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."

  • The Mormon Card – A New Theory; and Doonesbury Joins In

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:20 am, October 8th 2012     &mdash      5 Comments »

    Last week’s anti-Mormon push polling scandal seems to have died quite rapidly.  This is not surprising – such reporting is always anecdotal in nature and absent evidence of a bigger picture, it just has nowhere to go.  It is the opinion of some in the punditry community that the Mormon issue has been sufficiently delegitimized that we are not going to see it – though we have been insisting here that we will see it simply out of desperation and a lack of other ammunition on the part of Mitt Romney’s opponents.

    There are three reasons we continue to hold to that theory right now.

    (1) There remains within the conservative movement a number of reluctant Romney voters whose reluctance is religiously based.  There are too many pieces like this and this dealing with that reluctance that portray Romney as a less than ideal candidate, but the best alternative.  That is a tempting opening for a political opponent to exploit.

    (2) Among the far left, in the wake of Prop 8 animus towards Mormons is extraordinary.  Just because the public demonstrations and vandalism and violence have died down it does not mean the sentiment has.  One need only haunt the sites in the LGBT community or hardcore left like the Democratic Underground to know this.

    (3) Inside the liberal bubble, religion generally is considered an acceptable place for mockery and derision.  The distinctives within the Mormon faith make it a particularly easy target for such mockery.  Witness Newsbusters description of a Stephen Colbert interview on NPR.

    That said, however, everyday we grow closer to the election and the Mormon card is not played is a day that proves us, gratefully, wrong.  With the election now officially less than a month away I find myself wondering what if I am wrong and they are right?  What if the card does not get played in the election?

    Well, with regards to the issues inside conservatism nothing will make them go away completely like a Romney victory and successful governance on his part.  Conservatives are going to respect it if it works.  If Romney loses, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a great deal of Mormon backlash, albeit civil, inside the conservative movement and the Republican party  But the post-debate polling trends are making that look increasingly unlikely.  (Not to mention the absolutely feckless governance by the current occupant of the White House.)

    What I am far more worried about in terms of ugly anti-Mormonism is a Romney win.  There is so much ugliness inside the left-bubble, particularly on this issue, that once they lose their chosen one their reactions will be less than kind.  Once action starts to occur inside the government with which they disagree, and without the constraints of trying to re-elect their chosen one, the Mormon Card may become an oft-wielded weapon in their opposition.  I would expect every conservative action on the part of a Romney administration to be met with shouts of “Watch Salt Lake City,” and “theocracy.”  We saw a goodly amount of the latter with George W. Bush and I think it could only get worse with Romney.

    Is it too early to worry about what is going to happen after the election? Probably, and it is certainly too early to be distracted for an all out effort to elect Mitt Romney.  Just thought it was time to point that if we get to the election without the Mormon card being played, it does not mean it is not still in the deck.

    Lowell adds: Doonesbury joins in the faith-mocking

    My guess is that John is right and that neither candidate’s faith will be a significant visible factor in the campaign. In a very close election, we may never know whether diehard orthodox Christians stayed home on election day, or whether independent voters paid any attention at all to Obama’s relationship with Jeremiah Wright. In other words, faith probably won’t be a decisive factor.

    That doesn’t mean faith won’t be discussed among people who are of the same mind. People on the left will still talk to and agree with each other about Romney’s Mormonism, something they love to do.

    For example, in today’s Doonesbury cartoon Garry Trudeau mocks Romney’s service as a full-time missionary in France, over 40 years ago.  This raises the usual questions:

    • Would Trudeau ever mock Joe Lieberman’s Jewishness, or (heaven forbid!) any Muslim’s faith?  I doubt it, but I hope readers will correct me if I am wrong.
    • Same question about Obama’s association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  Can you imagine it?
    • And by the way, I wonder if Trudeau sees anything worthy of mockery in Obama’s activities at the age of 19 or 20?

    Of course, this Doonesbury bit appears in Slate, which is an online echo chamber for the left.  I doubt Trudeau or his work has influenced many voters in the last 30 years, but he does provide an interesting window into the double standard liberals apply to religion and politics.

    Meanwhile, thanks to reader Prof. Dan Peterson, we have this brief commentary from Robert George about the Catholic push poll John writes about above.  Maybe it was push-back like George’s that caused the push-pollers to slither back into the swamp they came from.

    AFTERNOON UPDATE: Stay classy, Obama fans!

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    The Dirtiest Of Dirty Tricks…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:19 am, October 2nd 2012     &mdash      4 Comments »

    The Push Poll.

    A push poll is an interactive marketing technique, most commonly employed during political campaigning, in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor mongering, masquerading as a poll. Push polls may rely on innuendo or knowledge gleaned from opposition research on an opponent. They are generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning.[1]. This tactic is commonly considered to undermine the democratic process as false or misleading information is provided about candidates.

    By pretending to take data, the “pollster” can pass on all sorts of nastiness to “test” the interviewee’s reaction.  We saw this tactic last cycle in the primary to play the Mormon card, though we were never able to pin down who was behind it.   I still suspect it was a Huckabee supporting group of some sort, but the Huckabee camp insists to this day that Romney was behind it precisely so he could use it to cast aspersions Huckabee’s way.  This latter charge is just way too Machiavellian for me to even get my head around really.  The tactic, based on deception, is bad enough all by itself, but in a situation like the one that developed in the ’08 primary it becomes a definite two-edged sword, its use can backfire severely.

    And so now we come to this cycle and this report from USNews:

    Catholics are a key demographic in the upcoming election. In fact, they may be the key demographic.

    In most every presidential contest since the end of World War II, the candidate who carried the Catholic vote won the election.

    [...]

    With most of the national polls showing the race to be one or two points either way, the fight over the Catholic vote is heating up.

    OK, let’s stop there for a minute.  The piece now breaks down into a long discussion about the legitimacy of some action by a Catholic pro-life groups, and whether the church is becoming too politicized and too partisan.  Such stories have been springing up for a while now which is, given the Obama administrations assault on the Catholic Church in the form of the HHS rule, unsurprising.  The rule is so audacious in its violation of the first amendment that the only possible defense for it is to try and denounce the legitimacy of the church.

    But after that lengthy attempt to delegitimize the Catholic opposition to Obama, we run into this:

    On Wednesday Hudson also revealed that a group calling itself Catholics for Obama had been making push poll phone calls in support of the president’s re-election bid. Among the questions being asked, he said, was “How can you support a ‘Mormon’ who does not believe in Jesus Christ?”

    The phone banker making the call, which in this case went to a woman Hudson identifies as “the head of a pro-life committee at a parish I know” reportedly also asserted that “President Obama did not support abortion” and that Planned Parenthood “helps children get healthcare and prenatal care and does not promote abortion.” In fact, the group is one of the nation’s largest abortion providers.

    Ahhh, now things get interesting.  Like most reports on push polling, this is anecdotal.  We have no idea how widespread the practice is or if it is just an incident of a single phone banker going off script, but the USNews reporting is telling.  They spend most of the article questioning the legitimacy of pro-Romney Catholics based on church claims of political neutrality, reserving reports of genuine and utterly disreputable politicking on Obama’s behalf until very near the end of the story.

    I mean, come on – push polling is disreputable on its face and playing the Mormon card while using such a disreputable tactic undermines a good deal of what makes this nation great -  and they want to talk about the debatable boundaries of reputable political actions in the name of the church?!?!?!  This is what passes for “balanced” reporting?

    Why is it that this scene from the Wizard of Oz keeps coming to mind?  But in reality things are much worse than they may seem.  With stories like this the misdirection, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” is no longer being used to divert us simply from the awful foreign policy of this administration, or the fiscal policy that has the nation on the verge of another recession.  Nope, now they are trying to misdirect us from unethical and disreputable campaigning.

    We said the Mormon card was going to be played and played ugly.  Well, here it is about as ugly as it gets.  Of course, Obama is covered in all sorts of plausible deniability, but the key question is will he provide corrective to his supporters.  Will we get a statement from Obama saying that push-polling is not to be used and the Mormon card is not to be played?

    I don’t think so, that would require more character than this guy has.

    Addendum a few moments later

    They want to argue about how partisan the Catholic church is?

    It’s not just the collection plate that’s getting passed around this fall at hundreds of mainly African-American and Latino churches in presidential battleground states and across the nation.

    Exhorting congregations to register to vote, church leaders are distributing registration cards in the middle of services, and many are pledging caravans of “souls to the polls” to deliver the vote.

    Like I said, misdirection.

    Good to know addendum a few hours later

    From First Things:

    The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights has condemned the anti-Mormon bigotry of these calls in the strongest possible terms. All Catholics should join in the condemnation. I don’t know who is behind these calls, but the Obama campaign should, in all decency, immediately try to figure it out and shut them down.

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    Meanwhile, In The Background, Reason To Not Lose Heart

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:24 am, September 15th 2012     &mdash      3 Comments »

    I suppose it could be argued that the MSM efforts to suppress what is happening in the Middle East and the fecklessness of the current administration in face of it all, that the Middle East issue is, in fact, “the background.”  But I just don’t believe that the American people are that blind.   They see what is happening and they see how the administration is responding, er, NOT responding and they are deeply troubled.  I cannot tell you how many people have said to me in the last two days, “The press doesn’t get it!  Don’t they see what is happening?”  I have heard that so much that I cannot lose heart as so many seem to want to do.  When that many people see the truth and are that adamant about it, those hiding in delusion are on the brink of disaster.

    As Lee Smith said at the Weekly Standard:

    It was bad enough, two years ago, that Defense Secretary Robert Gates called fringe Florida pastor Terry Jones to ask him not to burn copies of the Koran, or last week, that chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey took his turn to call Jones to ask him to stop publicizing a YouTube video, The Innocence of Muslims. But then on Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney told the world that the violent protests in Cairo and Ben­ghazi and elsewhere were a “response not to United States policy, and not obviously the administration or the American people,” but were “in response to a video, a film we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting.” Carney repeated the point for emphasis: “This is not a case of protests directed at the United States at large or at U.S. policy, but in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims.”

    Carney’s comments lie outside the range of plausible spin, even by Obama administration standards, and if his bosses believe them—as we fear they do—are simply delusional.

    Steven Hayward at Powerline tells us that by all account the State Department is in chaos.  (You know, I have always thought we would be better off with Hillary Clinton as president rather than Obama, but these reports make me wonder.  Or is it simply a matter that Obama does not give his Cabinet members sufficient autonomy to run a good department in the face of his total inability to do the job?  It is going to be fascinating to read the history on this one.)  The country and presidency will survive this, though a great deal of rebuilding will be necessary, but I said the other day that I wondered if the Democrat party would survive Barack Obama and I find myself now wondering if the MSM will survive.

    I simply cannot believe what Mark Halperin posted on his Friday appearance on Morning Joe.   The conversation starts with Scarborough, nominally a conservative, saying:

    Conservative intelligentsia is — has turned on him and there are some things that they will not say publicly, there are some things that they will not write publicly, but behind the scene, they’re all talking Dole ’96, George H.W. Bush ’92. This past week they’ve really, privately written this guy off despite the fear and loathing that they have about a second Obama term.

    Come on Joe!  – Name some names here.  Those “conservative intelligentsia” are probably about as conservative as you are.  Give me a break here.  Who in their right mind could write off Mitt Romney when the Obama administration is falling apart before our very eyes.  There is an election in less than two months and unlike Nero, whose resemblance the president is gaining moment by moment, Obama can, and will, be removed.

    This is not time to lose heart.  Stop listening to the press and stop reading polls that are clearly intended to alter opinion rather than measure it.  If they continue down this path of turning a blind eye to the utter failings of the current administration they will only hasten their already rapid demise.  Why buck the tide?  Let’s speed things up and simply stop consuming, even for a moment, the crap they are spewing.   If the Los Angeles Times, which I stopped reading in 200o because all pretense of journalistic integrity disappeared in the Bush v Gore cycle,  survives this election cycle as anything other than a distributor of supermarket inserts, I will be shocked.  The way things are going right now the protective bubble around the west side liberals that has kept the rag barely afloat to date is going to have to burst.  Reality has a way of breaking through our delusions and it is happening right now.

    Besides, on what is supposed to be Romney’s weakest flank, religion, things are looking pretty good.  Paul Ryan gave a great speech at the VVS yesterday and Romney did pretty well tooStephen Mansfield had a great op-ed in USAToday this past week:

    Even so, with these concerns laid aside, many voters might not recognize an often undervalued feature of the faith: How it might help a Mormon lead in the Oval Office. This possibility arises from the emphasis the faith places upon patriotism, civic duty and morality in government — American government in particular.

    These civic virtues spring from the fact that Mormonism is more a religion of America and about America than any other religion. In fact, some scholars, such as the late UCLA historian Fawn Brodie, see Mormonism as little more than the values and symbols of America spun into a religion. This, they say, is what has made the saints of recent decades such super patriots, and it could also be what could make a Mormon candidate for president an attractive choice.

    I would phrase that a bit differently – Mormons are today what mainline Protestants were a few decades ago – the keepers of the American dream.  That makes them the perfect group to lead us all as we try to rebuild this nation from the disaster that has been wrought by the current administration.

    Noted theologians, especially of the Baptist variety, are pointing out important things:

    “The Kingdom is not riding on whatever happens on election day and the church’s mission isn’t going to change regardless of what happens … on Election Day,” said Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on Tuesday.

    Yes, folks that Al Mohler – he made our “bad guys” list, at least provisionally, last cycle.  Oh there is news even more delicious than that!  World Magazine – founded and published by the biggest anti-Mormon bigot on the right Joel Belz, had this to say this week:

    Mitt Romney’s Mormonism is shaping up to be more of an oddity than an obstacle in the minds of 2012 American voters, even among evangelicals.

    The piece is not exactly a ringing endorsement of Romney, but it does indicate the bursting of a protective bubble on the far right.  If that bubble can burst, so can the one on the left, which I believe we are witnessing at this very moment.  And the final bit of news is the most ironic of all:

    It seems that returned Mormon missionaries make good U.S. ambassadors.

    President Barack Obama this week nominated Robert S. Beecroft, a Brigham Young University graduate who served a two-year LDS Church mission to Argentina, as the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq. From 2008 to 2011, Beecroft was the ambassador to Jordan.

    The article goes on to point out that ambassador to Kuwait is Mormon, and leave us not forget former Obama ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, Mormon.  Go ahead Mr. Obama, play the Mormon card, I triple dog dare you – it’ll just make you look more foolish than you look at this moment, and that is pretty doggone foolish.

    Nope, now is not the time to be disheartened.  We’re winning, the press, often the last to the party, just have not figured it out yet becasue they do not want to.  That’s their problem, not ours.  Ours is to ignore their delusion and press the case.  Yesterday I advised an acquaintance that was very upset at the coverage of the foreign policy meltdown to go to MittRomney.com, hit the “Get Involved” tab and get busy.  Stop talking and listening to people inside the bubble and start engaging people outside of it.  There are certainly enough of us that live in the real world to win this election.  Who cares if the press and the pollsters come along kicking and screaming, we will still carry the day and return the nation to where it is supposed to be.

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    Posted in News Media Bias, Political Strategy, Prejudice, Reading List, Religious Bigotry, Religious Freedom | 3 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Mormon friends: time to explain to us.

    Posted by: JMReynolds at 11:04 am, September 11th 2012     &mdash      19 Comments »

    Glenn Beck did a show the other day explaining Mormonism.

    That was a helpful start, but more is needed.

    Since Mr. Romney is being attacked by know-nothings like Richard Dawkins for his Mormon faith, this is a good time for my Mormon friends to explain and defend their distinctive doctrines. This is not the role for a candidate, but it should be job for his co-religionists and friends.

    This is not because a President should have to do so, but because it is a good that can come from the bigoted bad. Education cannot harm us. Dawkins must be answered, but in a thoughtful way. He excludes Mormons from a free man’s consideration using a simple argument that will persuade a few.

    Dawkins lives in a simple world where all religion is a hoax. His attacks on Joseph Smith’s revelation are no different than his attacks on the Christian apostles. The only thing that exists for Mr. Dawkins are those things he can dream of doing. He knows no power, diabolic or divine, apart from matter and energy. Mr. Dawkins claim is that anyone who “swallows” Mormonism is too irrational to be President.

    Any other religious believer tempted to agree should remember Mr. Dawkins says the same of them. Of course, more than a few philosophers have found Dawkins’ idea that mind can be reduced to meat absurd. Intuitions of the absurdity of an opponent’s views are not hard to generate and untrustworthy!

    I am not a Mormon, nor do I play one on television, but if I were called on to explain Mormonism and what makes it different I would begin with Joseph Smith, because to this outsider the claims of Mormonism begin with him. What are we to make of Joseph Smith?

    For too long, Americans have accepted the ludicrous judgment of Mark Twain and others about Joseph Smith as a simple huckster or conman. He was a complex figure and at the very least a literary genius. No American has written (or at the very least translated) a work read by more people on the planet. Most Americans I know know nothing of his life or what they “know” is false or contentious.

    If I understand LDS claims correctly, Joseph Smith is not viewed as “perfect.” He is not, after all, the Christ. He was (to paraphrase the description in my favorite biography of Joseph Smith) a rough stone. He died for his convictions, murdered by an American mob. That death, at least, should give pause to those who would merely shout down Mormonism.

    This is a good moment for Mormons to encourage a more responsible dialogue about their faith. My own judgment about Joseph Smith will not be agree with my Mormon neighbor, but it also rejects Dawkins’ prejudices0. My culture taught me that Mormonism did not pass the bar of minimum rationality required from our leaders in a Republic. I examined Mormonism and its history and found a community intent on building schools, doing apologetics, and practicing republican forms of government successfully.

    My conclusion:

    Mormonism may be wrong, but one need not be irrational to hold it. LDS scholars defend their beliefs ably using thoughtful arguments.

    As a result, being a Mormon should not disqualify a man or woman from consideration for the highest office in the land even if Mormon distinctive doctrines are wrong (even very wrong).

    John Chimes In…

    Sadly I must disagree, to an extent, with my co-blogger, and that is dangerous ground for he is both better educated and smarter than I am.  I certainly do not disagree that Mormons should be at the forefront of this campaign – wrote about that extensively on Saturday.  I certainly do not disagree that, “This is not the role for a candidate, but it should be job for his co-religionists and friends.”  I would remind my co-blogger that there are organizations out there devoted to that very effort.  Not to mention an entire institute at BYU.  Many are those devoted to the role JMR discusses and they have been at it since long before Mitt Romney thought about being president.

    Where I disagree is this phrase, “…this is a good time for my Mormon friends to explain and defend their distinctive doctrines.”  JMR himself says, “Dawkins lives in a simple world where all religion is a hoax. His attacks on Joseph Smith’s revelation are no different than his attacks on the Christian apostles.” [empahsis added]  Dawkins arguments are against Mormonism because due to the presidential election, Mormonism is in the spotlight.  Dawkins does not seek to attack Mormonism any more than he does any other religion – what Dawkins seeks is first an audience and secondly to ridicule religion in all its guises.

    From Dawkins perspective, even as JMR describes it, the discussion of  Mormon distinctives is an INTRAreligious discussion, it is not really part of the discussion between those of faith and those without it.  It is the discussion between those of faith and those without it that is paramount at this point.  If I am Mormon, or Evangelical, or Orthodox, I respond to Dawkins attacks on Joseph Smith with, “Why Richard, that is no different than your attacks on Peter and Paul.  You just don’t like people that believe in a supernatural and change the world based on that belief.  Let’s talk about that.”  Thus we draw the debate to where it really needs to be at this juncture.

    JMR says it so well, “The only thing that exists for Mr. Dawkins are those things he can dream of doing. He knows no power, diabolic or divine, apart from matter and energy.”  That and that only is the essential debate of this time.  For if there is only matter and energy then government really is the ultimate authority and Obama is somewhat justified in being as I described him this morning, “a self-absorbed, egomaniacal, ingrate of a human being.”  But if there is in fact a supernatural, one that endows us with rights, the that is the ultimate authority, and the government exists to preserve the rights that are granted to us by that authority.  such is the fundamental question of America and it is the essential question on the table in this election cycle.  We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from it.

    Now is not the time for a Mormon or an Evangelical apologist – now is the time for a Mormon apologist and an Evangelical apologist and an Orthodox apologist and a Roman Catholic apologist to stand together and say to Richard Dawkins, “We will not take your detours into intrareligious argumentation.  We will stand together to protect the ideals under which the nation was founded.”

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    Analyzing Their Strategy

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 04:00 am, September 4th 2012     &mdash      5 Comments »

    So, on Saturday we looked at a report from “sources inside the Obama campaign” claiming that David Axelrod had OKed the “nuclear option,” that is to say playing the Mormon card.  As an initial reaction, I said:

    Am I shocked or surprised by this?  Not really. The Obama campaign quiver is so empty that the rock-throwing was bound to commence.  I am, however, absolutely stunned that the internal campaign discipline is such that this word would leak out.

    Regardless of that fact, and even the lack of plausible deniability this report creates for the Obama campaign, it does not mean they cannot be successful with it.  For one, the anonymous nature of the sourcing robs the report of complete reliability.  That coupled with the fact that all Axelrod is really only trying to suppress the already wary Evangelical vote means that he can play the card subtly and minimize the risk involved.  Because he is trying to convince people for whom Mormonism is already an issue, he does not really have to say “Mormonism” out loud – to make his point.

    Case-in-point 1 – Stories from reliably left wing outlets (CNN) about Romney efforts to reach out to the evangelical community.  “Can he succeed?”  Paragraphs like this:

    Polls show that although most evangelicals have come around to Romney, there’s a sizable chunk who have not. With those voters making up a huge part of the GOP base in swing states like Ohio, Iowa and Virginia, whether DeMoss’ gambit works could mean the difference between an Obama or a Romney White House.

    Even stories that are not so blatant, but that do point out that there is an issue do not help too much.  Such stories serve to remind the few that are struggling that they are struggling.  Rather than allow them to come to peace with the outcome of the primaries, such reminders serve to reinforce a feeling of alienation from the Republican party that could keep them home come November.

    Case-in-point 2Axelrod rapidly capitalized on that apparent sense of alienation on the Sunday shows:

    Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod had a retort Sunday after a week of criticism from Republicans in Tampa — at least our party’s unified.

    Or so he claimed in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

    “We don’t have the problems that the other party has. We’re not divided. We don’t have to worry about what people are saying on the side, or about their affection for the president. We don’t have those problems. We don’t have the reinvention convention,” he said. “We’re a unified party.”

    Do you see what is going on there?  He is not talking to a general audience there, he is speaking specifically to those that feel a bit alienated from the party and reinforcing that feeling of alienation.    At no time does he say the word “Mormon,” but to those for whom Mormonism is an issue, he does say, “See you are not really a part of the Republican party.  Why would you want to go out and vote for this Romney character?  He is not ‘one of you.’”

    This statement coming from Axelrod so soon after the report we looked at Saturday lends credence to that report.  When this campaign is over I think we will look back at this Fox News Sunday interview as the time the first card from the Mormon deck was laid on the table directly by the Obama campaign.

    Case-in-point 3Overt mentions of race serve to ring the Mormon bell.  In endorsing same-sex marriage, Obama basically punted away the African-American religious vote.  But he cannot let Romney pick-up those votes.  There has been enough talk of the Mormon history with race, which is not that different than any other predominately white sect’s history, that I think most African Americans are going to be very wary of Mormonism.  And so, the mere mention of race in this election cycle is going to also saw on the Mormon string, and thus they hope to keep those votes on the sidelines.

    There is one other factor that does not help here.  Romney’s nomination is a tremendous step forward for the Mormon community.  But I do think that the celebrations should wait until after the general election.  Far and away, the most repeated story of the weekend was along the lines of these example from the New York Times and Washington Post.  Says the NYT headline:

    Mormon Says Romneys Are Leading Church Into Mainstream

    One cannot deny the truth of that statement; however it also serves to illuminate the internal party divisions that the other side is trying to capitalize upon.  Back in the ’08 cycle, the most cited fear of Evangelicals was that a Romney nomination would make Mormonism a more viable alternative to traditional Christianity.  Of course it will and has, which to my mind simply means we Evangelicals have to get more competitive, but for those prone to sulk at home and lick their wounds, stories like this will serve to suppress their votes and Romney needs those votes.

    This is subtle stuff right now, but i it lay the seeds of a very nasty campaign to follow.  It will be interesting to see the DNC this week.  I do not expect to hear the word “Mormon,” but I do expect to hear a bunch of nasty, personal criticism – What else they got?  Voters don’t like that much and if we are lucky they will overplay the hand enough that we can group the Mormon attacks in with the other personal nastiness.  Only time will tell on that.

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    Posted in Candidate Qualifications, Political Strategy, Prejudice, Religion and Race, Religious Bigotry | 5 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    “Please, no.” Mr. President

    Posted by: JMReynolds at 08:20 am, September 3rd 2012     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Count me in the conservative minority unhappy with Mr. Eastwood’s performance at the GOP convention.

    Why?

    It is a further step in debasing our political discourse. Mr. Eastwood “cleverly” used, without saying, the “f-word” to describe our President. As a member of the loyal opposition I say: “God save the President of the United States” while preparing to vote against Mr. Obama. Mr. Eastwood appeared confused about many things in his ramble, but the man and the office was at least one.

    The convention, for the most part, did a good job keeping personal attacks of the President out, but Mr. Eastwood’s bar rant was what will be recalled. We are a republic, and jabbing and mocking the head of the other party is our right, but rights bring responsibility.

    And that brings me to the rumors that the President’s campaign is about to “play the Mormon card.” Some might justify it after Mr. Eastwood’s deploying the f-bomb, but this would be different and worse. First, Mr. Eastwood did not get Mr. Romney’s permission to tell the President to get off his yard. Second, attacking a man’s faith is much worse than swearing at him.

    A man would die for his faith, while a gentleman will laugh off a crudity, as Mr. Obama did to Mr. Eastwood.

    This campaign has already been marked on both sides by a public disdain for truth: both sides have flacks who appear not to care if an advert is true if it works. Both sides have become fond of “factoids” with clever manipulators eager to chuckle at their abuse of reality and how they can demagogue the American people.

    I suppose it has been ever so. I don’t agree with it, but tolerate it as an ugly excess of democracy.

    But there are excesses that a free man cannot tolerate and one of them is religious bigotry. When Jefferson was attacked for being the antichrist, it was a sign of a deep sickness. Jefferson was a bad man and an intolerable hypocrite, but attacks on his confused religious beliefs only made it harder for sane men to see the real issues.

    Mr. Obama is still well-liked by most of us. Like Mr. Romney he has a commendable family life and is personally decent. If he plays the “Mormon card,” because he knows he is losing, then he will sully his place in history. Woodrow Wilson openly embraced bigotry, but surely Mr. Obama will not do the same in his desperation.

    Mr. Obama almost surely will lose, just as Mr. McCain was almost sure to lose. Mr. McCain deserves history’s praise for avoiding the worst sorts of race baiting in his campaign. If lose you must, you can lose like a patriot: McCain did.

    I can only hope Mr. Obama will do the same.

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