Does Mitt have a Mormon problem, or do Mormons have a Mitt problem?

Historically, I have not been a Mitt Romney supporter.  I’m not anti-Romney.  He just doesn’t float my boat.  (Or should I say he doesn’t punch my ballot?  Or pull my lever?  Or hang my chad?  Or maybe I should give up on the voting metaphors before someone accuses me of unduly influencing the search term stats.)  My opinion of Mitt Romney is that he’s…fine.  You know, he’ll do.  In a pinch.  I’m a pretty conservative voter (as opposed to a pretty, conservative voter) and I’d rather have a principled conservative who gets “the vision thing” than a competent technocrat.  Not that there’s anything wrong with competent technocrats (except, of course, when there is), and not that Mitt Romney doesn’t have conservative principles (I’m just not sure what they are).  Also, it’s always nice when your leader has some charisma (even just a little.)  But hey, no one’s perfect.

I think I’ve just about summed up most conservatives’ issues with Mitt Romney.   I didn’t think his Mormonism was that big a deal the last time he ran for president, and I don’t think it will be a big deal this time, the recent flap over Rev. Jeffress’s remarks notwithstanding.  Yeah, x percentage of Americans say they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, but a larger percentage of Democrats than Republicans says that, and I don’t think those are voters Mr. Romney would stand a chance with if he were Episcopalian.  But then, would Mitt Romney be who he is if he were an Episcopalian?

Actually, he probably would.  Never mind.

If Mitt Romney has a Mormon problem, it isn’t that Americans are bigoted against Mormons.  It’s that he embodies everything that is boring about Mormons.  As I was telling a friend the other day, back in 2008 he was asked what he would do as president if there were another terrorist attack on the country, and he replied something like he would call a meeting of his top advisers and together they would decide on what was the best course of action, blah blah blah.  He didn’t mention whether or not there would be refreshments, but seriously, he would have a meeting?  Does it get any more Mormon than that?  Of course, if you’re president and there’s a terrorist attack, you probably are going to have a meeting, but that’s not the point.  No one cares about your stupid meeting!  They want to hear about some action!  Then there’s his economic plan—his 59-point economic plan.  So typically Mormon.  Don’t have two speakers when you can have four, don’t have one heaven when you can have three, etc., etc.  He keeps trying to tell us that Obamacare is terrible while Romneycare is awesome, even though they’re basically the same thing, which reminds me of the way our church leaders are always trying to tell us that men can preside over their families whilst simultaneously not actually being over the family in the sense that they’re, like, in charge or something.  You can only believe it if you really want to.

And of course, there’s the fact that he suffers from chronic church-face.  He seems always to be playing a role, being whoever people expect him to be, never revealing who he really is.  But I dunno, maybe that is who he really is.  Which maybe is fine or maybe is kind of creepy.  Kind of like Mormons.

Anyway.  Like I said before, I don’t think his Mormonism per se is going to be a problem for him.  It will only be a problem insofar as his personal style makes it a problem—which is to say that his personal style is the problem.  A good candidate knows how to spin these kinds of things.  Mitt Romney is a better candidate today than he was four years ago, but he’s still….Mitt Romney.  Which is to say, who the heck knows?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Frankly, I am less concerned about the effect of Mitt Romney’s Mormonism on his candidacy than I am about the effect of Mitt Romney’s candidacy on Mormonism.  Not because Mitt Romney is a bad person or gives Mormons a bad name—Mitt Romney, despite his flaws, is a very impressive person.  But if he ends up getting the Republican nomination, Mormonism is going to have a higher profile than it has ever had before, which could be a good thing or a bad thing–or more likely, a good thing and a bad thing.  On the plus side, the public will learn a lot more about Mormons–what we believe and how we practice our religion.  We’ll become less mysterious and (possibly) as a result, less suspicious.  We may finally dispel all of those persistent myths that thirty-odd years of public relations campaigns haven’t been able to make a dent in.

On the minus side, the public will learn a lot more about Mormons–all of the weirdness and dirty laundry, historical or otherwise, will be out there.  I don’t envision that Pres. Obama’s campaign is going to make his opponent’s religion an issue–it doesn’t seem like his style–but if a white Mormon runs against the first black president and there isn’t at least some high-profile discussion somewhere about what I’ll euphemistically term the church’s historical race problems, I will be the most pleasantly surprised person who ever lived.  (I admit that I tend to be kind of cynical, but in my defense, I am not often pleasantly surprised.)  And you and I know that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

On the other hand, maybe getting all our issues out there in the open where we can’t hide from them or pretend they don’t exist anymore will lead to some positive changes in the church and in Mormon culture.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Ah, that’s funny.

But seriously, leaving aside the question of whether or not he’d be a good president, how do you imagine Mitt Romney’s candidacy might effect the Mormon world?  Will it be good for the church as a whole but suck for Mormons as individuals?  (Do you want to field questions about your magic underwear?  I don’t.)  Will we finally be able to convince people that we don’t all live on polygamist ranches and we are, in fact, allowed to dance?  Will that alone make it worth it?

P.S.  Hold on to your beverages because I’m about to say something super-humorous:  Let’s try to keep partisan politics out of it.  Yeah, I know.  You can’t say I didn’t warn you.  While you’re cleaning the chocolate milk or diet Coke off the screen, let me tell you what I’m not interested in.  I am not interested in how frustrated you are that extremists have hijacked the Republican party, or how frustrated you are with RINOs, or how frustrated you are with the one-party church.  I guess if you really want to say those things, you can—it’s still a free country (so far)–but just allow me to respond in advance:  (((((((((((((SNORE))))))))))))))  Also, please avoid personal attacks on Mitt Romney himself—at least, nothing worse than what I’ve already done.  (And if you happen to know any good Mitt Romney jokes, by all means, please share.)

Comments

  1. Personally, I like Mitt Romney *because* of the qualities that make some call him a RINO, not in spite of it. I’m sick of all the partisan politics. What makes Romney great is his ability to reach across the party divide and bring people together in support of the greater good—kind of like the Quorum of the Twelve, which is also extremely “Mormon.”

    Oh, and in response to your claim that “Obamacare” and “Romneycare” are “essentially the same thing,” there are actually a lot of differences. I’ve seen charts with as many as 19 relevant differences, but I think this site sums up some of the most important: http://tinyurl.com/romneycarevsobamacare. When Mitt says it was a “state solution for a state problem,” he’s not just blowing smoke.

    My 2¢.

  2. Butch Bowman says:

    Great post, Rebecca. I think you’re spot on in regards to how Mitt’s candidacy is affecting Mormonism and potentially will affect it as tome goes on. Very funny, too. Paragraphs 9 & 10, in particular.

    Jeff, your statement that the Quorum of 12 Apostles reaches across divisions of opinion to bring people together has left me scratching my head. Have you ever heard of a thing called Prop 8?

  3. Last Lemming says:

    maybe getting all our issues out there in the open where we can’t hide from them or pretend they don’t exist anymore will lead to some positive changes in the church and in Mormon culture.

    Don’t laugh. It already has. The Ensign is actually publishing articles that are not exactly uplifting; e.g., the following: http://lds.org/ensign/2007/09/the-mountain-meadows-massacre?lang=eng&query=Mountain+Meadows

    Romney can remove a lot of the sting from Democratic attacks by pointing out that whatever the issue is did not disqualify Harry Reid from serving as Senate Majority Leader, so why should it disqualify him from serving as President?

  4. exactly.

  5. Last Lemming says:

    Following up on your first points about Mitt’s “Mormon problem,” I found a couple of possible examples in yesterday’s Washington Post article about how Mitt tried to appease liberals during his campaigns in Massachusetts. One segment describes what was perceived as a flip flop on gay marriage. It starts with a meeting between Romney and the Log Cabin (i.e., gay) Republicans:

    “I will support and endorse efforts to provide those domestic partnership benefits to gay and lesbian couples,” Romney said.

    One participant in the Log Cabin session said Romney simply seemed opposed to the word “marriage” being used for same-sex couples.

    “I certainly inferred from that that he didn’t have a problem with me as long as I called it something other than the M-word,” said Boston businessman Richard Babson.

    So at least some participants understood that he was making a distinction between domestic partnerships and marriage. But others apparently did not.

    Another participant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Romney “left the impression of being friendly to the concept of some sort of same-sex union and not being vehemently opposed to gay marriage.”

    Several attendees said they were shocked two years later, when Romney issued a stern rebuke of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

    I suppose to them, the distance between domestic partnerships and marriage was so small as to seem insignificant, so they were shocked when Mitt behaved as if there was a big difference. (I recognize that a lot of Mormons feel the same way; hence their opposition to domestic partnership benefits.) Perhaps Mitt should have been more aware of secular attitudes that equate marriage with a package of government benefits, or perhaps the Log Cabin Republicans should have been more aware of Mormon doctrines concerning marriage. But that misunderstanding has led to perceptions of flip-flopping where I see consistency.

    Another example (sorry this is getting long)–this one on global warming. The article concludes by noting the following:

    Still, he appeared consistent on the global warming question as recently as June, when he officially launched his 2012 campaign. He said then that “the world’s getting warmer,” adding: “I believe that humans contribute to that.”

    But last week, he appeared to back away from that stance, saying, “We don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.”

    To most of the English-speaking world, “I believe” is an affirmative statement that signals one’s motivations. But to Mormons, to whom knowing is everything, it means “I don’t know,” and is viewed as a signal of doubt. Hence, two quotes which are perfectly consistent in a Mormon context are viewed as a flip-flop in the political realm.

  6. R. Murdock says:

    You obviously don’t have a very high opinion of Mormon, or rather, Utah culture. I for one like Mitt Romney a lot. I first heard him speak at an event in 2001 organizing SLC olympic volunteers. I had no idea who he was but one of my first impressions of him was that he was very charismatic. He brought a lot of energy and excitement to he stage. He is extremely organized and he turned the Olympics around, which I was very happy about because before he came on the scene, the Salt Lake City Olympics was a total disgrace. I think Mitt Romney is just what this country needs, and his Mormonism and the experience he’s had in mormon leadership positions, only makes him all the more qualified.

  7. Mitt Romney reminds me a lot of John Kerry. The get all the same complaints (He’s Boring, He’s not Charismatic, He’s rich, he’s a flip-flopper, blah blah blah) So no I don’t think he can win.

    The Mormon issue is a real issue for Mitt though, just judging by the fact of what his contender card has looked like. (Bachman went up on the Christian card, down on the crazy card. Perry went up on the Christian card, down on the idiot card. Cain went up on the Not a Mormon Card, down on the sexual harassment card. lather. rinse. repeat.)

    The sad thing is that I like moderate Mitt(and miss him). I like smart Mitt. I like business person Mitt.(seriously, I find it very annoying he is lambasted because he uses powerpoint. I think that is soooo stupid.) I like that his plan has 59 points, because, you know, we have a major complicated problem it’s going to take a complicated solution. I like that he has level headed vulcan like responses to things like terrorist attacks.

    But I also think Congress isn’t going to start magically working together even if Santa Claus were president, so I don’t think it really matters who is president. But I like Mitt, because when I look in the meeting, I see a boring, not charismatic, business person who has flip-flopped a lot in his life.

  8. D. Fletcher says:

    “He just doesn’t float my boat. (Or should I say he doesn’t punch my ballot? Or pull my lever? Or hang my chad?…”

    LOL Love these allusions!

  9. re: my number 6. edit: in the meeting = in the mirror

  10. I think you greatly understate Mitt’s Mormon problem. If he was a Protestant of just about any kind, everything else being the exact same, the other candidates would be positioning to be his VP running mate. The race would be over – and would have been long ago. He isn’t a lock yet for one reason: the religious right wants and will latch onto ANY Protestant candidate who seems like even a decent, medoicre alternative to a Mormon. Bachmann? GREAT!! – until she revealed how loony she is. Perry? GREAT!! – until he proved how idiotic he is. Cain? GREAT!! – until he seems to be proving that he was a power-addicted sexual predator. Romney is the perfect Protestant candidate (the only serious candidate last time who had been married to only one woman, even) – except that he isn’t Protestant. Therefore, every new challenger immediately becomes the front-runner, until s/he proves to be incompetent and unelectable.

    Fwiw, Mitt was my Stake President for part of the time I lived in MA. He’s brilliant; he’s caring; he’s a bit intimidating, even though he tries not to be; he’s supremely confident, but he’s not arrogant; he’s a really good man; he comes across as a bit aloof but sincere; he’s somewhat formal and slightly stiff in official settings – but has a greate sense of humor. Yeah, he’s stereotypically Mormon, and, yeah, that hurts him to a degree.

    However, all of those things about a Protestant candidate would be easy to spin as positives – and he would have no serious challengers this time around if he was Protestant. To me, that is the real measure of his “Mormon problem”.

    As for how it would affect the LDS Church if he was elected: How has Pres. Obama’s service affected Black Americans? Not much, I think – perhaps solidifying pre-existing biases and opinions more than changing any on the extremes.

  11. Chris Gordon says:

    I think the active church membership as a whole has shown over the last decade and a half that we’re terribly unprepared for a greater spotlight on us. We all loved when President Hinckley showed himself to be media-friendly and comfortable in interviews, but in my admittedly anecdotal observation, there has been minimal improvement in the average member’s willingness and ability to have an intelligent, non-threatening, yet testimony-driven (even when not explicitly expressed), conversation with an average person unfamiliar with our faith.

    Ready or not, positive for the individual or not, I hope that it does happen. Most of us could use an awkward exchange or two. Most of us could use the opportunity to learn a comfortable way to explain our magic underwear. Most of us would benefit from the opportunity to grasp with some of the skeletons in our closet. I apologize for the sermon-in-miniature, but our progress as people, as disciples, etc. is stymied when we stay within our comfort zone. Few people have that gene where they get a thrill from leaving it, but it’s an important exercise for all of us. “The work” (what does that mean, anyway?) won’t roll forth the way it needs to unless we’re willing to take those issues on.

  12. KerbearRN says:

    Ray– I think you hit it point-blank. Thank you and, er (cringe), ditto!

  13. Ron Paul.

    WATCH THE COMMENTS ASPLODE!

    But seriously, I’d hope that a Romney presidency would at least ameliorate some of the suspicion towards and silliest beliefs about Mormons that are out there, although I wouldn’t hold my breath. Inside the church I doubt even more that it would change anything substantive.

  14. KerbearRN says:

    Last lemming– you too.
    I lik Mitt for those reasons. I like that he is more center of the aisle, and that he generally seems to speak from principle and passion, and seems to do a lot less of the ” canned pandering” that way too many of this giant field do (and I do include our president in that). I see him as VERY charismatic and love his intelligence. He’s not perfect, no, but I am left feeling he can do the job. And I would feel this way even if he WEREN’T Mormon.

  15. The popularity of the sentiment in the OP opening paragraph (“I want a principled and charismatic leader”) pretty well sums up the reason we have such awful leaders….

    because in practice “principled” means “unwilling to compromise or modify positions to reflect the desires/needs of the population one currently represents or seeks seeks to represent” and “charismatic” means “not too smart and nerdy”.

    So we end up with stubborn jerks, who don’t know what they’re talking about, and who turn every reasonably manageable problem into a horrendously crisis.

    The more unprincipled, uncharismatic Mormons we can get in DC (go Romney! go Reid! go Huntsman!) the better off our country will be. And if Mormons come to be stereotyped as uncharismatic and unprincipled people, this will be the most wonderful thing that could happen to us.

  16. Matt W., everyone should be lambasted for using power point.

  17. MikeInWeHo says:

    RE: 9
    You nailed it, Ray. If Romney were exactly the same except belonged to a different church, the nomination would be over. Just because the anti-Mormon animus isn’t discussed in polite Republican company these days doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just witness Perry’s oh-so-lame non-repudiation of Pastor Jeffress’ slander.

    Andrew Sullivan has done some interesting writing about how the Republican party is gradually transforming into a religious party. Mormons aren’t really invited any more than Muslims are. Sure, go ahead and vote with them but don’t think for a second you’re truly welcome. This is the crux of the problem for Romney.

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/09/goodbye-to-all-that-the-lofgren-thesis.html

  18. StillConfused says:

    If Mitt is president: Will official state funerals have funeral potatoes? Will there be green jello with carrots at the state dinners? What brand of non-alcoholic wine will be served?

  19. Rebecca J., you are a wise woman.

  20. The black Obama vs white Mormon Romney match-up might push the Prophet to repudiate the old “mythologies” about race in the church, as Jeffrey Holland refers to them, more directly. That would be worth any other fallout. If Thomas Monson were to say that Brigham Young was flat out wrong on race, both the racism accusation and the “you would blindly follow the Vatican” arguments would be seriously weakened.

  21. And of course, there’s the fact that he suffers from chronic church-face. He seems always to be playing a role, being whoever people expect him to be, never revealing who he really is. But I dunno, maybe that is who he really is. Which maybe is fine or maybe is kind of creepy. Kind of like Mormons.

    Oops, it looks like I kind of pre-emptively responded to this post earlier today on a Facebook discussion:

    “People just don’t like Romney because he’s “too polished”. It’s a stupid criticism (do we really want our President not to be “polished”? — look how far the aw-shucks folksy buddy-buddy personality got us with GWB). There’s not anything more to current Romney-dislike than that. People in Iowa, aside from the reliable anti-Mormon lectures from their pastors, simply can’t picture themselves kicking back for a beer with him in their living room watching college football. And they’re right — he wouldn’t, not least because he doesn’t drink beer. Anyway, this “too polished” criticism is highly informed by and, for a certain percentage of people (I highly suspect) it is a surrogate for, the Mormon issue. But just take a minute to consider how stupid it is for so many pollsters/pundits/voters to criticize and not vote for someone whose background, experiences and native intelligence and competence make him a natural for the Oval Office for the reason that he is “too polished”, “too good-looking”, whose hair is “too nicely combed”, whose family is “too wholesome”, whose career has been “too successful”, etc. It’s just dumb.”

    Seriously, Romney has far more directly relevant experience (stemming from business and executive experience in the public sector) than any candidates for the Oval Office have had in a really long time, from either party. But he faces a really difficult prospect of even surviving the primaries, let alone the general election. I think you majorly understate the Mormon problem. The “no core” or “he’s boring” stuff is I think a surrogate for “I won’t vote for him because he’s Mormon” for a lot of people who are too respectable to say the latter.

  22. re # 16, bingo, Mike.

  23. Really? My major complaint about Romney’s failure to stand for anything (at least for longer than one 24-hour news cycle) is simply a surrogate for “I won’t vote for him because he and I belong to the same church”?

    Romney’s biggest failure is that he’s forever falling all over himself in an attempt to ingratiate himself with one bloc of voters or another, and he’s willing to say ridiculous things in that attempt: double Guantanamo, increase the size of the military, kick out all the “illegals” or at least put them at the back of the line, whatever that means. And that leaves me wondering just what Mitt stands for. Doesn’t he have the backbone to say something–anything–that some part of the Republican electorate might disagree with?

  24. I appreciate that Mitt is a moderate Republican and that makes him attractive to a large segment of the population. He hasn’t gotten this far on his good looks. I wouldn’t call him a RINO (mainly because I don’t like that term), and I don’t really think of him as a “flip-flopper,” either. I don’t have a problem with people changing their positions because they change their minds or situations change, blah blah. My problem is the same as other conservatives’ problem, which is that I can’t tell where he’s rooted. It’s disconcerting. As I said in the OP, I think he’s fine. If he were the Republican nominee, I wouldn’t start crying and get depressed and fear for our country. Is he the best possible person for the job? Well, he might be the best possible person available, and that’s all that counts.

    But he does have a failure to connect with a lot of voters–including people like me, who really WANT to like him. (Seriously, you have no idea how much I want it.) Yes, there is a significant number of people who would rather have a regular old Christian than a Mormon, which is…whatever it is…but there is a more significant number of people who are just looking for someone with that je ne sais quois, and Mitt doesn’t have it. It’s unfortunate that boring people have such a rough go of it in today’s political climate, and that our political discourse has been reduced to 30-second sound bites that can’t accommodate a 59-point economic plan, but this is the world we live in. (For the record, I should hope that anyone’s economic plan would have 59 points (at least), but if you can’t explain it in fewer than 59 points, it isn’t your plan that necessarily has a problem, but you have a problem.)

  25. The “no core” or “he’s boring” stuff is I think a surrogate for “I won’t vote for him because he’s Mormon” for a lot of people who are too respectable to say the latter.

    Possibly. I like to think I’m a respectable person. But I also like to think I’m not anti-Mormon. I might be kidding myself.

    because in practice “principled” means “unwilling to compromise or modify positions to reflect the desires/needs of the population one currently represents or seeks seeks to represent”

    That is certainly one way to define “principled.” It’s not a perfect word. It was the only word I could come up with at the time. I worried over it, over several drafts of that sentence, and never came up with anything better. That is a failure on my part. I apologize. I was hoping I could make up for it with charisma.

    How has Pres. Obama’s service affected Black Americans? Not much, I think

    No, but then again, black Americans are a lot more mainstream than Mormon Americans are.

    You obviously don’t have a very high opinion of Mormon, or rather, Utah culture.

    I’m not intimate with Utah culture. Beyond the few months I spent in Dugway as an infant while my father was in the army, I’ve never lived in Utah and don’t consider myself qualified to have an opinion on Utah culture. I do feel that I know Mormon culture pretty darn well, and actually, when I’m not being a smartass, I’m very fond of Mormon culture (despite the fact that it sometimes drives me crazy–it’s like family to me). That’s why I harbor a lingering fondness for Mitt Romney, despite the fact that he’s kind of boring and despite the fact that he’s not my first choice for president–because I’m sure that someone so Mormon has got to have some endearing qualities, too. I want him to succeed. I just don’t think it’s other people’s bigotry that will stop him.

  26. I don’t mind Mitt, but I’m a HUGE Rebecca J fan.

  27. Rebecca J- What are you looking for in terms of roots?

    Oh, and John F. #21 BCotW

  28. Just because the anti-Mormon animus isn’t discussed in polite Republican company these days doesn’t mean it’s not there.

    Right. You can tell it really is there by interpreting the data correctly. The evidence just doesn’t point in any other direction.

  29. Kristine- Loved the link. this one was my favorite:

    “Mitt is so Mormon that his cabinet would consist entirely of unqualified volunteers”

  30. Mark Brown says:

    This post shows why the worth of Rebecca J. is great in the sight of me.

    p.s. So typically Mormon. Don’t have two speakers when you can have four, don’t have one heaven when you can have three, etc., etc. Rebecca, I can’t BELIEVE you passed up the easy polygamy joke. Or was it covered in the etc., etc.?

  31. Mark, sometimes a thing is just too easy.

  32. I think you’re dead on wrt the race thing, RJ. At some critical point during the general, the observation will be emphatically made that our nation’s first black president is being challenged by a white candidate who dedicated two years of his adult life to converting french people to a segregated church.

  33. “On the other hand, maybe getting all our issues out there in the open where we can’t hide from them or pretend they don’t exist anymore will lead to some positive changes in the church and in Mormon culture.”

    Not sure why you followed this with a laugh, Rebecca. I think this is exactly right, but I admit what I “think” is perhaps a product of what I “hope”. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the idea of major scrutiny being focused on Mormonism’s historical “race problem”, as you call it. It will be horribly uncomfortable for many of us, but not for me. I like talking about this subject with non-Mormons anyway. I’m frankly embarrassed by our racial past, and I relish the idea of so much focus being put on it that we end up feeling forced to respond more comprehensively and thoughtfully about it than we traditionally have. Bring it on, I say.

    And while I’m fantasizing about this, please permit me to further fantasize about the race/priesthood ban issue serving as a springboard for talking about the problems of LDS prophetic quasi-infallibility notions more generally. Sure, it would be nice if we could handle all this internally, but I just don’t believe we can. Public spotlights from outside the faith may well force us to grapple with issues we’d otherwise sweep under the rug, and I can hardly wait!

  34. Mitt Romney has the same basic values as does Pres Obama, namely, honesty. That is why most of his oponents dislike him. Mr Bush employed over 20 people who were convicted of crimes. None of the other RNC candidates are qualified to be president. I think that Mr Romney should wait until the next election, 4 years from now, and then we will have the opportunity of having another good president.

  35. Aaron, I laugh because Rebecca hopes, God laughs.

    I actually don’t mind talking about our embarrassing racial past, either. I agree that we can’t handle these things internally. I’m not particularly look forward to listening to Mormons defend the past, though, which is often what ends up happening. I look forward to the church having to issue an official response, and I pray that it’s a good one.

  36. I don’t really look forward to all of the surrogate attacks that will come from the “Left” during the general election campaign. Obama isn’t the sort, I don’t believe, to make an issue of Mormons and race himself, but there will be plenty of folks who won’t hesitate for one second. It would be awesome if that led to more Church pronouncements/clarity on race issues etc. But I don’t think the Church will bow to such public pressures during a campaign, if not for the simple fact that our PR folk won’t want to give the impression of supporting Mitt too much, if at all. Also, I don’t think it’s entirely adequate to compare Mormon/Romney to Race/Obama in terms of public perception.

    As an aside, I largely agree that certain right-wing folks don’t welcome Mormons to the table, and it is pointed out that conservative Mormons should realize their own party thinks they suck so they ought to wise up. But it should be pointed out that there ain’t much love lost on the other side of the political divide for us Mormons.

  37. observer fka eric s says:

    The 59 point plan is Mitt sharpening his saw.

  38. BHodges,

    Look at what Biden said today regarding a Mormon running for president. Then compare it to what Perry, Cain, Bachmann etc. have said. I’m sure the left will attack us, but at least the candidates on the left have the courage and integrity to stand up for the right of a Mormon to be in the White House.

    I do agree that the church won’t make an official statement regarding racial issues until after the election. It’s too bad they didn’t make one well before…

  39. #38

    Yes BHodges. Count me in the camp that says it will do the church good to have some spotlight focused on it. It will make us look hard at whether we are living up the the ideals we espouse and I can only hope it might push us to deal with our past and maybe pull us back from the brink of suffocation through correlation.

    However, I find it a bit ironic and sad as a left leaning Mormon that all the incentives are going to make the campaign really, really, really, really bitter and negative. Forget about Obama being black and Mitt a Mormon. When an incumbent president goes up for re-election with a huge economic head wind the only way to go for both sides is negative, negative, negative. Like you say I don’t think that either Obama or Mitt are any good at being attack dog, negative politicians. In fact they are both woefully bad at it. One reason I like both of them to some degree. Watching them try to punch each other out will be awkward at best. But all the surrogates, Super PACS etc. etc. are going to be going negative and hard. Mormonism is just going to get caught up in it by historical accident. As a left leaning Mormon it means not only will I have to watch Mormon Mitt supporters go all negative and political, play the religion persecution cared etc., I will also have to cringe as the left leaning people I tend to identify with otherwise will be attacking my religion and people. In the end we just need to remember the vast majority of the attacks will come from people who could honestly give a flying *%$^#* about Mormonism. They really don’t care…at ALL! It is will just be a convenient tool for them. The incentives are just too great for either side to lay-off even if the candidates themselves would prefer to let the matter drop. So lets try not and take everything too personal and recognize what most the attacks will be, cynical attempts for the purpose of power.

  40. “Mitt is so Mormon that his cabinet would consist entirely of unqualified volunteers”

    Maybe he could fill the Marine Band with musicians who played all out of tune and really slowly everytime he had to slouch to the podium.

  41. Good one, Bill.

  42. StillConfused says:

    #22. Love it. Thanks for that.

  43. Look at what Biden said today regarding a Mormon running for president. Then compare it to what Perry, Cain, Bachmann etc. have said.

    For the lazy, I have prepared a cheat sheet.

    Joe Biden: “I find it preposterous that in 2011 we’re debating whether or not a man is qualified or worthy of your vote based on whether or not his religion … is a disqualifying provision. It is not. It is embarrassing and we should be ashamed, anyone who thinks that way,”

    Herman Cain: “He’s a Mormon, that much I know. I am not going to do an analysis of Mormonism versus Christianity for the sake of answering that. I’m not getting into that. … If that’s what it looks like, that I’m dodging it, it’s because it is not going to help us boost this economy. You know that’s my number one priority.”

    Rick Perry: “I don’t think the Mormon Church is a cult. People who endorse me or people who work for me, I respect their endorsement and their work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I endorse all of their statements.”

    Michele Bachmann: “This is so inconsequential as far as this campaign is concerned. To make this a big issue is ridiculous right now, because every day I’m on the street talking to people. This is not what people are talking about. … We have religious tolerance in this country and we understand that people have different views on their faith and I have a very sincerely held believe on faith and I think we just leave it at that.”

  44. Thanks, madhousewife.

    I should also point out that Biden said of the whole controversy about whether a Mormon should be in the White House, “I think it is outrageous. I think it is outrageous.”. And Perry refused to say whether Mormons were Christians.

  45. Put RJ on the ticket and I’ll vote whatever party’s she in. She is exactly what this country needs! As far as far as Mitt goes I genuinely feel that . . . .(snore), (snore), (snore) . . . . . . . . . What? What? Where was I?

  46. What I find most telling about this thread is that no one has been able to offer a good Mitt Romney joke.

  47. I guess that just means that all Mormons are boring.

  48. How many Mitts does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

  49. The answer is it’s a trick question. Mitts don’t screw in lightbulbs; they screw in leveraged takeovers.

    Mostly workers…

  50. I would love questions to answer questions about the garment of the holy priesthood and I’d happily add that both men and women in our church are clothed in it.

  51. Raymond Takashi Swenson says:

    I agree with Ray that the main reason there is not more easy acceptance of Romney is his being Mormon. As with Pastor Jeffress, Mitt is a second choice if they can’t find a viable regular Christian to rally behind. I think that is a factor for lots of people. The only reason his GOOD qualities are viewed as imauthentic and not trustworthy is that they have a negative gut reaction to Mormons, not feeling comfortable enough to trust them with power. At the same time, the mwmbership of Carter and Clinton in Evangelical churches did nothing to guarantee either competence or moral probity.
    James Madison argued that the sheer size and diversity of the USA under the Constitution would guarantee that every faction was a minority and needed to coopetate with other intetest groups in order to reach Congressional majorities. Evangelicals seem to have forgotten that they are a minority in the nation as a whole and need to collaborate with other groups with conservative moral values in order to see their agenda become law.
    If Romney can gwt past the xenophobic Evangwlicals and get nominated, the people in thw general public willing to vote for a Mormon are not much different from those willing to elect a consrrvative Evangelical. It won’t be a major potential factor in the general election.

    Obama cannot very well say that Mormons should be osyracized politically since Harry Reid is one of his most crucial suppirtersin Congress. Anything that Obama surtogatea say against Mormons can be answered with a picture of Obama embracing Reid. And Obama picked Huntsman to represent him in China for gosh sake. Then there is his appointment of Larry Echhawk to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an Indian Mormon! If someone on the Demo side attacks Mormons, Obama needs to denounce them, or explain his chouce to work with Mormons in his administration.
    Frankly I am pretty sure that if Romney were in a room with a hundred random Americans and they had to cooperate to achiwve aomwthing, Romnwy wouls be a natural candidate as leader. The news media just repeat over and over we should not like a smart and successful man who is definitely NOT running so he can make millions from his presidential memoirs. When Romney is allowed to talk to people they understand he is genuine.
    It is almost worth electing Romney just to see what effect it has on conversion to the Church. There are surely people who stay away from the missionaries becauae of falae info. Thete are pwople with no interest in religion and those actively hostile who will carry over that hostility despute Romney. Sounds like it may in fact open doors among people who had falae impressiona of Mormons before but are willing to reassess in light of seeing a Mormon every day on TV. If Romney has a reasonably successful term in office, he will continue to be a high profile person in public life. In particular, he could help the Church to get a better official reception in other countries, and suppirt religious freedom generally.

  52. But Mormons aren’t boring! We’re hilarious! Even Mitt Romney’s boringness is sometimes hilarious.

    Brad, that was a valiant effort. I appreciate it. :)

  53. RTS, I assume you commented using a phone with small keys. :)

    Rebecca, the answer to Brad’s question is that there would be no screwing taking place in the light bulb no matter how many Mitts were in it – unless, of course, one of his secret wives is named Mitt, also.

  54. Okay, now I admit that I just don’t get it.

  55. WraithOfBlake says:

    What, no Romney-as-Mormon jokes? I can rectify that. If I was a writer at Saturday Night Live, my skit would go like this: Mitt Romney comes home from a hard day campaigning. He strips off his short-hair cut wig to reveal a Kody Brown stingy blond hair. Ann enters the room and says, “Wow, I can finally get into something more comfortable.” She’s in a bright pastel prairie dress, her tresses in an upsweep, braided in back. Mitt announces his intention to give Jon Huntsman a ring.

    Scene switches to Huntsman residence. Jon’s cell phone is ringing, but he is busy talking to his three daughters, who are hamming it up with their father in a manner like they are wholesome Osmond family daughters on stage. [Note to self: Fill in the details of that later, lol....]

    Jon and Mitt decide to get on a three-way conference call, first with Joe Lieberman and then Henry Kissinger and Eric Cantor. When the scene switches to Lieberman’s house, just having come home from a long day of Senating, Lieberman is just now pulling off his short-hair wig, letting his sidelocks fall out. He dons a dark hat. Henry Kissinger happens to have been over for a visit and comes into the room. Kissinger is wearing an oversized, cylindrical fur hat with especially lengthy fur on its top. They all call up Eric Cantor. Cantor acts like some sort of typical Jewish stand-up guy from the last 20th century [have to write that bit later, too....]

    … Scene switches to the other Republican candidates, Bachmann, Cain, Perry, and Santorum. They are all in a snake handling ceremony…..

  56. Seems to me that a lot of people were not very happy initially with Ronald Reagan, either. And he turned out more moderate or pragmatic than most of today’s conservatives would think.
    Am I excited that Mitt Romney is running? Yes. And not necessarily because I agree with all he stands for politically, which I don’t. I do think he is a good LDS member in good standing. So far, he hasn’t seemed wacko like some of the candidates. Nor has he had any past issues come out of the closet. Boring is good in this sense. He isn’t a Nixon stirring up Watergate, nor a Bill Clinton stirring up Whitewater.
    Inspiring? Perhaps not at this time. Inspiring men come from overcoming difficult life events. Reagan would be a nobody, had he not overcome the Soviet threat (Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall). FDR would not have won 4 elections had he not shown concern during the Great Depression and then lead the way in WWII.
    And here we find that most people like Pres Obama, and find him inspiring at times, but it ends there. They do not believe he has the capability nor capacity to lead us into a recovery. Perhaps we need a boring technocrat that can do the pragmatic business type things to pull us out of the Great Recession. If Mitt could do that, he could end up being one of the good presidents, and not left near the bottom of the heap with the like-able, but useless Jimmy Carter.

  57. Rebecca’s analysis of Romney’s conservatism and of the similarities between ObamaCare and the Massachusetts’ Health Care Bill are as shallow as the media and detractor talking points. For starters, recall that ObamaCare was widely opposed, causing even Massachusetts voters to VOTE FOR A REPUBLICAN, Scott Brown to replace Ted Kennedy because Brown specifically ran as “the 41st vote against ObamaCare.” The Democrats had to use extraordinary measures to pass the bill.

    In contrast, the Massachusetts bill was a bi-partisan effort the included support from the Heritage Foundation and the conservative Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. The bill was supported by a majority of the citizens and STILL is supported. Romney did not get what all he wanted in the bill and many of his vetoes in the bill were overridden. This is the Massachusetts Legislatures’ bill. Since Romney has been out of office, problems have arisen from the bill that Romney has not been able to address.

  58. Steve Evans says:

    Surely not all Texans are so rude.

  59. But it is true that the MA healthcare solution is a red herring when evaluating the Affordable Care Act. This is not least because when Governor Romney worked with both parties in MA to create the MA legislation, the individual mandate was considered by leading conservative thinkers to be a bedrock conservative principle, i.e. conservatives viewed it as consistent with conservatism in general to force people to take responsibility for themselves, which included the concept of an individual mandate in a state solution to health care because without it, individuals were burdening the pocketbooks of taxpayers as emergency room care became the primary resort for uninsured people. What could be more conservative than forcing them to buy their own insurance and take responsibility for themselves thereby reducing the strain on the public (i.e. the middle class and rich tax payers)?

    It seems that it wasn’t until the concept of the individual mandate was incorporated into the Affordable Care Act by a Democratic Congress/Senate that Tea Party types flip-flopped on whether the individual mandate concept was conservative at all. Now suddenly it is Leninist/Stalinist/Maoist (and for Mormon Tea Partiers, unbelievably, Gadianton/Nehorist). Suddenly the individual mandate is not only unconsitutional — for which there are good arguments from the perspective of constitutional law/federalism — but also, incredibly, against natural law as well.

  60. (To clarify, that’s the individual mandate on a federal level being considered unconstitutional for which there are decent constitutional/federalist arguments.)

  61. Rebecca’s analysis of Romney’s conservatism and of the similarities between ObamaCare and the Massachusetts’ Health Care Bill are as shallow as the media and detractor talking points.

    Yes. Shallow. That is the operative word here. I was beginning to think no one was getting it!

  62. Damn liberal media again.

  63. Late to the discussion but here’s a Romney joke attempt.

    Who would Mitt have as a running mate if he won the nomination?

    Sarah Palin AND Michelle Bachmann AND Ann Coulter AND….

    You didn’t say they had to be good jokes!

  64. Romney / Huntsman 2012 says:

    Can you imagine if Romney and Huntsman were mission companions? they would baptize an entire city

  65. kc, FTW.

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