Posting Update

Just a notice for our faithful readers: posting on RomneyExperience may be light this week, due to a recent arrival in the Bell family (it’s a girl!).  Normal posting will resume next week, but in the meantime keep checking back for posts by possible guest contributors.

Ken Woodward on Mormonism: Stating the Facts, Missing the Point

Katie Couric is curious about Mormons. So she brought in a religion-beat journalist to answer some questions. The answerer is Ken Woodward, whose name you might recall from the byline of this story, which has long served as an anchor of RomneyExperience’s “Attacks” page. Regardless of the man’s apparent dislike for members of Mitt Romney’s Church, our “expert” culture demands someone who has studied such things, instead of someone who has lived them. So, somehow, Ken Woodward is the man to tell us what Mormons believe, instead of, say, an actual Mormon.

Still, Mr. Woodward seems generally to know his stuff. One hates to argue with him because he gets his facts pretty right. Yet his descriptions combine the sound of authoritativeness with a tonal bent for painting Mormonism as cultish and backward. It’s no great thing to get your facts right but leave the reader with a completely wrong impression. (more…)

The Importance of Being Earnest

The noise about Mitt Romney’s supposed lack of authenticity went up a few decibels yesterday, due to this column in the Las Vegas Sun about “Silky Smooth, Almost Human Romney.” It’s interesting to notice how the lack of authenticity is proven in these kinds of stories, with the LV Sun column serving as the perfect example. Notice that the writer always backs into the thesis by highlighting how smooth, gifted, polished, articulate, quick on his feet, and even-tempered Mitt Romney is. Indeed, if you separated all this fawning praise from the actual tone and conclusions of the piece, you’d think this was nothing more than a pure puff piece meant to brandish Romney’s image even further.

But something happens on the way to hagiography. (more…)

Romney on the Massacre

Just to add a brief follow-up to the the earlier substantive post on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the Washington Post (via AP) story on Romney’s response to September Dawn is worth a look. It has the most substantive comments I know of on the topic from Romney himself: (more…)

The Irresistible Irrelevancy of the Mountain Meadows Massacre

Cue deep-voiced trailer-announcing specialist Don La Fontaine:

This Friday, in theatres everywhere, God’s fury will be unleashed! Or how about: Holy Warriors will spill blood in God’s Name! Or maybe: Religious people are crazy killers!

The possibilities for super-sensationalistic tag-lines are infinite. But the ways in which the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre is relevant to the 2008 presidential campaign are not. Interest in this episode is rising as a result of the marketing campaign surrounding September Dawn, a modern retelling of an old story, which attempts to persuade of its relevance via emphasis on the similarities between 19th century Mormon zealots and contemporary Jihadists. Exhibit 1: the massacre happened on SEPTEMBER 11th!!! This fact, apropos of nothing, appears in every interview, story, release, and blurb sent out to hype the movie. Perhaps the chance to chill viewers with a coincidental convergence of the calendar is the best they’ve got.

I had planned to see September Dawn this weekend, the better to respond to it, but alas, Variety’s description of the film’s climax as “graphically staged,” “fetishistic” “massacre porn” convinced me I might find better ways to spend my Friday night. Massacre porn not really being my thing.

Regardless, one need not see the movie to understand that it provides easy ammunition for unscrupulous critics to lob at Mitt Romney if needed. (more…)

Making Mitt be a Missionary

The following post was contributed by D. Bell, by special request from RomneyExperience.  Much appreciated, too.

Mark Davis has Mitt Romney’s Mormonism on his mind. Mr. Davis has expressed his belief that Governor Romney must proactively explain and defend the tenets of his faith in order to help voters become comfortable with the idea of voting for a Mormon. In two recent articles, one an account of an interview with Romney, Mr. Davis, in a civil and reasonable manner, makes the case that when Americans discover the eccentricities of Mormonism many of them will be discomfited; when this occurs, Mr. Davis argues, “it’s not lds.org or Wikipedia that needs to smooth it over. It’s Mitt Romney.”

First, we applaud Mr. Davis for stating that, in spite of their theological differences, “Romney’s membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a non-issue to me.” Furthermore, we agree with Mr. Davis that “most Americans have not examined what Mormons believe, and when they do, some of them are going to recoil.” It is this reality that led Mr. Davis to write his original column, urging Romney to “make people comfortable with his Mormon faith.” To his credit, Mr. Davis seems to be writing from the belief that it is in Governor Romney’s interest to explain his faith, rather than it being his obligation to do so (and in this he parts ways with many pundits and reporters who believe Romney is obliged to explain his religion while other candidates are not). (more…)

Reader Responses Requested

Several readers have emailed to alert me to these two articles by columnist Mark Davis, both of which complain that Romney has not been sufficiently juicy in commenting on his religion.  Needless to say, I think these arguments are pure nonsense.  But unfortunately, I just can’t find the time to offer a proper response today.

So let’s see what the readers have to say.  If you think, as I do, that Mark Davis is badly misguided, consider writing up one or two paragraphs summarizing your thoughts, and sending it to me at [email protected]  I’ll post the ones I enjoy the most.  That way you’re doing my work for me, and I’m free to do my real work.  Everyone wins.  And by the way, winners will receive a free mention on a prominent Romney-religion related blog.

Or, if you’re all just as busy as I am, we can wait until another day to put up a real response to these articles.  It’s up to you.

The Subconscious Economist

The Economist ran a decent piece yesterday on Mitt Romney’s Ames Straw Poll victory.  I was happy to see nary a mention of Romney’s religion, and some balanced back and forth about the Romney operation and the meaning of the win.

Well, almost nary a mention.  In the context of this pure-horserace type article, with no interest in religion at all, I was surprised to come across the following paragraph.  See if you can spot the subliminal cues:

But social conservatives remain suspicious of him for his late conversion to the cause of “life”, a label used to lump together opposition to abortion, stem-cell research and euthanasia. The two most prominent social conservatives in the field, Mr Huckabee and Sam Brownback, together polled more votes than Mr Romney did. There is also something off-putting about his campaign— something a bit cultish and a bit hokey. His supporters wore yellow “Team Mitt” T-shirts and waved large mittens (Mitt Mitts) in the air. His five sons were all too reminiscent of the Osmonds. Mr Romney’s speech included a bunch of tosh about the American flag that he has used many times before.

Hmmmm. (more…)

Mormon Mitt is “Irrational”- Just Like Every Other American

An interesting column appeared in a small New York paper last week, one that did not garner any national attention as far as I can tell. The column, published in the Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer under the headline “Mitt Romney’s Mormonism: Irrationality Can and Will Be Held Against You,” probably did not reach more than a few thousand souls. However, it represents an attempt at disqualifying Mormons from public office that is just articulate enough, and just brazen enough, to engender echoes from others if not rebutted.

Here’s the thesis:

If a person has irrational beliefs, then he is less likely than others to make reliable judgments. This is because irrational beliefs tend to weaken one’s judgments about rights and liberties . . . . If a person is less likely to make reliable judgments, then he is less likely to make good decisions, and this is not what we want in a leader.

Notice the support the author offers for this thesis. A person with irrational beliefs has bad judgment; this is because . . . “irrational beliefs tend to weaken one’s judgments.” We are letting this fellow off easy to note simply that his logical framework is based on a tautology and nothing more. What’s more important, though, is why he thinks he can make such a proof based on logic at all, rather than on actual evidence. (more…)

The Hillary Files on Romney’s Religion

The LA Times’ story this week on Hillary Clinton’s White House Papers revealed the following interesting nugget of information regarding Mitt Romney:

One 1994 memo offers a historical curiosity: it draws Clinton’s attention to a rising politician, Mitt Romney, who is now a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

In the memo, Clinton’s aides discussed a trip to Boston, where the then-first lady was to appear at a fundraising event for Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). Kennedy was then running for reelection against Romney.

“Romney, a millionaire business consultant with no political experience, is a Mormon,” the memo reads. “His religion is a delicate issue, which Kennedy has not raised, but other Democrats have.”

(HT: The Virginian Federalist) . Personally, I don’t think there’s a lot that can be made of this regarding Hillary Clinton’s strategy. (more…)