BCC Zeitcast 75: Mixing Religion & Politics

With only one year left before the big 2012 Presidential Election, Newsweek and Daily Beast reporter McKay Coppins checks in with Scott B. on the goings-on for Mormon candidates Mitt Romney and John Huntsman, Jr. Later, Scott and Joanna Brooks discuss Harold Bloom’s recent travesty article in the New York Times, and Joanna’s response at Religion Dispatches.

And if that lineup isn’t sufficient, our very own Kristine Haglund stops by to help Scott understand big words.

Episode Content Guide (below the fold)
0:00 – 7:00 – Intro & Background on McKay Coppins
7:00 – 15:00 – Scooping Huntsman’s foray into the 2012 Presidential race
15:00 – 23:40 – Public & LDS reaction to McKay’s contribution to the Newsweek “Mormon Moment” coverstory
23:40 – 29:00 – McKay Coppins on treatment & coverage of Mormons in the media thus far
29:00 – 38:55 – Media coverage during a general election involving a Mormon Presidential candidate
38:55 – 43:55 – Dealing with potential “ugly” areas for Mormons in a general election such as race & polygamy
43:55 – 53:00 – Polls that say “Anyone but Mitt!”–anti-Mormon? or just anti-Mitt?
53:00 – 55:25 – The Huntsman campaign and how it may look different next time
55:25 – 57:12 – Final thoughts from McKay Coppins
57:15 – 1:00:26 – Kristine simplifies the complex, part 1
1:00:30 – 1:04:45 – Intro & Background on Joanna Brooks
1:04:45 – 1:11:10 – Harold Bloom’s NYT article and Joanna’s rebuttal article
1:11:11 – 1:15:27 – The importance of “stability” relative to imagination in the LDS Church
1:15:27 – 1:19:25 – Preventing future Harold Bloom-esque articles in major media publication
1:19:37 – 1:21:29 – Kristine simplifies the complex, part 2

Links for your convenience:
1. McKay Coppins on Twitter
2. McKay Coppins at The Daily Beast
3. Russell Fox’s BCC post discussing the Romney cover on Newsweek
4. Harold Bloom’s Gloom & Doom Article
5. Joanna Brooks’ smackdown on Harold Bloom

Subscribe to the BCC Zeitcast in iTunes! Rate us! Comment on us!
(Alternate RSS feed). Contact us at BCCZeitcast at ByCommonConsent dot com.


  1. Cool. I especially appreciate Kristine’s restatement of Bloom’s points. If only he could have been so well organized and comprehensible.

  2. “And if that lineup isn’t sufficient, our very own Kristine Haglund stops by to help Scott understand big words.”

    Thank you, Kristine. I had lost hope that someone would do so.

  3. BTW, I’m not sure quite why the episode isn’t showing up in iTunes just yet. It’ll show up eventually…

  4. Good job, Kristine. But where does junipero serra fit in with any of that?

  5. Are we all avoiding commenting on the bulk of the zeitcast out of dread for the upcoming steady diet of politics?

  6. Right, Ardis. While I also loved Kristine’s contribution, there is a lot of material here worthy of discussion.

    Perhaps it’s just too soon. :(

  7. Also, regarding problems with iTunes, I’m finding that people who _subscribe_ to the podcast are able to get the episodes immediately, whereas if you just go in and try to download individual episodes whenever I post one here then there is typically a delay. So, if you’re in iTunes and not finding the latest episode, then try “Subscribing” to the podcast instead of just downloading episode-by-episode.

  8. Chris Gordon says:

    Do you guys have rights to the BSG music? ;) Love it, by the way.

  9. Chris Gordon,
    One of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes cartoons included Hobbes asking Calvin if he had asked his parents for permission to engage in some activity he was already in the middle of. Calvin replied, “Questions you know the answer to don’t need to be asked.”

  10. Ardis, “Yes.”

  11. Okay, Scott, I’ll try: I appreciated the distinctions made between voters who don’t like Romney because of his Mormonism, and voters who don’t like Romney because of other reasons, and not being too quick to confuse the two. I hope that the because-of-other-reasons people aren’t quick to jump on the because-of-his-Mormonism bandwagon just because it’s handy. Also appreciated the caution to distinguish between anti-Mormonism and a hesitation about Mormonism because of unfamiliarity.

  12. Ardis–there’s a mandatory stroke-Kristine’s-ego-because-we-all-know-she-feels-like-an-idiot-around-real-scholars/journalists period. Fortunately for you, the general commenting period begins after the first 10 comments ;)

  13. Chris Gordon says:

    I’m a little bummed that the conversation about the potential for an even more grueling period of exposure in the hypothetical general election between Romney and Obama. I guess we can save it for when or if it comes up, but I’m curious as to whether we’re more or less prepared from verbal attacks from the left than we are from the Christian right.

  14. Chris Gordon says:

    @Scott, Calvin was walking back and forth across the panes with hand tools in that one, correct?

  15. Great podcast, guys. I’m personally in the “It’s because he’s Mormon” camp, but I think it has much more to do with “Mormons are weird” than anti-Mormonism per se. That said, the courting of the Religious Right (the bulk of which is Southern and Evangelical) contributes to the unease because there is a sense (I think an accurate one) that such voters won’t vote for Mitt. They say they will, but I think that come election day quite a view will just stay home. Further, I think that flip-floppy-ness of Mitt would be downplayed or ignored (the way it is with every single other politician (except Ron Paul or, possibly Santorum, I guess) if it weren’t for the Mormon thing. The Mormon thing makes Mitt weird and impossible to understand, while everyone can get Herman Cain, Michelle Bachman, or Rick Perry being equally inconsistent because they can be identified with. I don’t think it will stop Mitt from getting the nomination, because the rest of the field is uniformly terrible (which also leads me to believe that Republicans rather think Obama has this thing tied up (which is weird because incumbents don’t usually do well in recessions)). When Jon Stewart referred to Mitt Romney as the luckiest [some expletive or other] in history the other night, he was right. That is what it will take to get a Mormon nominee (or President): the rest of the field has to be completely unelectable.

    I must say, I think Obama isn’t particularly worried.

  16. “quite a few”

  17. So, a bit off topic. Is the whole thing rigged? Is O going to win no matter who runs? Is that why he thinks he has a chance even though he has [put in your favorite thing he’s done to hurt this country].

  18. Toni,
    I don’t think its rigged. I think that blame for the whole financial mess has yet to choose a political victim. The strong partisans know its the other guys, but the swing voters are still doggedly determined to blame everyone, Republican and Democrat. In that situation, I think the Republicans have to have a really strong candidate. That is contra most political thought, as I understand it, because they argue a weak economy hurts incumbents. But the origins of the current weak economy predate Obama’s election and so it is hard to tell how much blame either party is really going to get.

  19. John C,

    I think you really, really overestimate the electorate. It will take impressive narrative, a super disciplined democratic party, and savvy media play by the democrats to make the current unemployment and economy not stick to Obama. Even if Obama can come up with a really good narrative and resonate rhetorical language for it many years observation have led me to conclude the democrats just can not display the single minded discipline of the Republican machine (which will at the end of the day get behind Mitt) nor are they even close to as good at manipulating the media message. It will probably end up as “damn them all to hell” attitude by the independents as you say and that is never good for the incumbent. Hence the importance for the Obama campaign to portray Mitt as synonymous with the financial overlord class that they won’t bring themselves to break for the Mittster. It may be that the Boston Globe picture of him and his friends hamming it up with money sticking out their pockets could in essence cost him the election if anything does. It is going to be a sad, horrible, negative bloodbath of an election. Mormonism is just going to be unfortunate grist in the mill, though I think we will be surprised at how many of our politically conservative evangelical “friends” will “rally to our defense” and find a lot in common with Mormonism when the primary dust settles and Mitt is the option. Then it will be “government caused this mess” versus “greedy financial overlords caused this mess”. If the independents break against government Mitt wins if they break against the 1% Obama wins but only by a nose.

    Obama’s best chance in my opinion is to punt Biden down the road and go all in and get Elizabeth Warren as his VP.

  20. What can be done to prevent future Harold Bloom-esque articles in major media publication? Where lies fly, the truth has to crawl. I took my first baby steps a month ago:

    “Maureen Dowd has outdone herself trafficking in gossip and slander in this opinion(ated) piece…”

    It’s not that I hate lying, actually. It’s just that when lazy people lie badly, it brings us more talented liars into disrepute.

  21. Very nice, Dan. I think the “lazy” element is the most frustrating (at least for a person like myself). I don’t mind critical pieces _per se_, as I think they can often be quite insightful and ultimately helpful, even if a bit painful in the short run. When the criticism is lazy, however, it is very frustrating; 5 minutes of additional effort could often improve things dramatically. (of course, this applies equally well to other areas of commentary than Mormonism…)

  22. Thanks for that intro music, it brought back some great memories.

  23. Wow. A really really well done podcast. I . . . don’t know what to say . . . huh. . .

  24. B.Russ,
    You and everyone else, apparently!

  25. I am halfway through and am loving every minute of it. I can only say, more politics, please. This kind of discussion bridges an important gap in the subject of “the Mormon moment.” It’s done by insiders who “get it,” but with a keen understanding and appreciation for how others view us. Great stuff.

    This must be a whole heckuva a lot of work for you, Scott. Maybe Steve should give you a raise.

  26. Thanks Hunter. I really appreciate it.

    The work is totally worth it when a dozen people listen to it. Er, wait…I think I need to rethink my life.

  27. Kevin Barney says:

    Work has been crazy lately, but I finally had a chance to listen to the ‘cast. Excellent work, Scott. And yes, Kristine steals the show yet again…

  28. Great work. Kristine stole the show, again. I really don’t think the church today looks like Joseph’s Nauvoo much at all. Perhaps that’s both bad and good.

  29. I loved this podcast! I just finished listening to it and I am considering going through it again. So much to think about. Well done.

  30. Thanks Kevin, mmiles, & Other Bridget. I appreciate it.

%d bloggers like this: