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 Long Knives Are Out – And Some Of Them Say “Mormon”

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:05 am, January 16th 2015     —     2 Comments »

    They seem to be lining up in opposition to Romney running again.

    Check out this MSM story or Allahpundit’s round-up of negative comments from Wednesday night for a taste.  Peggy Noonan, who was not exactly supportive of Romney in 2012, at least has a couple of reasonably novel arguments.

    And then there are those arguments based on faith.  Some of them are indirect.  It is hardly coincidence that this story on John Dehlin makes the NYTimes right now.  Our Mormon readers will know Dehlin.  For the benefit of our non-Mormon readers he is a very liberal individual that has been working very hard for many years to change the Mormon view on a variety of subjects.  He has come close to ex-communication several times in the past, the fact that he is there again is hardly newsy.  It has never made as prodigious an outlet as the NYTimes before.  One has to ask, “Why now?”  The story, of course, tries to paint the CJCLDS as “intolerant,” yada, yada, yada.  Smart people know what is up with this one.

    Then check out these political blogs – Bloomberg and Nate Cohn at the NYTimes:

    But a successful challenge to Mr. Bush from the right would have to involve winning a lot of these voters, even though they have been Mr. Romney’s biggest weakness. There is no viable anti-establishment coalition that does not include large percentages of evangelical Christians. Mr. Romney — a Northern Mormon with a history of moderate politics — has not been very effective at winning them over.

    We are not going to spend any time this morning analyzing this stuff.  Our rumor mill is percolating with babble of bigger Mormon arguments brewing on the very immediate horizon, but it certainly seems like “game on.”

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    If We Are Going To Talk About It – Let’s Talk About ALL Of It

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:24 am, January 14th 2015     —     Comment on this post »

    Mitt Romney’s near announcement last weekend has brought out piece after piece about his “weaknesses” as a candidate.  The Wall Street Journal and Howard Kurtz trot out some pretty tired lists of failings.  With a tweet Jim Geraghty makes his first thoughts painfully and sarcastically clear.  This is all reasonable criticism, but then every single candidate ever has weaknesses and can be so criticized.  The point of politics is not to be the perfect candidate, but to be the best possible candidate working with the hand you have been dealt.  These much delineated weaknesses do not have to be viewed as disqualifiers so much as guideposts in designing a new campaign.  But these analyses also all miss a vitally important element, one that is almost completely out of Romney’s control – identity politics.

    Mitt Romney was a very religious man running for president in a nation where the opposing party is, to a great extent, opposed to religion generally and a significant portion of his own party finds his particular religion off-putting to say the least.  In the last election, the one that really matters to evaluating him as a candidate,  he ran against the first president of color in our nation’s history – an incumbent.  These things were not, and are not being, discussed amongst the punditry, it feels like bad form to do so.  But I can promise you they were discussed at the kitchen tables and in the coffee shops around the nation, and they most certainly were present in the minds of millions of voters.

    For these latter and undiscussed reasons, this writer has had his reservations about another Romney run.  I wonder if Romney’s religious identity would ever allow him to, post the primaries, unite and rally the party behind him.  Not due to a lack of capability on Romney’s part, but because a significant branch of the party would just flat out refuse.  There is strong indications that such happened in 2012.   I wonder if the efforts necessary to try and unite the party under these circumstances would leave the party severely weakened?

    That said, this blog believes what it has believed for a very long time – Mitt Romney is uniquely and outstandingly qualified to do the job of POTUS, perhaps more so than any other potential currently under discussion.

    And so since it is now clear that Romney is strongly considering a run, the discussion of strengths and weaknesses must happen.  But let’s not ignore the elephant in the room.

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    Clash With Class

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 12:51 pm, January 12th 2015     —     Comment on this post »

    Been an interesting weekend.  Three events have caught my eye:

    1. Romney has more or less said he is running.
    2. The Indianapolis Colts beat the Denver Broncos yesterday.
    3. Rick Santorum got feisty.

    How are these things related?  Well, let’s start with Santorum:

    The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Mitt Romney has told a group of his top donors that he is seriously considering a third White House bid.

    Santorum smiles broadly. “Bring it on,” he says. The surprise runner-up in the 2012 Republican primary, Santorum won eleven primaries and caucuses before eventually conceding a hard-fought battle to Romney. Now, he wants a rematch.

    After reading that this morning, I could not help but think of the December piece on Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, from the Wall Street Journal:

    Luck has become famous for congratulating—sincerely and enthusiastically—any player to hit him hard. Any sack is met with a hearty congratulations, such as ”great job” or “what a hit!” He yells it after hard hits that don’t result in sacks, too. It is, players say, just about the weirdest thing any quarterback does in the NFL.

    There are two highly notable things about the Obama presidency.  The first is the overwhelming use of sports metaphors and the other is leading from so far behind that he has become invisible.

    Since sports metaphors seem to be the order of the day and the Andrew Luck led Colts are experiencing far greater success than most anticipated, one has to wonder if it might be time for us to ditch the Santorum-type trash talk in favor of a “weidrder” (well, that’s what the WSJ called it) approach to the primary season we find thrust upon us oh, so early.

    The thing is this, the punditry has been spending enormous amounts of time and energy trying to delineate the divisions within the GOP.  Whether it be “establishment against Conservative,” or “Bush v Romney,” or Ted Cruz against the world, they want us at each others throats.  There is no doubt this will be the most hard fought primary in my memory – the number of participants alone almost guarantees that.  But the last thing we need when it comes to the general election is to be so worn out from the primary fight, or so divided, that Hillary wins.  After the eight years of utter disaster that have met us, after eight years of saying “it can’t get any worse” only to be proven wrong, after being stunned time and time again by the utter incompetency of this administration, we cannot even dabble with the thought of Benghazi Hillary, grandmother of Obamacare, major player in this utterly incompetent administration gaining the White House.

    Since 2006 this blog has chronicled the presidential aspiration adventures of Mitt Romney as regards his religion.  He has, in large part because of his religion, been the most Andrew Luck like of candidates.  Romney’s prior defeats seemed to indicate the rise of greater and greater coarseness in our national debates.  But if civility is winning big in the NFL, who knows what will happen in campaign 2016.  I for one would welcome less trash talk and coarseness and the division it engenders.  Regardless of any individual candidates final decision regarding running, her’s hoping.

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    Sometimes The Cure Is Worse Than The Disease, But It Is Better Than Dying

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:44 am, January 9th 2015     —     1 Comment »

    While the details are inappropriate to share in this space, I have spent the last two years of my life learning more about cancer than I ever wanted to.  If I could sum it all up I would have to say that we know a lot about cancer, enough to have an even better handle on what we do not know, none of it is conclusive, we just know we have to kill it before it kills us.  Some cancers, a few, we know more about and the treatment can be targeted.  But for many cancers the treatment is to almost kill the patient in hopes of killing the cancer in the process, and then nurse the patient back to health, hopefully cancer free.  It’s an ugly process, and unless you have sat with someone at the end, dying of cancer, it seems cruel – even inhumane.  It is only with the perspective of the patients actual, and excruciatingly painful, death that the radical therapies for most cancers become remotely tolerable.

    I have thought about this a lot this week as I have watched the media endlessly, almost nauseatingly, debate Islam, connections, and generally how to talk about what happened in Paris earlier this week.  As I write this “event” appears to be at an end game.  Guy Benson last night published a bit of a synopsis, with much of his own opinion sprinkled in, on the entire “discussion.”  All I know is I am very weary of the discussions.  There is much, much we do not know and much we will find out as things progress.  But we can and do know that there are people trying to kill us.

    Like cancer, they come in many forms and varieties.  Some are part of an organization.  Some are highly trained.  Some have almost no training but are highly organized.  Some are just crazy, but inspired in their insanity by a virulent and ugly viewpoint with religious roots.  They all spring from this common root, no matter what the actual connection is.

    I have learned in my sojourn of the last two years that some cancers are now so treatable that one almost hesitates to hang the name “cancer” one them.  The name carries with it a dread, a shadow of death so pronounce, that to hang it on some thing that is rarely fatal seems to abuse the term.  But they are still cancers and left untreated they will be as ugly, painful, and deadly as  the ones that still invoke complete primal fear.   All cancers, treatable or not, spring from the same root and will, left unchecked, kill you.

    So it is with the rash of attacks that have plagued us for several decades now.  Some may be more easily dealt with than others, but they all will kill us if we do not deal with them.  Even George W Bush, who was infinitely more aggressive in his efforts to treat this terrorism cancer than the current administration, seemed hesitant to admit that the cure may be far uglier, and least before the end stage, than the disease.

    Here is what the events of this week in France make quite, quite plain.  Like cancer, they will kill us unless we first kill them.  If we keep trying to fine tune the diagnosis and pinpoint the treatment, the disease will simple progress beyond the point where we can do anything but manage our own death.  There is no more time for debate or discussion.  Yes, the researchers can continue to research and experiment and try to make the treatment less ugly.  But they must do so in parallel with efforts to aggressively kill the disease with the tools we have at hand, blunt instruments though they may be.

    Decades ago, I took a journey with some friends through the leukemia death of their son.  I forget how many rounds of chemo their were, but it was several and each one was uglier than the one that proceeded it.  That boy suffered in ways that were previously unimaginable to me.  And then there came the time when all involved knew the chemo would do no good and there was only making the young man as comfortable as possible until he went to a better place.  The pain and agony of those last weeks made the years of chemo seem like a trip to Disneyland.  Until those last weeks I had wondered if the chemo was really worth it.  Those last weeks blasted all such questions from my mind.  No one should die like that.

    War is ugly.  But war is what we have handed to us.  Deciding it is too ugly to contemplate is simply to invite an even uglier death.  It is time to get very, very serious about prosecuting this war.

    Of course it will not happen on Obama’s watch.  He seems impervious to the pain his policy creates.  But this should deeply affect the campaign that now begins.

    The campaign for the presidency, 2016, should not merely be about candidates positioning themselves to get elected.  It should be a test of leadership.  That leadership will be expressed in the candidate or candidates that can get the nation to understand the terrorism cancer that threatens us and convince us that we have to do what we have to do to survive.  I know, national security elections have seemed a thing of the past.  I am looking for the candidate that can make 2016 a national security election.  Anything less threatens our very existence.

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    The Only Candidate Ever To Overtly Play The Mormon Card

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:06 am, January 4th 2015     —     1 Comment »

    So, on his TV show yesterday, Mike Huckabee more or less announces his presidential bid.  As Jeb Bush before him, technically this is an exploratory move not and actual announcement, but seriously?  The guy just gave up his major income source – That’s a commitment.  His announcement made a lot more press than Santorum, but not so much as Jeb Bush.  That’s about right.  Look for Huckabee to make a big splash, but to little effect.

    Huckabee was one of the key elements that cost Romney the nomination in 2008.  He did so by overtly playing the Mormon card in a NYTimes interview in the run up to Iowa; therefore won Iowa, and robbed Romney of momentum he counted on to carry himself through.  When I reviewed our in-the-moment coverage of the interview, I found I had written this little gem about the Huckabee candidacy:

    It’s the non-substantive campaign. Elect a rock star.  I thought the Democrats were the only ones that did this….

    I cannot see anything, eight years later to change my analysis.  I find Huckabee’s timing interesting.  He sat out 2012 (After 2008 I am sure he did not want to compete with Romney again.), and now intends to be the GOP rock star in the tail of the ultimate rock star presidential comet on the Democratic side. He will be a media star.  Why?

    Well, for one he is willing to do things like play the Mormon card.  In other words he’ll give the press what they want.  Heck, he is almost by definition the pastiche of a GOP candidate that the media thinks a GOP candidate actually is – a little nutty religiously, demonstrably somewhat bigoted, Southern, white, and currently overweight. In places like MSNBC land (assuming they hang on through 2016) he will be THE GOP candidate – just not so much with actual GOP primary voters.  He might win a few, but the nomination?  Not likely.

    I believe in sacred callings, I really do, but this is how Huckabee announced he was leaving his show yesterday, “But I also realize that God hasn’t put me on Earth just to have a good time or to make a good living but rather God’s put me on Earth to try to make a good life.”  Invoking the Almighty as a reason to run for president is simply asking to be ridiculed by the left and portrayed as a religious nut bar.  Romney never said anything remotely like that, and he was the one that was, supposedly, from the religion that bred such religious nutcases.  George W. Bush, a man of deep personal religious devotion often discussed his faith but never claimed divine calling to the White House.  Is the presidency even necessary to “make a good life”?

    Make no mistake, Huckabee has considerable political gifts; that is why he will win a few.  But with voters truly fed-up with a president of seemingly enormous political skill and no substance, I find it hard to believe they will bite on this bit of bait.  He should have more resources than he had in 2008.  For one thing he personally has much more personal wealth, TV will do that.  TV should also give him a more deeply committed campaign core of volunteers than he enjoyed in 2008.  I expect him to perform better than he did in 2008, but that is still not winning, despite his much ballyhooed “second place.”

    In the end, this saddens me.  This is part of politics as circus.  Our nation is in deep, deep trouble.  We need serious candidates with serious solutions to serious issues.  We need a candidate that will elevate the voting public, not cater to their bias and thirst for infotainment.  There will be candidates, Santorum for example, that are there to represent a certain point-of-view.  They really are not there to win, but to make sure that a given constituency in the party has a voice.  That’s an act of generosity and sacrifice.  But then there are those that are there to boost their speaking fees, or because they have an over-inflated view of their own importance.  It is plain before our eyes what happens when the public takes seriously such candidates.

    Huckabee will be part of shaping this race. 2008 proved he has that capability.  The question is will he use that capability to the betterment of the nation?  He did not in 2008.  He handed us John McCain – a weak candidate.  Could Romney have beaten Obama in 2008?  Probably not, if he could not beat him in 2012, it is unlikely that he could have beaten in in ’08 when Obama was an entirely unknown quantity.  But I do believe Romney would have left Republicans in a stronger position after the ’08 election than McCain did.

    I will conclude this post by asking a simple question about the Megan Keely clip below.  Faux Pas or Freudian Slip?

     

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    “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:51 am, December 25th 2014     —     Comment on this post »

    …Thus quote Santa at the end of the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas.”

    At last night’s Christmas Eve services I was reminded of the story of the shepherds near Bethlehem.  When the angels announced the birth of Jesus, they said, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people….”

    Early though it is, there are already two “announced” candidates for the 2016 GOP nomination for president, Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush.  As such, I have been researching the archives of this blog getting warmed up for the extended election season  that is upon us – and it is deeply depressing.  While the GOP is the party that promotes religion in the nation, the extent to which religion divides us is truly astonishing.

    Hence I simply wish to point out that the good news of Christmas is intended for everyone.

    May that be the start of the religious discussion of the 2016 presidential election cycle.

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