Marc Ambinder has one of the first write ups that seems to actually consider the (possible) revolutionary ramifications of the Speech:
Let’s pause and take a moment to appreciate what Mitt Romney has done today for his campaign. Looking presidential, speaking at a lectern with the presidential seal on it, speaking before the largest press corps ever assembled to hear him speak, speaking just 28 days before the Iowa caucuses, speaking — reading — a text that he wrote, giving a complex and nuanced argument about faith in America — he may accomplished the improbable: giving a speech that actually moves hearts and moves, a speech that actually persuades, a speech that may have succeeded in moving the public’s perception of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from outside the circle of “normal” to a few lengths inside it.
With this speech, Romney may have mainstreamed Mormonism and injected a fresh dollop of energy into his presidential campaign.
Those last points about moving Mormonism into the mainstream may be pushing it, but just the fact that someone is now saying this turns Romney’s speech into something far grander than anyone ever anticipated. On a similar note:
For most non-Mormons, the social pressure to tolerate the quirks and vicissitudes of that faith has been absent. Pre-Romney. Post-Romney, that pressure is there. Opponents of the LDS church ought to be forced to respond to Romney’s argument and explain why the LDS church ought to remain outside the circle of tolerance.
Frankly, the “pressure” Ambinder speaks about here has always been one of the founding objectives of this blog. To see Ambinder pronounce the birth of this pressure is a somewhat triumphant moment for members of the LDS faith. No one has said that the LDS faith must be given protections different from those of other faiths, only that suddenly, people may begin to realize that Mormons deserve courtesy in the way it is given to Baptists and Catholics, and in a way not yet realized by Scientologists and Kabbalists. Again, to consider that Romney’s speech might have helped inch Mormonism from the latter group to the former within the “circle of tolerance” is indeed momentous.
Here’s Ambinder’s back-to-business-as-usual sum up:
Back to politics. Universal praise (from Dobson, Colson, Dick Land, bloggers). Excellent television coverage. Excellent visuals. Unadulterated, unfiltered Mitt Romney, direct to camera. Romney aides are ecstatic.
If he’s right about the long term effects of this fascinating moment, Romney’s aides won’t be the only ones.