Mitt Romney is back on the political map

In 2008, I strongly supported Romney.  I liked his cheerful attitude (somewhat Reaganesque, although he clearly lacks the Great Communicators verbal abilities); I loved the fact that, in both the public and private sector, he has an incredible track record of being effective; and I really appreciated his money savvy.  I agree with many that he made a huge mistake when he oversaw Massachusett’s socialized medicine plan, and I think he would do himself a favor right now, today, if he would admit that he learned from the experience and won’t make that mistake again.

Well, Romney’s back again.  No one doubts that he was one of the quiet forces behind Scott Brown’s overwhelmingly successful campaign, and he’s now trying to be a force behind his own political resurgence.  The time may well be right for him.  In a time of continuing economic disaster, his financial history is going to be very useful.

I also suspect that his Mormonism won’t be as much of a problem today as it was in 2008.  Between a socialist with Muslim leanings who clearly dislikes America and wants to debase it, and a solid capitalist Mormon who is tremendously patriotic, some people are just going to have to hold their noses for the good of the nation.  If Mitt is making a religious error, he’ll have to answer to God — although I firmly believe (because I have to) that God is forgiving of those who live righteous lives even if they get entangled in the wrong doctrine.

On this doctrinal point, I’m not alone in my thinking.  The great Christian scholar, C.S. Lewis, thought so too.  In his book The Last Battle, which envisions an apocalyptic battle between the Christian West (the Narnians, who worship the lion Aslan) and the Muslim East (the Calormenes, who worship Tash), Lewis envisions how Aslan would receive a righteous Calormene on the day of judgment.  Here speaks the Calormene, who has been taught that Aslan and Tash are one, questioning Aslan on the subject:

I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?  The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false.  Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou has done to him.  For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be dome to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.  Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.  And if any man do a curelty in my name, then, thought he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.

At this moment in political time (and political time changes with unusual rapidity), Romney is head and shoulders above many, if not most, who are currently on the scene.  He is certainly leagues away from the current White House occupant when it comes to experience, judgment, instinct, skills, and love for his country.  I wish him well in his political pursuits.

Unofficial poll about Romney’s electibility

I know that, in the run-up to the to the 2008 presidential election, many Christians said that they could not vote for Romney because he is a Mormon.  I’m wondering if that’s changed.  Romney may be a Mormon but Obama is, well, Obama.  For true Christians, can there be a “lesser of two evils” calculus when it comes to the presidency?

If he is the most likely candidate to beat Obama in 2012, Christians will vote for Mitt Romney.

  • Yes
  • No

View Results
Create a Blog Poll

Comments are welcome, but no Mormon bashing, please.

(My views on Romney are here.)

I knew I liked Romney *UPDATED*

Romney is as gracious in defeat as I’m sure he would have been in victory. Here’s Wizbang:

Mark Halperin at The Page says Romney will drop out of the race. His announcement could come at his CPAC speech at 12:30pm. This means that McCain is definitely the Republican nominee because Huckabee doesn’t have any chance sidetracking him. McCain speaks at 3:00pm today.

Update: Halperin is on Fox now and says three GOP sources have confirmed that Romney is dropping out. It’s disappointing to say the least, but I understand why he’s doing this. He may not make the announcement at this speech today, but at the very least he could make some strong signals of his plans.

Bill Kristol predicted that he would announce that he’s pulling out of the race at today’s speech.

Update II: Karl Rove is on the phone with Fox News and says that he’s hearing as well that those inside the Romney camp understand that he’s going to drop out.

Update III: Fox has confirmed that Romney will suspend his campaign. Romney is taking the high road in order to protect the country from a Clinton or Obama administration which would really hurt the US. (Emphasis mine.)

Read the rest here.

Ann Coulter can become a shill for Hillary, but I’m hoping others recognize that, no matter that McCain is not a conservative purist, he is still better than Hillary would be or, God forbid, Obama. And as I’ve said before, for all that Obama presents himself as a “unifier,” his hard left politics preclude him from ever unifying anything. McCain, however, who is a true centrist, may be just the person to heal some of the wounds this country has been feeling following two extremely divisive presidencies. I say that being fully cognizant of his many failings, both personal and political, but I’m a pragmatist, and refuse to lose sight of the fact that McCain is not just a little better, but is far better than the alternative.

And if you have doubts, think “Supreme Court.” Even if he doesn’t appoint strict constructionist purists, as Bush was able to do with Alito and Roberts, even if he appoints softer constructionists, they will still be better than the hard left activists that Hillary or Obama would try appoint. Assuming a Democratic presidency, if Republicans are anything less than 51% of the Senate, especially since many are RINOs, even if they prevent a serious activist, they’ll still end up allowing a soft activist onto the Supreme Court. With McCain, the worst we’d get would be a soft strict constructionist.

UPDATE: Don Surber writes eloquently about Republicans’ need to get over it:

Much has been written about McCain-Feingold and illegal immigration.

At some point conservatives must stop the teeth gnashing — and that time may not arrive until August — and ask themselves what besides his Vietnam service has John McCain done for the country?

They will find that 82% of the time he has been there for the conservative movement.

He has been there 100% for the troops in Iraq. His support of the troops begins with a letter that says, “Dear son …”

UPDATE II: For reasons entirely unclear to me, I popped up in high standing on Patrick Ruffini’s Romney Wire with this post. If you think I deserve that position, please feel free to click here, an act that will perpetuate my standing.

Eating our own *UPDATED*

I caught a minute of Mike Gallagher today, and he was talking about the fact that Republicans are more critical of Republican candidates than Democrats are critical of Democratic candidates. It occurred to me that, at least in this election cycle, that may be because there are real, substantive differences between the Republican candidates. We’ve got Ron Paul, who is a pure libertarian and possible white supremacist; John McCain, who is strong on defense, but weak on free speech, and spineless to environmental extremists; Mitt Romney, who has positioned himself as a traditional conservative who is for strong borders, a strong national defense, pro-life, etc., with a sound grasp of economic issues; Mike Huckabee, who is loudly Christian, a social conservative, and a big government liberal; and Rudy Giuliani, who is a social liberal and a hawk. With the exception of Ron Paul, all have had leadership experience, but of a very different type: McCain was in the military; Romney ran businesses and the Massachusetts government; Huckabee governed Arkansas; and Giuliani ran huge criminal prosecutions and New York. So, just as there are differences in their approach to conservative politics (and all are more conservative than not), there are also significant differences in their practical experience. Republicans have a real choice, and real choice begets real debate.

It’s different with the Dems. For one thing, none of them have any managerial experience. They’ve all been Senators, which means working with a group of 99 other people. None have them has taken the lead in the Senate, so they can’t even point to leadership experience in those august chambers. John Edwards has a bit more private sector experience than the other two but I can tell you that even the most successful lawyer cannot be compared to a manager. Managing a case is not the same as manager a system — whether that system is a business or a government. Obama was an academic, which is the antithesis of management, and Hillary was, well, Hillary managed Bill, I guess. They’re all good at manipulating people, Edwards because he’s a trial lawyer, and Obama and Hillary because they’re Alinsky disciples, but that’s not leadership or management. So, they’re pretty much the same looked at from that point of view.

In terms of politics, they’re peas in a pod: they want out of Iraq, they deny that Islamists pose a threat to America, they like open borders, and they want more government involvement in everything (parenting, health care, education, managing people’s money, controlling businesses, etc), which means more taxes on people they decide are “rich.”

The fact that Edwards, Obama and Hillary are virtually indistinguishable on paper may explain why identity politics has become so important. It’s not just Hillary’s dirty politics and it’s not just that the “identity politics” chickens are coming home to roost. The preeminence of racial or sexual identity in this race has become the only way you can tell one Democratic candidate from another. And poor Edwards, distinguished by being white and male, is precluded by political correctness from trumpeting that fact. In other words, identity, by being the only difference between the candidates, is also the only area of debate left for the Democrats. And it’s no surprise that it is in this area — the substance-free area that will have absolutely nothing to do with the way in which a Democrat, if victorious, will govern — that the Democratic debate has become most heated.

So, I guess I’m happy that Republicans are focused on substance, and using their free speech rights to hammer out important issues that will have a lasting effect on America (if a Republican wins). And I’m desperately sad that the cookie-cutter Democrats, in order to have a debate and distinguish themselves in the eyes of the voters, have almost completely backed off from any substantive issues (as to which they have no meaningful differences), and devolved into childish racial and gender name calling. If Americans elect one of them, the Country will deserve what it gets.

UPDATE: Regarding the enthusiasm gap the media professes to find between Dems and Republicans, if one does indeed exist, I suspect that has more to do with the enthusiasm Democratic voters have for a shot at the White House than with anything else. That is, I think that, even more than feeling excitement about their own candidates, Democrats are simply excited about a possible chance to defeat Republicans.

UPDATE II: For another reason why there might be an “enthusiasm gap,” keep in mind that, while Bush’s presidency is almost over, Bush Derangement Syndrome continues in full force. Indeed, with the inevitable end of his presidency drawing near, Bush haters seem to be drawing on after burners for some new energy.

Hitchens is almost right

Christopher Hitchens is totally right when he notes that Mike Huckabee’s defense of the Confederate flag harmonizes perfectly with racist views.  That is, a person could argue that the defense of the flag is all about States’ rights, but the fact is that the Confederate flag is so inextricably intertwined with the KKK and Jim Crow that such an argument is stupid or disingenuous at best, and fraudulent at worst.  Hitchens is also right that the press gave Huckabee a pass for this nasty remark.  Assuming that the pass was deliberate, and that the Huckabee story didn’t simply get swamped by the infinitely more fascinating fight between Clinton and Obama, one has to ask why the press was so passive.  Hitchens thinks it’s because it was afraid of offending racist Southern rednecks:

But when real political racism rears its head, our easily upset media falls oddly silent. Can you guess why? Of course you can. Gov. Huckabee is the self-anointed candidate of the simple and traditional Christian folk who hate smart-ass, educated, big-city types, and if you dare to attack him for his vulgarity and stupidity and bigotry, he will accuse you of prejudice in return. What he hopes is that his neo-Confederate sickness will become subsumed into easy chatter about his recipes for fried squirrel and his other folksy populist themes. (By the way, you owe it to yourselves to watch the exciting revelations about his squirrel-grilling past; and do examine his family Christmas card while you’re at it.) But this drivel, it turns out, is all a slick cover for racist incitement, and it ought not to be given a free pass.

I actually don’t think that’s the case.  Just as I’d prefer Hillary to win the Democratic primaries because I think she’ll be easier to beat than Obama, the press would prefer that Huckabee win the Republican primaries, because they know he’ll go down in flames in the Presidential election.  That’s why they’ve handled him with something approaching TLC — he’s their favored candidate because he’ll lose.

Speaking of different press approaches to the different parties and their candidates, Patrick, my favorite Paragraph Farmer, has an elegantly written article up at the American Spectator examining the way in which reporters delve deep into Romney’s and Huckabee’s theological beliefs (something that may be fair game because their beliefs stand out), while treating with kid gloves rather unusual theological revelations from candidates on the left.  Even if one pulls back from specific theological peculiarities, there is no doubt that the press has carefully ignored Hillary’s politically activist Methodism, which has more to do with socialism than God, and Obama’s truly unfortunate, and very strong, ties to a black supremacist church.  Likewise, a speech from a pulpit is non-news if you’re on the Left, and a threat to the separation of church and state if you’re on the right.  Double standards, anybody?

Why isn’t he the right man?

Question for you: With economic fears on the rise, wouldn’t it make sense for Romney to play up his money abilities? He turned the Olympics around, and he seems to have a knack for seeing economic systems and turning them to gold. People claim that his economic savvy was what won in Michigan, and I don’t see why it won’t win elsewhere, with everyone worrying about money.

UPDATETime Magazine has also figured out that the economy might be Romney’s ace in the hole.

Why isn’t he the right man?

Question for you: With economic fears on the rise, wouldn’t it make sense for Romney to play up his money abilities? He turned the Olympics around, and he seems to have a knack for seeing economic systems and turning them to gold. People claim that his economic savvy was what won in Michigan, and I don’t see why it won’t win elsewhere, with everyone worrying about money.

UPDATETime Magazine has also figured out that the economy might be Romney’s ace in the hole.

When she’s right, she’s right

The MSM is self-admittedly liberal leaning, usually far leaning. So Ann Coulter is right to say the following:

Dear Republicans: Please do one-tenth as much research before casting a vote in a presidential election as you do before buying a new car.

One clue that Romney is our strongest candidate is the fact that Democrats keep viciously attacking him while expressing their deep respect for Mike Huckabee and John McCain.

This point was already extensively covered in Chapter 1 of “How To Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)”: Never take advice from your political enemies.

Turn on any cable news show right now, and you will see Democratic pundits attacking Romney, calling him a “flip-flopper,” and heaping praise on McCain and Huckleberry — almost as if they were reading some sort of “talking points.”

Doesn’t that raise the tiniest suspicions in any of you? Are you too busy boning up on Consumer Reports’ reviews of microwave ovens to spend one day thinking about who should be the next leader of the free world? Are you familiar with our “no exchange/no return” policy on presidential candidates? Voting for McCain because he was a POW a quarter-century ago or Huckabee because he was a Baptist preacher is like buying a new car because you like the color.

The candidate Republicans should be clamoring for is the one liberals are feverishly denouncing. That is Mitt Romney by a landslide.

New York Times columnist Frank Rich says Romney “is trying to sell himself as a leader,” but he “is actually a follower and a panderer, as confirmed by his flip-flops on nearly every issue.”

But Rich is in a swoon over Huckabee. I haven’t seen Rich this excited since they announced “Hairspray” was coming to Broadway.

Rich has continued to hyperventilate over “populist” charmer Huckabee even after it came to light that Huckabee had called homosexuality an “abomination.” Normally, any aspersions on sodomy or any favorable mentions of Christianity would lead to at least a dozen hysterical columns by Frank Rich.

Rich treated Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” as if it were a Leni Riefenstahl Nazi propaganda film. (On a whim, I checked to see if Rich had actually compared Gibson to Riefenstahl in one of his many “Passion” reviews and yes, of course he had.)

Curiously, however, Huckabee’s Christianity doesn’t bother Rich. In column after column, Rich hails Huckabee as the only legitimate leader of the Republican Party. This is like a girl in high school who hates you telling you your hair looks great.

Liberals claim to be enraged at Romney for being a “flip-flopper.” I’ve looked and looked, and the only issue I can find that Romney has “flipped” on is abortion. When running for office in Massachusetts — or, for short, “the Soviet Union” — Romney said that Massachusetts was a pro-choice state and that he would not seek to change laws on abortion.  (Emphasis mine.)

Read the rest here.

When she’s right, she’s right

The MSM is self-admittedly liberal leaning, usually far leaning. So Ann Coulter is right to say the following:

Dear Republicans: Please do one-tenth as much research before casting a vote in a presidential election as you do before buying a new car.

One clue that Romney is our strongest candidate is the fact that Democrats keep viciously attacking him while expressing their deep respect for Mike Huckabee and John McCain.

This point was already extensively covered in Chapter 1 of “How To Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)”: Never take advice from your political enemies.

Turn on any cable news show right now, and you will see Democratic pundits attacking Romney, calling him a “flip-flopper,” and heaping praise on McCain and Huckleberry — almost as if they were reading some sort of “talking points.”

Doesn’t that raise the tiniest suspicions in any of you? Are you too busy boning up on Consumer Reports’ reviews of microwave ovens to spend one day thinking about who should be the next leader of the free world? Are you familiar with our “no exchange/no return” policy on presidential candidates? Voting for McCain because he was a POW a quarter-century ago or Huckabee because he was a Baptist preacher is like buying a new car because you like the color.

The candidate Republicans should be clamoring for is the one liberals are feverishly denouncing. That is Mitt Romney by a landslide.

New York Times columnist Frank Rich says Romney “is trying to sell himself as a leader,” but he “is actually a follower and a panderer, as confirmed by his flip-flops on nearly every issue.”

But Rich is in a swoon over Huckabee. I haven’t seen Rich this excited since they announced “Hairspray” was coming to Broadway.

Rich has continued to hyperventilate over “populist” charmer Huckabee even after it came to light that Huckabee had called homosexuality an “abomination.” Normally, any aspersions on sodomy or any favorable mentions of Christianity would lead to at least a dozen hysterical columns by Frank Rich.

Rich treated Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” as if it were a Leni Riefenstahl Nazi propaganda film. (On a whim, I checked to see if Rich had actually compared Gibson to Riefenstahl in one of his many “Passion” reviews and yes, of course he had.)

Curiously, however, Huckabee’s Christianity doesn’t bother Rich. In column after column, Rich hails Huckabee as the only legitimate leader of the Republican Party. This is like a girl in high school who hates you telling you your hair looks great.

Liberals claim to be enraged at Romney for being a “flip-flopper.” I’ve looked and looked, and the only issue I can find that Romney has “flipped” on is abortion. When running for office in Massachusetts — or, for short, “the Soviet Union” — Romney said that Massachusetts was a pro-choice state and that he would not seek to change laws on abortion.  (Emphasis mine.)

Read the rest here.

Yay, Mitt!

As you know, I like Mitt and think he would make a better president — and certainly a better president than either Huck or McCain. I was therefore very pleased with the outcome in Michigan. It doesn’t mean he wins, but it also means that it’s not over yet — as, sadly, I think it may be for Giuliani or Thompson, two other good candidates — and certainly better, I think, than either Huck or McCain.

BTW, Richard Baehr, who understands these things better than I do, thinks this outcome is good for Giuliani.

The ugly populist attacks on Mitt Romney

I’m not a fan of populism in politics, since I think it usually boils down to an ugly appeal to people’s baser instincts, with the sole benefit accruing to the demagogue making the statements.  Huck is emerging as precisely that kind of populist, as Jay Nordlinger demonstrates by discussing Huck’s new attacks on Mitt.  Now that he’s finished with his attacks on Mitt’s religion, he’s going after Mitt’s social status:

I don’t intend to comment much about presidential politics in today’s column, but let me say this: I find the ganging up on Romney a little unseemly. I mean, not the fact of it, because this is politics, and we’re all grownups (allegedly). I’m talking about the manner and tone. There seems to be some envy about — to go with some other ugly qualities.

I know that a lot of people — anti-Romneyites — are fired up by that line of Huckabee’s: “People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off.” Apparently, he was alluding to Romney. And I find Huckabee’s one of the most depressing lines I have heard in ages — depressing from every point of view.

First, grammatical: They say Bush can’t talk? I thought Huckabee was supposed to be silver-tongued.

Second, philosophical, or political, if you like: Huckabee expressed low populism, or “sheer demagoguery,” as Ronald Reagan used to say. Huckabee’s line could have come out of the mouth of John Edwards, or John Sweeney, or David Bonior. Is this what we want in the Republican party now? Why not have just one big Democratic party?

And third — oh, call it moral: It seems we’re now campaigning on the basis of what the other guy looks like. What do we say about how Huckabee looks? Frankly, I think I would have liked him better when he was fat — he might have been humbler.

If I were a Romney spokesman, I might have responded roughly as follows: “To me, Mitt looks like a guy who can create jobs, create businesses, and create wealth — who can make the economy go, so that people like Mike Huckabee can spend their lives preachin’, gettin’ votes, and taxing people.”

It seems that there is a fair amount of resentment of Romney — for his wealth, success, etc. For the whole package he represents. And is there a worse human trait than resentment or envy? I also might note that I hear a fair amount of denigration of Romney’s business background — I mean, from Republicans. Which is terribly odd and dispiriting.

Romney has his faults, heaven knows — for one thing, his shifts in position are disquieting, smacking of opportunism as they do. (Of course, he also might have just changed his mind about some things.) But Republicans should welcome Romney at the highest levels of our politics. Are we so petty and crabbed and hidebound that we can’t make room for someone like him?

Years ago, Thomas Sowell wrote a column that I have never forgotten. He said that liberals field their A team, while conservatives field their B team. What did he mean by that? He meant that the “best and the brightest” of the liberals slaver to enter politics, or journalism, in order to control other people’s lives. But our best and brightest — the Right’s elite — are in the economy, inventing things, establishing businesses, and making the country grow.

Well, here is Romney, a clear member of our A team, who segued from business into politics, and succeeded. He is a mixture of private-sector accomplishment and political accomplishment. So boo, hiss, right? Wouldn’t we rather have our old, familiar pols, who have been in politics for about 8,000 years? When did John McCain start running for president? 1928?

I was reading an AP story yesterday — here — and saw something quite surprising: “millionaire Mitt Romney.” Here is the full sentence: “Among those listening to the affable Arkansas governor were evangelical Christians, who on Thursday night helped propel Huckabee past millionaire Mitt Romney to win the race’s first test of strength, the Iowa caucuses.”

So that’s how he’s to be described now? “Millionaire Romney,” as though he were merely some rich boy, running on his trust fund — to hell with the Olympics, to hell with Bain Capital, to hell with the governorship of Massachusetts? Was the 2004 Democratic nominee ever described as “millionaire John Kerry”? How about the other candidates this time? How much does Fred Thompson have? Will we ever read “millionaire Fred Thompson”?

Things might get interesting if Huck actually challenged Mitt’s policies, but to do so might expose Huck to more substantive anslysis than he can afford.

More reasons to like Romney

I just read this over at American Thinker’s blog and I agree.

Are we willing to let little Iowa determine the entire Presidential election?

I don’t like Obama, whom I consider an empty shirt, utterly devoid of experience and elevated to his lofty position only because of his skin color, something that I consider that worst kind of racial identity politics. (I just checked and it turns out that, at this particular minute, Silky Pony, the radical rich plaintiffs’ attorney is in the lead in Iowa, a change from yesterday’s news, or even this morning’s. I find him just as distasteful as Obama, especially since I think he’s a huge hypocrite, living a life few of us can imagine, while demanding that we, in the working and middle classes, turn over our money to the government for him to manage. Pfeh!)

I’m no more thrilled about the Republicans’ potential Iowa frontrunner, Mike Huckabee. Indeed, the more I learn about him, the less I like him, despite his manifest charm. He’s a nanny stater; he’s too forgiving of sin, something that’s dangerous in a political leader, whether he’s being lenient to local killers or worldwide terrorists; he’s exceptionally ill-informed about the world about him, something scary in dangerous times; and he’s a religious bigot.

As to this last point, I have no problems with Huckabee being religious, a quality all of you know I admire. I do have big problems, however, with his exceptionally nasty remarks about Mormonism. I’m perfectly willing to concede that Mormonism has some wacky ideas but, viewed objectively, so do all religions. For example, to a non-believer, the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation does not make logical sense; the Jewish belief in some sort of ancient old covenant with God, a covenant that has caused Jews until untold suffering over the centuries, is hard to fathom; and the central Christian doctrine about Jesus’ resurrection reflects a leap of faith that the non-Christian just can’t make.

What should matter in America is not doctrine, but values. You practice your faith, and I’ll practice mine (or not). However, what I will scrutinize closely is, not your faith, but the fruits of your faith as expressed in the way you live your life and, if you’re a politician, in the direction you wish to take this nation. As to this, Mitt Romney has lived an exemplary life, one of hard and successful work, family values, and fiscal and social conservatism (especially, with regard to the latter, in the last few years). Nor has he ever given any indication during his very long public and private careers that he intends to use either his wealth or political power to impose his religious beliefs, doctrines or practices on anyone. In that, he differs substantially from, say, a devoutly religious Muslim, whose faith obligates him to try to impose Sharia law against one and all, including stoning, veils, amputations, etc. Whatever Mormon doctrines are, there’s no indication that those doctrines would affect Mitt’s governance. For Huckabee to run a campaign implying otherwise is just dirty campaigning.

However, much as I may not like these guys (Obama, Edwards and Huckabee), they are still the favored candidates going into the Iowa primaries. So be it. But am I the only one who is noticing that all the punditry seems to be saying that, if they take Iowa, they’re essentially the annointed candidates for their parties in the 2008 elections? With all due respect to the wonderful citizens of Iowa, I don’t think that the outcome of a single state’s primaries — especially a state that, in terms of population, comes in 30th, behind such states as Texas, New York, California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan — should be determinative of the entire election.

While Obama/Edwards, on the one hand, and Huckabee, on the other hand, will definitely get a boost if they take Iowa, the battle between the primary candidates will — or at least should — continue from one venue to another, and really won’t be resolved until February, when the big states have had their say. I mean, do you seriously expect all the other primary candidates just to drop out, to vanish, because these guys took Iowa? To ask the question is to expose the stupidity behind it.

I also think that, as least as to Huckabee, it’s just as likely that a Huckabee victory in Iowa will so frighten non-religious conservatives in New York, Florida, California, etc., that they’ll turn out in droves to vote for someone else during the primaries. (Of course, with Republican luck, they’ll vote for Ron Paul, won’t they?)

In any event, I refuse to fall into flat despair because of the Iowa predictions, nor will I respect American voters if they simply give up after Iowa and don’t turn out to support their candidate of choice. Iowa is a great place, I’m sure, but it shouldn’t be the alpha and omega of American presidential candidacies.

UPDATE: Noooo! Say it ain’t so, pollsters! Huck is tops nationwide, not just in Iowa? Well, so was Dean once upon a time. Americans can be fickle, and they like shiny new things.

UPDATE II:  Sorry for all the typos (including the one I corrected in the post caption).  I was pretty tired last night when I wrote this, and it shows.

Mitt the Competent — Mitt the Candidate

I’ve noted in the past that I really, really like competence and the ability to take responsibility, both in the people who surround me and, especially, in the people who are tasked with guiding me. I’ve also noted that Mitt’s Mormonism isn’t a problem for me, and that it shouldn’t be a problem for people who are more religious than I am (something Dennis Prager has tackled too).  I’ve been forgiving of his changed positions on abortion, because I understand those changes, having moved along that trajectory myself over the years.

Mona Charen now points to his spectacular achievements, achievements made all the more impressive by the fact that he makes it look easy:

But then Romney has been masterful in everything he has attempted. It is not insignificant that this cum laude JD/MBA graduate of Harvard guided Bain Capital to become a hugely successful private equity investment firm and rescued Bain & Company from financial collapse. Romney was brought in to save the 2002 Winter Olympics when the games were mired in scandal and $379 million in debt. Romney was able to turn the situation around completely so that the games actually turned a $100 million profit instead. (He also gave back his salary.) That’s not slick, that’s substance.

When Mitt Romney took office as governor of Massachusetts, the state had a $1.2 billion deficit. Four years later it was in surplus. He boasts that fourth and eighth graders in Massachusetts achieved the highest scores in the nation in reading and math, though they were doing so before he became governor as well. But his program of assessment, merit pay for good teachers, English immersion and a focus on math and science may have helped keep them at the top.

It is difficult to find any significant weakness in Romney. He is refreshingly articulate, exceedingly well prepared and self-disciplined, clearly an excellent manager with both private and government experience, happily married with a large, supportive family, and well within the mainstream of conservatism on every major issue. His nomination would not divide the base.

I also think that National Review is correct about the way in which his policies appeal to the broadest principles uniting conservatives (and you know that I care deeply about broad principles that ought to bind conservatives of all stripes):

Romney is an intelligent, articulate, and accomplished former businessman and governor. At a time when voters yearn for competence and have soured on Washington because too often the Bush administration has not demonstrated it, Romney offers proven executive skill. He has demonstrated it in everything he has done in his professional life, and his tightly organized, disciplined campaign is no exception. He himself has shown impressive focus and energy.

It is true that he has less foreign-policy experience than Thompson and (especially) McCain, but he has more executive experience than both. Since almost all of the candidates have the same foreign-policy principles, what matters most is which candidate has the skills to execute that vision.

Like any Republican, he would have an uphill climb next fall. But he would be able to offer a persuasive outsider’s critique of Washington. His conservative accomplishments as governor showed that he can work with, and resist, a Demo­crat­ic legislature. He knows that not every feature of the health-care plan he enacted in Massachusetts should be replicated nationally, but he can also speak with more authority than any of the other Republican candidates about this pressing issue. He would also have credibility on the economy, given his success as a businessman and a manager of the Olympics.

Some conservatives question his sincerity. It is true that he has reversed some of his positions. But we should be careful not to overstate how much he has changed. In 1994, when he tried to unseat Ted Kennedy, he ran against higher taxes and government-run health care, and for school choice, a balanced budget amendment, welfare reform, and “tougher measures to stop illegal immigration.” He was no Rockefeller Republican even then.

We believe that Romney is a natural ally of social conservatives. He speaks often about the toll of fatherlessness in this country. He may not have thought deeply about the political dimensions of social issues until, as governor, he was confronted with the cutting edge of social liberalism. No other Republican governor had to deal with both human cloning and court-imposed same-sex marriage. He was on the right side of both issues, and those battles seem to have made him see the stakes of a broad range of public-policy issues more clearly. He will work to put abortion on a path to extinction. Whatever the process by which he got to where he is on marriage, judges, and life, we’re glad he is now on our side — and we trust him to stay there.

As I noted above with reference to abortion, I’m untroubled by Romney’s changed positions over the years because two things have happened:  (1) the world has changed dramatically since 9/11 and (2) he’s grown older.  As to the first, it signals his intelligence that, in the face of drastic changes at home and abroad, he is capable of revisiting positions and recognizing that they are no longer viable, something the 60s liberals are utterly incapable of doing.  This is not flip-flopping, because these appear to me to be principled changes reflecting reality, rather than any desperate attempt to keep to the right side of the polls.  In this regard, no one should forget that, before the Nazis, Churchill was a liberal.  And as to the second, we all know that people often settle into more conservative positions as they age as they grew in wisdom, stability and experience.

I think Giuliani is great and would happily vote for him as against any Democratic candidate.  I’m more lukewarm about Thompson and McCain, but would still happily vote for them as against anyone the Democrats field.  I could not vote for either Huckabee or Paul.

With regard to Huckabee, as I’ve said before, I’m sure he’s a very, very nice, good man, but am troubled by his aggressive Christianity, which indicates that he wants to become the nation’s pastor, rather than a Christian man who is president; his compassion run amok, which sees him pardoning evil people left and right (which is fine for an ordinary Christian, but profoundly dangerous for a political leader); his apparent greediness, which recalls another Arkansas governor’s conduct; his profound ignorance of and lack of curiosity about foreign affairs; the religious bigotry he displays in his attacks toward Romney; and his desire to have government police every aspect of my private life, including my diet.  All of these things frighten me about him, and make him every bit as dangerous in my view as a big-government liberal.  It would be the 1990s all over again, except with more God references.

And as for RuPaul, er, Ron Paul, his fellow travelers tell me too much about the man.  He may be talking out loud as a libertarian, but there’s some subliminal code out there that is drawing to him every racist, neo-Nazi, American supremacist, antisemite in America. With that kind of baggage, who needs him?

And so I’m going to second National Review and endorse Romney.  Failing some scandal or meltdown, I agree with the National Review that he is the most broadly conservative candidate and the most competent candidate.  I’m also going to put my faith in the American conservative movement and assume that, in a race between Romney and any Democratic candidate, people who have doubts about Mormons will be able to put those doubts aside and vote for the candidate whose values and political outlook are most closely aligned with theirs.

Mitt the Competent — Mitt the Candidate

I’ve noted in the past that I really, really like competence and the ability to take responsibility, both in the people who surround me and, especially, in the people who are tasked with guiding me. I’ve also noted that Mitt’s Mormonism isn’t a problem for me, and that it shouldn’t be a problem for people who are more religious than I am (something Dennis Prager has tackled too).  I’ve been forgiving of his changed positions on abortion, because I understand those changes, having moved along that trajectory myself over the years.

Mona Charen now points to his spectacular achievements, achievements made all the more impressive by the fact that he makes it look easy:

But then Romney has been masterful in everything he has attempted. It is not insignificant that this cum laude JD/MBA graduate of Harvard guided Bain Capital to become a hugely successful private equity investment firm and rescued Bain & Company from financial collapse. Romney was brought in to save the 2002 Winter Olympics when the games were mired in scandal and $379 million in debt. Romney was able to turn the situation around completely so that the games actually turned a $100 million profit instead. (He also gave back his salary.) That’s not slick, that’s substance.

When Mitt Romney took office as governor of Massachusetts, the state had a $1.2 billion deficit. Four years later it was in surplus. He boasts that fourth and eighth graders in Massachusetts achieved the highest scores in the nation in reading and math, though they were doing so before he became governor as well. But his program of assessment, merit pay for good teachers, English immersion and a focus on math and science may have helped keep them at the top.

It is difficult to find any significant weakness in Romney. He is refreshingly articulate, exceedingly well prepared and self-disciplined, clearly an excellent manager with both private and government experience, happily married with a large, supportive family, and well within the mainstream of conservatism on every major issue. His nomination would not divide the base.

I also think that National Review is correct about the way in which his policies appeal to the broadest principles uniting conservatives (and you know that I care deeply about broad principles that ought to bind conservatives of all stripes):

Romney is an intelligent, articulate, and accomplished former businessman and governor. At a time when voters yearn for competence and have soured on Washington because too often the Bush administration has not demonstrated it, Romney offers proven executive skill. He has demonstrated it in everything he has done in his professional life, and his tightly organized, disciplined campaign is no exception. He himself has shown impressive focus and energy.

It is true that he has less foreign-policy experience than Thompson and (especially) McCain, but he has more executive experience than both. Since almost all of the candidates have the same foreign-policy principles, what matters most is which candidate has the skills to execute that vision.

Like any Republican, he would have an uphill climb next fall. But he would be able to offer a persuasive outsider’s critique of Washington. His conservative accomplishments as governor showed that he can work with, and resist, a Demo­crat­ic legislature. He knows that not every feature of the health-care plan he enacted in Massachusetts should be replicated nationally, but he can also speak with more authority than any of the other Republican candidates about this pressing issue. He would also have credibility on the economy, given his success as a businessman and a manager of the Olympics.

Some conservatives question his sincerity. It is true that he has reversed some of his positions. But we should be careful not to overstate how much he has changed. In 1994, when he tried to unseat Ted Kennedy, he ran against higher taxes and government-run health care, and for school choice, a balanced budget amendment, welfare reform, and “tougher measures to stop illegal immigration.” He was no Rockefeller Republican even then.

We believe that Romney is a natural ally of social conservatives. He speaks often about the toll of fatherlessness in this country. He may not have thought deeply about the political dimensions of social issues until, as governor, he was confronted with the cutting edge of social liberalism. No other Republican governor had to deal with both human cloning and court-imposed same-sex marriage. He was on the right side of both issues, and those battles seem to have made him see the stakes of a broad range of public-policy issues more clearly. He will work to put abortion on a path to extinction. Whatever the process by which he got to where he is on marriage, judges, and life, we’re glad he is now on our side — and we trust him to stay there.

As I noted above with reference to abortion, I’m untroubled by Romney’s changed positions over the years because two things have happened:  (1) the world has changed dramatically since 9/11 and (2) he’s grown older.  As to the first, it signals his intelligence that, in the face of drastic changes at home and abroad, he is capable of revisiting positions and recognizing that they are no longer viable, something the 60s liberals are utterly incapable of doing.  This is not flip-flopping, because these appear to me to be principled changes reflecting reality, rather than any desperate attempt to keep to the right side of the polls.  In this regard, no one should forget that, before the Nazis, Churchill was a liberal.  And as to the second, we all know that people often settle into more conservative positions as they age as they grew in wisdom, stability and experience.

I think Giuliani is great and would happily vote for him as against any Democratic candidate.  I’m more lukewarm about Thompson and McCain, but would still happily vote for them as against anyone the Democrats field.  I could not vote for either Huckabee or Paul.

With regard to Huckabee, as I’ve said before, I’m sure he’s a very, very nice, good man, but am troubled by his aggressive Christianity, which indicates that he wants to become the nation’s pastor, rather than a Christian man who is president; his compassion run amok, which sees him pardoning evil people left and right (which is fine for an ordinary Christian, but profoundly dangerous for a political leader); his apparent greediness, which recalls another Arkansas governor’s conduct; his profound ignorance of and lack of curiosity about foreign affairs; the religious bigotry he displays in his attacks toward Romney; and his desire to have government police every aspect of my private life, including my diet.  All of these things frighten me about him, and make him every bit as dangerous in my view as a big-government liberal.  It would be the 1990s all over again, except with more God references.

And as for RuPaul, er, Ron Paul, his fellow travelers tell me too much about the man.  He may be talking out loud as a libertarian, but there’s some subliminal code out there that is drawing to him every racist, neo-Nazi, American supremacist, antisemite in America. With that kind of baggage, who needs him?

And so I’m going to second National Review and endorse Romney.  Failing some scandal or meltdown, I agree with the National Review that he is the most broadly conservative candidate and the most competent candidate.  I’m also going to put my faith in the American conservative movement and assume that, in a race between Romney and any Democratic candidate, people who have doubts about Mormons will be able to put those doubts aside and vote for the candidate whose values and political outlook are most closely aligned with theirs.

Thinking like the master — before the master did

On May 23, 2007, I did a post in which I looked at Mitt’s Mormonism, and concluded that it shouldn’t matter because his values are what counts, not the path he took to arrive at those values. Based on comments left in response to that post, I updated it to explain that, as far as I could tell, Evangelical Christians viewed Mormons in much the same way as Jews view Jews for Jesus — a purported religion that’s neither fish nor fowl, and that’s carpet bagging on an already established name. Here it is, seven months later, and Dennis Prager is saying exactly what I said (only better, of course, because he’s Dennis Prager):

Most traditional Christians regard Mormonism not merely as not Christian, but as a falsification of it. It does not matter to the vast majority of evangelicals if a candidate is a Christian. Most are quite prepared to vote for a non-Christian — a Jew, for example. And they are certainly prepared to vote for Christians with whom they differ theologically — whether non-evangelical Protestants or Roman Catholics.

But they do not regard Mormons as fellow Christians with whom they differ theologically; they regard them as having a theology so different from mainstream Christianity that they are no longer Christian. It is quite possible, even likely, that if Mormons simply announced they were not Christian, but a new religion, even one based on belief in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, evangelicals would have fewer objections to voting for a Mormon with whom they shared social values. Rightly or wrongly, many evangelicals resent Mormons calling themselves Christian.

It is analogous to the resentment among Jews of “Jews for Jesus.” What Jews resent is not that a Jew who adopts Christian beliefs has become a Christian — most Jews recognize that in a free society people convert to and from all religions. What many Jews resent is that “Jews for Jesus” call themselves Jews and not Christians after leaving Judaism (even while continuing to identify ethnically as Jews) and embracing Christianity. So, too, it is that Mormons call themselves Christians while embracing a different belief system that rankles so many traditional Christians.

[snip]

The reason is — and I have come to this conclusion after a lifetime of interaction with people of almost all faiths and writing about and studying religion — theology does not appear to have much impact on people’s values. Liberal Christians and Jews share virtually no theological beliefs yet think alike about virtually every important social value. So, too, conservative Christians and conservative Jews share virtually no theological beliefs, yet they think alike about virtually every important social value.

Meanwhile liberal and conservative Protestants are in agreement on theological matters — both believe in the Trinity, in the Messiahship of Jesus, on Jesus being the Son of God, on salvation through faith rather than through works, and more — yet they differ about virtually every social value. Obviously, shared theology doesn’t create shared moral or social values.

[snip]

Therefore the theological beliefs of a public figure should matter only when one is choosing a theological leader, never a political leader — unless those beliefs form the basis of social and moral values that one abhors. It is very important to know the theological beliefs of one’s clergyman or the head of one’s seminary, but as far as the head of one’s country is concerned, only his moral and social values matter. I would much sooner vote for an agnostic whose values I shared than for a believing Christian or Jew whose values I did not share.

I have to say, I’m quite flattered by comparing myself to Mr. Prager. Hah!

Thinking like the master — before the master did

On May 23, 2007, I did a post in which I looked at Mitt’s Mormonism, and concluded that it shouldn’t matter because his values are what counts, not the path he took to arrive at those values. Based on comments left in response to that post, I updated it to explain that, as far as I could tell, Evangelical Christians viewed Mormons in much the same way as Jews view Jews for Jesus — a purported religion that’s neither fish nor fowl, and that’s carpet bagging on an already established name. Here it is, seven months later, and Dennis Prager is saying exactly what I said (only better, of course, because he’s Dennis Prager):

Most traditional Christians regard Mormonism not merely as not Christian, but as a falsification of it. It does not matter to the vast majority of evangelicals if a candidate is a Christian. Most are quite prepared to vote for a non-Christian — a Jew, for example. And they are certainly prepared to vote for Christians with whom they differ theologically — whether non-evangelical Protestants or Roman Catholics.

But they do not regard Mormons as fellow Christians with whom they differ theologically; they regard them as having a theology so different from mainstream Christianity that they are no longer Christian. It is quite possible, even likely, that if Mormons simply announced they were not Christian, but a new religion, even one based on belief in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, evangelicals would have fewer objections to voting for a Mormon with whom they shared social values. Rightly or wrongly, many evangelicals resent Mormons calling themselves Christian.

It is analogous to the resentment among Jews of “Jews for Jesus.” What Jews resent is not that a Jew who adopts Christian beliefs has become a Christian — most Jews recognize that in a free society people convert to and from all religions. What many Jews resent is that “Jews for Jesus” call themselves Jews and not Christians after leaving Judaism (even while continuing to identify ethnically as Jews) and embracing Christianity. So, too, it is that Mormons call themselves Christians while embracing a different belief system that rankles so many traditional Christians.

[snip]

The reason is — and I have come to this conclusion after a lifetime of interaction with people of almost all faiths and writing about and studying religion — theology does not appear to have much impact on people’s values. Liberal Christians and Jews share virtually no theological beliefs yet think alike about virtually every important social value. So, too, conservative Christians and conservative Jews share virtually no theological beliefs, yet they think alike about virtually every important social value.

Meanwhile liberal and conservative Protestants are in agreement on theological matters — both believe in the Trinity, in the Messiahship of Jesus, on Jesus being the Son of God, on salvation through faith rather than through works, and more — yet they differ about virtually every social value. Obviously, shared theology doesn’t create shared moral or social values.

[snip]

Therefore the theological beliefs of a public figure should matter only when one is choosing a theological leader, never a political leader — unless those beliefs form the basis of social and moral values that one abhors. It is very important to know the theological beliefs of one’s clergyman or the head of one’s seminary, but as far as the head of one’s country is concerned, only his moral and social values matter. I would much sooner vote for an agnostic whose values I shared than for a believing Christian or Jew whose values I did not share.

I have to say, I’m quite flattered by comparing myself to Mr. Prager. Hah!

I think it was a good speech

I didn’t listen to, but I did read Mitt Romney’s faith in America speech. I think it’s a good speech and says at length what I’ve said more briefly in previous posts (and what others have said in millions of posts):

(1) the separation of Church and State that our Founders envisioned was intended to keep religious organizations from controlling government, and government from setting religious doctrine, but was not intended to keep people of faith out of government; and

(2) there is absolutely nothing wrong with someone entering politics whose beliefs and values are informed by his religion, provided that he uses his political power to put forward his beliefs and values, rather than his religion and its doctrines.

I also like Michelle Malkin’s take on the instant rush to analyze Mitt’s speech, for better or for worse: “For me, it’s simple. Any day a Republican can turn the tables on the ‘tolerance’ squad and cast light on our great American tradition of religious liberty is a good day.”

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars….

I went to law school in the Bible Belt, so many of my fellow students were devout Christians. Thomas, however, out-Christianed everyone. His parents were missionaries, and he’d been raised with a level of faith no one else at the school could equal. He was one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, a truly Christian person in the best sense of the word, but he was also quite unworldly. It was this latter quality that came to the fore when it was time for us to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (or, as we called it, the MPRE). This exam is a prerequisite for practicing in just about every state in America, or at least that was the case a couple of decades ago.

The MPRE tests students on generic rules (as opposed to state-specific rules) of professional responsibility. These rules cover such scintillating topics as engaging in business transactions with ones clients, billing, dealing with clients who are deadbeats, the proper ways to approach the Court, conflicts of interest, and other wonderfully arcane topics that tend to have a surprisingly large effect on the average lawyer’s work day.

With one exception, everyone in my graduating class paid $200 dollars and trooped off to a one day review session in order to prepare for the MPRE. That one exception, of course, was Thomas. He announced to anyone who asked that he didn’t need to take a class in professional responsibility because the Bible taught him everything he needed to know about ethics.

I’m sure that, by this point, it won’t surprise you to hear that Thomas was the only student in our year (indeed, the only student in law school history) to fail the MPRE exam. The Bible did not prepare him at all for picayune rules about the proper way in which to handle retainers or the balancing of interests that needs to be done in taking on two similarly situated, but not identical, clients. In other words, Thomas’ deep and strong morality had nothing to do with procedural rules for being a lawyer in the modern era.

I’ve been thinking about Thomas a lot in connection with Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. The fact that Huckabee is a devout Christian is turning a lot of equally devout Christian voters his way. With Mitt, we see the reverse. Because he is a devout Mormon, devout Christians are rejecting him. As regards Mitt, I have heard from Christians who believe that any man who makes a profound doctrinal error cannot be trusted with any other task. Conversely, because Huckabee is on the right path doctrinally, they’re convinced that this will lead him automatically towards being a good national executive.

Thinking about these viewpoints, I can’t help but feel that people who are imposing a religious test on these two candidates are making the same mistake Thomas did: they think that reading the Bible the right way is sufficient to getting the task done, forgetting that some tasks have different rules. This is not to say, of course, that one must abandon ones Biblically-based morality and ethics. It is to say, however, that a deep knowledge of the Bible won’t get you through all of the necessary tasks of a specific job — especially the President’s job.

When you separate Mitt’s and Mike’s theology out from their political values and abilities, you get a rather different picture. I’m the first to admit that Mike is a charming, witty, Biblically erudite man. I also freely acknowledge that his values are entirely consistent with the values that social conservatives espouse, especially when it comes to abortion. However, there is no doubt that he is a tax and spend politician who believes that the government should use its power to coerce people into engaging in government approved behaviors — which is fine, perhaps, if Mike is the government and you agree with his ideas. It becomes a fearsome precedent, however, if the subsequent President is say, Obama, Hillary or Edwards, all of whom have freely admitted that they want to use government coercion on citizens, usually in ways that are disagreeable to conservatives. (Here are just the two most recent examples of Edwards, Hillary and Obama in nanny state mode.)

As for Mitt, even if you find his theology loopy, you have to agree that his end point is pretty consistent with the same end point a traditional Biblical Christian reaches, with the added bonus that he is an economically conservative Republican. I’ll offer just two examples of his social conservatism. The first is the wonderful answer he gave during the BoobTube debates to the question about black on black crime. Rather than coming out with just another tired old chestnut about throwing more money into black communities, something that hasn’t made a positive difference in the last 40+ years, he made a values statement: we need to encourage intact families amongst blacks:

YouTube question: Hi, this is me and my son Prentiss. We’re from Atlanta. I want to ask you guys a question (inaudible) every year. But what about the war going on in our country, black on black crime? Two hundred to 400 black men die yearly in one city alone. What are you going to do about that war? It feels like the (inaudible) is right outside.

Cooper: He’s talking about black-on-black crime, crime in the inner cities.

Governor Romney?

Romney: Well, first of all, Printes is pretty fortunate because he’s got a dad standing next to him that apparently loves him by all appearances there, and that’s probably the best thing you can do for a kid is to have a mom and a dad.

(Applause)

And it’s time in this country that we go back to the kind of values that allow kid to have moms and dads. In the African-American community today, 68 percent of kids born are born out of wedlock. And so we’re going to try and once again reinculcate in this country the try of values that have made us so strong: family values.

The second example is his pro-Life stance. I happen to know that many of you are suspicious because he came to it late in the day, but I’m not inclined to hold that against him, because my views have shifted so dramatically on the subject. For me, the moment came when I saw the first ultrasound of my first baby, aged 16 weeks. It was so clearly a baby, with a little spine like a string of pearls. Before that moment, I’d truly never connected the “fetus” with a baby. Growing up in liberal land, with the focus on “me, me, me (the woman),” I’d managed to avoid the obvious connection. If I were to get pregnant now, even though my pregnancies are Hell and I don’t want another child, I’d do something that would never have occurred to me 20 years ago: I’d stay pregnant. People change and Mitt ought to get the benefit of the doubt on this. In any event, the most important thing he can do, since he can’t set abortion policy (that’s not the White House’s job), is appoint conservative justices, who will read the Constitution as written and not snatch rights out of thin air.

Dennis Prager likes to say (and I’m paraphrasing) that we have to look more to what people do, and less to what animates their actions. Whatever path Mitt has taken, he has arrived at a spot where he is a pretty rock solid conservative candidate, both socially and economically. And whatever path Mike has taken, he has arrived at a spot where he is a rock solid conservative socially, but a flat-out liberal in terms of economics and nanny-state government policies. Also, unlike Mitt, Mike is unelectable. As a former liberal, I can assure you that anyone who espouses his religious views and calls himself a Republican (despite his Democrat proclivities) is more unpalatable to the average liberal even than George Bush was. In other words, a vote for Mike is a vote for Hillary, Obama or Edwards. And a vote for any one of those three will see outcomes that will make most conservatives, whether social or economic (or both) very, very unhappy.

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars….

I went to law school in the Bible Belt, so many of my fellow students were devout Christians. Thomas, however, out-Christianed everyone. His parents were missionaries, and he’d been raised with a level of faith no one else at the school could equal. He was one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, a truly Christian person in the best sense of the word, but he was also quite unworldly. It was this latter quality that came to the fore when it was time for us to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (or, as we called it, the MPRE). This exam is a prerequisite for practicing in just about every state in America, or at least that was the case a couple of decades ago.

The MPRE tests students on generic rules (as opposed to state-specific rules) of professional responsibility. These rules cover such scintillating topics as engaging in business transactions with ones clients, billing, dealing with clients who are deadbeats, the proper ways to approach the Court, conflicts of interest, and other wonderfully arcane topics that tend to have a surprisingly large effect on the average lawyer’s work day.

With one exception, everyone in my graduating class paid $200 dollars and trooped off to a one day review session in order to prepare for the MPRE. That one exception, of course, was Thomas. He announced to anyone who asked that he didn’t need to take a class in professional responsibility because the Bible taught him everything he needed to know about ethics.

I’m sure that, by this point, it won’t surprise you to hear that Thomas was the only student in our year (indeed, the only student in law school history) to fail the MPRE exam. The Bible did not prepare him at all for picayune rules about the proper way in which to handle retainers or the balancing of interests that needs to be done in taking on two similarly situated, but not identical, clients. In other words, Thomas’ deep and strong morality had nothing to do with procedural rules for being a lawyer in the modern era.

I’ve been thinking about Thomas a lot in connection with Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. The fact that Huckabee is a devout Christian is turning a lot of equally devout Christian voters his way. With Mitt, we see the reverse. Because he is a devout Mormon, devout Christians are rejecting him. As regards Mitt, I have heard from Christians who believe that any man who makes a profound doctrinal error cannot be trusted with any other task. Conversely, because Huckabee is on the right path doctrinally, they’re convinced that this will lead him automatically towards being a good national executive.

Thinking about these viewpoints, I can’t help but feel that people who are imposing a religious test on these two candidates are making the same mistake Thomas did: they think that reading the Bible the right way is sufficient to getting the task done, forgetting that some tasks have different rules. This is not to say, of course, that one must abandon ones Biblically-based morality and ethics. It is to say, however, that a deep knowledge of the Bible won’t get you through all of the necessary tasks of a specific job — especially the President’s job.

When you separate Mitt’s and Mike’s theology out from their political values and abilities, you get a rather different picture. I’m the first to admit that Mike is a charming, witty, Biblically erudite man. I also freely acknowledge that his values are entirely consistent with the values that social conservatives espouse, especially when it comes to abortion. However, there is no doubt that he is a tax and spend politician who believes that the government should use its power to coerce people into engaging in government approved behaviors — which is fine, perhaps, if Mike is the government and you agree with his ideas. It becomes a fearsome precedent, however, if the subsequent President is say, Obama, Hillary or Edwards, all of whom have freely admitted that they want to use government coercion on citizens, usually in ways that are disagreeable to conservatives. (Here are just the two most recent examples of Edwards, Hillary and Obama in nanny state mode.)

As for Mitt, even if you find his theology loopy, you have to agree that his end point is pretty consistent with the same end point a traditional Biblical Christian reaches, with the added bonus that he is an economically conservative Republican. I’ll offer just two examples of his social conservatism. The first is the wonderful answer he gave during the BoobTube debates to the question about black on black crime. Rather than coming out with just another tired old chestnut about throwing more money into black communities, something that hasn’t made a positive difference in the last 40+ years, he made a values statement: we need to encourage intact families amongst blacks:

YouTube question: Hi, this is me and my son Prentiss. We’re from Atlanta. I want to ask you guys a question (inaudible) every year. But what about the war going on in our country, black on black crime? Two hundred to 400 black men die yearly in one city alone. What are you going to do about that war? It feels like the (inaudible) is right outside.

Cooper: He’s talking about black-on-black crime, crime in the inner cities.

Governor Romney?

Romney: Well, first of all, Printes is pretty fortunate because he’s got a dad standing next to him that apparently loves him by all appearances there, and that’s probably the best thing you can do for a kid is to have a mom and a dad.

(Applause)

And it’s time in this country that we go back to the kind of values that allow kid to have moms and dads. In the African-American community today, 68 percent of kids born are born out of wedlock. And so we’re going to try and once again reinculcate in this country the try of values that have made us so strong: family values.

The second example is his pro-Life stance. I happen to know that many of you are suspicious because he came to it late in the day, but I’m not inclined to hold that against him, because my views have shifted so dramatically on the subject. For me, the moment came when I saw the first ultrasound of my first baby, aged 16 weeks. It was so clearly a baby, with a little spine like a string of pearls. Before that moment, I’d truly never connected the “fetus” with a baby. Growing up in liberal land, with the focus on “me, me, me (the woman),” I’d managed to avoid the obvious connection. If I were to get pregnant now, even though my pregnancies are Hell and I don’t want another child, I’d do something that would never have occurred to me 20 years ago: I’d stay pregnant. People change and Mitt ought to get the benefit of the doubt on this. In any event, the most important thing he can do, since he can’t set abortion policy (that’s not the White House’s job), is appoint conservative justices, who will read the Constitution as written and not snatch rights out of thin air.

Dennis Prager likes to say (and I’m paraphrasing) that we have to look more to what people do, and less to what animates their actions. Whatever path Mitt has taken, he has arrived at a spot where he is a pretty rock solid conservative candidate, both socially and economically. And whatever path Mike has taken, he has arrived at a spot where he is a rock solid conservative socially, but a flat-out liberal in terms of economics and nanny-state government policies. Also, unlike Mitt, Mike is unelectable. As a former liberal, I can assure you that anyone who espouses his religious views and calls himself a Republican (despite his Democrat proclivities) is more unpalatable to the average liberal even than George Bush was. In other words, a vote for Mike is a vote for Hillary, Obama or Edwards. And a vote for any one of those three will see outcomes that will make most conservatives, whether social or economic (or both) very, very unhappy.

“Youths” honor decedents of “ethnic descent” by continuing to attack French police

I kid you not — the language I put in quotations in this post caption is the precise language the BBC uses to describe those who are engaged in a little bit of urban unrest In France. You know, the kind of innocuous urban rioting that results in more than 80 policeman being injured from beatings and bullets. Here, let me show you:

At least 10 cars have been burned and a fire broke out at a library in Toulouse, southern France, following consecutive nights of rioting in Paris.

There was also more violence in the capital as youths set cars on fire in the suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, the Associated Press news agency reports.

***

Relatives of the two dead teenagers, who were both from ethnic minorities, have insisted that police rammed their motorcycle before leaving them to die. (Emphasis mine.)

And that’s it. That’s all the information the BBC is going to give you about those rioters. But in this internet day and age, “ve haf vays” of finding out more information, even though it’s tough, very tough to do so. The Bloomberg report, for example, coyly hints at the ethnic nature of the “unrest” (Bloomberg’s word, not mine), by stating that “In France, poor neighborhoods and housing projects where many immigrants live tend to be far from city centers.” Hmm. Immigrants from where, I wonder? But we’re putting the pieces together. We’ve now got immigrant communities with people of ethnic descent.

AP, surprisingly is fairly forthright about the nature of the suburbs in which this year’s batch of riots is taking place, although it can’t resist implying that the poor innocents doing the attacking are doing so righteously because of their alienation: “The unrest showed that anger still smolders in France’s poor neighborhoods, where many Arabs, blacks and other minorities live largely isolated from the rest of society.” And again, “Youths, many of them Arab and black children of immigrants, again appeared to be lashing out at police and other targets seen to represent a French establishment they feel has left them behind.”

I’m sorry to say that the British paper The Independent is no help at all. While it boldly calls the youthful attacks on police something akin to “guerrilla warfare,” it places the blame firmly where it belongs: on the police. You see, last year, long after the riots ended, it turned out that the two youths who were electrocuted had been acting innocently when the police chased them into the power substation, knowing it was dangerous. (It does not appear that this was known when the actual riots happened, of course.) In other words, The Independent agrees with AP that the current crop of youths is righteously upset about the two kids killed while on the motor scooters, clearly justifying anarchy.

So, both at home and abroad, the MSM narrative is as follows: Young people are rioting in Paris and, in true “if it bleeds it leads” tradition, the news reports will happily tell you that they’re organized, they’re armed, and they’re incredibly aggressive, so much so that scores of police have been injured, and we’re not even talking property damage. If you insist on knowing more about who these people are, we’ll hint that they’re friends of youths of ethnic descent, and that they live in neighborhoods that have primarily Arab and African immigrants and their children.

If you suspect that part of the problem might be that these Arab and African immigrants are Muslim, please be assured that you are wrong. In the ponderous language of social scientists, the reporters will assure you that the riots/unrest/guerrilla warfare problem is entirely due to (1) the government’s treating these youths badly and (2) the fact that it emerged after last year’s riots that the police might have lied about their run-in with two of these same types of youths.

By the way, I don’t have any doubt but that part of the reason — even a large part of the reason — that these riots happen is because French society, indeed most European society, is set up so that there is no path to integration and assimilation for immigrants. That societal failure to absorb immigrants means that they’re going to be sitting in slums that become powder kegs of anger, unrest and, eventually, violence. Believing that, though, doesn’t mean that I don’t also believe that another, possibly significant, part of the problem is that there is a connection in this day and age between Muslims and violence. And when news reports play so coy, rather than my ending up believing that Islam has nothing to do with the violence, I tend to believe that Islam does have something to do with the violence and that the press is simply avoiding an issue it does not want to address.

And by the way, this kind of media avoidance syndrome — where you have to read through scads of articles to gather the puzzle pieces that shape the whole picture — is not limited to youth violence. Over at Big Lizards, Dafydd has taken the time to investigate the hidden, and very sordid, connection between the Clintons and InfoUSA, with the latter being a database marketer that knowingly sells information about vulnerable populations (the old and the sick) to organizations that run scams on these same people. He’s also taken the time to smell a rat in the article that purports to show a racist/religious-ist Romney refusing to contemplate the possibility of a Muslim holding a high government position in his administration. (Note to MSM types: it’s the carefully placed ellipses that always end up giving you away.)

My bottom line to the media: either report the news or stop pretending that you do.

UPDATE: It’s currently hidden behind the WSJ’s subscription wall, but John Fund has written a great article about Nancy Pelosi’s current effort to make America more like France by working to ensure that the current generation of immigrants remains stuck forever in non-English speaking poverty. Consistent with fair use, I’ll give you just a taste of what Fund has to say, and we’ll hope that the WSJ soon releases the article for general consumption:

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn’t think that’s controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show “the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English.” A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it “very important” that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

UPDATE II: More on liberal efforts to keep minorities ghettoized.

UPDATE III: For a literary touch, I’ll just throw in one more thing. Because I’m feeling lazy, I’ve been re-reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night, one of my favorite novels from England in the mid-1930s. (Even though it’s a mystery, I view it as a novel because, after many readings, there are no mysteries left in that book for me.) The book takes place at Oxford, and has a healthy respect for the old-fashioned idea of academic objectivity. Sayers therefore has one of her characters, during a discussion with someone about a history book, say the following:

“I entirely agree that a historian ought to be precise in detail; but unless you take all the characters and circumstances concerned into account, you are reckoning without the facts. The proportions and relations of things are just as much facts as the things themselves, and if you get those wrong, you falsify the picture really seriously.”

The whole book, incidentally, is a testament to examining facts without allowing private belief systems or loyalties to interfere with ones understanding of those facts.

“Youths” honor decedents of “ethnic descent” by continuing to attack French police

I kid you not — the language I put in quotations in this post caption is the precise language the BBC uses to describe those who are engaged in a little bit of urban unrest In France. You know, the kind of innocuous urban rioting that results in more than 80 policeman being injured from beatings and bullets. Here, let me show you:

At least 10 cars have been burned and a fire broke out at a library in Toulouse, southern France, following consecutive nights of rioting in Paris.

There was also more violence in the capital as youths set cars on fire in the suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, the Associated Press news agency reports.

***

Relatives of the two dead teenagers, who were both from ethnic minorities, have insisted that police rammed their motorcycle before leaving them to die. (Emphasis mine.)

And that’s it. That’s all the information the BBC is going to give you about those rioters. But in this internet day and age, “ve haf vays” of finding out more information, even though it’s tough, very tough to do so. The Bloomberg report, for example, coyly hints at the ethnic nature of the “unrest” (Bloomberg’s word, not mine), by stating that “In France, poor neighborhoods and housing projects where many immigrants live tend to be far from city centers.” Hmm. Immigrants from where, I wonder? But we’re putting the pieces together. We’ve now got immigrant communities with people of ethnic descent.

AP, surprisingly is fairly forthright about the nature of the suburbs in which this year’s batch of riots is taking place, although it can’t resist implying that the poor innocents doing the attacking are doing so righteously because of their alienation: “The unrest showed that anger still smolders in France’s poor neighborhoods, where many Arabs, blacks and other minorities live largely isolated from the rest of society.” And again, “Youths, many of them Arab and black children of immigrants, again appeared to be lashing out at police and other targets seen to represent a French establishment they feel has left them behind.”

I’m sorry to say that the British paper The Independent is no help at all. While it boldly calls the youthful attacks on police something akin to “guerrilla warfare,” it places the blame firmly where it belongs: on the police. You see, last year, long after the riots ended, it turned out that the two youths who were electrocuted had been acting innocently when the police chased them into the power substation, knowing it was dangerous. (It does not appear that this was known when the actual riots happened, of course.) In other words, The Independent agrees with AP that the current crop of youths is righteously upset about the two kids killed while on the motor scooters, clearly justifying anarchy.

So, both at home and abroad, the MSM narrative is as follows: Young people are rioting in Paris and, in true “if it bleeds it leads” tradition, the news reports will happily tell you that they’re organized, they’re armed, and they’re incredibly aggressive, so much so that scores of police have been injured, and we’re not even talking property damage. If you insist on knowing more about who these people are, we’ll hint that they’re friends of youths of ethnic descent, and that they live in neighborhoods that have primarily Arab and African immigrants and their children.

If you suspect that part of the problem might be that these Arab and African immigrants are Muslim, please be assured that you are wrong. In the ponderous language of social scientists, the reporters will assure you that the riots/unrest/guerrilla warfare problem is entirely due to (1) the government’s treating these youths badly and (2) the fact that it emerged after last year’s riots that the police might have lied about their run-in with two of these same types of youths.

By the way, I don’t have any doubt but that part of the reason — even a large part of the reason — that these riots happen is because French society, indeed most European society, is set up so that there is no path to integration and assimilation for immigrants. That societal failure to absorb immigrants means that they’re going to be sitting in slums that become powder kegs of anger, unrest and, eventually, violence. Believing that, though, doesn’t mean that I don’t also believe that another, possibly significant, part of the problem is that there is a connection in this day and age between Muslims and violence. And when news reports play so coy, rather than my ending up believing that Islam has nothing to do with the violence, I tend to believe that Islam does have something to do with the violence and that the press is simply avoiding an issue it does not want to address.

And by the way, this kind of media avoidance syndrome — where you have to read through scads of articles to gather the puzzle pieces that shape the whole picture — is not limited to youth violence. Over at Big Lizards, Dafydd has taken the time to investigate the hidden, and very sordid, connection between the Clintons and InfoUSA, with the latter being a database marketer that knowingly sells information about vulnerable populations (the old and the sick) to organizations that run scams on these same people. He’s also taken the time to smell a rat in the article that purports to show a racist/religious-ist Romney refusing to contemplate the possibility of a Muslim holding a high government position in his administration. (Note to MSM types: it’s the carefully placed ellipses that always end up giving you away.)

My bottom line to the media: either report the news or stop pretending that you do.

UPDATE: It’s currently hidden behind the WSJ’s subscription wall, but John Fund has written a great article about Nancy Pelosi’s current effort to make America more like France by working to ensure that the current generation of immigrants remains stuck forever in non-English speaking poverty. Consistent with fair use, I’ll give you just a taste of what Fund has to say, and we’ll hope that the WSJ soon releases the article for general consumption:

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn’t think that’s controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show “the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English.” A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it “very important” that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

UPDATE II: More on liberal efforts to keep minorities ghettoized.

UPDATE III: For a literary touch, I’ll just throw in one more thing. Because I’m feeling lazy, I’ve been re-reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night, one of my favorite novels from England in the mid-1930s. (Even though it’s a mystery, I view it as a novel because, after many readings, there are no mysteries left in that book for me.) The book takes place at Oxford, and has a healthy respect for the old-fashioned idea of academic objectivity. Sayers therefore has one of her characters, during a discussion with someone about a history book, say the following:

“I entirely agree that a historian ought to be precise in detail; but unless you take all the characters and circumstances concerned into account, you are reckoning without the facts. The proportions and relations of things are just as much facts as the things themselves, and if you get those wrong, you falsify the picture really seriously.”

The whole book, incidentally, is a testament to examining facts without allowing private belief systems or loyalties to interfere with ones understanding of those facts.

Papa Giuliani

A woman in New Hampshire, who’s been billed in the MSM as an ordinary Mom but is, in fact, someone with a long record of liberal political activism, has thrust Rudy Giuliani’s parenting into the spotlight by stating “”If a person is running for president, I would assume their children would be behind them. If they’re not, you’ve got to wonder.” What an utterly fatuous thing to say, and what a waste of time for Giuliani to have to defend against this type of touchy feely garbage. Let me take a moment here to reprint an American Thinker article I wrote some months ago when I foresaw that the MSM would work this issue. Although I predicted the attack would come based on the Republican candidates’ divorce records, rather than their parenting skills, I think the principles are the same.

Marriage and Politics (first run on April 30, 2007 at American Thinker)

It was only a matter of time before Democratic politicians (as opposed to just late night talk show hosts) began commenting on the fact that the leading Republican candidates have an awful lot of ex-wives floating around. Although he’s carefully vague, one has to assume that, when Howard Dean said of Rudy Giuliani that “His personal life is a serious problem for him,” he was talking about Giuliani’s two ex-wives (not to mention his sordid divorce so that he could marry his current wife), his third wife’s ex-husbands, and his son’s disdain for the whole marriage-go-round.

Many of the other Republican candidates don’t look so good either when it comes to managing their private lives. John McCain is on wife number two and may have started his relationship with her while still married to wife number one (although since his first wife and children have forgiven him, surely we should too). Fred Thompson is likewise on wife number two, and many people will either be envious of or put off by the fact that his second wife is significantly younger than he is. Newt Gingrich also boasts a spotty marital history, marred by the popular (but untrue) belief that he served divorce papers on his first wife while she was hospitalized for cancer treatments. And as with Thompson, Gingrich’s current wife (his third) is a much younger woman. Of the leading names on the Republican side, only Mitt Romney has a clean marital record, having been married to the same woman for 38 years (a commitment that may well have been helped by the fact that, just as he is an extremely handsome man, so too is his wife a very beautiful woman).

In striking contrast to the Republicans, the Democratic frontrunners can boast that they have many fewer marriages between them. Hillary Clinton’s marriage, despite its manifest peculiarities, has lasted 32 years. One can wonder what kept her with a compulsive womanizer for so long, but the fact is that she took her marriage vows seriously, and she and Bill are still together. Barack Obama also has a good track record (aided perhaps by the fact that he’s younger than the other candidates, so hasn’t had as much time to get into trouble). He and his wife have been together 15 years. John Edwards, he of the beautiful hair, has been married to Elizabeth for 30 years. Al Gore and Tipper have been married 37 years.

Usually, when faced with these numbers (both years of marriage and number of spouses), the discussion wanders off into rants about hypocrisy. As in “It’s hypocritical for conservatives to divorce.” Or, “It’s hypocritical for a feminist such as Hillary to put up with a rampant womanizer.” As for the first argument, I don’t know that any of these much-married conservative candidates have ever advocated the end of divorce, and I’m sure all would agree, with themselves as terrible examples, that stable family relationships are good things. As for the second argument, Hillary’s private decisions about love, family and (one assumes) political expediency are hers alone, and should not be used against her in a hypocrisy argument. As the Victorians used to say, “Who knows the mysteries of the human heart?”

I actually would approach this whole marriage thing another way, and (unsurprisingly to those who know my biases) it’s a way that favors the Democrats as spouses, and the Republicans as leaders. I have no doubt but that the Democrats – by which I really mean the male Democratic candidates – are much nicer husbands than the caddish Republicans. I’m sure that, in dealing with their beloved wives, they’re sensitive and thoughtful. They like to talk about their feelings and, in turn, they’re willing to listen when their wives talk about their own feelings. When there’s a big decision to be made in the family, these men make sure that their wives are full partners in the decision-making. They’re probably just dreamy husbands.

The question, though, is whether those dreamy spousal qualities are what we want in a President. That is, do we really want a President who will sit for hours listening to people in the Oval Office, whether employees, Congress people, or foreign leaders, sharing their feelings, while periodically chiming in with his own recitation of emotional moments? Do we want someone who would never be rude enough to end a discussion and simply make a judgment call? Is it appropriate for the leader of the most powerful nation in the world always to take feelings into account when he makes a decision?

I get uncomfortable when I think of our Commander-in-Chief sensitively opining that “I’m worried that it will hurt Kim Jong-Il feelings if we increase sanctions against him for going ahead with his weapon’s program.” Equally awful would be our emotionally open leader reminding his Cabinet team that “You have to understand that Ahmadinejad is throwing out these nuclear threats against Israel because he feels humiliated by their technological sophistication, despite their nation’s small size. And he’s short. We should cut him a lot of slack because it’s understandable that his psyche responds negatively to these wounds.”

You can see why, when I think of an ideal personality for an American president, I don’t think of a New Age sensitive man. Instead, I think of someone who has strong political principles; who is willing to make tough calls (“the buck stops here“); and who does what he thinks is right, not what will make people like him.

These same leadership qualities, of course, tend to make for lousy modern-day husbands. They might have worked in a pre-modern era, when the husband was the head of his home, just as the President is the executive in charge of his country, but they work very badly in today’s world, where husbands and wives are expected to be partners.

No modern woman worth her salt is going to be happy in a relationship with someone who is pretty darn sure he knows what’s right; who is more interested in the big picture (his ideas about family economics, personal job security, etc.) than in what makes her happy; and who doesn’t care if his decisions ultimately rub her, and everyone in the neighborhood or family, the wrong way, as long as he thinks they’re the right decisions. In other words, partnership and leadership are not the same things, and they call for very different qualities. Someone who succeeds in the first arena may be precisely what we don’t need in the second one.

So feel free to consider the candidates’ personal lives when you’re contemplating casting your vote for one or another, whether in the primaries or in the Presidential election itself. Just remember that, merely because one candidate is a devoted husband may not make him a powerful leader (and Americans wisely like strong leaders during times of crisis), while the fact that another candidate is a difficult spouse, although not indicative of his ability to partner sensitively (which is a luxury for peace time), may nevertheless prove the more important fact that he can lead well during a crisis.

(If you think this post deserves prominence on Patrick Ruffini’s 2008 Presidential Wire, please click **here**.)

UPDATE: It occurred to me that Romney’s enduring marriage may not be out of synch with the other Republicans when it comes to leadership abilities. My understanding is that, in a traditional Mormon marriage, the man is very much the old fashioned pater familias. If that is indeed the expectation with which the Romneys went into their marriage, and that is the dominant theme for their marriage, there needn’t be much contrast between Romney’s style and home and his style in politics — nor would there be friction in the marriage about the absence of such contrast.

What the Surge is really about (with a little Rudy thrown in for good measure)

Clifford May has an excellent article about the Surge. It begins with the doomsday scenarios the anti-War people in politics and the press spelled out before the Surge happened, and then points that the more honest amongst them are admitting that the Surge is working. What makes May’s article very good is that it explains why the Surge is working. It’s not just more bodies being thrown at a failed military tactic. Instead, under General Petraeus’ skilled leadership, it’s an entirely new approach, bolstered by more military personnel:

Because of scant media interest, most Americans don’t even realize that the so-called surge is a new and different strategy, implemented by General Petraeus because the approach of his predecessors — not least former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield — failed.

Rumsfeld wanted a “light footprint” in Iraq, not an intrusive military occupation. He thought more troops would mean more targets for our enemies. He pushed hard for Iraqis to provide their own security as quickly as possible.

Under the Rumsfeld strategy, most American forces spent most of their time in Forward Operating Bases (FOBs). Cut off from the local population, they received little intelligence. And since they were providing security for themselves but not for Iraqis, Iraqis turned to sectarian militias which grew larger, stronger, and more violent.

Meanwhile, al Qaeda in Iraq deployed suicide-bombers to mass-murder civilians as a way to stoke sectarian violence. Al Qaeda calculated — not unreasonably — that Americans would withdraw rather than remain in the crossfire of a civil war.

General Petraeus, the Army’s top counterinsurgency expert, decided it was time for a different approach. He moved troops out of the FOBs and put them into Iraqi cities and villages where they have been providing security for Iraqis — who have shown their appreciation by providing intelligence that spy satellites can’t retrieve.

He is targeting al Qaeda, as well as the Shia militias trained, funded and equipped by Tehran — their cells, strongholds, and bomb factories. And with added troop strength, he has been able to hold the neighborhoods he has cleared.

It also is true that most traditional Iraqi leaders have been repelled by al Qaeda’s brutality and extremism. Americans, by contrast, have shown the local sheiks respect, while training and partnering with Iraqis — making it clear they would like nothing better than to see Iraqis take charge of their own security as soon as they are ready.

On top of all that, U.S. soldiers have been doubling as diplomats: helping to reconcile Sunni and Shia tribal groups, and even bringing insurgents — those not affiliated with al Qaeda or Tehran — into line with the Iraqi government.

Petraeus’ leadership genius, which the media refuses to acknowledge, is that he’s not insane. And by insane I mean the definition attributed to Einstein that views insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Petraeus is doing something new, and he’s getting new results — and good ones too.

It helps, of course, that General Petraeus is a counterinsurgency expert. As an aside, that’s why I’m pleased about Bibi Netanyahu’s resurgent political career. Whether people like him or hate him, he’s long been understood to be Israel’s top counter terrorist thinker.

Rudy Giuliani is also showing signs of that same clear eyed realism in dealing with terrorists, a realism untainted by the multiculturists’ bizarre and dangerous mix of romanticism, condescension and self-loathing when it comes to viewing Islamists. Here’s Caroline Glick, that astute observer of Islamist terrorism, talking about Giuliani’s latest foreign policy pronouncement:

The strongest voices calling for the US to apply the same policies toward the Palestinians that it applies to terror forces throughout the world are heard in President George W. Bush’s own Republican Party. Former New York mayor and Republican presidential frontrunner Rudolph Giuliani has been the strongest Republican voice calling for change.

In an article published this week in Foreign Affairs, Giuliani supported Bush’s view that the aim of the US war is to destroy both the global terrorist movement and its radical Islamic-fascist ideology. But Giuliani expressed deep misgivings regarding Bush’s actual policies, which he believes have been inconsistent and insufficiently strong.

Giuliani makes his call for consistency most clearly in his discussion of the Palestinians and Israel. In his words: “Too much emphasis has been placed on brokering negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians – negotiations that bring up the same issues again and again. It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism.”

He added, “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is a permanent feature of our foreign policy.”

By so couching his argument, Giuliani made clear that, from his perspective, there is no difference between the jihad against Israel and the jihad throughout the world. As a result, in his view, the US should align its policy toward the Palestinians with its policy against jihad everywhere in the world.

Glick’s praise for Giuliani, who is the Republican candidate who has been most recent and most explicit in his foreign policy stance should not be understood to cut out the other Republican candidates. As far as Glick is concerned, Romney and Thompson get it too:

While Giuliani has been the most candid in his critique of Bush’s policy toward the Palestinians, his views are not out of sync with the general tenor of the Republican presidential debate. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former senator Fred Thompson have similarly made clear that they believe the US must be more forthright and consistent in fighting the war.

Overall, as the Islamists continue to overreach themselves, getting by force what they could simply have had handed to them in time through demographic growth and Western cultural suicide, it seems as if leaders are emerging who understand the issues and who have reasonable tactics and strategies for addressing a problem long present and finally recognized.

(If you think this post is worthy of greater airplay on Patrick Ruffini’s 2008 Wire, please click here.) 

It’s “random thoughts” day

I’m on another vacation, sitting in a cyber cafe, working at a small computer with a microscopic keyboard, so it must be random thoughts day. Thank goodness DQ is doing the heavy lifting.

The first thing that caught my interest is what Mitt said at the debate, which I really liked:

But it was Romney forced on the defensive on the issue of abortion, when Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback defended automated phone calls his campaign had been making that highlight his rival’s one-time support for pro-choice policies.

“It’s truthful,” Brownback said.

Romney called it “desperate, maybe negative,” adding moments later, “I get tired of people that are holier than thou because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have.” (Emphasis mine.)

The fact is that many people who came of age in the 1960s have taken a long slow journey from one side to the other. As my own change in political convictions shows, the fact that I came late to the game doesn’t mean I’m not one of the biggest fans. In any event, as I keep reminding and reminding people, the best we can hope for is a chief executive who appoints strict constructionist judges, since it is they, not the President, who will change abortion policies.

Indeed, I’m reminded again and again that, probably, the most important thing the new President can do is change the Supreme Court — and we must really hope that the new President is a conservative. I think I’ve hammered hope the point that, if you haven’t already read Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan, you must. It points the finger of blame at activist judges who decided that the laws and traditions of their own country were irrelevant, because they were connected to a higher authority of human rights law, courtesy of the EU and the UN. (As you may recall, some of our more liberal and aged Supreme Court justices have been making tentative moves in the same direction.)

I’m now reading Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, which describes in chilling detail what is happening, day-to-day, on the streets of Europe as a result of the multi-cultural, socialist, non-democratically judge ruled European nations that allowed unlimited Muslim immigration, with full funding no matter the fraud, and has proven unwilling because of  its doctrinal blinders to deal with the inevitable Islamist nihilism, violence and brutality.  Bawer is a liberal  gay man who is mad, frightened, and finally aware the America is the last, best hope for Western freedom  and democracy.

Continuing randomly, Confederate Yankee continues to eviscerate the once reputable TNR over the Scott Thomas propaganda piece.  It now turns out that when TNR did  it’s little “we were sort of wrong” mea culpa, it left out  a few pertinent facts.  Whoops!

TNR’s not  the only one covering up information to score political or ideological points (or just to cover up journalistic  malfeasance).  Turns out that, again, the Times is guilty of allowing the publication of an article attacking Orthodox Jews that used as its starting  point a known false anecdote.  Starting with Walter Duranty, journalistic integrity at the Times seemed to have morphed into, if we beieve the underlying ideology, we are acting with integrity when we lie about those  facts to support our ideological  beliefs.  Incidentally, that’s psychologically similar to the European Muslims who have no problems breaking European laws because, as far as they’re concerned, such laws don’t exist.

Incidentally, since I’m in Times bashing mode (it’s editorial policies make it an easy target), let me just  direct you to an American Thinker article exposing its decision to publish a piece by known  Israel  basher — and Canadian — Michael  Ignatieff as he explains  why he can’t support the war in Iraq. Surprise, surprise!  It’s all about the “Jooos.”  As Babu said to Jerry, finger rhythmically wagging, “You are a very bad man.”

And the last random thought, a surprising report today that more women are living with the fathers of their children!  We used to call that marriage, but they don’t because they aren’t (married, that is).   I  suppose this should be heartening, but I find it depressing, at least from the child’s  point of view.  Marriage says (even though it may not  mean) “we’re committed for the long haul.”  Living  together says (even though it may not  mean) “I can walk out at any time.”  I think the former is better for children’s sense of stability, rather than the latter.

It’s “random thoughts” day

I’m on another vacation, sitting in a cyber cafe, working at a small computer with a microscopic keyboard, so it must be random thoughts day. Thank goodness DQ is doing the heavy lifting.

The first thing that caught my interest is what Mitt said at the debate, which I really liked:

But it was Romney forced on the defensive on the issue of abortion, when Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback defended automated phone calls his campaign had been making that highlight his rival’s one-time support for pro-choice policies.

“It’s truthful,” Brownback said.

Romney called it “desperate, maybe negative,” adding moments later, “I get tired of people that are holier than thou because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have.” (Emphasis mine.)

The fact is that many people who came of age in the 1960s have taken a long slow journey from one side to the other. As my own change in political convictions shows, the fact that I came late to the game doesn’t mean I’m not one of the biggest fans. In any event, as I keep reminding and reminding people, the best we can hope for is a chief executive who appoints strict constructionist judges, since it is they, not the President, who will change abortion policies.

Indeed, I’m reminded again and again that, probably, the most important thing the new President can do is change the Supreme Court — and we must really hope that the new President is a conservative. I think I’ve hammered hope the point that, if you haven’t already read Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan, you must. It points the finger of blame at activist judges who decided that the laws and traditions of their own country were irrelevant, because they were connected to a higher authority of human rights law, courtesy of the EU and the UN. (As you may recall, some of our more liberal and aged Supreme Court justices have been making tentative moves in the same direction.)

I’m now reading Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, which describes in chilling detail what is happening, day-to-day, on the streets of Europe as a result of the multi-cultural, socialist, non-democratically judge ruled European nations that allowed unlimited Muslim immigration, with full funding no matter the fraud, and has proven unwilling because of  its doctrinal blinders to deal with the inevitable Islamist nihilism, violence and brutality.  Bawer is a liberal  gay man who is mad, frightened, and finally aware the America is the last, best hope for Western freedom  and democracy.

Continuing randomly, Confederate Yankee continues to eviscerate the once reputable TNR over the Scott Thomas propaganda piece.  It now turns out that when TNR did  it’s little “we were sort of wrong” mea culpa, it left out  a few pertinent facts.  Whoops!

TNR’s not  the only one covering up information to score political or ideological points (or just to cover up journalistic  malfeasance).  Turns out that, again, the Times is guilty of allowing the publication of an article attacking Orthodox Jews that used as its starting  point a known false anecdote.  Starting with Walter Duranty, journalistic integrity at the Times seemed to have morphed into, if we beieve the underlying ideology, we are acting with integrity when we lie about those  facts to support our ideological  beliefs.  Incidentally, that’s psychologically similar to the European Muslims who have no problems breaking European laws because, as far as they’re concerned, such laws don’t exist.

Incidentally, since I’m in Times bashing mode (it’s editorial policies make it an easy target), let me just  direct you to an American Thinker article exposing its decision to publish a piece by known  Israel  basher — and Canadian — Michael  Ignatieff as he explains  why he can’t support the war in Iraq. Surprise, surprise!  It’s all about the “Jooos.”  As Babu said to Jerry, finger rhythmically wagging, “You are a very bad man.”

And the last random thought, a surprising report today that more women are living with the fathers of their children!  We used to call that marriage, but they don’t because they aren’t (married, that is).   I  suppose this should be heartening, but I find it depressing, at least from the child’s  point of view.  Marriage says (even though it may not  mean) “we’re committed for the long haul.”  Living  together says (even though it may not  mean) “I can walk out at any time.”  I think the former is better for children’s sense of stability, rather than the latter.

Always look on the bright side of life

As you know, I don’t have much bad to say about the leading Republican candidates, all of whom I think are qualified to take the White House (including my least favorite of the bunch, John McCain).  They’re certainly more qualified than their closest, and sometimes very scary, competitors.

With that in mind, a couple of months ago I wrote a very commented upon post examining whether Romney’s Mormonism should get in the way of the White House. With few exceptions, even those least enthusiastic about his Mormonism were willing to concede that Mitt would be a better alternative than the Democratic candidate, whoever that candidate was.

Drawing back from Mitt specifically, and looking at the Republican field as a whole, I wrote an article for American Thinker in which I argued that each of the leading Republican candidates (McCain included), stands head and shoulders above the Democratic leaders, if one is looking at maturity and a willingness to take on responsibility (and to do so successfully):

If you look at the leading Republican candidates, you’ll see that all of them have held positions of real responsibility at one time or another in their lives. Rudy Giuliani was a federal prosecutor who took on the truly dangerous job of bringing down some of New York’s most powerful crime families; although a Republican he was one of the most successful mayors in Democratic New York’s history (and New York has a larger population than Howard Dean’s Vermont); and he handled the 9/11 crisis with almost unparalleled grace and strength.

Mitt Romney has been successful at everything he’s touched: he was a top Harvard Business School graduate; he went on to be an unusually successful investment banker, who managed to prevent Bain & Company from going into economic freefall; continuing his knack for business turnarounds, he also kept the beleaguered Salt Lake City Olympics from turning into an economic and ethical disaster; and he was a singularly successful conservative governor in that bluest of blue states, Massachusetts.

The coy Fred Thompson, whom the media likes to identify as a TV actor, was in fact a major player in Watergate, when he was co-chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee that was investigating the scandal. He was also a Senator, which I hold against him, but more about that later.

John McCain, while carrying around that same Senatorial taint, also proved himself early in life. In keeping with his family’s Naval tradition, he was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and became a Navy flier. Although he’s remembered most for the five and a half brutal years he spent as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese, many people ignore the fact that he flew twenty-three missions in Vietnam before he was finally shot down and captured.

In other words, all four of these men, the men I believe are going to hold front runner status throughout the Republican primaries, have at all times in their lives embraced responsibility in one form or another. These men are not behind the scenes players. They are, and always have been, grown-ups who are willing to step up to the plate and act. Truman-esque, each could have on his desk a plaque stating, “The buck stops here.”

I don’t think one can say the same for leading Democratic contenders. The most testosterone rich contender, Hillary Clinton, positioned herself firmly behind her man for most of her career and sniped from there. When she tried to carry out a project on her own, as she did with 1994’s Hillarycare, the result was a debacle. She swiftly slunk back into the shadows. Only after her husband’s career peaked, did she decide to take an active role in politics, and that role she selected was that of Senator.

As you may recall, when I spoke of McCain and Thompson, I held against them their Senatorial careers. There’s nothing wrong with being a Senator – they’re very useful — but it’s not a role of primary responsibility. It’s a pack role. Whether you’re for or against something, you move with the pack. Also, as Kerry memorably discovered with his voting for a bill before he voted against it, the nature of Legislative packages means that it’s impossible for the voters, and often for the Senators themselves, to have any notion of what they stand for. Being a Senator means never having to take responsibility. Indeed, I think the American people have always intuitively grasped this point, which is why only two Senators have gone directly from the Senate to the White House.

Barack Obama, of course, is a Senator squared. This is a man who has never taken on solo responsibility (although I’ll agree that he had a charmingly eclectic childhood). After a short career as a junior associate at a law firm (a position singularly devoid of primary responsibility), he went on to become a lecturer (an important job, but not a particularly brave or patriarchal one), then an Illinois State Senator and for the past two and half years, he’s been a United States Senator. This is a Peter Pan career, one in which Obama has managed to garner a lot of face time without ever actually assuming responsibility for anything or anybody.

John Edwards is another perpetual Peter Pan, channeling babies’ voices, fomenting junk science, paying a lot of attention to personal grooming, and assiduously avoiding a situation in which he has primary responsibility for anything meaningful. In this regard, his Senatorial career also stands as an indictment of his perpetual immaturity. The same immaturity – an immaturity that is the polar opposite of responsible manliness — can be seen in the staggering divide between Edward’s stated principles (he’s the defender of the dispossessed in the “two Americas”) and his actual lifestyle (which is one few can imagine and even fewer can experience). I see that same type of reality disconnect on a daily basis when my elementary school age son and his friends gaze down the lengths of their skinny little boy bodies and are firmly convinced that they could be mistaken for G.I. Joe.

In other words, I don’t believe the Republican candidates are perfect — but unlike prospective voters, I don’t expect them to be. I’m a big believer in the saying that the perfect is the enemy of the good. If we keep looking for the perfect Republican candidate, one who appeals to every single demographic within the conservative political spectrum, we’ll end up with no one at all, and then we can sit back and watch as the Democrats waltz their way to victory.

I didn’t realize when I took this optimistic view of the available Republican candidates that I’m in good company historically. Quin Hillyer writes about the fact that, in 1960, Barry Goldwater also scolded Conservatives to “stop their whining.” History shows that the Republicans were unable to take this advice, with the result that the Democrats won (with the Presidency going to a man whose politics, ironically, would probably make him a Republican today). I’m not trying to re-argue the 1960 election, but I am going to urge you to take to heart Hillyer’s reminder about Goldwater as well as the praise Hillyer heaps on the candidates now before us:

At the 1960 Republican National Convention in Chicago, Barry Goldwater famously told conservatives to “grow up.” It’s time we hear that message again.

As in 1960, the conservative movement seems grumbling, disaffected, even downright angry — and, most importantly, it sometimes seems more interested in complaining and moaning than in uniting, constructively, to achieve political success.

What’s worse is that we seem to be fighting among ourselves. Every chance we get, we take shots at other conservatives. Nobody, it seems, is good enough. We moan that nobody is another Reagan. Nobody is another Churchill. Nobody is another Washington.

To which we ought to say, so what? There’s only one Second Coming, and He isn’t running for anything.

It’s time we look at the good things we’ve got — and the good people, and the good times. Take stock of those goods, and celebrate them, and consolidate them in an attractive way, and build, build, build upon them.

Before going further with this argument, let’s try a little exercise. Let’s consider the major Republican presidential candidates, and recognize just how solid they are by saying something good about each of them:

Fred Thompson
has built a career as a reformer with a solidly mainstream-conservative record. He did the legal work that helped imprison Ray Blanton, a corrupt, Democratic governor of Tennessee. And Thompson is a very good communicator.

Rudy Giuliani
was quite arguably the best big-city mayor in the history of mankind. And his record in New York was conservative on just about every count.

Mitt Romney is a superb businessman; he rescued the Winter Olympics in Utah; and he figured out how to get elected statewide as a Republican in Massachusetts and, once there, governed more conservatively than he campaigned.

John McCain
is an American hero. And he has the political courage to stick to his guns in foul weather. He’s terrific in support of the military, and against wasteful spending.

Not to belabor the point, but the same could be said for some of the lesser-known GOP presidential contenders. For instance, Duncan Hunter has spent 25 years as a wise, stalwart and effective supporter of our military, and he is a kind and palpably decent human being who sticks with friends through thick and thin.

And Tommy Thompson, in his three-plus terms as Wisconsin’s chief executive, easily proved he ranks with Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, Florida’s Jeb Bush, and Alabama’s Bob Riley as the best governors of the past half-century.

And so on.

Read the rest here.  Looking over Hillyer’s words, maybe I like them because they perfectly echo what I wrote a month ago:  we’ve got good guys from whom to choose.  We’d do well to focus on their respective strengths, rather than to obsess about their weaknesses — especially because those obsessions leak into the larger public mind and will affect the paradigms in place when the elections roll around.

There is no one out there who is perfect.  I’ll repeat what I said before, however, that, in politics as in all things, the perfect is the enemy of the good.  And if you’re the persnickety kind who thinks the good just isn’t good enough, please don’t forget that, when it comes to two party elections, the opposite of the good is likely to be the bad and the very bad.

Mitt the Mormon

I can’t help myself. I like Mitt Romney. I like his sunny optimism; I like his manifest competence (I really like that); I like most of his political stands; I like his committed marriage; and I like his looks, which I think are usefully telegenic. I recognize, however, that his Mormonism may be a roadblock between him and the White House. In the PBS documentary about the Mormons, a show that is either interesting in a boring way, or boring in an interesting way, and one that I am watching ever so slowly on TiVo, I heard that something like 25-45% of Americans would refuse to vote for Mitt for no other reason than the fact that he’s a Mormon.

I’ve thought about it a lot, and concluded that these worried people are right, because Mormonism is clearly a very scary religion. These people will do anything to gain converts, including beheading people. Oh, wait. That’s not right. It’s the Islamists who behead people to try to get them to convert. The Mormons just send their young men out onto the streets to talk about God’s love and their Prophet Joseph Smith. It’s not a religious message I can get behind, but there’s no violence in the message itself, nor is there violence threatened to those who refuse to listen to the message. So that’s not a reason to fear a Mormon in the White House.

Oh, I know. We should fear a Mormon in the White House because Mormons, if they do succeed in converting people, and those people become apostates (that is, they revert to their former faith), Mormons behead them. Whoops. I’m wrong again. That’s Islamists who kill apostates. Mormons, it turns out, are a little careless about maintaining their new converts, and about 50% of them just drift away never to be heard of again by the Mormon Church, according to the PBS documentary.

But surely we should be worried that, if Romney gains the White House, Mormons will impose their “lifestyle” on us, forcing us to give up pork, cloistering our women or making them wear burqas, mandating polygamy, killing Jews, marginalizing other Christians, stoning adulterers, cutting off thieves’ hands, etc. Oh, darn it. I just can’t seem to keep these things straight. That’s what the Islamists will do if they gain political ascendancy. I think it’s highly doubtful that the Mormons will do anything of the sort, even if they themselves eschew alcohol and caffeine. The fact of the matter is that Mormons have proven themselves to be exemplary American citizens whose only agenda is to thrive in the American way of life and, through positive example, to convince people to join their faith. As I noted, their faith has no attraction to me, but I’m not worried that, should Mitt become President, I’ll suddenly be placed in some fringe Mormon polygamous harem.

So really, if you cut away all the sillY stuff, the concern about Mitt’s religion boils down to people doubting Mitt’s ability to think straight. I mean, how smart can someone be who believes that Joseph Smith was a Prophet who received tablets from an angel recounting an alternative Biblical history that took place in America? Well, he’s as smart as anyone who believes in a specific religious faith. We believe because we believe. I’m not a Catholic, so I don’t believe in transubstantiation, but I don’t think less of those who hold that as a central religious doctrine. I’m not a Christian, so I don’t believe that Christ was the son of God, who was crucified and resurrected. I believe in him only as a great teacher, a Rabbi, and, as President Bush said, a philosopher. But I think all of you know I don’t question your faith, or the fruits of your faith (compassion, humanism, morality), and I stand ready to be proven wrong about my disbelief at the end of days. I’m not even a religious Jew, so I have strong doubts about the religious or supernatural aspects of the Torah, even though, again, I embrace the values flowing from that Book.

And really, values are what it’s all about. To me, faith is faith. For that reason, I would never challenge your belief system. However, I will celebrate your faith if the values that flow from it mesh with my values. To that end, I believe that Romney, through his religious beliefs, has values that are in harmony with mine — and with most mainstream conservatives. If your doubts about his intelligence flow solely from his religious beliefs, it may be a shortsighted mistake to use that doubt to turn your back on a candidate who is manifestly competent, who has a great political track record, and who will not to do you anything you don’t wish to have done.

UPDATE: I was trying to think of a situation in which I would look at a Presidential candidate in the same way those who are concerned about Mormonism look at Mitt. The closest I could get was the Jews for Jesus. I’ve always had a problem with that organization, which I think is theologically untenable. Since about 33 C.E., there’s been a name for Jews for Jesus — Christians.

I mean, the gaping divide between Judaism and Christianity is Christ himself. Once you’ve embraced Christ’s existence and his teachings, you’ve pretty much left Judaism behind. While they spring from the some roots, they’ve developed into different trees. And while I have no problem with people following their beliefs, and respect those who genuinely make the transition from one faith to another, I’ve always thought that Jews for Jesus represent the foolishness of people trying to slither around in an impossible doctrinal no-man’s land, only to end up being neither fish nor fowl, but some misshapen and useless creature in between.

(And I know that, about now, some of you are saying, “Come on, Bookworm. Don’t pull your punches. Tell us what you really think.”)

So, how would I feel if Mitt were a member of Jews for Jesus, a group that really gets my goat, rather than a Mormon, a group I just sort of observe from a distance? Certainly, I’d feel a whole lot less respect for him. I’d have my doubts about his intellect in light of the fact that he’s holding what I consider an intellectually ludicrous position. He’d stop being one of my top choices. BUT (there’s always a but), let’s try a thought experiment in an alternative reality where people’s politics are the same, but their religious beliefs are lined up a bit differently.

Imagine, if you will, an election where Mitt is still Mitt in all respects but one. Rather than being a Mormon, he’s a Jew for Jesus. And imagine that his opponent, whether Edwards, Obama or Hillary, rather than being a mainstream liberal Christian is, in fact, a devout Jew. Under those circumstances, despite my distaste for Mitt’s religious choice, and my concern that it represents a profound intellectual failing, I’d vote for Mitt.

The fact is, I’m not electing these people to be my religious leaders (thank goodness). I’m considering each of them as a potential political leader during times of national uncertainty. And as to that, while Mitt would clearly be someone handicapped by a peculiar religious monomania, I would nevertheless feel safer with the country in his hands than I would if it were in Hillary’s hands, no matter her impeccable (and entirely imaginary) Jewish credentials.

UPDATE II: My sister voiced one other concern about Mormons, which is the fact that Church leaders are still having revelations, something that, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, stopped thousands of years ago. As recently as the early 1970s, the Church leaders had a revelation that their teachings about blacks (that blacks were inferior) were entirely wrong, and they revised Church doctrine to make blacks full members in all respects. At the end of the 19th Century, they had a semi-revelation (it apparently was never stated in official “revelation” form) that plural marriage was a bad thing. I’ve also heard that, after they acquired a large interest in the Pepsi-Cola company they had a revelation that had them backing down on the evils of caffeine, but that may just be an urban legend.

My sister acknowledges that most of the post-Joseph Smith revelations have been aimed at bringing Mormons more in sync with mainstream America, but worries that having a member in America’s most executive position might trigger a different type of religious experience. Thus, my sister can envision a situation in which Mitt is in the White House and the Mormon leaders suddenly have a revelation along the lines of “the President of the United States must (fill in the blank).” Would Mitt feel obligated to fall in line with that revelation, she asks? It’s an awfully good question, and one that I think Mitt has to be willing to answer before Americans can freely vote for him.

Having said that, I’d still take Mitt over the Democratic candidates. I just wouldn’t necessarily elevate him to the top of the heap for the Republican candidates.

UPDATE III: The Captain notes that Mitt is finally making some serious headway in the polls. This should be interesting.