Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Romney the Weirdo
"""Who are these non-conservative Mormon skeptics? Well, their ranks probably include a lot of theologically conservative/politically liberal Christians (mainly African American and Hispanic ) who regard Mormonism as a dangerous heresy, and a lot of secular liberals who dislike the L.D.S.’s positions (and politicking) on issues like gay marriage. But most likely some of them are people who don’t have a particular theological or political ax to grind, who know Mormonism primarily through pop culture (from “Big Love” and “Sister Wives” to “South Park” and “The Book of Mormon”) and the occasional encounter with bicycling missionaries, and who have a vague sense of the L.D.S. church as little bit cultish, a little bit outside-the-mainstream, and a little bit, well, weird. Presumably the Obama campaign sees this half-formed attitude as the fertile ground in which its “Romney the weirdo” seeds will take root and grow.

The trouble is that winking at Romney’s faith doesn’t fit into any of the broader issues that will be front-and-center in the 2012 campaign. The Bush campaign’s attempt to paint John Kerry as an effete, quasi-French flip-flopper who couldn’t be trusted with the nation’s defense made sense because 2004 was a wartime election, and the character issues went directly to questions about what Americans wanted in their commander-in-chief. I have a much harder time seeing how insinuations about the peculiarity of Romney’s theological commitments fits into a narrative about why Americans shouldn’t trust him with a lousy economy. His Mormonism, in this sense, may turn out to be a lot like Barack Obama’s connections to Bill Ayers and the Chicago left, which conservatives tried to make hay from in the waning days of the ‘08 election: In a different kind of race, it might be a serious liability, but in a campaign focused on jobs, debt and growth, trying to sow doubts about Romney’s faith will just make the Democrats look out of touch. They’d be much better off just accusing him of being a soulless corporate layoff artist and leaving it at that..""

We don't generally approve of Douthat-Speak but he's a few clicks higher than the usual Fox-pundit. Even when wrong--like suggesting people should not make an issue out of Romney's membership in the cult of flaming salamanders L.D.S--Douthat hints at the Truth: ie, American citizens should be concerned about MR's mormonism and the growth of mormon fundamentalism (and evangelicalism of all types).

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