Romney II: The Story Continues

February 19, 2007 | 73 comments
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T&S reader and political junkie Marc Bohn is often the first to notice any new Romney material. There were a slew of articles this weekend that discussed Romney and Mormonism, covering all sorts of interesting ground, and Marc has put together this synopsis, with links, of several of the most interesting:

Romney Jumps In (Washington Post): The Post editorial page discussed what it viewed as the strengths and weaknesses of Romney’s candidacy. It ended by saying “One challenge that Mr. Romney faces is something that we hope dissipates as an issue over time: winning over voters uneasy about his Mormon faith. In a Gallup poll this week, a disturbing 24 percent said they would not vote for a “generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be Mormon.” Mr. Romney’s religion could be a particular sticking point with evangelical Christians who wield significant clout in GOP primaries. As with another Massachusetts politician who ran for the presidency more than four decades ago and persuaded voters not to hold his Catholicism against him, Mr. Romney should be judged on a basis other than his faith.”

What Matters About Romney (Washington Post): Written by a Latter-day Saint on the Post’s editorial staff, this article discusses why Romney’s faith might be garnering the attention it has and says: “But regardless of how uncomfortable some of these characteristics make some feel, it is unproductive to focus on Romney’s Mormonism. A candidate’s faith, like that of an L.A. high school student or anyone else is ultimately a complex and personal phenomenon, even in the context of a highly centralized religious organization. My experience in Mormon congregations across the country has taught me that it is impossible to tell precisely how individual Mormons will apply their religious principles to their professional lives. And beyond encouraging hard work and honesty, the church itself is hardly definitive on the subject. Consider the divergent examples of other well-known Mormons — those of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), say.”

What Is Mormonism? (Washington Post): Richard Ostling, the author the book Mormon America and a widely-read Time magazine article on the LDS Church, gives a brief run-down of Mormonism. The article is accurate, but some might object to its heavy focus on elements of the Church that Ostling thinks might be problematic for voters. In the end he says: “Will any of this matter to Romney during his presidential campaign? The Constitution demands that the government impose “no religious test” for holding public office. Yet voters make their own choices and public opinion polls show that when it comes to Mormons, many people do worry. When a recent USA Today-Gallup poll asked respondents whether they would vote for a qualified woman, Mormon or black candidate to be president, the results were striking. About 94 percent said they would vote for a black nominee, 88 percent said a woman and 72 percent said a Mormon. In the current field, that could spell trouble for Romney.”

A Man With A Mission ( Washington Post): This is a fascinating article that pieces together a collection of reminiscences about Romney from a former missionary companion of Romney’s in France, a couple of High School friends, several former business associates, the COO/CFO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, his former Lieutenant Governor, and a former political opponent. Most are glowing in their praise of Romney, while a couple criticize him somewhat on abortion.

Romney Candidacy Will Stir Up Anti-Mormon Feeling (Salt Lake Tribune): This article highlights a concern about Romney’s candidacy that I have heard a lot. It is written by a Latter-day Saint who is not excited about Mitt Romney’s run for president. He’s not opposed to Romney, to the contrary likes him, but he fears the inevitable anti-Mormon attacks in the primaries. He says: “Romney could be a terrific president. Given the choice, I’d probably vote for him. But with the minuscule possibility of ever getting that choice, I question the cost. The thought of things sacred to Latter-Day Saints being discussed on “The Today Show” is not something I look forward to.”

Romney’s Religion Shouldn’t Matter, But It Does (The Decatur Daily): This is a good article that argues strongly that Romney’s faith should not be an issue, but concedes that it will be nonetheless: “Given the poll numbers, Romney has little choice but to give a public address about the relationship of faith and politics in his life. . . . There’s plenty to debate in Romney’s positions on public policy without getting distracted by the non-issue of where he goes to church. Unfortunately, prejudice against Mormons leaves Romney little choice.”

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73 Responses to Romney II: The Story Continues

  1. Jonathan Green on February 19, 2007 at 6:34 am

    Also, the Romney-related controversy on liberal blogs this weekend (see http://atrios.blogspot.com/ for details) has centered on Romney’s saying that a person of faith should be president. Some see this as trying to have it both ways: Romney wants to be included in the club of acceptable candidates, but also wants to exclude atheists and agnostics from it. I suspect that this reading over-parses Romney a bit, but it’s an interesting question that gets back to one of the points in Damon Linker’s TNR article, namely, that Romney as a candidate acceptable to Republicans has to emphasize his religiosity, while at the same time he would prefer not to emphasize his religion.

  2. Russell Arben Fox on February 19, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Relevant to the Atrios discussion Jonathan links to are these two posts by Matthew Yglesias, and the threads which followed them. There was also Daniel Larison’s intriguing post on “good and bad reasons for anti-Mormonism”, my response to him, and his response in return.

  3. cantinflas on February 19, 2007 at 11:41 am

    “About 94 percent said they would vote for a black nominee, 88 percent said a woman and 72 percent said a Mormon.”

    Realistically, what portion of those 28% that said no to a Mormon would actually know Mitt Romney, a viable candidate at this point are Mormon. Maybe if they knew that, they would have a different answer one way or the other.

    One question I would like added to that poll is “Do you know of a [woman/black/Momron] planning to run for President in 2008?” We could learn a lot from the answer to this one.

  4. Paul S on February 19, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    An even better question to show if the 72 percent that said they would vote for a Mormon will matter for Romney would be to ask of the 28% who won’t vote for a Mormon what is your political party of choice. If most of the 28% are Democrats it will make little or no difference to Romney’s chances. If the 28% are Republicans it would spell a major problem. Though people who won’t vote for a certain class of people in abstract often vote for a specific person of that class they have grown to like. So regardless, this poll may actually mean very little.

  5. Matt Evans on February 19, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    This woman confirms what I had assumed to be true all along, that Mitt was pro-life but didn’t run that way in Massachusetts because it was a local loser and there’s not much he could do anyway. Mitt’s recent explanation of a 2004 pro-life conversion contradicts her analysis. From the Man with a Mission article:

    I had known Mitt Romney for more than 20 years when I went to speak to him in his campaign office in early 1994. We attended the same church and I know a couple of his children quite well and they’re all lovely people. But there’s a difference between being a lovely family and being a knowledgeable leader. When I went to see him, he had recently announced that he was running against Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), and I thought it would be important for him to hear from someone who’d been active in women’s politics in Massachusetts.

    I congratulated him on taking a pro-choice position, one of the reasons I had been open to working with him. I remember his response was something like: “Well, this is Massachusetts. I realized I had to take this position,” which was the first indication to me that what I had understood to be his personal view was a stance he was actually taking pragmatically. He went on that day to talk about an aunt of his who had died during a botched abortion and how he thought legalized abortion was important. But those around him, and people who knew him closely in the ward, knew that it was a position he had taken because he thought he had to in order to win.

    — Judith Dushku, associate professor of government at Suffolk University in Boston

    So either Romney (1) was pro-choice and is now pro-life or, (2) if he’s always been pro-life, and (2a) has decided that it’s better to say he’s converted from pro-choice to pro-life than to (2b) admit that he tailored some of his previous campaign rhetoric to appeal to his electorate, or (3) was pro-choice then and now, and tailoring his current campaign rhetoric to appeal to his electorate.

  6. cantinflas on February 19, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Seems like 2 a & b to me Matt Evans. Which do you think it is, and which would you have a problem with?

  7. DavidH on February 19, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Paul S., last week’s CBS poll suggest that Republican primary voters are less likely to vote for a Mormon than Democratic primary voters, although the gap is not huge. http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/021307_romney.pdf

    I think I have seen similar polling in the past.

  8. greenfrog on February 19, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Reading the poll numbers, it’s apparent that what we need is a black LDS woman to run for President. She’d get 254% (94+88+72) of the vote, right?

  9. bbell on February 19, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Hi all,

    Mitt has also recently joined the NRA to get some “street cred” on guns for the Repub primaries.

    It seems to me that he is probably at his core a conservative but while running in a very blue state did what he had to do to win. The issue becomes….. What does he really believe?

    Based on his history its easy to make the argument that he is a John Kerry type flip flopper on the issues.

    I personally think his candidacy is about done now. Not over the LDS issue but over the flip flopping on the issues

  10. Clark on February 19, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    I think it’s too early to say his campaign is done. Although the flip-flopping has hurt him. However the only other serious candidates at this stage (unless Richardson does a strong surge) are Guiliani and McCain. And they have pretty serious negatives as well.

    It’s kind of a depressing field, all things considered. Probably in part because Iraq will make it hard for any Republican to win.

  11. Matt Evans on February 19, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Cantinas, I’d like to think Mitt was always pro-life, (2), and I think 2b is more credible than 2a just because I find his explanation of 2a, frankly, incredible. He’s the only person I’ve ever heard say they changed their mind on Roe because of something they learned in the embryonic stem cell research debate. And he still supports research that destroys human embryos if the embryos would have been “wasted anyway” besides. If it’s wrong to destroy human embryos for research because they are “human life,” as his wife said on ABC News, it would seem they’d want to formally protect them, or at least prevent them from being used for research. It is morally objectionable to experiment on death row inmates even though they’re going to die anyway, and in the same way the morality of experimenting on a human embryo, if it’s a human life, shouldn’t change if the embryos are going to die anyway.

  12. Matt Evans on February 19, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    By the way, I think Mitt Romney is a great candidate and has an excellent chance of winning the primary and general elections. Some big Republican guns have picked him as their man (Jeb Bush is an excellent coup — huge GOP credentials at the primary level and from the Florida swing-state for the general election). He has the most momentum of the big three.

  13. bbell on February 19, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Matt,

    You really think Mitt has the momentum? Check the polls. Mitt is in third and Guilani has the momentum if you take a quick look at the polls. http://www.realclearpolitics.com

  14. MLU on February 19, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Thomas Lifson links to Mark Finkelstein of Newsbusters pointing out George Stephanopoulos challenging Romney’s own explanation of his beliefs [emphasis in original]:

    When I spoke with him, I asked him how Muslims might perceive the Mormon belief that Jesus will return to the United States and reign personally here for a thousand years.”

    GMA then rolled a clip of Romney saying the following: “Our belief is just like it says in the Bible, that the Messiah will come to Jerusalem, stand on the Mount of Olives, and the Mount of Olives will be a place where there’s a great gathering, and so forth. It’s the same as the other Christian tradition.”

    Stephanopoulos: “Actually, we checked in with a Mormon spokesman who said that’s not exactly true. They believe the New Jerusalem is here in the United States, in Missouri, and that’s where Jesus is going to come.”

    Finkelstein asks:

    Should we expect to see ABC challenge pro-choice and pro-gay rights Christians and Jews with statements from spokesmen from their respective faiths? Will ABC challenge Muslim guests with statements from Islamic experts? Or does ABC limit its theological challenges exclusively to Mormons?

  15. Paul S on February 19, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    But bbell the Guiliani numbers at this point come down purely to name recoginition, which he has in spades. What he doesn’t have is any semblance of a conservative credential. Pro-life, promiscuous past, pro gun control, pro gay marriage. I could be wrong on this but I think once he hits a southern primary his run comes to a screeching halt.

  16. Marc on February 19, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Clark – Richardson? I assume you’re talking about Bill Richardson. I’m not sure he’ll pose much of a threat to Romney in the primaries seeing as he is a Democrat.

    Matt – Jeb Bush has not endorsed Romney. All he’s done to this point is tell his political advisers to hear Romney out before they commit to a candidate. I’m not sure about the momentum, but Romney is the only person who has a national infrastructure that compares to McCain’s. I think it’s much too early to predict what will happen, but Romney has certainly put himself in a position to be competitive. When 1st Quarter fund-raising is announced on March 31st, Romney’s numbers are certain to raise a lot of eyebrows. As the National Journal’s Chuck Todd says, those who underestimate Romney, do so at their own risk.

    Paul – While I agree the Giuliani has some formidable challenges, I don’t think he can be so easily written off. He stands to benefit the enormously from the mass state by state movement in primaries for next year. Dozens of states, including California, have moved their primaries to the beginning of February, reducing the importance of states like Iowa and South Carolina. If Giuliani can swing big states with more liberal GOPs like New York, California, and New Hampshire, he becomes a pretty competitive candidate.

  17. Geoff B on February 19, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    I agree with Marc’s analysis #16, although I would add that we should expect a lot of negative stories from the MSM on Giuliani in the months ahead. Lived with gay guys after a divorce, made a video in drag, twice divorced, mean to homeless people/squeegee men in New York, etc. The NYC press hated him, and will haunt him as the campaign continues.

    The press has completely turned on McCain (their darling of two or three years ago) recently.

    Romney is in the position to be the “safe Republican candidate” by the end of 2007.

  18. Matt Evans on February 19, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    bbell,

    The polls mean much at all at this point, the challenge is getting the top advisors and fund raisers, and Romney’s won a lot of great supporters, like Bopp to be his pro-life consultant, Jeb Bush’s folks in Florida, etc.

    Marc,

    At this stage of the campaign there’s no question Jeb Bush’s “talking up the candidacy of Mitt Romney and steering some of his closest advisers to the campaign” is an endorsement. That someone as influential and closely tied to the RNC as Jeb Bush thinks Romney’s the best candidate is great news for Romney.

  19. Marc on February 19, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Matt – Hearing out… listening. It’s semantics. Perhaps we can speculate that it means Jeb Bush is leaning toward Romney, which certainly might be the case, but I don’t think it is accurate to say Jeb has endorsed Romney. I’m certain that Jeb Bush would object to any report saying he has endorsed a candidate at this point. Note that you will find not find any media outlets that are reporting that he has.

  20. Clark on February 19, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Clark – Richardson? I assume you’re talking about Bill Richardson. I’m not sure he’ll pose much of a threat to Romney in the primaries seeing as he is a Democrat.

    whoops. Brain screw up. I was thinking of Gingrich and wrote Richardson. Of course Gingrich hasn’t announced a decision about running (and I don’t think he’d have a hope) I was thinking about Richardson since he is the dark horse candidate for the Democrats.

    C’est la vie. That’ll teach me to type quickly.

    Geoff, the press goes through cycles. They’ll have a conventional wisdom and then a month or two later attack the conventional wisdom. The press are an embarrassment of how they act towards elections. Look at how Obama has been treated. (Which a lot of people called – a honeymoon and then a bunch of attacks)

    I’ll make a prediction that the press will come back to McCain as being the moderate who can bring things together – this despite his stances on Iraq. I think the media wants a Clinton/McCain race.

  21. Russell Arben Fox on February 19, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Just an idle thought…I’ve been lately wondering if Romney isn’t playing a very long game; that his real target is 2012. Reason #1: Bush’s handling of the war on terror and Iraq have handed all Democrats, whatever their particular history, an excellent weapon to beat up any Republican opponent that isn’t able to completely and persuasively extricate himself from the Iraq debate, which perhaps no Republican can fully do. Reason #2: All the anti-Mormon stuff has to come out sometime; why not in a year when the Democrats are likely to win the White House? Conclusion: Romney runs, loses the nomination, emerges bloody yet unhurt from anti-Mormon attacks, the Republicans get annihilated in 2008, Romney spends four years building up endorsements while Iraq becomes the Other Party’s Problem for a while, the press moves on to other things and when it focuses once more on Romney says, “man, what was all that Mormon stuff about again?”, and voila…an unbeatable front-runner for 2012.

    It’s a possibility, anyway.

  22. Larry on February 19, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    No question that Romney will come out of this election a bit bloodied, but if he doesn’t win then 2012 is open for Jeb Bush. Once the Democrats have had 4 years in office, I believe that the run for 2012 will be wide open since neither party will have distinguished themselves in terms of leadership. Perhaps Obama vs Bush will be the ticket. This is not going to be a remarkable election in terms of new ideas and new directions, but rather “let’s hate Bush and any one connected to his ideas”, Republican or Democrat.
    It’s sad to watch, but inevitable. 2012 will hardly be any better, because the U.S. bashing by other countries is only going to worsen, which in turn will cause a lot of navel gazing and self-flagellation, and thus very little in the way of leadership, at least the way I see it from the outside.

  23. Marc on February 19, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    “Once the Democrats have had 4 years in office, I believe that the run for 2012 will be wide open since neither party will have distinguished themselves in terms of leadership.”

    That’s assuming quite a lot. Is it really beyond the realm of possibility for you Larry that a Democrat might actually perform well in office? Also, one should note that Clinton had a much easier time winning re-election than Bush did.

  24. Yeechang Lee on February 19, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    There is no evidence that the often-repeated media claim that “evangelicals won’t vote for Romney, therefore Romney is pwn3d” is actually true or anything other than a media creation. None. Zip. Zero.

    “What about the [insert poll here] that shows that xx% of Americans won’t vote for a Mormon?” you ask. Let’s ask The Politico:

    And get this: A USA Today poll released Wednesday shows that 24 percent of Americans would not vote for a Mormon (Romney), 30 percent would not vote for someone who has been married three times (Giuliani) and more than 40 percent would not vote for a “generally well-qualified person” for president who was 72 years old (McCain’s age by Election Day 2008).

    “What about all those top evangelical leaders that have denounced Romney as a potential President?” you say. Name one.

    While waiting for a name, any name, I’ll point out that on the contrary, top evangelical leaders have been flocking to meet Governor Romney in person. At a single recent gathering at Romney’s Massachusetts home were:

    Gary Bauer, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell . . . Paula White . . . Richard Land . . . Richard Lee.

    Romney will this spring give the commencement address at Regent University, founded by Pat Robertson. Everyone by now knows about Evangelicals for Mitt, of course, but the single-strongest (and most beautiful and touching) statement I’ve yet seen on the distinction between electing a Commander-in-Chief and Pastor-in-Chief, and how the distinction applies to Romney, is by John Mark Reynolds at Biola.

    I don’t mean this to say that any or all of these individuals have endorsed or will endorse Romney. However, until and unless even one of these sorts of people actually preaches against supporting for Romney (as opposed to simply endorsing another candidate), the fact remains that there is no evidence of an evangelical vendetta against Romney just because of his religion.

    “But we all know that Robertson and Falwell and Bauer are bigoted crypto-fascist Christianists at heart who are just savvy to appearing like bigots in public, right?” That may be so. But in the meanwhile, the three most widely-distributed, well-publicized recent attacks against Romney as a potential President because of his religion have come from the political left, by three brand-name authors in very-promiment venues: Jacob Weisberg at Slate, Damon Linker in a cover-page article at The New Republic, and Andrew Sullivan at TIME. Nothing of this kind has come from any reputable, well-known source on the political right, whether religious or not. Period.

    I don’t know whether I’ll vote for Romney. I’m leaning his way at the moment, but could happily vote for Mayor Giuliani (having grown up in NYC I have a first-hand appreciation for how he saved the city, and I’m not talking about the September 11 attacks) or Senator McCain. Heck, I’ll even go further and acknowledge that, as a Latter-day Saint, I’d probably give Romney a few extra “bonus points” when weighing the candidates in my mind because of our shared faith. But whether I decide to support him in the primaries or not, whether I decide to vote for him in the general election or not, I’m not going to waste time worrying that he won’t get a fair shake in the race because of the evangelical boogeyman. On the contrary, Weisberg, Linker, and Sullivan are the leading edge of what I expect will be an unprecedented array of religion- (both anti-Mormon and anti-Christian) based fearmongering by the political left on Romney should he become the Republican candidate. You heard it here first.

  25. Naismith on February 19, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Re 14. I just listened to this interview today. It was on ABC News THIS WEEK which is available via podcast. It was a lengthy iinterview with both Ann and Mitt, and the first time I had heard *her* live on camera; I thought she was very articulate and did well under pressure.

    He had some lame bits, and that part was one. Maybe he wasn’t lying but he sounded like it.

    I’m a regular listener to that show, I consider George S one of the finest journalists around, he had done his homework, and I think it is fair to say that he would indeed grill a Muslim or Martian with similar polling numbers.

  26. Clark on February 19, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Marc, I think a Democrat can do quite well. But the history for Democratic Presidents isn’t hopeful. Only Clinton has done well in recent memory and his challenger in ’96 was Dole who was a *horrible* choice for Republicans. Worse even than Kerry was for Democrats.

    I agree with others though that it will be very difficult for any Republican to win unless Iraq changes significantly in the next two years – something very doubtful.

    The debate is really one the Democratic side and whether the Clintons have it sewn up.

  27. Larry on February 19, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Marc,

    The only reason I can think that Clinton won re-election is as Clark stated, and the issue regarding how well the economy was doing under Clinton. (Note: it is doing even better under Bush and …shucks, no press coverage)
    Give me some hope that there is a principled Democratic (or Republican) candidate in the election that really has good ideas and I will recant. From my perspective, given that the only issues are how fast you can cut and run out of Iraq, some mumblings about illegal immigrants, and “global warming”, (all of which appear to be driven by the press and the billionaires club) I don’t see any leadership on either side.
    I’m not averse to acknowledging that the candidates must cater to the CNN and its ilk, but beyond that, where do you see leadership?

  28. Dan on February 19, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Marc,

    #23,

    That’s assuming quite a lot. Is it really beyond the realm of possibility for you Larry that a Democrat might actually perform well in office?

    Republicans have so convinced themselves that any ANY Democratic nominee is sure to be a failure and a victory for terrorists that they really believe that if a Democrat wins in 2008, the 2012 election is all but theirs. They, Republicans, demand these days that Democrats be “patriotic” and stand with the president even if they disagree with him, that I wonder just how they would act come 2008 when a Democrat wins the presidency. Will they follow their own demands of others and support the president?

    As for Romney, I’ve said this before, I believe the reason his religion is being brought up is because he is a Republican and evangelicals (which right now own the Republican party) don’t think Mormons are Christians. That’s a juicy story for the press. I believe a Mormon has a better shot at being president if he were Democrat rather than Republican. Democrats don’t have, as far as I’ve seen, a religious test of their candidate.

  29. Clark on February 19, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Dan, I don’t think that is the case. However by far the dominant Democrats (Clinton, Edwards, Obama, etc.) don’t exactly make a Republican feel better.

    Personally I’m pretty cynical about all the crowd of nominees. And I am quite open to a Democrat since I tend to think at times that the only way to get Democrats to take the war on terror seriously is to make them responsible for it. I think that while Bush deserves a lot of criticism far too many Democrats criticize without needing to offer realistic alternatives. Sort of like the China debate in the 80’s and 90’s.

    I also don’t think Evangelicals own the Republican party anymore than I think anti-war protestors own the Democratic party. The rhetoric on both sides is far too heated to be good and, as often as not, quite silly.

  30. Mary on February 19, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    I never comment on here, you all are such smarties, BUT, did anyone else think it a strange coincidence that the day Mitt Romney announced his candidacy, CBS did a primetime story about Polygamy, of course starting out wtih a beautiful shot of the Salt Lake temple, blah blah blah.

  31. Larry on February 19, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Just a quick look around and my eyes are cast to the man who would be king – and his infamous public relations galas to regain status as the founder of the internet, using of course weather as his platform.
    I don’t quite get it yet. I’m no fan of the Republicans, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to decipher those who don’t know what the meaning of “is” is, and their fans and minions who want to be leaders of the free world. Where do the Democrats find such wonderful leadership? How far down do they have to dig?
    If you are going to be cynical about my question, then ask yourself about the prosecution of a man for supposedly outing a a publicly known CIA agent, and the non-prosecution of Clinton’s NSA advisor for stealing documents from the National archives and destroying them. Surely that would merit the equivalent of a Watergate investigation which was only about stealing campaign information and covering it up. I wonder if the question “what did you know, and when did you know it” would ever be asked.
    Oh well, they are men of integrity and sound leadership and if they do nothing about it – too bad.
    Am I being too cynical?

  32. Dan on February 20, 2007 at 12:55 am

    Clark,

    far too many Democrats criticize without needing to offer realistic alternatives.

    This is my point. Democrats do offer “realistic alternatives,” it’s just that Republicans don’t see it as “realistic” because it isn’t what they want, and if it doesn’t coincide with their ideology, it must not be “realistic.”

  33. Larry on February 20, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Dan,

    It would be interesting to see your definition of “realistic”. Cut and run? Increased taxes? Increased social services? What do you see as the secondary and tertiary consequences of just these three items? What has been the impact of increased minimum wages within days of its enactmen?
    The answers are important because they would seem to define “realistic” in your leadership candidates.

  34. Christian on February 20, 2007 at 2:35 am

    “As for Romney, I’ve said this before, I believe the reason his religion is being brought up is because he is a Republican and evangelicals (which right now own the Republican party) don’t think Mormons are Christians.”

    May be. But how come the New Republic and other Dem shill pieces are the ones that started the screaming about the LDS church once Mitt got in the ring?

  35. Marc on February 20, 2007 at 2:53 am

    Yeechang Lee – I disagree that there is no “evidence” showing opposition to Romney among Evangelicals. Several polls have shown that a large percentage of Evangelicals claim they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon.Mitt Romney’s response to this has typically been that this sort of polling data involves a “faceless” Mormon, and this opposition will weaken when they get to know him as a candidate. In many respects he has been right, but that is not to say he doesn’t still have his work cut out for him. I think he realizes this and has been doing everything in his power to allay concerns about his faith among Evangelicals. I’m sure he expects the primaries in social conservative strongholds next year to get ugly (consider, for instance, the 2000 primary in South Carolina where McCain was smeared by allegations of having fathered an illegitimate child with a black woman). Much of that ugliness next year will likely involve Romney’s Mormonism.

    Clark – No doubt Dole was a weak candidate. On Kerry, I’ll agree too. Though, implicit in that seems to be an admission that the Democrats should have won the election since, in spite of such a weak candidate, they only lost the presidential election by one state. As for this year, I think it’s far too early to say whether any candidate has the nomination sewn up.

    Larry
    #27 – (1) The economy was no doubt doing well under Clinton and is currently doing well under Bush. I don’t think the question of under whom the economy was “stronger” is as easily answered though and I don’t think the economy alone explains Clinton’s victory. It’s not surprising, however, that Bush hasn’t gotten as much economic press coverage considering we’re a nation at war. (There’s also the sticky issue of “actual wages”, which just started going up after dipping and then stagnating for years). (2) I’m not sure I’d characterize the current issues as you did or the current candidates either. I, personally, see candidates on both sides of the aisle who have the potential to show real leadership as president.
    #31 – (1) Libby was prosecuted for lying to the grand jury, not for outing a CIA agent. (2) Sandy Berger was prosecuted for removing those items from the archives and he plead guilty.
    #33 – I’m interested in hearing what your definition of realistic is Larry. Many of the issues you speak of are complicated and nuanced and using loaded terms like “cut and run” says more about your political biases than “reality.” You may disagree with tax increases or certain types of social spending, but that does not make proposals involving them inherently “unrealistic.” There are smart, realistic individuals who advocate both sides of these issues. As for the current minimum wage increase passed by Congress, it has yet to go into effect, but the impact of past increases in the minimum wage is actually debatable. Both sides actually seem to overstate their case. The point is, reasonable minds disagree on these and other issues. I think it a mistake to somehow equate “realistic alternatives” with only those proposals you support or tie the idea of leadership into a requirement that someone agree with you on all the issues.

  36. Seth R. on February 20, 2007 at 6:56 am

    Cut and run is sometimes the only realistic option. The fact that Americans don’t like to lose doesn’t eliminate the fact that you still need to get out when you’ve actually lost.

    Raising taxes would have been a far more realistic wartime option than the GOP tax cuts (it’s what every other wartime leadership has done).

    So yeah, the Dems have been just a tad more “realistic” about things in the past few years than the GOP leadership.

  37. Geoff B on February 20, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Clark, #20, please see this article, which, to summarize, is written by a MSM campaign insider who says the MSM will never promote McCain again because he’s a flip-flopper and really just another conservative promoting himself as a “maverick”:

    http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/columnists/16722837.htm

  38. Larry on February 20, 2007 at 10:31 am

    Marc,

    Your points are well made, but in the arguments against Bush the same considerations are not extended. Everything he touches is demonized. The war has cost fewer American lives than any previous war of this magnitude. The only news we get from MSM is what happens in and around Baghdad, not the rest of the country, which is doing much better.
    They argue that the only reason you are there is for oil. There is no oil around Baghdad. You could have secured the oilfields and their terminals with far fewer troops and far fewer fatalities if that was the real objective. The truth about WMD’s has been so manipulated that it has become the target issue against Bush. Slowly the MSM puts out little bits of info. but never the whole package that is available. They know that Sadam was in cahoots with Al Qaeda, but they don’t mind skewing the facts.
    Even though I was pleased to see the Republicans get their butt kicked because of their dilly-dallying, it didn’t make it any better when the Dems got in.
    So, yes I used exaggeration in my statements, but they are used to point out a reality. When the issues that the Dems are pushing are implemented, there are no brakes on the spending, and the long term consequences are never considered. Not unlike the spendthrift Republican Congress. So again, where are the leaders with the real solutions that have real-world considerations.
    It’s not only in the U.S. This is a problem that has become pandemic throughout the world. Moreso today than any time in modern history as I see it. There doesn’t seem to any statesmen on the scene any more. If there are the press will try to destroy them. It’s a sad state of affairs, but it appears to be reality.
    BTW, if you call what Berger received a prosecution then Bob’s my uncle. If it had been a Republican, guess where the emphasis would have been? Look at how they handled Libby – Berger got off with a slap on the wrist, and Clinton was never investigated for his role in the affair.

  39. endlessnegotiation on February 20, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Seth R:

    Please, please, learn your history before you comment. Tax cuts have almost always lead to higher revenue which is what a government would want if trying to finance a war. Since the end of WWII only one tax cut in the US failed to generate more revenue than if the government had done nothing or increased taxes (and if you can tell me the year that happened I’ll send you a case of the finest non-alcoholic Champagne money can buy) whereas only once has raising taxes generated more revenue than doing nothing would have. What’s realistic about raising taxes? Dems don’t give a damn about the size of the pie– they only care about the relative size of their piece.

    As for Iraq, what benefit does the US stand to gain from “cutting and running” (I personally don’t like that term but you used it)? The war is not hurting our economy. It’s not hurting recruitment for the armed services. It’s not affecting the vast majority of the population (outside of causing mild insanity among most Dems). Where’s the upside to “cut and run”? I’ve yet to hear any Democrat leader even attempt explain what the US gains from leaving Iraq.

  40. Marc on February 20, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Anyone want to talk about Romney? :)

  41. Last Lemming on February 20, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Since the end of WWII only one tax cut in the US failed to generate more revenue than if the government had done nothing or increased taxes (and if you can tell me the year that happened I’ll send you a case of the finest non-alcoholic Champagne money can buy)

    Here is CBO’s baseline projection of revenue from January 2001, before the enactment of EGTRRA, compared to actual federal revenues between fiscal years 2002 and 2006 (all numbers in trillions of dollars):

    Projected Actual
    2001 1.99 (pre-EGTRRA)
    2002 2.24 1.85
    2003 2.34 1.78
    2004 2.45 1.88
    2005 2.57 2.15
    2005 2.69 2.29

    No fair, you say. What about September 11? Didn’t that result in a big revenue loss that CBO did not foresee?
    Yup, and it also dragged down GDP, so we look at revenues as a percentage of GDP. September 11th should not have changed that.

    Projected Actual
    2001 19.8
    2002 20.5 17.9
    2003 20.4 16.5
    2004 20.3 16.3
    2005 20.3 17.5
    2005 20.2 17.5

    No way did EGTRRA result in higher revenues.
    I’m sure this isn’t the one you had in mind, but I could do a similar exercise with virtually every tax cut.
    And save your fake champagne. Can’t stand the stuff.

  42. Last Lemming on February 20, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    The columns didn’t line up right. The 2001 numbers are actuals.

  43. Paul S on February 20, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    “BTW, if you call what Berger received a prosecution then Bob’s my uncle. If it had been a Republican, guess where the emphasis would have been? Look at how they handled Libby – Berger got off with a slap on the wrist, and Clinton was never investigated for his role in the affair. ”
    Larry #38

    Just want to make sure I’m getting this right. You’re alleging some sort of prefential treatment for Clinton and Berger over Libby by either (1) the DOJ, run by Judge Gonzalez; (2) a federal prosecutor or US attorney, appointed by Bush or (3) the D.C. Federal District Court. That seems a bit far fetched. I don’t think even Fox News could get away with such accusations.

  44. Larry on February 20, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Paul,

    Nope, you got it wrong. There are no Democrats standing up demanding a Congressional investigation with a Special Prosecutor so that they can lynch Berger. After all, he only stole National Security documents. Those blessed Republicans actually tried to steal Democratic campaign strategies…now that is criminal…and then to try to cover up such a heinous act, tsk, tsk.
    Just because the Republicans have no guts left and appear to be rudderless shouldn’t cause the Democrats to shy away from investigating a rather serious, if not treasonous, theft. Just because he confessed (rather weakly) should not preclude a Congressional investigation.

    Marc,
    Sorry to have hijacked this thread. It’s good to see a Mormon with some political standing running, but this election is going to be about Bush, and I can’t see any hope for any Republican candidate.
    Certainly he poses a better solution to born-agains than do McCain or Guliani, but having members of my family who are born-again, they seem more willing to not vote down there than cast one for a Mormon.

  45. Lamonte on February 20, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    It seems things have fallen apart from the original premise of this thread. That being said, may I add a little levity – and if someone above already said this then I apologize for not reading every comment. A recent comment heard about the Republican field states that of the four leading Republican candidates including McCain, Gulianni, Gingrich and Romney, only Romney HAS NOT had multiple wives.

  46. Dan on February 20, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Larry,

    #33,

    It would be interesting to see your definition of “realistic”. Cut and run? Increased taxes? Increased social services? What do you see as the secondary and tertiary consequences of just these three items? What has been the impact of increased minimum wages within days of its enactmen?
    The answers are important because they would seem to define “realistic” in your leadership candidates.

    I think continuing down this path on this particular post would be too tangential, as this is really about Romney. Just a shallow reply will suffice; shallow because I’d rather not go in depth here. When I talk about what is “realistic” I refer to accepting things as they are, not as we like them to be. Calling the Democratic option of a phased withdrawal “cutting and running” is not being realistic. It can so easily be turned around on Republicans and their favorite hero, Mr. Reagan who himself “cut and run” from the worst terrorist attack against Americans pre-9/11—the 1983 barracks bombing in Beirut that killed 234 some odd Marines in their sleep. It could be argued that his “cutting and running” led to a strengthening of terrorism, because they see America runs when they are attacked. But of course, calling it as such lacks “realism.” In the end, in Iraq, we will be withdrawing. Should that be considered “cutting and running?” Realism is looking at the world around us and accepting that the best option might not be the one we like the most, and many times will be the option advocated by our political opponents.

  47. Marc on February 20, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    Roasted Tomatoes let a pretty juicy comment fly over at BCC this morning:

    “Some of the polls do show up to the mid-40%s of Americans as being unwilling in principle to vote for a Mormon. The specific numbers partly reflect the question asked and the polling company used. Regardless of the specific level of intolerance, it’s surely enough to doom Mitt Romney, since the intolerance is highest among exactly the voters he’s trying to use as a core constituency. don’t think we need to worry too much about the coming Romney storm, however; the gossip from his inner circles is starting to suggest that he won’t be in the race in six months.

    Anyone heard anything of substance to what he’s implying?

  48. Dan on February 20, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    endlessnegotiation,

    As for Iraq, what benefit does the US stand to gain from “cutting and running” (I personally don’t like that term but you used it)? The war is not hurting our economy. It’s not hurting recruitment for the armed services. It’s not affecting the vast majority of the population (outside of causing mild insanity among most Dems). Where’s the upside to “cut and run”? I’ve yet to hear any Democrat leader even attempt explain what the US gains from leaving Iraq.

    The war in Iraq is not hurting our economy much in the same way buying tons of things and placing them on a credit card doesn’t hurt my budget right now. Sure, my budget will be just fine, but when the time comes that I have to start paying back all those items I purchased, yeah, my budget will be in trouble. The war in Iraq is currently being put on a credit card, with the bill to be sent to our children. So yes, our current economy is not hurt by the war in Iraq. But are we not doing a disservice to our children by placing our war on a credit card for them to pay?

    Of course it is hurting recruitment in the armed services. Have you not seen the numbers? Have you not seen how the Pentagon has to continue lowering their standards of who is allowed in the military just so they can keep their numbers up?

    The strongest point you make is that the war in Iraq is not affecting the large majority of Americans, as such, they don’t have as much of a concern at how much we are failing there as they should. If most Americans were affected, we’d be out of Iraq right now! But because we’ve pushed wars away from the majority of Americans, we allow ourselves to have incompetent leaders who are more concerned about their political standing than winning the war. Tell me why did it take three years to increase the number of troops in Iraq? Boy those extra troops sure could have been used back in 2004.

    The reason you don’t hear much about “gains” from leaving Iraq is that there are few gains from leaving Iraq. However, we have no gains, and a heck of a lot of losses from staying in Iraq.

    The solution to Iraq is political, not military. The longer our military remains there, the more Americans die, and as such the more losses we incur.

  49. Lamonte on February 20, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    endlessnegotiations,

    Another thing to consider about the war in Iraq has to do with casualties. At this point there are slightly over 3000 deaths of American forces in Iraq and approximately 25,000 wounded. Many of those are now using prosthetic limbs to get along in the world. Medical science has advanced so much since the war in Vietnam that it is calculated that, if this were 30 years ago, at least half of those wounded would be dead. For me 3,000 soldiers is too many (actually 1 is too many) deaths for a cause that has yet to be defined, at least legitimately. Consider what your feelings would be if 15,000 were dead already. I hope that would make a difference. Would that be worth a “cut and run”?

  50. Paul S on February 20, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    Marc,
    I haven’t heard anything like that and find it a bit hard to believe that Roasted Tomatoes has an inside line to the Romney campaign. All indications I’ve seen is that he is in it for the long haul. His ability to raise money and the money he has already raised tends to give credence to that thought. Right now one of the most important factors is ability to raise money. We’ll see how exactly he stacks up in March (I believe?) when the next fund raising reports are due and made public.

  51. Matt Evans on February 20, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    Marc,

    I don’t know what RT is talking about and share Paul’s doubts that RT does, either. Those who express their predictions with money have Romney trading at 18% probability of being the GOP candidate (intrade.com). Romney’s in third behind McCain (34%) and Giuliani (26%). No one else is above 6%. On the VP bracket the money’s on Romney at 18%, behind Huckabee and Pawlenty (both at 20%), and ahead of McCain (8%) and Giuliani (9%). Altogether, the money says Romney’s the 2nd most likely person to be on the GOP presidential ticket. Likelihood of being on GOP presidential ticket:

    McCain 42%
    Romney 36%
    Giuliani 35%
    Huckabee 24%
    Pawlentee 20%

  52. Larry on February 20, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    Dan, #46

    Just remember that is was Donald Regan that called those shots, and yes you are right. If they had been attacked it might have nipped it in the bud. The cut and run idea is not mine – it is the perception that the terrorists have, and they know they can manipulate American opinion through the press and that is why Romney doesn’t stand a chance.

  53. Larry on February 20, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Oops, it wasn’t Regan, but rather the Secretary of State who was the culprit. (I think – I have to check his name)

  54. Marc on February 20, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Paul and Matt – I share your skepticism. I’ve followed this campaign pretty closely and these are the first whispers of this kind that I’ve heard.

  55. Eric Russell on February 20, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    Dan said, “Of course it is hurting recruitment in the armed services.”

    Hate to pursue the threadjack, but just for the record, this is not entirely true. It has hurt the reserve units and the National Guard somewhat, but not active duty at all. And some have found that the most limiting aspect has actually been a strengthening economy. The lowering of standards that has come recently has not been in order to maintain current levels, but to comply with the requests that both the Army and Marine Corps have made to increase active duty troop numbers in the coming years.

  56. Dan on February 20, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    Eric,

    I don’t want to pursue this tangent too much further, but indeed, the Army has been hurt in the recruitment, as you can see:

    The Department of Defense (DoD) announced on Oct. 11 that the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force met or exceeded their active duty recruiting goals in September. In terms of retention, the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps exceeded their annual retention goals; the Navy achieved 91 percent of its mid-career goal. Three of the six reserve components, Army Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve and Air Force Reserve, exceeded their September recruiting goals. Regarding reserve forces retention, DoD said, “Losses in all reserve components in August were within acceptable limits. Indications are that trend continued into September.” DoD did not give specific numbers. For the year, the Army has not met its active duty recruitment goals and the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve, the Navy Reserve and the Air National Guard have all fallen short of their recruiting goals.

    It’s not a matter of the recent request of an increase in numbers, but of the regular maintenance of numbers to counter retiring officers and soldiers.

  57. Matt Evans on February 21, 2007 at 12:18 am

    I was just playing with more numbers and realized that the relationship between the Tradesports future and the candidate’s current polling numbers shows whether the market is bullish or bearish about the candidate’s potential. The experts are currently most bullish on Romney.

    Announcing the Evans Political Bull-Bear Indicator (TM) (Tradesports Future divided by RealClearPolitics Polling Average, minus 1) for February 20, 2007:

    Bulls:

    Romney +1.69 (18.0 / 06.7)-1
    McCain +0.36 (32.6 / 24.0)-1
    Clinton +0.31 (50.5 / 38.5)-1
    Obama +0.26 (22.7 / 18.0)-1

    Bears:

    Edwards -0.03 (11.6 / 12.0)-1
    Giuliani -0.19 (26.1 / 32.3)-1
    Gore -0.31 (07.2 / 10.4)-1
    Gingrich -0.47 (05.8 / 11.0)-1

  58. Dan on February 21, 2007 at 8:36 am

    On Romney, Matthew Yglecias shares a video of Romney from the 2002 gubernatorial debate in Massachusetts that will surely get airtime during the next two years. Look how strongly Mr. Romney supports pro-choice for the state of Massachusetts. Very convenient that just the next year, AFTER he won the election he has a change of heart after talking to a doctor about stem cells. It makes one wonder why Romney didn’t meet with this doctor BEFORE the gubernatorial election to make sure he knew what he was talking about…I mean, the issue over stem cells is not new. It certainly was an issue before 2002.

  59. Paul S on February 21, 2007 at 10:25 am

    It’s stories like these that will kill Romney–from the Washington Post:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/20/AR2007022001266.html

    Perhaps his tactic is to let it play out now, while most voters aren’t paying attention, in hopes that a year from now the press will view it as old news and not give it much airtime. I’m not sure such a strategy will work.

  60. Dan on February 21, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Paul,

    It seems, as I read that op-ed, that Romney has only himself to blame. Read the way he describes his position on abortion. As the governor, he’d do this and that, but his personal views are this and that, but he can’t tell you what he’d do in any other position. Huh?

    I think that you will find that if Romney stayed on message the whole way through his political career on issues that are quite old and established (let’s be honest, there is no new information on abortion), there would be no story.

  61. Matt Evans on February 21, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Richard Cohen’s op-ed about Romney hits the same points with even more zeal.

    Romney’s 2005 statements to Ruth Marcus don’t bother me or even seem contradictory. When politicians are asked whether they think they should follow their principles or follow their constituents, they most often answer “it depends.” Cynics would argue that’s just because it gives the politician maximum latitude, but I think reasonable people would agree that politicians should sometimes stand up to their constituents but should sometimes defer to them. That’s how I read Romney’s statement to Marcus: he’s committed, as Governor, to maintaining the status quo, but his constituency were different his position might be different. Romney ducked when asked what his personal preference was, but if his view was different from his constituency’s, he probably knew there was no reason to either inflame his constituents unnecessarily, nor to deny that his current position was in part a response to his constituency.

    If more people were more sophisticated, and understood that politicians *must* sometimes defer to their constituencies, we’d get better politicians who didn’t have to pretend that they always act on principle. Even principled politicians have to pick their battles.

  62. Russell Arben Fox on February 21, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Daniel Larison has a roundup of links regarding the ongoing “Romney’s a Fraud” argument in serious conservative circles here.

  63. Last Lemming on February 21, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Ruth Marcus is irritated because Romney will only reveal what he would do, not what he believes is the “right thing”. So what? Did Romney in fact do something other than what he said he would do in MA? Now he says he would do something different if he were president than he did as governor. That is his privilege as long as he really intends to do as president what he says he would do. I think he is giving us enough information to judge what he would do as president, and one should vote for him if one agrees with what he is saying. As it happens, I agree with very little of what he is saying, so I don’t expect to vote for him.

  64. Tim Lahaye on February 21, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    \”the gossip from his inner circles is starting to suggest that he won’t be in the race in six months.\”

    Does this mean the rapture\’s gonna come in the next 6 months?

  65. Seth R. on February 21, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Wonder of wonders!

    The liberal National Review just wrote a piece on Romney. And they didn’t even mention his Mormonism!

    http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w070219&s=perlstein022107

  66. Matt Evans on February 22, 2007 at 2:19 am

    Seth, the article’s in The New Republic (National Review is William Buckley’s conservative magazine; they’ve given Romney good press). The TNR article is the dumbest hit piece I’ve read in a long, long time. So long I can’t remember a dumber one. What I can’t believe is that multiple people on the staff at TNR presumably approved running this paranoid conspiracy theory. Hard times at TNR.

  67. Seth R. on February 22, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Whoops, right acronym, wrong title. I have nothing to say, one way or the other, about the quality of the article. What I found interesting was that for the first time, we’ve got liberal media coverage of Romney and it didn’t mention the Mormon non-controversy. Seemed newsworthy in itself almost.

  68. Chris Hayes on February 22, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    Russell Arben Fox,
    thanks for pointing out Larison\’s site here in T&S. I think your responses to Larison and Linker are well thought out (even when I don\’t agree with them), and I\’m glad you\’re a regular over there.

  69. Dan on February 22, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Seth,

    What I found interesting was that for the first time, we’ve got liberal media coverage of Romney and it didn’t mention the Mormon non-controversy.

    Okay, hang on a sec. This is not true. The “liberal media” has in fact had numerous pieces about Romney that has not touched his religion. In fact, I wager that I’ve seen more pieces about Romney’s religion from “non-liberal media” than not.

    I’m really curious about this, because you’re not the first (nor the last) to blast the “liberal” or “mainstream” media and their supposed anti-Romney bias. Why do you feel this is the case? I mean I can probably pull out a number of articles from many national media sources that focus solely on his politics. What is it that makes you feel the “liberal” media focuses so much on his religion?

  70. Christian on February 22, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    The first TNR piece on Romney (not this one) arguably ammounted to hate speech. The loser painted us as some dangerous group that could go off at any moment, willing to kill for our prophet. Sure, he says, this Gorden B. Hinckley seems like a reasonable guy and won’t order them to go on a killing frenzy, but we have no way of knowing who the *next* prophet might be.

    That article was also deeply preoccupied with the “Latter Day” aspect of our faith. The author emphasized our beliefs that Jesus is coming back, and that these are the later days as opposed to the earlier ones, and seemed very concerned about how Romney would handle some unspecified conflict of interest. He didn’t outright say that he was afraid that Jesus might actually come back during the Romney Presidency and that Romney would just turn the country over to him, but that’s where he seemed to be pointing, and he didn’t articulate any other reason for that whole “latter days” concern. Seems odd.

    TNR did follow up with a later article that criticized the previous article, and praised Romney. But once you bring up that whole “mormons are ticking timebombs” argument, it’s a little difficult to unpoison the well. Glad to hear that they can actually talk about his politics for a change.

  71. Russell Arben Fox on February 22, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    “The first TNR piece on Romney (not this one) arguably amounted to hate speech.”

    I would disagree, but then I’m friends with the author. It was harsh, polemical, and perhaps intentionally misleading (knowing as I do what the author actually knows or at least ought to know about Mormons), but the arguments which animated then were logical ones to ask, even if the sort of answers Damon wanted are impossible to give him. (The article was discussed here and here on Times and Seasons, and here on my own blog.)

    The piece that Seth linked to above, by contrast, is just moronic conspiracy-mongering. I mean, really, Mitt’s use of the Ford Museum as a location to announce his candidacy is a secret message to anti-Semites that he’s one of them? Matt’s right; that’s the dumbest thing I’ve read in a long time.

  72. Christian on February 23, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    Jacob Weisberg certainly is a bigoted blundering hack, and I agree that Linker was overall more thoughtful, but Russell, you’re too easy on your friend. Your site did not address the one argument of linker that frankly ammounted to hate speech, the vague description of his personal “research” where he asked students (age and gender unknown) whether they’d kill someone if the prophet asked them to. Linker goes on to say that while President GBH doesn’t tell mormons to run off and kill people, that who knows who the next prophet will be (as it that was hard to tell!). Essentially, he’s labeled mormons as ticking time-bombs.

    Next time you speak to your friend, could you do me the favor of asking him a question? When he guest-professors at other universities, does he ask 17-19 year old boys if there’s any adult figure whom they trust implicitly, and if so, would they honor a request from that adult figure to go kill someone? Or does he only ask his mormon students that sort of question?

  73. Bill MacKinnon on April 14, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Lost in the religiously-oriented controversy over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination is the controversy that arose forty years ago during the similar candidacy of his father, former Michigan Governor George Wilcken Romney. In GWR’s case the controversy was not over the tenents of his religion or the fact that his maternal grandfather, Charles Henry Wilcken, had deserted from the U.S. Army’s Fourth Regiment of Artillery during the Utah War (a subject covered here in a separate essay by Ardis Parshall), but rather by a legal issue. The controversy over GWR’s candidacy was primarily over whether legally he was barred from serving as president by the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that presidents be “natural born” citizens. GWR had, of course, been born during the late 19th century in one of Mormonism’s colonias in northern Mexico to which his family had fled to avoid prosecution under the federal polygamy statutes. (The family was then driven back across the border into the U.S. by the violence and anti-Americanism of the Mexican Revolution of 1910.) While GWR was running in the 1968 New Hampshire primary, the Attorney General of New Hampshire brought suit to bar his candidacy on Constitutional rather than religious grounds, although the Romney family’s flight to Mexico had been rooted in their religious principles and practices. There then followed the publication during 1968 of several fascinating legal briefs on both sides of this issue, one drafted by a GWR friend prominent in the Detroit legal community and another (anti) by a New York City attorney. Both briefs were published in the “New York Law Journal” and can probably be dredged up by an internet search engine. The history of this controversy can also be found in a more recent issue of “Michigan Historical Review.” When George W. Romney dropped his candidacy in 1968 following a flap over his war-time visit to South Vietnam, the New Hampshire law suit became moot. Periodically, though, bills are still introduced into Congress to amend the Constitution to eliminate the prohibition on foreign birth — most recently to benefit such prospective presidetial candidates as Henry Kissinger (Germany), Madeline Albright (Czechoslovakia) and Michigan’s current Governor Jennifer Granholm (Canada). Relatively minor as it was in 1968, religion was not totally absent as an issue in GWR’s presidential campaign and took the form primarily of criticism about the Latter-day Saints’ then prohibition on the priesthood for blacks rather than about the Romney family’s history with plural marriage. Fortunately Mitt Romney (born in Michigan) does not have those two issues with which to contend, although the focus has shifted to other, still-difficult ground.