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Saturday, January 5, 2008
posted by Jon | 8:58 PM | permalink
As I surveyed the campaign coverage of post-Iowa, mid-Wyoming, and pre-New Hampshire I found pretty much a mixed bag. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen, but everyone’s willing to hazard a guess.

Then I happened upon Michael Medved’s latest Townhall column and I started to get just a little miffed. I don’t really have an opinion on Medved – I’ve never really listened to his show, I don’t read his stuff and my only exposure to him has been via Blogfather Hugh’s radio show. Medved has now come out as a McCain backer, but his latest diatribe will most likely find its way to Team Huck for distribution.

Medved would have you believe there is no anti-Mormon bigotry behind Huck’s success in Iowa and in other evangelical heavy states. I’m not going to take Medved’s data apart here, simply because its not necessary to prove my point. I’d simply like to pose a question which turn’s Medved’s logic on it’s head:

But for religion, where would the race stand today?

But for religion, Mike Huckabee would be lagging back in single digit polling no matter what state he ran in. He’d be rightly labeled as a populist tax and spend governor of a state that – were it not for its alphabetical ranking – most Americans would never have heard about. His attitude toward and record on crime – demonstrated by his seemingly endless string of pardons – would subject him to an endless barrage of questions and commentary which would subsequently consign his campaign to the Dukakis Memorial Dust Bin. His Carter-esque foreign policy ideas would lead most responsible Republicans to run screaming from the room – to say nothing of his economic ideals which appeal to the masses but portend fiscal danger and disaster should they ever actually be implemented.

So what, pray tell, is Huck’s appeal? He plays the religion card and manages to convince some Iowans that he’s one of them. He brands himself as the “Christian Leader” thereby calling into question the religiosity of every other candidate – a not-at-all veiled jab at Mitt Romney. He then takes an even less-veiled broadside at Mitt specifically and Mormonism in general with his throwaway line to the New York Times Magazine specifically designed to put religious and not political differences on the front page – again.

While Huck may have apologized for that insult, and Mitt may have accepted said apology, the intent was clear. No, I don’t buy Huck’s explanation and I don’t accept his apology. After so many years at the pulpit, Huck knew exactly what he was saying and the publicity and religious furor it would generate. Huck’s “apology” is a bout as valid as Typhoid Mary’s would have been weeks after she came to town.

In short, but for religion, Huck would already be an also-ran.

On the other side of the spectrum you find Mitt Romney. Here is an exceptionally accomplished man – by any yardstick you choose to measure him. He has succeeded at nearly everything he’s ever even thought of attempting – be it professional, personal, or political. When the chips were down and conventional wisdom said it couldn’t be done, somebody called Mitt and the impossible got done.

Mitt has made over a quarter-billion dollars for himself, and untold billions for others in the private sector. Unlike any other candidate, he has created and saved untold millions of jobs for Americans. He enjoys new challenges, so he took it upon himself to save the 2002 Olympics and then serve his state. Having given Uncle Ted the race of his life and not being stymied by defeat he took a shot at the Governor’s chair and turned a state around. Most people would think Mitt had done enough and deserved a well earned early retirement.

In any other universe, Mitt would be so far beyond any other candidate – Democrat or Republican – this race would all but be over. He personifies the all American family man – married to the same woman for nearly four decades with five strapping sons all successful on their own merits. Norman Rockwell couldn’t have painted a better picture of a presidential candidate.

And yes, in case you were wondering, my picture does include all Mitt’s rightward shifts on the issues he takes hammers on. It wouldn’t matter – and in reality it doesn’t matter.

But for religion, Mitt would all but be sworn in. Were he Baptist, Presbyterian, Unitarian, Catholic, or Methodist the only questions in this campaign would be aimed at policy. But Mitt is Mormon, and evidently that changes the rules set down by over 200 years of American political tradition.

Were there no Mormon Question, the media might have to focus on issues that really matter rather than the actual location of the Garden of Eden or the actions of Mitt’s long dead relatives. They might actually have to work for a decent newsworthy story.

No matter what Mr. Medved claims, there is an undercurrent of religious bigotry which has and will continue to dog the Romney campaign. Bear in mind with the exception of the occasional reference to “faith”, Mitt has been fairly neutral on the subject of religion. He’s gone to great lengths to avoid bringing religion into a race for a secular office. Never the less, Mitt’s opponents and their surrogates seem to revel in reverting to religion at every opportunity.

What proof do I have of this undercurrent? I won’t bother pointing you to the surrogate blogs filled with a never ending diatribe of combined anti-Mitt and anti-Mormonism. I’ll just point you to Mike Huckabee’s officially sanctioned blog. What you’ll find there is just one example of many I could point you in what is fast becoming little more than a cesspool of anti-Morminism. Spare me the “Huck isn’t responsible for comments” excuse. It’s got his name on it, he’s responsible for it.

I’m not going so far as to blame all the woes of Team Mitt on religious bigotry – I’m not quite that naïve. What I am saying is that Mitt has one hurdle the other candidates are free to bypass – and it makes this campaign race much like Mitt having to run100 yard dash in knee-deep water while his opponents sprint down the track.

Even with that obstacle, Mitt is still running neck and neck with them.

That says more about Mitt that I ever could.

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Whew! You got a lot off your chest on that blog. I wish I could have said it so well.

Medved was pro-amnesty. I think, whether he admits it or not, he is not favorable toward Gov. Romney's tough stance on immigration.

Great analysis and spot-on!

On the other hand, if Romney weren't LDS, he might be on his second or third wife by now like many of the other candidates.

I have been on top of this this issue

Shazam, Iowa results are proof positive that inbreeding and frigid temperatures yield irrational decisions. Despite Huckabee’s liberal record, Gomer Pyle charisma, and hate mongering against Mormonism, Huckabee pulls out a victory. Since Huck has no chance of beating Obama in a national election, the people have spoken and they would rather tear The Republican Party up then vote for a viable candidate. Thanks Iowa for splitting the party between social and economic conservatives, leaving us with McCain (who has no money to run a campaign) right before one of the most difficult presidential elections in recent history. If Mitt loses in New Hampshire and Michigan due to the blow in Iowa I will be obligated to vote for Obama in retaliation for Iowa's bigotry.

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