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The Ugliness to Come

I am not happy at the prospect that Mitt Romney will be the Republican Party nominee in 2012. I regard with horror his embrace of Romneycare, his willingness to tout that tyrannical measure as “a model for the other states” and “a model for the nation,” his misrepresentation of what it means for the people of Massachusetts, and his statement in June of this year – well after the anthropogenic global warming campaign had been exposed as a scam – that

I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know that there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.

And I don’t buy the argument, made by a Romney supporter on this site, that statements like this one constitute “tepid lip service to warmism” on the part of a man who is opposed to government action in this sphere – for this amounts to saying, “Trust him. He’s lying.” No politician can say what he has said without, at the same time, recommending government action. The latter is implicit in the former. I would like to see the Republican Party nominate a candidate opposed in principle to the individual mandate, willing to denounce junk science, hostile to social engineering, and eager to roll back in every way feasible the administrative entitlements state — and I find it hard to believe that Mitt Romney is such a man.

It is one thing, however, to criticize Governor Romney on the basis of his record in and out of office and on the basis of the political stands he has taken. It is another thing to inject religion into the debate. I do not know a great deal about Mormon doctrine, and I am not much interested in exploring the details. I do know a fair number of Mormons, however. I have spoken at Brigham Young University on a number of occasions in the past, and I am scheduled to do so again on Thursday, 3 November (I will also be giving a paper at Yale University on Monday, 31 October). I am sure that there are scoundrels who are Mormons. Every other faith with which I am familiar has its fair share. But the Mormons I have met are an admirable lot. The men are manly; the women are feminine; and they are all thoughtful. I do not fully know how the Mormon Church does this. But my experience is that it forms men and women of good character – and that is the only regard in which I think it legitimate to weigh Mitt Romney’s religion when judging him as a potential Republican Presidential nominee. I wish that the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, my own denomination, was as effective as the Mormon Church appears to be in the moral formation of its members, and I suspect that we have a thing or two to learn from the Mormons.

I was not surprised that Robert Jeffress, a Baptist pastor from Texas who is a Rick Perry supporter, injected the religious question into the debate. There is bad blood between Mormons and evangelical Christians; and, in the 2008 race, Mike Huckabee, to his shame, exploited those resentments. Nor was I surprised that the comedian Bill Maher raised the matter in his routine at George Washington University on Saturday night. He is notorious as an anti-religious bigot.

But I would not have thought that Maureen Dowd – who was reared a Catholic and is old enough to remember the anti-Catholic bigotry displayed by some evangelical Protestant ministers in 1960, when John F. Kennedy was a Presidential candidate – should have contributed to this. But contribute she did in yesterday’s New York Times.

I will not dignify her piece by quoting from it. To be frank, her willingness to stir this witch’s brew makes me sick. You can and should read it with care yourself – for it is a portent of the ugliness that is to come. If Mitt Romney is our nominee – as, I suspect, he will be – Barack Obama and those within the establishment media who made up what one member of Journolist so accurately described in 2008 as “the unofficial campaign” are going to do everything within their power to fan the embers of religious bigotry in this country.

I would like to think that this would have no great effect. To this end, we and others like us should do everything that we can to shame into silence not only those in our own midst, such as Robert Jeffress, but also the Bill Mahers and the Maureen Dowds of the world. If Governor Romney is to be found wanting by Republicans or by the American electorate, it should be on the basis of his record as a businessman, his political record as Governor of Massachusetts, and his public statements – and not on the basis of the faith of his fathers.

Herman Cain and Rick Perry, the time is now. You and your supporters could do yourselves and your country no end of good by denouncing Bill Maher and Maureen Dowd! The only legitimate questions are: what sort of man is Mitt Romney, what is his record of accomplishment, and what does he really think about the issues before the country. The theology of the Mormon Church is politically irrelevant.