don Wildmon, onetime chairman of the American Family Association; and Gary Bauer, himself a former presidential candidate….

    Movement conservatives are concerned that a vote split between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum among base voters could enable Mitt Romney to grab the GOP nomination. A source who shared the invitation said the meeting was about how to avoid such a possibility….

    If Republicans are going to put up a “pro-family conservative against Mitt Romney, some decisions need to be made,” [former gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaatts],told reporters at a Santorum rally.

    This has a certain odor to it, especially in light of the key players identified.  James Dobson, Don Wildmon, Gary Bauer — Evangelicals all.  Wildmon has been strident in his opposition to Romney.  Dobson has been famously wishy-washy and in thrall to his base– but that may have changed  now that he has retired and  no longer needs their financial support.  (Or does he?)

    For his part, Gary Bauer says the Texas meeting “was not intended to be a strategy session for how to take down Romney,” and that he will drop out of the event if he turned out to be wrong about its purpose.

    Not all invitees agree with Bauer, however:

    One conservative who was invited, though, said [stopping Romney] was exactly what the group ought to be doing.

    “It’s what they should have done in 2008 with McCain, but they were too weak,” complained this conservative.

    This meeting requires very close scrutiny. If this group is out to “stop the Mormon,” that purpose ought to be out in the open for all to see.

    John Joins…

    It will be very interesting to see if this veers off after Perry has announced he is still in.  Vander Plaats is also an anti-Mormon type of those cited.

    The biggest problem we have right now is telling the difference between anti-Mormon sentiment and simple anti-Romney sentiment and how they relate.  The left, which wants to delegitimize religion generally, thinks it’s all about religion – examples here and here.  Conservatives, not wanting to appear religiously bigoted, say it is about “genuine conservatism” – example here.  Really smart lefties are playing into the later because they want Obama re-elected more than anything else.

    But there are some things that are increasingly hard to understand.  The professionals, Karl Rove chief among them, now think Romney is going to be very hard to beat in the primary.  If that is indeed the case, and they are the best there are at this kind of stuff, why does there even need to be a question asked about whom to support?  When a winner becomes apparent, you back the winner because that is how you can be most effective at making gains with your particular agenda.  And that is true even if you do not agree entirely with the apparent winner, if your agenda matters most to you – then you go where you can make your agenda matter.  So, at this point, if they want to stop Romney, then that must be their most pressing agenda item – why?

    Some argue that in Iowa “Family values” is code for “Christian values.“  And it would appear that such code excludes individuals with the same values, but different theology.  Santorum won the rural areas and Romney the cities; the data are now in.  Santorum, as I predicted, took the vast majority of the Evangelical vote.  Position by position, there is little difference between Santorum and Romney – save two.  Romney is so much better organized and so much better funded that there is no comparison.  That translates into electability.  And then there is the matter of ecclesiastical affiliation.  Even if no one will say it out loud, the statistics speak volumes.  And draw ridicule:

    Has there ever been a clearer gap between a candidate’s claim of a divine call toward politics and Michele Bachmann’s speech on Wednesday ending her race for the GOP presidential nomination?

    She started with a long list of arguments against the healthcare reform law (several of which had long ago failed muster against actual facts.) She added a smidge of humility of the sort not generally found among active candidates. (“And so last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to stand aside.”)

    And then there was this clear nod to her faith: “I look forward to the next chapter in God’s plan. He has one for each of us, you know. If we will only cooperate with him, he always had something greater around the corner — far beyond what any of us have ever thought or imagined.”

    But she seemed far less uncertain about God’s plan for her when she entered the race. Ditto for her fellow failed (or nearly failed) candidates Herman Cain and Rick Perry. And for the latest non-Romney favorite, Rick Santorum.

    Cast your eyes back to 2006 when Bachmann said: “God then called me to run for the United States Congress.” And then last year, just before starting her presidential campaign: “It means I have a sense of assurance about the direction I think that God is speaking into my heart that I should go.”

    This does nothing but discredit the voice of faith in the public square – it portrays a God of steadfastness and reason as one of capricious whim.  If we are to prevail in the real battles ahead, we can ill afford such portrayals.  I find it fascinating that the follower of the faith MOST steeped in direct deistic revelation is making no claims to such when so many of his opponents are.

    Same-sex marriage, the current most active battlefront, looks to get much more active.  We are doing stupid things on that battlefront and sometimes we get what we deserve, but forget how high the stakes really are – From Robert George:

    One of my superstar former students, writing about his experience at one of our nation’s premier law schools, sent me a note after reading my MOJ post on marriage, religious liberty, and the “grand bargain.”  Here is the text, with names removed to protect the innocent:

    I had a first-hand experience with this reality in law school. One of my constitutional law professors taught the section of our course relating to same-sex marriage under the “inevitability” banner. I met with him in office hours later to talk to him about something else, but I brought up a question that I have been wrestling with: if the SSM advocates are right and opposition to SSM becomes analogous to racism in our society, what will happen to Catholics and others whose views on SSM cannot and will not change? Are they to be excluded from public office, political and judicial appointments, or places of trust and responsibility within private institutions (e.g., law firm partnerships)? I posed the question to him because I was curious to hear his response, since he is generally a kind and reasonable person who seemed open to other viewpoints.

    His response was very disappointing, and it shook my confidence in him. He responded to me by saying something along the lines of: “Well, they [Catholics and others] will either have to change their views or be treated in the same way that white supremacists and the segregationist Senators were treated. They were excluded from the judiciary entirely for decades because of the South’s views on race.”

    The stakes are as high as they come.  The agitation for precisely those stakes is upon us.  The Republican nominee now appears very likely, very likely indeed, to be Mitt Romney.  He won the most religiously tinged, save perhaps South Carolina, primary in the nation.  The voters get it. We cannot let our theological differences keep us from winning the big fight.  That means we have to concentrate on electability and not theology.  A theology fight weakens our nominee, regardless of who that might be.  If the smart people think that nominee is Romney, the choice is most apparent.  Anything else and we, as they say, “Cut off our nose to spite our face.”

    John Mark here:

    For those wondering how traditional Christians will be treated in the future, I urge you to Google Santorum’s name. Santorum doesn’t deserve to be President for the hate he has received, but he deserves our thanks for putting up with it.

    Meanwhile, he has too little money, too much baggage (those Senate votes! that election loss!), and a generally prickly personality.

    Why not support Romney? There are good reasons not to do so, I suppose, but bad ones too. When a thoughtful blogger like Andrew Sullivan calls a man “weird,” then he is giving a dog whistle to hate. Don’t believe me? Read the comment sections on blogs that quote Sullivan. Mormon doctrine as “weird” will come up quickly. Reading Sullivan himself daily is a good corrective to the notion that Romney is a “liberal” or a RINO. (Sullivan is a man of the right in some ways with a rootless morality, but he is always interesting.)

    A few conservatives that voted for Obama retain an interest in being vindicated. They thought the GOP was going into the wilderness and they are in denial that the party is about to (again) nominate an acceptable center-right candidate and has a better than even chance of winning with Romney this fall.

    If Romney picks a “Rubio-type,” then he can bet conservatives will come home.

    It is false that seventy-five percent of the party has rejected Romney. He is perfectly acceptable to the vast majority of the party, but in a multiple candidate field they have rightly looked around. Why settle quickly when Romney is always there? Maybe somebody better is out there . . . but polls show they are going to vote for Romney if he is the nominee.

    Here is a wild prediction: well over 1/4 of New Hampshire will vote for Romney, but it will be dismissed as his “nearly home state.” Sure. That is why McCain won there in 2008.

    Romney will be the nominee. The “leaders” meeting to stop him are unknown (or nearly so) to my Evangelical students. They would have to engage in political necromancy to bring back long departed voters that would hear their own dog whistles. Just as zombie-Reagan is not going to run, so the zombie-Religious Right cannot be invoked.

    Evangelicals under fifty are conservative . . . they are pro-life and pro-marriage, but they are not “led” by the men meeting in Texas. Romney gained almost a fifth of Iowa Evangelicals, after all in a split field. Real Evangelicals will rally around Romney as the field settles.

    UPDATE BY JOHN 5 HOURS AFTER INITIAL PUBLICATION: Looks like this thing is not pulling the kind of energy hoped for:

    Two prominent leaders of conservative organizations have confirmed they are not attending and several others are expressing concern that nothing substantial or productive will come from the gathering.

    “I understand the importance of discussing how we must energize and mobilize our base, but I believe the process of getting behind a consensus candidate will take care of itself. That’s what elections are for,” noted one invitee who asked not to be identified. “I just don’t think we’ll be able to agree on any one candidate at this time.”

    Maybe someone read my comments above?

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    Posted in Latest News, Prejudice, Religious Bigotry | 16 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

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