Boggs-Doniphan Award 2008: WINNER!

Update 3.1.09

The people have spoken. The winner of the Boggs-Doniphan Award 2008 (aka Gentile of the Year) for the non-Mormon with the biggest impact on Mormonism, positive on negative, is Michael Dale Huckabee. His aw-shucks anti-Mormonism torpedoed Mitt’s chances for the Republican nomination, thus ensuring that Americans were once again reminded that Mormons are too weird for the highest office in the land.

[poll id=”129″]

Big Brown is running Mormon of the Year. An excellent idea and kudos to Kent for thinking of it.

What about an award for Gentile (sic) of the Year — the non-Mormon with the greatest impact (good or bad) on Mormonism in 2008? Previous contenders would include people like Larry King, although 2008 saw nothing comparable to the King-Hinckley interviews of yore. For this year, Hugh Hewitt springs to mind as someone who publicly defends Mormonism at every opportunity. What about George Niederauer, whose phone call to President Monson brought Mormons on board the good ship Prop 8? Then there’s Mike Huckabee whose anti-Romney campaign killed the best chance we’ve had of a Mormon president. An interesting choice would be the officials of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, whose raid on the YFZ ranch in Texas kept Mormon polygamy in the spotlight.

As with Mormon of the Year I’m fairly depressed that non-American names do not readily spring to mind, but I’ll nominate one anyway: Massimo Introvigne, director of the Center for Studies on New Religions, whose opposition to “anti-cult terrorism” continues to offer meaningful support to minority religions in Europe. Plus, he’s the Italian president of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula.

Your nominations please. “Mormon” is defined as “LDS.”


  1. Probably the Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco whose call prompted Mormons to take over the Prop 8 campaign. This involvement will far overshadow anything Romney achieved in the history books. In many senses, 2008 will be a key year in Mormon history because of it, and George Niederauer’s name will be there as well.

    It would be worth pouring over George Niederauer’s statements about Mormonism during his time as the Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake City considering the place his name will have alongside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mormon history and in High School level U.S. history books of the future.

  2. Behold, a prophecy!

  3. My vote is for Mike Huckabee, as he personified the anti-Mormon sentiment in the Republican U.S. presidential primaries (“Don’t they believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers?”).

  4. I can’t tell if john f. is kidding or not. I laughed either way.

  5. My vote would be for Michael Scott of The Office. In an attempt to help employee Meredith recognize that she is an alcoholic, Michael read from a “list” of tell-tale signs. Number 3: “Have you, under the influence of alcohol, ever denied any of the teachings of the Mormon Church?” While everyone is staring at him, Michael sheepishly says, “ah, I got the list off the internet”.

  6. jjohnson, you’re probably right — the U.S. history books will probably ignore the role played by the Catholic Church and just focus on what the Mormons did in the Prop 8 campaign.

  7. The funny part was that it would be mentioned in any history books (other than a few LDS charter schools I suppose).

  8. Strange, jjohnson, you seem to be taking the approach that Prop. 8 was not a nationally television drag-out fight that was framed in terms of a civil rights showdown. Interesting view.

  9. nationally televised

  10. Boggs award nominee = Rev. Bill Keller, who told his radio audience that “a vote for Mitt is a vote for Satan.”

    Doniphan award nominee = The fine people who sell this product on ebay.

  11. Doniphan Award to Noah Feldman for his insightful article in the NY Times Magazine about the “soft bigotry” directed at the church and Romney during the presidential primaries.

    As to the Boggs award, too many to choose from, but Mike Huckabee certainly seems worthy.

  12. I go with H Hewitt or Michael Medved. There are both vocal friends of the Church and commonly make spirited defenses of the LDS people.

  13. Boggs = the Huckster. For his Satan is Jesus’s comment during the primary.

  14. I concur with the Noah Feldman nomination.

  15. Huck wasn’t nearly as bad as Andrew Sullivan, with his references to garments, etc.

  16. Rameumptom says:

    I would recommend Hugh Laurie, who plays House on Fox television. In the current season, he’s hired some new rookies to train. One of them is a black Mormon physician (Dr Cole), whom he continually ridicules, but Cole fearlessly and competently stands up to him.
    It shows the struggle many Mormons have in society against the “Gentiles” of our day. And it shows it in a way that shows both sides are competent.

  17. I nominate the non-Mormons among the gazillion fourteen-year-old fans of Stephenie Meyer and David Archuleta that have been flocking to Times and Seasons in such great numbers that it appears to have exceeded its CPU quota. Servers can only handle so many exclamation points at a time.

  18. Ronan, I love this idea.

    And, as for “An excellent idea and kudos to Kent for thinking of it,” now I know what my wife felt when a Nobel prize winner said to her, “I love that idea, I wish I had thought of it.”

    I do have to concur with the Huckabee idea–the only way I would have been satisfied with his “apology” is if he had fired someone on his staff as a scapegoat. Short of that, I don’t believe he even now thinks he did anything wrong.

  19. Mark Brown (10):

    You do know that the bush they have pictured is known colloquially as “Mormon Tea” right?

    Of course, I suppose that this is a kind of unintentional impact.

  20. Rameumptom, that was last season of House. If I recall the black Mormon doctor was fired around this time last season because he told Cutty what House was doing in order to get a pair of her underpants to give to House. It’s too bad his character wasn’t kept since he was much more interesting than the dying bisexual “hottie.” I did really like how there was that Mormon character who totally didn’t fit into the stereotype of how people perceive Mormons.

  21. “…much more interesting than the dying bisexual ‘hottie.’”

    I’m sorry…you lost me there.

  22. Greg House (21):

    You should know more than anyone who the “dying bisexual ‘hottie.'” is — aka “13”

    If you haven’t been watching the show, she has Parkinsons.

  23. Kent (22)

    You misunderstand me. My point is: What on earth could possibly be more interesting than a dying bisexual hottie?

  24. Ah. Now I understand.

    I hope my wife sees this! [GRIN]

    But, let’s not digress into too much of a House discussion.

  25. Not Dr. House says:

    Kent (24.)

    I couldn’t resist a chance to act like my favorite fake person. I’ll behave now.

  26. Austin Powers- Int'l Man of Mystery says:

    Oh, behave!!!

  27. Is there a reason Mitt isn’t on the list of choices?

  28. Wait – stupid me. Sorry for not reading “non-Mormon” carefully!

  29. StillConfused says:

    I went with House. More people pay attention to that than any of the news stations. It was cute that he was Mormon and a black single father.

  30. But he drank ALCOHOL!!!

  31. I’m really surprised Huckabee hasn’t received more votes. I think he had the biggest impact by far. Two lines of thought:

    (1) Without Huckabee, Mitt would likely have succeeded in his strategy to win the GOP Presidential nomination. (The Iowa loss was the end for him; an Iowa win would likely have given him the running room he needed for big gains on Super Tuesday; seeing how the other candidates fizzled out, Mitt would have had the strongest path to victory). With Obama neck and neck with McCain (despite the ineptitude of the McCain campaign and the brilliance of the Obama campaign), the wall street crash turned the election into a rout for Obama. Mitt would have been positioned to capitalize on the economic trouble and would have had a very good shot at beeting Obama. Of course it’s not a sure thing, but Huckabee derailed a very strong shot at (or possible a “likely”) Mormon President. Can’t get bigger than that impact.

    (2) Bishop N extended the invitation, to be sure, but that’s about it. The Church leadership did the rest—and a lot it was, indeed. Obviously, Prop. 8 turned into a bigger story this year and it came at the end of the year. But Bishop N. just made a phone call that the Church leadership was eager to receive and which any of the other prominent religous leaders behind prop. 8 could have made. There’s even a chance the Church would have gotten involved to the same level anyway (it didn’t need an invitation from the Catholic church for previous campaigns against SSM).

    Huckabee – – thou art the man!

  32. Oh, you are always judging him–because he believes in SCIENCE.

  33. StillConfused says:

    Just imagine if there really was a Dr Gregory House and he was on this blog. Oh man, that would be wild! I hope he continues to make guest appearances now and again.

  34. Ronan gets a hat-tip from the Trib.

  35. I’m not a Huckabee fan, but I still don’t buy him as the shrewd, calculating Mormon-basher. I also don’t buy that he was being mean, whereas Sullivan was just being “stupid.” Perhaps they were both being mean. At least Huckabee had the decency to pretend he was just being stupid. I don’t believe for a minute that Sullivan didn’t realize how offensive his comments were. I don’t think he would have said them if he hadn’t known they’d be offensive.

    I think I voted for Hugh Hewitt. Not to discount Archbishop Niederauer, but his influence was limited. He made a phone call, and the church ran with it. I suspect that if Pres. Monson hadn’t gotten that particular phone call, he might have made one of his own eventually.

  36. Rebecca J: I don’t think we need to crucify Huckabee, but puh-lease, let’s call it what it was. Huckabee’s comments throughout his campaign but especially the NYT interview were way worse than Sullivan’s – precisely because of his pretense of ignorance. And Huckabee knew that what he said about Mormons would be a signal to his base that it is tolerable to base your decision for POTUS on a candidate’s religion. I believe that Huckabee’s underlying motivation for this approach was to garner votes for himself (of course!), but the result of it was to further cement antagonistic feelings from Evangelicals against Mormons. In other words, it became less a pro-Huckabee effect, and more an anti-Romney effect. Additionally, a corrolary effect of Huckabee’s campaigning was an awakening on the part of many Republican Mormons that many of their co-Republicans really do despise our Church.

    For all of the above, in this election, it’s Huckabee all the way.

  37. [I]t is tolerable to base your decision for POTUS on a candidate’s religion.

    For what it’s worth, while I can easily grasp why this sort of approach is possibly susceptible to abuses that may be problematic within a democratic society, I still have not been persuaded that anyone–in particular not any of those folks who got angry at Huckabee saying what he did–has yet supplied a successful argument as to why it is in principle wrong for an individual voter to decide who to vote for on the basis of a candidate’s religion, or for a candidate to appeal to individual voters on such a basis. Heaven knows Romney himself fully expected the great majority of American Mormons to vote for him for purely tribal reasons; that may have been a lazy or disrespectful or less-than-enlightened electoral strategy, but was there something fundamentally wrong with that? I don’t think so.

    But then, I’m an admitted Huckabee apologist, so keep on voting.

  38. Hunter, I’m afraid I just don’t see it that way. Huckabee is most guilty of a) being an evangelical and b) having charisma, two things Romney couldn’t compete with. Were evangelicals EVER going to vote for a Mormon when there was a perfectly good evangelical candidate to choose (“perfectly good” being a relative term, of course), regardless of what kind of rhetoric was being thrown around? The anti-Mormon stuff was there, but it was overblown, distorted by the press and by Mormon blogs (like this one, no offense to it). Anyway, I guess I’m just old-fashioned. I prefer insults to my faith to be at least thinly veiled.

  39. “I prefer insults to my faith to be at least thinly veiled.”

    Ha! I love it. Good one.

  40. RAF: The point of all my Huckabee tirade above is simply to say that I think he was the non-Mormon with the biggest influence, and hence should win this poll.

    As for your underlying question, I’ll read through your linked post and reply there later. I’m afraid it would be too much of a threadjack to this post. That, and it’s late Friday afternoon and I’m tired. Or lazy. Or maybe both.

  41. I am really surprised that the list of nominees of those who had the greatest negative impact on LDS does not include the California LGBT movement leaders and bloggers.

    They gave the LDS church more (negative) exposure than all 8 nominees in the list combined. They have produced the most watched YouTube videos of any LDS temple this year. (Featuring noisy demonstrations, police guard, etc.)

    Plus their actions also generated the most questions I got about having the faith about staying a Mormon this year.

  42. His aw-shucks anti-Mormonism torpedoed Mitt’s chances for the Republican nomination…

    I very seriously doubt this. NR’s and Hugh Hewitt’s endorsements and Romney’s own enormous fundraising advantages aside, Romney’s manifold weaknesses on the stump and as a general media candidate would have resulted in his candidacy collapsing in the face of serious competition from McCain by April 2008, regardless of Huckabee’s involvement.

  43. In Total Agreement with RAF.

  44. There are other issues that derailed Romney, but I’m not sure his campaign would have collapsed if it had been just McCain he was battling. Huckabee was out of serious contention before Romney was, and he knew it, but he stayed in, I believe, for two reasons: 1) to try for the VP nomination; 2) to draw the conservative, religious vote away from Romney.

    I think it’s hard to overlook the West Virginia caucus as the prime example of Huckabee’s obsession with making sure Romney didn’t win the nomination. If Romney had won WV, and if Huckabee had dropped out instead of Romney, I’m not sure how many of the conservative, evangelical right could have supported McCain over someone running as a conservative. At the very least, it would have given impetus to Thompson’s campaign.

    On a purely selfish level, I would have loved to see it, just to observe the blatant hypocrisy in action. (and I could have enjoyed it, since my candidates in both parties were out of the running by then)

  45. Mark Brown says:

    Russell and Rebecca,

    I agree with you as far as saying that Mitt had some very serious weaknesses as a candidate, and that I think the party ultimately nominated its strongest candidate in McCain.

    But I do not think it was inevitable, and in the absence of Huckabee, I think Mitt would have been the nominee, ultimately going down in spectacular defeat in the general election. Remember, in the Fall of 2007, McCain’s campaign was out of money, and he was having a very hard time raising any more. Huckabee jumped in with his Jesus and Satan schtick in December and won the Value Voter’s summit and the Iowa caucuses. In February, McCain won the NH primary. If Mitt had won in Iowa (and without Huck, he would have), I think he also would have won in NH, and the primary would have effectively been over.

  46. The biggest problem for Romney was that McCain won more “winner take all” states than he did (including California which was a sort of “winner take all” by county). Romney was right on McCain’s tail most of the way…

  47. That is, in those states where Romney lost.

  48. Hmmm… the bloggernacle has it’s very own EV aw-shucks anti-Mormon. Maybe they offer a class or something.

  49. If Huckabee hadn’t been in the race, everything would have been different, certainly. But he gets too much credit/blame for mobilizing the anti-Mormon vote. I find it hard to believe that any evangelical has a lower opinion of Mormons and Mormonism as a direct result of something Mike Huckabee said. The example that keeps getting brought up–“don’t Mormons believe Jesus and Satan are brothers?”–is not terribly compelling, for a couple reasons:

    1) Most evangelicals already believed much worse (and less true) things about Mormons before Huckabee ever said that.

    2) Many evangelical commentators said much worse (and less true) things about Mormonism during this campaign.

    3) This was an isolated comment cherry-picked from a very long article about Huckabee. It was not a regular feature of his campaign.

    4) Everyone seems to be forgetting that Huckabee stayed in the race for a really long time after Romney dropped out and he STILL had no prayer of winning. I think he did this because he really enjoyed running for president and maybe was hoping McCain would be pressured to pick him as a running mate.

    I guess that’s more than a couple reasons, but I strongly disagree with the characterization of Huckabee as the man who brought down Romney’s campaign with religious bigotry. If Romney had half of Huckabee’s campaign skills, none of this “anti-Mormon rhetoric” would have worked, period. Romney was way more qualified than Huckabee, but he wasn’t nearly as good a candidate. His religion was only a minor factor in his ultimate failure, and Huckabee’s “aw-shucks anti-Mormonism” was even less of a factor. Huckabee’s superior campaigning and ability to connect with voters brought down Romney’s campaign.

    It probably all boils down to the fact that I don’t care if evangelicals think Mormons are Christians are not.

  50. If Romney had half of Huckabee’s campaign skills, none of this “anti-Mormon rhetoric” would have worked, period.

    Agreed, absolutely. Hell, if he’d had a quarter of Huckabee’s skills as a politician, everything could have been different.

    Romney was way more qualified than Huckabee, but he wasn’t nearly as good a candidate.

    I’m undecided on the first part of this sentence. Huckabee was a smart, capable and risk-taking two-term governor in Arkansas, a state where the governor actually has significant power and responsibility, unlike the case in Massachusetts.

    His religion was only a minor factor in his ultimate failure, and Huckabee’s “aw-shucks anti-Mormonism” was even less of a factor. Huckabee’s superior campaigning and ability to connect with voters brought down Romney’s campaign.

    Yes and yes.

  51. Mark Brown says:


    I fear that we are talking past each other. We are agreed that Mitt’s skillz as a campaigner were inadequate, especially as compared to Huck. However, I think it is wishful thinking to assume that if he had been a better campaigner all the anti-LDS sentiment among socially conservative voters would have just gone away. In addition, it is somewhat disrespectful to them to suggest that the only reason they didn’t go for Mitt is because they were bamboozled by Huckabee’s superior campaign techniques. We ought to at least take their concerns seriously enough to acknowledge that there are some serious disagreements that an advance course in campaigning isn’t going to fix.

    Huckabee didn’t create the anti-LDS sentiment among conservative voters (and let’s be clear, there is a lot of it), but he did provide a means for them to express that sentiment. Without him, many of the value voters would have stayed home. His presence energized them and made them visible.

  52. Amen, Mark Brown. Thank you for setting it straight. Russell and Rebecca have short memories.

    And thanks, Ronan, for your succinct but on-point description of the winner.

  53. Mark,

    In addition, it is somewhat disrespectful to them to suggest that the only reason they didn’t go for Mitt is because they were bamboozled by Huckabee’s superior campaign techniques.

    If you’re referring to my comment that “everything could have been different” if Romney had been a better campaigner, then I didn’t express myself well. I don’t think Romney could have overcome whatever anti-Mormon feelings are out there amongst primary-election-voting Republicans by being as smooth on the campaign trail as Huckabee had been; I do think, however, that if Romney had been something other than a stiff technocrat who leaned heavily on Christian right rhetoric that plainly didn’t suit him or his record, then he could have created a different image of himself for public consumption, one that might have altered the dynamics of the race entirely.

    Huckabee didn’t create the anti-LDS sentiment among conservative voters (and let’s be clear, there is a lot of it), but he did provide a means for them to express that sentiment. Without him, many of the value voters would have stayed home. His presence energized them and made them visible.

    I don’t disagree with your basic claim here (though I do think that members of the church sometimes want to believe there is more evangelical hostility out there than there actually is), but it does seem to suggest that you don’t actually view Huckabee as an active agent in the manifestation of that “anti-LDS sentiment”; more like a catalyst, at best. In which case, shouldn’t the real winner of the Boggs-Doniphan award be these nameless, unidentified hundreds/thousands/millions of Republican-primary-election-participating conservative Christian voters, rather than harping on Huckabee and his supposed “aw-shucks anti-Mormonism” which somehow “torpedoed” Romney? (Which, following your own line of reasoning, seems somewhat disrespectful of those same voters as well.)

  54. Antonio Parr says:

    Reasons for Romney’s loss:

    Exhibit “A”:

    Who let the dogs out?!?

    Romney is intelligent and capable, but not as brilliant as we all think, otherwise he never would have (a) pandered so shamelessly to the religious right; and (b) engaged is such socially clueless moments as the youtube link cited above.

    I sure did like the Romney who was governor of Massachusettes . . .

  55. Mark Brown says:

    Antonio, yes, that video has got to be one of the most cringe-worthy things to come out of the election of ’08, far surpassing anything that was said by Palin.


    I think our positions are pretty close. Many Mormons were surprised at the amount and intensity of loosely define anti-Mormon sentiment which became evident and undeniable in the election. When over 30% of the electorate says it will never vot for a Mormon under any circumstances and our popularity numbers are in the same neighborhood with Muslims, we have to admit that a lot of our fellow citizens obviously don’t think we are as wonderful as we think we are. Huckabee not only personifies those voters, but he also gave them a reason to go to the polls. He gets a thumbs-down from me because I think he knew exactly what he was doing with his Jesus-Satan question. While he didn’t change anybody’s mind, he made cynical use of already existing anti-Mormon bias and exploited it to his advantage. That’s why he deserves some boos, hisses, and catcalls. (Although not as many as Mitt deserves for that video.)

  56. Well. What Russell said.

    I’ll add that Huckabee could not have “exploited” anti-Mormon bias without the cooperation of the media, ever working so hard to sharpen the division between religious conservatives and the rest of the Republican party.

    Also, I didn’t mean to imply that Huckabee simply “dazzled” people with his mad campaigning skillz. He ran a better campaign, period. He spent less money and got more votes. But the crucial thing was that he gave voters a sense of who he was (even if it was false–even if he was a manipulative jerk…which I still don’t buy, but for the sake of argument, I submit that it doesn’t matter). That Romney couldn’t manage that isn’t the fault of religious bigots. And yeah, evangelicals in general don’t trust Mormons as far as they can throw us. I’ll concede that. I just don’t think it’s useful to focus so much on other people’s bigotry. I think our righteous indignation comes at the expense of overlooking the positive strides we made this year. (Which is funny, because I’m not ordinarily an optimist. I must just be feeling contrary. Never mind me.)

  57. I can’t watch that video. I’m trying really hard to ease up on Mitt Romney.

  58. Antonio Parr says:

    Speaking of Huckabee . . .

    Who can explanin this bizarre phenomenon where practicing Mormons all seem to be zealous Republicans, a party dominated by right-wing Evangelicals who despise practicing Mormons?

    (Of course, these same right-wing Evangelicals will take said practicing Mormons’ money, and accept said practicing Mormons’ votes, but have no tolerance whatsoever for uppity practicing Mormons who have the audacity to present themselves as candidates for national office . . . )

  59. Kent G. Budge says:

    “Who can explanin this bizarre phenomenon where practicing Mormons all seem to be zealous Republicans, a party dominated by right-wing Evangelicals who despise practicing Mormons?”

    What, is that a trick question?

    The answer is obvious: The alternative is the Democratic Party.

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