Category Archives: Romney

Michael Novak on Religious Discrimination in Presidential Politics

Overshadowed by the endorsement by the National Review editorial board was Michael Novak’s endorsement of Governor Romney. Novak wrote a post detailing his reasons for supporting Romney, much of which have to do with sticking up for a victim of discrimination for his faith:

National Review beat me to it, alas, but I have been deciding to come out publicly for Mitt Romney for some days now. I have been supporting him privately for weeks, though I was trying to avoid supporting anybody publicly.

But the attacks upon Romney’s religion have been a last straw. They are just not fair. I remember his father’s campaigns and what an upright man he was — and no one even breathed a word against him because of his religion.

In addition, every one of the Mormons I have ever worked with, beginning with a great graduate assistant for one of my classes at Stanford in about 1967, have been the most well-mannered, inquisitive, competent, kind and thoughtful people I know. Arch Madsen of Bonneville Broadcasting, with whom I served on the Board of International Broadcast for many years, Joe Cannon who was on the AEI Board, Senator Orrin Hatch, and a long list of others always lifted my spirits.

One of my favorite texts from the New Testament is “By their fruits you shall know them.” That verse has taught me to look for persons who actually love God, not so much by the churches they attend or what they say they believe, but by how they and their families live their lives. Over two public generations now, the Romney family has given us examples of upright, decent, warm lives, given to public commitment even though they did not have to be.

These days, though, it has become imperative for some Christians to come out publicly for Mitt, now that his religion has come under unfair attack. I am no expert on Mormon theology, but I do profoundly admire the good family life and good individuals it keeps sending forth into the world. Those are signs I read clearly.

 

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In any case, that’s the last straw. Someone has to protest, in the name of Christianity itself, that spreading bigotry and hatred for the sake of winning a political campaign is wrong. I for one don’t want to let this issue of bigotry and suspicion pass by without protest — and without open support for its victim. The least Americans can do is speak up for each other on matters of religious liberty.

Romney is a good, executive-keen man, and without this mud he would earn the respect and love of the American people on his own.

 

These thoughts stirred another response at NRO’s the Corner as well, this from Mike Potemra:

I want to second something Michael Novak said. In my decades’ worth of meeting people from many different religious backgrounds, I have found that in every faith tradition-Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, what have you-there is roughly the same proportion of nice people and jerks. To this rule there is one conspicuous exception: Mormons. I have yet to meet a single Mormon who has been a jerk-and I have met many LDS believers. As someone who grew up in Rudy Giuliani’s faith, and is now somewhere between Mike Huckabee’s and John McCain’s, I find Mitt Romney’s religious background a factor that makes me more, rather than less, likely to vote for him.

Nice to see a few people willing to stand up and defend Romney and his faith.

 

Mormon Belief Regarding Jesus and Satan

Mike Huckabee is getting plenty of buzz lately, but not all of it is good. There have been many stories hitting the airwaves suggesting that Huckabee suffers from deficiencies in ethics, crime, foreign policy, and a God-complex (here’s one small summary). This kind of negative vetting is to be expected for a surging candidate, and need not be an insurmountable challenge for Huckabee. However, Huckabee himself has added a new label to the above list: Anti-Mormon.

As reported in a story to be published on Sunday in the New York Times Magazine, Huckabee had the following exchange with a reporter on the issue of Mitt Romney’s faith:

Huckabee is, indeed, a discreet fellow, but he has no trouble making his feelings known. He mentioned how much he respected his fellow candidates John McCain and Rudolph W. Giuliani. The name of his principal rival in Iowa, Mitt Romney, went unmentioned. Romney, a Mormon, had promised that he would be addressing the subject of his religion a few days later. I asked Huckabee, who describes himself as the only Republican candidate with a degree in theology, if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. ‘‘I think it’s a religion,’’ he said. ‘‘I really don’t know much about it.’’

I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: ‘‘Don’t Mormons,’’ he asked in an innocent voice, ‘‘believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’

People are jumping all over this quote as evidence of Huckabee’s willingness to let religion enter the contest. Frankly, I don’t think any more evidence was needed, given some of his recent quotes attributing his success in the polls to God. As for this particular quote, it’s a mixed bag. We shouldn’t pass over his answer to the first question, which has Huckabee finally choosing a side on the “cult or religion” debate, and passing up the chance to label Mormonism a cult. That’s something.

The problem is that he kept talking. He could easily have stopped, but the Times piece makes it look as if he saw an opportunity there, and wanted to exploit it. He did so by resurrecting one of the oldest and most absurd tropes in the anti-Mormon arsenal: Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers!!! Given how well-worn this old chestnut is in Huckabee’s circles (and yes, we know he does run in those circles), Huckabee might be forgiven for believing it. But for repeating it to a reporter, as if he hopes it will get passed around and laid before Iowa voters? Pretty sad.

But let’s get down to the truth of the matter: Do Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers? You can answer that with another question: Do evangelicals believe that Mike Huckabee and Hitler are brothers? (say it with an ominous tone preferably with dark strings playing in the background). The answer to both is the same: if you insist on making a few logical leaps and completely ignore what each group actually teaches, sure.

Mormons have never taught this strange notion. It has never been a tenet of Mormonism, and the first time any Mormon hears the idea is always from an anti-Mormon characterizing Mormon beliefs. In other words, there’s no sense in which this idea has any impact within the LDS Church. The truth of the matter is that the Mormon Church teaches that God created everyone and everything. That means he created Jesus (one of the few areas where Mormon understanding of Jesus differs from that of traditional Christianity), and yes, it also means he created Satan, and also created you and me.

Thus the scandal of Jesus and Satan being brothers is one based entirely on extrapolation and syllogism. Yes, because both Jesus and Satan were created as part of the offspring of God, you could say they’re related, or even brothers. To say so would sound very foreign to Mormon ears, most of whom have never even considered such a relationship. But why would you? If it’s not something Mormons believe or teach or think about, what’s the point? Answer: just to make Mormons look bad.

Here’s LDS Church spokeswoman Kim Farah on the issue:

“We believe, as other Christians believe and as Paul wrote, that God is the father of all. That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children. Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind. Satan is the exact opposite of who Christ is and what he stands for.”

The same twisted argument can be made with lots of beliefs. Imagine someone comes up to you and starts the following line of questioning: Do you believe Jesus had a human body? Do you believe he sweated? Do you believe he spent lots of time in the hot sun? Do you believe he showered daily? Hah! Then you believe Jesus had body odor! You believe your Savior was stinky!

Would Christians be right to be offended by this attack? It is based on their true belief in a sense, in that you can come to that conclusion by cobbling together other ideas about Jesus. But it would be patently unfair because it’s not something anyone actually thinks about, teaches, or relies on. It’s made up by extrapolating other facets of belief. It is sensationalistic, it sounds weird, and it actually says nothing about the real beliefs of Christians. The Huckabee line about Jesus being the brother of Satan is exactly the same kind of argument.

To renew the point about Hitler above: Did you know that evangelicals believe that Hitler is the brother of the apostle Peter? And that Judas is the brother of James Dobson? Isn’t that sick and twisted? Well, no evangelical has ever taught such a thing, but you can certainly extrapolate the point from their belief that all of mankind are the children of God. You can do it, but why would you? Only if you want to smear them for no good reason.

By repeating this absurd anti-Mormon line, Mike Huckabee is doing exactly that, whether he knows it or not. But even if he doesn’t know it, you’d hope a presidential candidate would check around before slurring a religion, especially the religion of one of his fellow candidates. Makes you wonder what kind of unplanned slurs he might drop if he were our President. As an evangelical, it’s not possible that he holds a few misconceptions of Islam, too, is it? Hmmm.

Mormons, and Americans, deserve better from serious contenders for the presidency.

UPDATE: Huckabee has laudably apologized to Romney for his remarks.  Won’t undo the damage, but at least he’s sorry, and that’s not nothing.

National Review Endorses Mitt Romney for President

RomneyExperience doesn’t often stray from the center of its niche of religion/politics, but once in a while, there’s an issue important enough on one or the other side of that combination that it’s worth discussing. Today, there are two, one on each side.

First, and most important, the editors of the National Review have officially endorsed the candidacy of Mitt Romney. In their editorial, they make the detailed case for Mitt Romney as the right man at the right moment, far better qualified and better positioned to win the presidency and lead the country than any other Republican candidate. Here’s the kernel of the argument, in my view:

Romney is an intelligent, articulate, and accomplished former businessman and governor. At a time when others yearn for competence and have soured on Washington because too often the Bush administration has not demonstrated it, Romney offers proven executive skill. He has demonstrated it in everything he has done in his professional life, and his tightly organized, disciplined campaign is no exception. He himself has shown impressive focus and energy.

I think it would be really difficult to argue with that statement. There’s no question that viewing the field solely in terms of competence, focus and energy, Romney is far and away the best choice on either side of the aisle. Of course, Romney’s got so much more to recommend him, including his broadly conservative stances on most important issues. The NR editors also deal with every major objection to Romney, from the claims of inauthenticity and flip-flopping, to distaste for Mormonism. I recommend reading the entire article. It’s the second strong piece of evidence in a week (after last week’s Faith in America) that Romney has what it takes to become the nation’s president. And the accompanying illustration pushes the total to three, clearly.

Secondly, on the religion side, one of the biggest questions in the public discussion of Mormonism is whether Mormons are Christians. RomneyExperience has dealt several glancing blows to this question, but hasn’t yet confronted it head on. If this is a topic that interests you, please read this piece by Mike Otterson, who is the official spokesman for the LDS Church. Otterson writes on Newsweek’s “On Faith” blog, and offers his own answer to the question of whether Mormons are Christian. The money quote:

But for Mormons, these belief differences have nothing to do with whether or not they are Christian in the true meaning of the word. Mormons believe in the Jesus of the Bible, the same that was born at Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, preached His gospel in Galilee and Judea, healed the sick, raised the dead, and finally offered Himself as a sinless ransom for the sins of the world. They believe that Jesus Christ was literally resurrected, that He lives today, and that He is the only name under heaven by which mankind can be saved. This is the Jesus whose name is depicted on the front of every Mormon place of worship. This is the Jesus in whose name every Mormon prays and every sermon is preached. This is the Jesus whose body and blood are commemorated in weekly worship services by Latter-day Saints from Nigeria to New Zealand, from Michigan to Mongolia. For Latter-day Saints who try to live their lives as they believe Jesus taught, assertions that they aren’t Christian are as bewildering as they are wounding.

It’s a great piece, worth a few minutes of your time.

Are Mormons Racists?

Despite his completely unblemished personal record on race relations, it’s become clear that some want answers from Mitt Romney regarding the racial stances of the LDS Church. Romney will never give such answers, nor should he. The focus by some on the question of Mormon racism is an attempt to smear a good, progressive, modern man with a few quotations and stories from others of his faith, a means of slurring-by-association that should not be accepted. I’ve noted before that there’s not a hint of any basis on which to allege that Mitt Romney is himself a racist, and that should end the inquiry. Still, I’ve seen a number of sensible people who seem to agree with the less-sensible Mssrs. Hitchens and O’Donnell, that Romney ought to answer these questions. So it’s worth delving into the topic in order to kill the continuing chatter about Mormon “racism.”

Two threshold questions ought to be raised before delving into the history. First, is there any reason to believe that the present-day Mormon Church is racist today? Second, is there any reason to tie Mitt Romney to any charge of Mormon racism? The answer to both questions is an unqualified “NO”. The modern day Mormon Church is a huge global organization, with members representing every race, and congregations in approximately 170 countries. Many hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saints are black, living in places like Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. I am told that Brigham Young University, owned by the LDS Church, is the most diverse university in the country, measured by the number of nationalities represented there (I have seen this claim myself but cannot find documentation. If you can, send it to me). There is nothing preached in the Church that approaches, justifies, or encourages racist thought. Indeed, national polling data in recent times has shown that Mormons are actually less likely than other Americans to hold racist attitudes. Anyone wishing to smear the LDS Church with claims of present-day racism simply does not know the LDS Church. (Further points in this regard are offered in a thoughtful post at ColTakashi).

As for Romney, he comes from a racially progressive family that championed civil rights. Mitt’s father George marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. at a time when such actions were not uncontroversial in the Republican party, and Mitt celebrated the LDS Church’s reversal of its policy against black priests. Romney has a pristine record on race relations, and so questions regarding the racial stances of his faith should remain just that- targeted at his faith, not him. So, on to the larger question regarding Mormonism and race:

The Priesthood Ban

It’s important to understand what the LDS Church’s Priesthood ban entails, beginning with an understanding of the Mormon concept of Priesthood. Continue reading Are Mormons Racists?

Off the Deep End

In the build up to Mitt Romney’s speech on Faith in America, some worried that this would open the door for harsher attacks on the specific tenets of Mormonism. Thankfully, Romney refused to delve into the controversial topics of his faith, which appeared to close that door. Some people, however, really wanted the door to open, so they’re carrying on as if it has been removed from its hinges.

And speaking of unhinged, let’s go to the video. What you are about to see is a political analyst and guest participant on the McLaughlin Group actually losing his mind on camera. We know this because everything he says is actually false or completely shorn of any helpful context. He rants about Romney’s speech being the “worst political speech of my lifetime,” because Romney refused to answer questions about Mormonism’s racist past. Bonus topics include Mormons being pro-slavery (the most ridiculous and obviously false charge I’ve ever heard about Mormons), and Romney’s polygamist ancestors (Note Pat Buchanan’s completely dispositive rebuttal). Let’s go to the tape:

I hope you caught the man’s basis for making such authoritative statements regarding Mormonism: He’s an actor on Big Love. So obviously he knows whereof he speaks. Especially since Big Love “has been a real headache for Mitt Romney.” You have to love the self-flattery.

For whatever reason, the accusation of Mormon racism has risen to the level of a meme now, so it’s time to address it. I wanted to put the above video out there to introduce the topic (admittedly because it puts the accusers in a rather bad light), but there are of course others with the same questions. This week, we’ll answer the question of whether Mormons are Racists. Stay tuned.

Ambinder: Romney “accomplished the improbable”

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.

The Speech: Final Reactions Post

I notice that Matt Evans, from the Mormon blog Times and Seasons, has done the hard work of collecting numerous full-length responses to Romney’s speech, again, mostly very positive. Instead of re-creating a complete summary for myself, I’m cribbing it verbatim from him, with apologies (and a hearty hat tip, of course!) to Matt. Original link is here.

Romney defends faith in speech he shouldn’t have to give, Editors, USA Today

One Nation Under Mitt, Kathleen Parker, Southern Illinoisian

Boldness, Watered Down, E. J. Dionne, Washington Post

Mitt Romney Raised the Bar, Rush Limbaugh, RushLimbaugh.com

What Iowans Should Know About Mormons, Naomi Schaefer Riley, Wall Street Journal

Latter-day Speaker, Maggie Gallager et al, National Review

Faith vs. the Faithless, David Brooks, New York Times

Answering Critics — and Kennedy, Michael Gerson, Washington Post

Romney’s Achievement, Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard

I’m a Mormon: Take it or leave it, Romney says, Jessica Van Sack, Boston Herald

Mitt Romney’s Case for Pastor in Chief, Domke and Coe, Seattle Intelligencer

VIDEO: Fred Barnes, Mora Liasson and Charles Krauthamer

VIDEO: Sean Hannity with Evangelical Leaders

And by the way, in case you had forgotten that there are seething, irrational people out there who hate Mitt Romney as much as they hate religion itself, our old friend Christopher Hitchens has a new tirade out, to Slate.com’s continuing shame. This is another piece of completely unhinged teeth-gnashing without any basis in facts. I may get to a point by point rebuttal today, but if not, please see my last post detailing the numerous inaccuracies relied upon in the ravings of this increasingly dismissable antagonist.

Mitt Romney’s “Symphony of Faith”

The speech is over and the reviews are pouring in. I thought I’d take a moment to give my own preliminary thoughts before launching into full-scale analysis.

First, some of my favorite lines:

In John Adams’ words: ‘We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people.’

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I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law. . . .When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A President must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.

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No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths.

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I am moved by the Lord’s words: ‘For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me.’

My faith is grounded on these truths. You can witness them in Ann and my marriage and in our family. We are a long way from perfect and we have surely stumbled along the way, but our aspirations, our values, are the self-same as those from the other faiths that stand upon this common foundation. And these convictions will indeed inform my presidency.

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And the inspiring closing passage:

And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion – rather, we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith. .

Recall the early days of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, during the fall of 1774. With Boston occupied by British troops, there were rumors of imminent hostilities and fears of an impending war. In this time of peril, someone suggested that they pray. But there were objections. ‘They were too divided in religious sentiments’, what with Episcopalians and Quakers, Anabaptists and Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Catholics.

Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot.

And so together they prayed, and together they fought, and together, by the grace of God. they founded this great nation.

In that spirit, let us give thanks to the divine ‘author of liberty.’ And together, let us pray that this land may always be blessed, ‘with freedom’s holy light.’

I thought this was a passionate, inspiring, even sometimes rousing speech. First and foremost, my main takeaway was the same I always come up with after hearing Mitt Romney speak at length: that regardless of the substance, this guy has serious presidential chops. As a communicator and a spokesman for big ideas, you can’t beat Mitt Romney. I think the biggest result of this speech will be that American media, and to a lesser extent American voters, got to see Mitt Romney at his impassioned best. Against that backdrop, the charge of plasticity is hard to maintain.

Second, I thought the content was pretty masterful, especially given that it was written almost exclusively by the candidate himself. It displayed a deep grasp of the American milieu, the interdependence of religion and public life, and respect for minority viewpoints. As a message directed at an audience, it struck the right tone of independence combined with conciliation.

I’ve already heard critiques that it wasn’t Mormon enough. It’s true, there was little specific Mormon content here, which the campaign has been prepping us for all week. Still, I think the Governor missed an opportunity when discussing some of the appealing distinctives of other faiths (which was very nice, by the way), to insert a paragraph about what makes Mormonism appealing. He also has a lot of material about Mormon patriotism and Liberalism that could have been used. (But slyly inserting Brigham Young into Roger Williams’ and Anne Hutchison’s club of venerable religious dissenters was brilliant.).  But Mormons recognized something very Mormon about this speech- the choking up.  That was an poignant convergence between the impassioned but stony mode of American public speaking and the more emotional, sometimes teary delivery of Mormon religious speakers.

In sum, this was a speech with many strong moments, and not one flat note that comes to mind. He handled the potentially divisive topic of empty European churches with grace, and came off strong against both secularism and jihadism.

Personally, I think he nailed it.

The Real Reason Some Oppose Mitt Romney

There may be some of you loyal RomneyExperience readers who think I’ve failed you this week, and for this, I’m sorry.  You may have noticed a deafening silence here in contrast to the breathless and frenetic coverage going on everywhere else about Mitt Romney’s much-anticipated “Faith in America” speech.  Well, I wish I had a better excuse, but here’s the reason I haven’t gone in for much of that: I think it’s boring.  That’s right.  I read all of the prognosticating, second-guessing, predicting, exhorting, and everything else people are saying about this speech, and I get a little drowsy.  I really don’t care that much what everyone else thinks Romney will say, or what everyone else thinks he should say, or what everyone else thinks Romney will gain or lose by this.  Yeah, I have some opinions on these topics, but given how indifferent I am to others’ thoughts on the topic, I can’t presume that you’ll be interested in mine.  I much prefer to sit and wait and see what Romney says, and once he’s said it, you can bet I’ll be here to deal with any unfair coverage that follows.  But for now, the huge volume of commentary this week feels like one of those by-the-numbers topics that columnists just have to pick up because everyone’s doing it.  I’ll be glad when it’s over and the country can return to its normal denigrating of Mitt Romney and his faith.  (Just kidding!).

In the meantime, how about a link to a nice bit of substantive conversation?  Jonah Goldberg was apparently preparing to weigh in on (what else?) the speech, and started reading up on some relevant topics.  He came up with a startling conclusion: there may be nothing to fear from a Mormon presidency!

So I’ve been getting email for something like two years now from thoughtful, articulate and from what I can tell decent evangelical or conservative Christians explaining to me why they have everything from “reservations” and “concerns” to outright revulsion at the prospect of having a Mormon be the Republican nominee or the President of the United States (often the concern seems to me more passionate about the nomination, though that might simply be a result of the fact the nomination comes first). I’d like to say I understand all the theological issues, but I don’t. But don’t care to understand all of the theological issues either.

What I would like to know, however, is what exactly these people think a Mormon President might do that would be so unacceptable? Are there Mormon public policies I do not know of that would be implemented? Is there a Mormon faction in foreign policy?

I’ve been reading up a bit because I want to write about “the speech” but so far I haven’t found much on this basic question.

He left an open invitation for someone to write in about what Romney will do to implement Mormonism as public policy in the White House.  The responses made clear that there’s simply nothing you can credibly say to support that notion. Continue reading The Real Reason Some Oppose Mitt Romney

Breaking: Romney Will Give “The Speech” This Week

The New York Times, Salt Lake Tribune, and many others have the story.  This speech, and the anticipation leading up to it, will dominate headlines and news discussions all over.  All the outcomes and reactions and doomsday scenarios we’ve seen hundreds of pundits and commentators predict will now get a real test.  I personally wish he wouldn’t.  But that may just be more of a wish that he didn’t have to.

Either way, Governor Romney is an extremely good communicator, and has the chops to make this speech work for him.  If there’s one thing that defines the Romney campaign so far, which has been far from perfect, it’s this: the operation has a pitch perfect sense for the events that really, really matter, and always nails those specific crossroads moments.  From the opening fundraisers to the first debate to the CPAC speech to Ames, Romney has alway excelled at the tentpole moments.  And if there ever was one of those, this is it.

Hold on to your hats, folks.  This will be a very interesting week in politics and religion.  And of course, check back here for updates and responses.