What Matt Missed About Mitt (and Jon)

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Matt Bowman, a Mormon blogger I know slightly (in the same way, I suppose, that just about all Mormon bloggers know each other at least “slightly”), has written a fine and thoughtful piece about the different “Mormonisms” of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, the two members of my faith that are at present making noise about their interest in pursuing the Republican nomination for president next year. His basic thesis is that the differences between them in how they talk about and relate to others in the context of their religious beliefs, and consequently their differences in how they may potentially reach out to voters in the Republican primaries and then the general election, is greatly a function of their ages: that there is a “generation gap” between a Mormon who came of age in the mid-1960s (as Romney did), and the late 1970s (as Huntsman did), and that gap is meaningful. I agree with Matt that the gap is meaningful–but I disagree that it is as meaningful as he makes it out to be, and I also think he missed some of what more crucially makes it meaningful, to whatever degree it is.

1) Matt writes intelligently about the deeply patriotic “business Mormonism” that characterized the mid-20th-century Mormon elite; by the time polygamy had been dead (or at least strongly encouraged to seem so) for a couple of generations, you really did have a group of pioneer-stock Mormons–which Romney is; his own father was born in the Mexican Mormon colony of Colonia Dublán, which was founded by members of the faith fleeing anti-polygamy persecution–that were utterly committed to succeeding on the organizational, meritocratic terms of postwar America. And it’s true that you can see echoes of that legacy in Romney’s occasional awkwardness in dealing with, as Matt put it, “the cultural diversity and religious pluralism evident in late twentieth-century America.” But the video I just linked to lends a bit of even weightier evidence to Matt’s thesis, some evidence which he, strangely, never even touches upon: when Mitt Romney went out to proselytize to the world in 1966, he was defending a church which still banned African-Americans from the hold positions of priesthood authority, which is an absolutely central part of the church’s administrative life. But, by the time Jon Huntsman when out on his mission in 1979, that policy had been changed. The removal of this, the single largest albatross around our church’s neck, in terms of its moving away from its vaguely isolationist, communitarian, and theocratic past, and into becoming one community amongst many in America’s hyper-liberal present, between the years when Mitt was a young Mormon man, and when Jon was one, can’t possibly be ignored.

2) But nor, however, should it be made into a larger explanatory variable than it should be. Matt writes a good deal about the legacy of President Gordon B. Hinckley, who lead our church through the 1990s, and he’s correct to do so: Hinckley was in so many ways an unexpectedly savvy leader, a man comfortable with the media and the ways the “American way of life” was being transformed by globalization and technology. (I wrote some thoughts about his legacy here and here.) It’s absolutely true that American Mormons over the past 20 years have been led, in all sorts of ways both subtle and obvious, to accommodate themselves to being in a busy, diverse, individualistic world. However, Matt chooses not to incorporate into his essay the way those same years under President Hinckley were arguably years of fine-tuning and polishing the veneer on a process of moral retrenchment. It was Hinckley who famously demanded a “raising of the bar” for American proselytizing missionaries; and of course, it was during those same years that Utah went from being an imbalanced but still politically patchwork state to becoming the most Republican state in the country, and the church developed the public rhetoric (most particularly the Proclamation on the Family) which has led directly to our church’s engagement in the culture wars, particularly regarding homosexuality, to a degree which it hasn’t since the 1970s. So the church which shaped Romney may have been less comfortable with the structures and media of American pluralism than was the case with Huntsman, but it simply isn’t true that Huntsman church, a generation (or at least a decade and a half) later was somehow more moderate or flexible. It has simply chosen, for better and/or for worse, different battles, ones more in line with the general conservative movement to shore up what many once assumed to be fundamental, “established” values, than it did in the past.

So if the real explanation can’t be reduced to a generational difference, what is it? Probably simple piety: Huntsman doesn’t take his Mormonism quite as seriously as pioneer-stock Romney does. Matt’s essay constructs a valid cultural/historical argument, but as it chooses not to tell the most important part of the relevant history, and then chooses not to touch on the most obvious religious variable at work between Romney and Huntsman, is missing where the better explanation of their differences lies.

Comments

  1. Interesting.

  2. Some food for thought. My trouble in making an analysis of Jon and Mitt is that I do not know either one well enough.

    Also, I think Huntsman is pretty deep in Mormon tradition. His grandfather was an apostle and his father is quite devote. I think the Politico article is a bit misleading. While Hunstman may be less devote, I do not think it is because of his background.

  3. Sure, Chris–I don’t mean to make this about different family backgrounds, though obviously that also comes into play. Hell, we could make about the classic Utah rivalry: Romney is a True Blue Cougar, whereas Huntsman is UofU Red.

  4. No wonder I like Huntsman…Go Utes!

  5. Probably simple piety: Huntsman doesn’t take his Mormonism quite as seriously as pioneer-stock Romney does.

    I seriously don’t think this is the answer either. I’ve seen nothing that would suggest Huntsman is not ever bit as believing and faithful a Latter-day Saint as Romney. Huntsman is pioneer stock and his grandfather was an Apostle who only recently died.

    I don’t think there is anything particularly “unMormon” about Huntsman. I know a lot of Mormons who are like him. I think this primarily boils down to differences in personality. Romney experienced all the same developments and changes in Mormonism that Huntsman did. Kimball Mormonism, Benson Mormonism and Hinckley Mormonism were all just as much the “Mormonisms” of Romney’s “adulthood” as they were of Huntsman’s.

    It’s annoying that people are portraying Huntsman as distant from his faith because as a sitting governor he visited the meetings of other religions on a regular basis, or because he played in a band in high school and wears a leather jacket and rides a motorcyle on occasion. I know a lot of faithful Mormons who do those kinds of things and many others. And I know a ton of Mormons who are just like Mitt Romney — good people down to the core who are squeeky clean not because it’s an image created for the public but because that really is how they are in real life, each and every day.

    Huntsman seems more chilled out about questions about his religion. His answer boils down to “Hey bro., I’m spiritual, aren’t you?” (I sincerely hope that this does not hurt him among the hard religious right that has seized so much control over the primary politics of the Republican Party these days.) By contrast, Matt was correct in his observation that Romney is less at ease answering questions about his Mormonism, responding to them uniformly with a degree of tension that reveals that, even if only subconsciously, he expects each question to be a prelude to an attack and answers accordingly. The extent to which this is a function of a certain kind of “Mormonism” that is supposedly different from what Mormonism generally is today is, in my mind, doubtful. I think it boils down to personality.

  6. This is a thoughtful response, Russell, but I still don’t think it’s merely a matter of their taking Mormonism seriously; as Chris points out in #1, Huntsman actually is similarly committed and has a similar spiritual pedigree, but decides to portray it differently–and that is what makes the framework Matt provides helpful. I think a big part of the Hinckley presidency was emphasizing how to be committed while not appearing to be overly zealous–or, as you put it, emphasizing that he takes his religion “serIously.”

    But I think your comment on the priesthood ban is indeed important.

    Also, I think it is important to pull this generational discussion into a broader American, and not just Mormon, framework. I think it is important that Matt’s generational distinctions closely match those in Putnam and Campbell’s “American Grace.” Huntsman’s generation is much more pluralistic and more willing to blend culture with a more loose religion. (unless you are on the far ends of the spectrum, of course.)

  7. Would the priesthood ban have been relevant to Huntsman’s mission in Taiwan? I don’t think so. I would guess he rarely if ever discussed it or any issues relating to race and the priesthood.

    Romney, it is true, will have found himself in the unhappy position of having to be an apologist for the ban while a missionary in France, both in response to more progressive white French people and while proselytizing among black French citizens and immigrants from Africa.

  8. Even assuming we accept Matt’s basic thesis, which I’m ambivalent about, I’m not sure how much their different mission experiences would factor into how as young men they went forth and learned their first lessons about “how to be Mormon” amongst others. The brute facts are that Romney would have gone forth, knowing that his was a church standing firm against an America under assault; Romney would have gone forth, knowing that his church was finally getting with the game. Totally different gestalts, if you want to think about it that way.

  9. I’m glad to see Matt’s commentary receiving the attention it deserves, and am always pleased to hear what you have to say, Russell. A couple of thoughts:

    1) Much has already been written on Huntsman and Romney’s respective approaches to their faith, their divergent political views, etc. Matt’s piece seems like a conscious approach to reveal another angle to those discussions, one that focuses on their public image. On that front, I find his appeal to a generational divide in Mormonism quite convincing.

    2) It seems to me that simply dismissing Huntsman’s religiosity as being “less serious” than Romney’s simply perpetuates what Matt is rightly arguing against here: that there is only one brand of Mormonism. Huntsman’s approach to his Mormonism is certainly different; but it’s tough for me to see it as “less serious.” The problem with saying that “Huntsman takes his Mormonism less seriously than does Romney” is that we’re judging Huntsman’s religiosity by Romney’s standards.

  10. It is true that the year before Huntsman went on his mission, the First Presidency released a very ecumenical statement about many of the world’s religions and religious historical figures and leaders being inspired by God. Couple that with proselytizing among a people with a different default religion and Huntsman would get to present Mormonism in a completely different way (in a much more universalist way) than you would have to coming from Wilkinson’s BYU to France in the mid-1960s.

    These differences, far more than the priesthood ban, I would think are relevant for doing this type of highly speculative psycho-analysis of Romney’s and Huntsman’s differing formative years.

    But even with that, how much of it is their formative experiences in Mormonism and how much is just personality? (I think an argument could potentially be made that Romney’s Mormon upbringing from childhood was more laissez-faire and immersed in “the world” as the son of magnate-governor George Romney than was Huntsman’s, which one could speculate might have been relatively strict with hard-nosed businessman and devout Mormon Jon Sr. as his father.)

  11. Russell – thanks for this, and a couple of thoughts.

    1) Unfortunately, the piece that TNR published was about a thousand words shorter than the one I turned in; what was deleted included more discussion about both men’s progenitors and the church in the sixties and seventies, though I probably even in that draft failed to hit the priesthood ban as hard as you would like. I agree that it’s probably relevant, though I would not call it “the most important” issue in question. And I suspect neither man would have had to deal with it much on their respective missions. (though Romney likely slightly more.)

    2) I don’t think I claim that the church is became “more moderate or flexible” under Hinckley. You could make a case for the latter, perhaps, but certainly I never assert the former. Indeed, I specifically stress that Hinckley’s presidency maintained the moral claims of his predecessors, and I particularly tried to avoid saying anything about the way religion influenced either man’s politics, cultural or otherwise. Rather, I what I’m talking about is the stuff of public relations, image making, and comfort dealing with the world. And it is simply true, I think, that the church is more comfortable now with these things than it was twenty years ago; Prop 8 – and particularly its aftermath – taught me that the church certainly cares a great deal about this sort of thing. And Huntsman simply does not seem as anxious about his Mormonism in public as Romney does; this may be due to his personal piety, but that’s both a bit psychoanalytic and a bit reductive. (And, alas, the Time article came out five days after I turned in my last draft. Oh, well. )

  12. John Mansfield says:

    I would guess Romney comes across as a Mormon outsider from having spent pretty much the whole of his life as one other than a few years at BYU. If Huntsman’s childhood had been in Michigan and he had governed Massachussetts, he might view himself as more more of a religious oddball than he does.

  13. Nat Whilk says:

    “I’ve seen nothing that would suggest Huntsman is not ever bit as believing and faithful a Latter-day Saint as Romney.”

    The Time article reads: “Roots? That makes it sound as if you’re not a member anymore. Are you? ‘That’s tough to define,’ he says. ‘There are varying degrees.'” Do you think the Time article misrepresents the query that Huntsman was actually responding to here, or do you think that Huntsman’s reply is how believing and faithful Mormons would typically reply to the query as represented?

  14. “I would guess Romney comes across as a Mormon outsider from having spent pretty much the whole of his life as one other than a few years at BYU. If Huntsman’s childhood had been in Michigan and he had governed Massachussetts, he might view himself as more more of a religious oddball than he does.”

    Word.

  15. Yeah, Romney’s spent his whole life, from childhood, basically fending off comments about Mormonism that really have been “attacks” or at least disparaging whereas it could be argued that Huntsman has not faced this growing up on Salt Lake’s East Bench surrounded by Apostles and Seventies.

  16. Ancestry issues and race:
    Huntsman is a Haight, descended from Isaac Haight. Yes, many historians see that name and think MMM. But he was also in the same company (Ira Eldridge company) as African American pioneer Jane Manning James, and David B. Haight dedicated the Jane James monument in 2000. At the dedication, Elder Haight stated that he was certain Jane had cared for his family “because that’s the kind of person she was.” Elder Haight also attended the first ever production of my play about Jane, when we did it as a Genesis Group program. He subsequently asked for the script, since he hadn’t heard everything. His secretary read it to him. He said “Don’t change a thing.” (Of course, as a writer, I ALWAYS change things.) Elder Haight was a magnificent advocate for Genesis, and a personal friend to many Black Latter-day Saints, who felt his death as a personal loss.
    Romney descends from Charles Wilcken, who was injured in a tragic incident involving a black man named Sam Joe Harvey. Harvey, who shot and killed a Mormon bishop (Andrew Burt), was subsequently lynched and his body dragged through the streets of Salt Lake City. The mob violence was soundly condemned at Burt’s funeral, but it happened “in the shadow of the temple” as one pioneer (Rachel Wooley Simmons) said in her journal.
    Elijah Abel, incidentally, wrestled the gun from Sam Joe Harvey’s hands.
    So, Romney and Huntsman, some more fodder for soundbites.
    Interesting thoughts, RAF. Thanks.

  17. Cool exchange y’all.

  18. Last Lemming says:

    Here’s what I think Matt missed: Does he really find it so hard to imagine that Mitt knows who Led Zeppelin is?

  19. My thoughts (similar to what RAF is saying previously posted at a non-LDS forum):

    I think the TNR piece is good, but Bowman overstates his case. The differences between Romney and Huntsman likely have more to do with personality and generational issues than they do with different “strains of Mormonism.” While the Church has evolved in the way it handles media, I don’t think there’s been as much of a cultural or theological shift as Bowman seems to imply. The Mormon Church is still a very conservative institution, not just politically, but in terms of being extremely resistant to change. Most Mormons I know (with exceptions) view this as more of a feature than a bug.

  20. My original subtitle was “Romney, Huntsman, and the genealogies of American Mormonism;” alas, it seems to have died in the editing process. I feel it’s more descriptive of what I was trying to do.

  21. Is it at least possible that Romney is simply more committed to Mormonism then Huntsman? The more I read articles about Huntsman the more I think this is the case. It “fits” the publicly available record better then strained theories about different types of Mormonism to me. See Huntsman’s answers to Politico for example.

  22. bbell,

    My thoughts exactly. I don’t know how one can not come to that conclusion when you read that Huntsman responds to a reporter asking if Huntsman is still a member of the Church by saying, “That’s tough to define.” Huh?

    However, I think if he were more committed he could still be a somewhat different ‘type’ of Mormon than Romney.

  23. My guess is that this will not get Huntsman the vote of Jettboy. Though I am pretty sure M* will not find Romney Mormon enough. A Bircher like Ron Paul…now that is a real Mormon.

  24. I think Huntsman is playing this religious thing as part of his whole strategy to moderate and save (IMO) the Republican Party – or at least the moderate side of it which barely exists anymore (especially in Utah).

    A person’s religion should not be an issue. It’s actually in the Constitution (no religious tests Art. VI, clause 3). We’ll see how successful he is, but I admire Huntsman for dodging on religion which I think is his moderate “cool guy” way of saying – “this just isn’t important guys, leave it alone!” Much preferable to Romney wearing it on his sleeve at the same time he seems a little uncomfortable with it.

  25. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Just as Mormon actors don’t want to be viewed as the “Mormon” actor, as it closes doors and limits consideration for roles, I can see how Mr. Huntsman would not want to be viewed as the “Mormon” candidate. There is much more to him, his talents, and his governing that many people would never notice if they are sidetracked by his “Mormonism.”

    Nevertheless, the TBM part of me feels downtrodden when he uses such terms as being ‘not that religious’ or a ‘tough to define’ Mormon. I’m sure that these explanations resonate more easily with non-members and many members may see these as easy to reconcile. If that is really where he is and he is not just downplaying his LDS commitment to get elected, then I would feel more comfortable supporting his candidacy.

    I tend to respect the moral courage that Mr. Romney displays in not shirking from his identity as a Mormon. It is nice to me that he places that value as being above the worth of being elected. Unfortunately while he stood ground on his Mormon commitment, his platform values flip- flopped which, I’m afraid, has damaged the credibility of the candidate beyond hope.

  26. Yeah. The “moral courage” kinda suffered when Romney was a moderate Governor of a liberal state a and then changed all his positions to run to the right of the neo-cons (more torture, more war). I liked him a lot when he saved the Olympics and was gov. of Mass. But it’s just so sad to see him try SO hard to be president – and who knows? maybe it will still work?

    I admit Huntsman’s approach is kind of unique. That’s probably why I like him so much. I’m not sure I could or would want to “define” to national media what kind of “Mormon” I am. Judge me by what I do not what I believe, say, or pander.

  27. Matt Asay says:

    This quote for me puts Huntsman in a different category of Mormon than Romney: In a 2010 interview with Fortune magazine, Huntsman, then serving as the U.S. ambassador to China, talked briefly about his personal faith, with the magazine terming his Mormon credentials “soft.”

    “I can’t say I’m overly religious,” Huntsman said. “I get satisfaction from many different types of religions and philosophies.”

    I can’t imagine hearing that sort of statement coming from anyone in my Sunday School class in SLC.

  28. It is also the case that Romney in 1994 was a lot more like Huntsman in 2011. He was comfortable being pro-gay rights and pro-choice, and sincerely so on both counts I think, back then. The difference in “Mormonisms” may be more of a reflection of Romney’s political experience in non-Mormon contexts than a fundamental difference in how Hunstman and Romney have actually lived their religion. It could be that Romney’s calculations are simply incorrect, but I actually don’t think so. My hunch is that Huntsman will not be a serious contender precisely for the reasons that younger Mormons see as his strengths–he isn’t too Republican.

  29. ExMoHoMoDon says:

    While I don’t know enough about Huntsman to comment on him, surely it is safe to say that Romney’s approach to politics mirrors the uncomfortable reality of Mormons and especially Utah Mormons who have tried so desperately to become part of the ultra conservative wing of the Republican Party by becoming hyper conservatives and hyper capitalists and hyper anti homosexual—while being rejected time and again by the religious wing nuts who have all but taken over the Republican Party. Neither Mitt nor Mormons in general get it: however you burnish your conservative creds, the Republican Party hates you only slightly less than they hate gay people. This is perhaps one lesson Mormons should have learned from Prop 8….they will take as much of your money as they can get, but they will never accept you.

    Maybe Huntsman is just trying to have a more ‘cool’ and less Mormony approach to things….I don’t know. But this is certain: both are pretty, both are rich and both will be kicked to the curb not by Democrats or homosexuals, but by the Republican Party they so desperately want to represent.

    Truth is, Mormons would be better off as Democrats: most homosexuals are Democrats and very much live and let live–as long as you leave our equal protection under the law alone, we don’t care what you believe, and we appreciate really good hair.

  30. I don’t find comparisons of Romney and Huntsman all that enlightening. If you really want a comparison that is meaningful, compare Romney with his father. When the church still had the priesthood ban hanging “like an albatross around its neck,” George Romney stood out boldly for civil rights. Mitt won’t, or doesn’t know how to, talk to minorities. That, plus running against his own healthcare bill in Massachusetts, makes him unattractive as a candidate in ways that I seriously don’t think he understands.

  31. When the church still had the priesthood ban hanging “like an albatross around its neck,” George Romney stood out boldly for civil rights. Mitt won’t, or doesn’t know how to, talk to minorities.

    I’ll be the first to chortle at Romney’s struggles to be anything other than a smart, attractive, High Council speaker when it comes to the campaign trail, James–indeed, I do so in this post!–but I think implying some sort of “betrayal of legacy” between Mitt and his dad is a little too much. Father and son are both political party animals, and their political party is the Republicans…and the Republicans have changed a lot (and not, I think, for the better) over the past forty years. There were well-established bases of support for northern and midwestern, moderate Republicans than George Romney could appeal; when Mitt Romney started to look at the national party, those bases of support were practically non-existent. That’s not to apologize for Mitt’s taking of positions that exacerbate some of his own worst qualities, only that Mitt’s dad’s political aims could be aligned with forces that saved him from such. We don’t know how Mitt would have handled being a Republican politician in the 1960s, but it probably would have been a lot more coherently (and probably more admirably) than he’s handling the current Republican party today.

  32. Kristine says:

    “we appreciate really good hair”

    heh. Did you hear Peter Sagal’s quip on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me a couple of weeks ago, when he said the thing that is living on Donald Trump’s head looks like it could live by gnawing on the wood Mitt uses to make his hair? My favorite punchline so far in a campaign that is mostly one punchline after another :)

  33. Romney does definitely have problems being authentic. He seems to lack any core value at least in terms of politics. Indeed about the only thing that seems constant is how he speaks about his faith. It’s really hard for me to want to vote for him because of that.

    Regarding Huntsman I’m kind of shocked at how he’s been dealing with his religion. From my standpoint he’s still by far the strongest candidate (although I don’t think he has a hope with the nomination). I honestly can’t tell what to think about his strategy about religion. Is this a cold cynical way to deal with the religion issue in a way different from Romney? I remember before he was called as Ambassador he’d put out feelers in Ohio and been rebuffed due to his Mormonism. Maybe he feels there’s no other way. But maybe it’s sincere.

    Whether he’s a faithful Mormon or not really isn’t an issue for me. It’s the issues I tend to agree with him on. And honestly there were rumors about how faithful he was even as governor. But still it really has been a kind of weird week.

  34. I’d rather prefer it wasn’t the mormonism that was different so much as a given that just maybe mormons are individuals that are diferent. The linked article seems to imply that nurture has it all and were they switched at birth Huntsman would be letting dogs out and Romney would be managing motorcycle hair.

    I’m not saying circumstances and situations and culture don’t affect us…but is Harry Reed a product of that really liberal time period in the church known as the 50’s? Or maybe he’s reactionary against hte church in the 60’s…or maybe he’s just himself.

    Just maybe they’re different.

  35. Speaking of their roots, it seems strange to me that Romney’s father was the moderate while Huntsman’s father is a Glenn Beck acolyte. I wonder how Jon Jr. feels about his father’s public embrace of the Beckster?

  36. 35 comments and no mention of the word “inactive”? Seriously? Huntsman is simply trying to explain his level of participation without dropping into potentially confusing mormon vernacular. He’s done a poor job of it here, but kudos to him for trying to be honest about a complex issue. More here if you care.

  37. Wraith of Blake says:

    During the ’08 campaign Mitt Romney was criticized for his not having taken part in demonstrations, as a college student, against the LDS Church’s then policy against ordination of blacks. However it should be noted that during this era, Mitt’s father George Romney was outspokenly critical of this church policy. (Btw Mitt mentioned in his Religion speech at the Reagan Library a family legend that George had accompanied Dr. King at a particular Civil Rights march; but, per http://thephoenix.com/Boston/news/53200-was-it-all-a-dream/ a December ’07 article in the Boston Phoenix: “This 1968 Grosse Pointe appearance is the one that Romney spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom initially insisted, in email exchanges with the Phoenix, was the event in question. Fehrnstrom cited the Broder column and ‘the Romney family recollection.’ Of the many contemporaneous and historical records of the Grosse Pointe speech, none make any mention of George Romney’s attendance. It is unlikely, if not implausible, that his presence would have gone unnoticed: not only was he governor of the state, he had just, weeks before, dropped out of the race for President.”)

  38. ExMoHoMoDon says:

    Romney also specifically stated on two occasions that he ‘saw his Father march with Dr. King’, and that Mitt ‘marched with his father through the streets of Detroit with Dr. King’. This was of course false, as his father never marched with Dr. King, although it can be fairly concluded that George Romney was outspokenly pro civil rights when his church was not. Mitt later said that his previous statements were ‘just an expression.’ Huh?

    I said gay people appreciate good hair–that thing on Trump’s head is alive, but not so good.

  39. Left Field says:

    I’m inclined to cut Romney some slack on the MLK thing. George Romney led a large civil rights march down Woodward Avenue. Mitt was a teenager at the time, and looking back from 40+ years, it’s easy to imagine that he got confused as to whether King was there.

    Stephen Jay Gould once wrote an essay about why so many people misremember the circumstance of Bill Buckner’s muff. The Mets had already tied the game, but it makes a better story and memory to think that if Buckner had made the play, Boston would have won.

    Granted, Romney ought to have verified the details of his memory before writing it into a speech, but his basic point (George Romney was a strong supporter of MLK and civil rights) still stands.

  40. “My guess is that this will not get Huntsman the vote of Jettboy.”

    Huntsman lost my vote at his moderate positions. His comments simply put in a final nail to fully seal the already closed lid. Mitt lost my vote (he had it last year) at the passage of Obamacare where I question his political ability in repealing it, where last year introducing a national health care bill was not on his agenda.

    My guess is that most people here are Democrats or lean that way trying to make some kind of look at the Republican primaries. No Republicans, other than the national media and a few Republican establishment talking heads, is talking about Huntsman and saying any nice things about Romney. I admit that politics can be hard to pin down the final outcome, but I think that those who spoke at the little covered South Carolina debate will be the Republican front runners in the end if the galvanized conservative Republicans come out as strongly as their words.

  41. Not belonging to the John Birch Society likely was a sign that he was too moderate for you.

    “but I think that those who spoke at the little covered South Carolina debate will be the Republican front runners in the end”

    Oh, I sure hope so.

  42. Political persuasion by blogger:

    Cynthia/John C: Democrat
    SteveP: Social Darwinist
    RAF: PTA-Marxist
    Steve Evans: Canadist
    Ronan/Aaron R.: Kingmen
    Scott B/J. Stapley: Apathist
    Brad Kramer: Nudist

  43. In that case, Brad needs to do more political posts.

  44. RAF: PTA-Marxist

    Marxist, possibly; it depends on what is meant by the qualifying “PTA”, which frankly leaves me flummoxed. Parent Teacher Association? Populist Turned Anarchist? Preferential Trade Agreement? People’s Terrific Advocate? Help me decipher myself, oh Apathetic One.

  45. Steve Evans says:

    Probably PTA, RAF.

  46. But which one, Mr. Canadist, which one? (Incidentally, I trust you voted NDP last Monday? Good choice!)

  47. Parent Teacher Association, RAF. Just emphasizing the communitarian part of your Marxist idolatry.

  48. Please note: I am technically a coveted independent. Court Me, Politicians!

    Also, I don’t think Steve can vote in Canadian elections anymore.

  49. Weren’t the NDP all about protectionism? (I probably could have voted via absentee ballot but since I have lived down here for 20 years now it’d be a bit dishonest)

  50. I like the NDP. Protectionist trade policies, social democratic domestic spending policies, and the original political home of famed Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor. What’s not to like?

  51. John,

    Independents are a myth.

    Russell,

    That sounds good to me.

  52. Mark D. says:

    A Bircher like Ron Paul…now that is a real Mormon.

    Whatever Ron Paul is, he is not a “Bircher”. Ron Paul and the JBS are in favor of radically different foreign and social policies.

    One might imagine the political conversion the would have been required for Ezra Taft Benson to come down in favor of legalizing heroin and prostitution and withdrawing our overseas military forces. Conceivable, but unlikely, given his political background.

  53. ExMoHoMoDon says:

    LF
    I think your assessment of Romney’s misstatements are generous and fair.

  54. Mark D. says:

    Clark, if Huntsman got into the race we might see the real guy come out, but so far it seems to me that Romney is far more “real” than Huntsman is. The odd thing about Huntsman is that he is talked up as a potential presidential candidate all over the place, but no one seems to know what his political positions are.

    For example, what are his thoughts on foreign policy? Overseas military engagement? Free trade? Tax increases vs. spending cuts? Entitlement reform? Federalism? Health care?

    The only solid political positions I can attribute to Huntsman is that he is in favor of severe measures on environmental issues – carbon taxes, cap and trade, etc and a soft line on illegal immigration. Other than that, he seems like a blank slate.

  55. Wraith of Blake says:

    Ron Paul, October 3, 2008: “No, I am not a member of the John Birch Society but many members of the John Birch Society are friends of mine and they have been very helpful in my campaign.” (–> http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php?132355-Congressman-Ron-Paul-endorses-The-John-Birch-Society/page2 )

  56. Wraith of Blake says:

    Congressional Quarterly, September 24, 1987: “Over the Labor Day weekend, the LIbertarians nominated Paul, a 52-year-old physician who served three full terms in the House before losing the 1984 GOP Senate primary in Texas to Phil Gramm. Paul is not a perfect match for the Libertarians. He opposes abortion on demand[...]and some members are concerned that his past writings for John Birch Society publications will tar the party with an ultra-right image. But he fashioned a record in Congress that was broadly libertarian–[including...]support to non-interventionist, though bitterly anti-communist, foreign policy[...].”

  57. Wraith of Blake says:

    oops!–>”…OF A non-interventionist…foreign policy…”

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=NDdBAAAAIBAJ&sjid=w6gMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5254,1481556&dq

  58. jjohnsen says:

    ““but I think that those who spoke at the little covered South Carolina debate will be the Republican front runners in the end””
    Please be true, please be true, please be true.

    “Independents are a myth.”
    Years ago I was independent for a few month as I switched from voting mostly Republican to voting mostly Democrat.

  59. I am not ‘Independent’. I am a Democrat. I want my piece of the America pie__ even if I have to take it from the Republicans.

  60. Mark D. says:

    There is no question that Ron Paul shares some economic policy positions with the John Birch Society. He also shares a considerable number of them with the Democratic Party. That doesn’t make him a Democrat, even though his positions on foreign policy would be welcome on the pages of any number of left-liberal journals of opinion.

  61. No, right-wing isolationists (which now include Birchers and Paul) are not welcome on any left-liberal journals that I know of (and I know of more than you do). Ron Paul is not a Bircher because he does not belong to it. However, he subscribes to a very similar style of conservatism, one which is much more George Wallace than it is Barrry Goldwater. It is more neo-Conferderrate than it is libertarian.

  62. Mark D. says:

    Ron Paul is not an “isolationist”. He is a free trader, for one thing. Paleoconservative groups like the JBS, on the other hand, tend to be protectionist, just like the Republican party prior to World War II, and the Democratic party afterward.

    Ron Paul certainly is an outspoken anti-interventionist, more so than most Democrats. I seriously doubt you are going to find many members of the JBS who would agree that we should not have taken out Bin Laden, but there are certainly many on the left who agree with Rep. Paul on that point.

  63. Isolationism is not about trade, that would be protectionist. He advocates withdrawing from international organizations. He also feels that we have not obligations to the outside world.

    I know lots of JBS members from my time in Utah and Idaho. Those that do not belong to the Constitution Party are Ron Paul fans. Crazy is as crazy does.

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