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Friday, August 3, 2007
posted by Kyle Hampton | 11:57 AM | permalink
There are a few things out there today:

First, countdown to the Ames Straw Poll: 8 days

Second, Michael Gerson has an op-ed in the Washington Post today discussing whether Romney should make a Kennedy-like speech. His conclusion:

Romney, however, should not make Kennedy's mistake and assert that all religious beliefs are unrelated to politics. What Mormonism shares with other religious traditions is a strong commitment to the value and dignity of human beings, ncluding the unborn, the disabled and the poor. This conviction is unavoidably political, because it leads men and women to act in the cause of justice, not in order to impose their religion, but to protect the weak.
I tend to agree with Gerson. I wrote back in March over at Law Students for Romney:

I believe, however, that Romney is better off not making a speech about the role of religion in his candidacy. While Wilson makes the point that religion is central to character and should therefore be explored, I think that character is inferred from the way that a candidate speaks and acts. The religious principles that underlie that behavior and speech are less important than the result. By injecting religion into character, Romney runs the significant risk of having the LDS standards of behavior (as much as I believe in them) become more important than Romney’s actual behavior. No, I think that emphasizing the commonalities that Romney has with people of other faiths is the right direction. It gives voters the more palatable choice of accepting Romney alone without having to swallow the entire LDS Church as a whole. I think that making a Kennedy-like speech forces voters to make a much bigger leap than Romney alone presents.
Third, there was some debate over at the Corner about Romney’s comments about Hezbollah’s tactics in gaining political legitimacy. Lisa Schiffren had this to say:

So it is really horrifying to think that a man of Mr. Romney's intelligence would make the a serious diplomatic mistake of citing a radical terrorist group as a model for U.S. policy. This is where being a techno-guy, without any real foreign policy experience, (or ear) begins to matter.
KJL posted the Romney campaign’s response. Then Andrew Stuttaford gave this rebuttal to Schiffren:

Lisa, Romney was not (of course) praising or in any way endorsing Hamas or Hezbollah. All he was saying is that, judging by their experience, the provision of some form of social services is not a bad way to win support. He's right (of course it's not a particularly novel insight: I believe there's something called the Peace Corps that was founded on pretty much the same idea), and it's an encouraging sign that he is taking a serious look at what has worked politically in a region where US policy has not, recently, been marked by a great deal of success. There's such a thing as learning from the enemy (in fact it's a hallmark of many successful counter-insurgencies). Romney has just given a sign that he is smart enough to do that. Good for him.

UPDATE: Schiffren's mea culpa:
Thanks to the Romney campaign for their quick response to my earlier post — and to Andrew for explaining it for those who didn’t read the whole Romney response. I am relieved to learn that the Governor did not misspeak. I am afraid that I responded too quickly to an email forwarded by a usually reliable source on Middle-East and GOP matters.

Indeed, now having read the original speech I can only say that the partisan news organization which distorted it did so with total abandon. If you follow the link below, the entire Romney speech is available. It's a good speech on a number of subjects, well worth reading.

Fourth, there will be a televised debate on Sunday on ABC.

Fifth, Brownback and Huckabee are having a little exchange over religion. After Jason’s nice summation of the Brownback campaign, it’s nice to know that others are seeing the same. Huckabee’s campaign manager Chip Saltsman said the following:

It’s time for Sam Brownback to stop whining and start showing some of the Christian character he seems to always find lacking in others.
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