Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The New Republic: Romney's Not Only a Mormon; He's a Bad Mormon!

Jonathan Chait (photo left) is a specialist in political hatred. Back in September 2003, this senior editor of The New Republic made a big splash in the mainstream media when he published a column in TNR entitled, "The Case For Bush Hatred," which began with the subtle statement, "I hate President George W. Bush."

Currently at The New Republic online, Chait demonstrates that his hatred has not lost its edge, but he has perhaps learned to be more subtle. The target now is Mitt Romney, and the column is entitled, "Pray Tell, The Wrong Reason to Hate Mitt Romney." Which of course suggests that there is a right reason to hate Mitt Romney. Indeed, on The New Republic's home page, the article is linked with the come-on line "The Legitimate Reason to Hate Mitt Romney." Gee, I thought it was we right-wingers who are consumed by hatred.

Chait actually purports to show sympathy for Romney: "If it were possible for apolitician to sue voters for religious discrimination, Mitt Romney would have an open-and-shut case against the Republican electorate. Here is a man possessing all the known qualifications for the job of GOP presidential nominee--strong communications skills, a successful governorship, total agreement on every issue, Reaganesque hair--and yet he may well be denied it on account of his faith."

And who will deny Mitt Romney on the basis of his faith? Why none other than those Christian conservatives, of course. "These attacks have nothing to do with how Romney would conduct himself as president. They're purely theological. Romney's critics are declaring they couldn't support Romney on the sole basis that they consider Mormonism un-Christian."

The New Republic was not yet through with Romney for this week. It turns out that now Mormons dislike Romney as well. Also currently featured at The New Republic is an article by Josh Potashnik entitled, "Latter Day Skeptics, Mormons Against Romney." It turns out that the Mormons hate Mitt almost as much as the conservative Christians do! Only very late in the article does the author somewhat begrudgingly admit, "For now, the majority of Mormons remain favorably inclined toward Romney." Just for now, folks. The tipping point is coming and we are going to see a tidal wave of anti-Romney backlash from his co-religionists. Why, I understand that Harry Reid has already thrown his support to a Democrat!

What is truly mind-boggling, however, is Mr. Potashnik's explanation of what had shaken Mormon support of Mitt Romney: "Romney has vaulted to the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire largely on the strength of backing from evangelical Protestants-- historical adversaries of the LDS Church, not to mention competitors in the worldwide race for converts."

So there you have it. On the very same day that one article in The New Republic tells us that Mitt Romney will be denied the Republican nomination for President because of opposition from evangelical Protestants, another article explains that he has surged to the lead in the GOP primary races in New Hampshire and Iowa (and alienated Mormon supporters in the process) based on strong support from evangelical Protestants. Chait, you're a senior editor--do you ever read your own magazine?

Alright, I know it's my problem, not TNR's--my right-wing rigid mindset simply cannot tolerate logical inconsistency. However, just for a moment, I thought that Chait and Potashnik, in their rush to stereotype religious Protestants and Mormons, and despite their innate liberal ability to grasp subtle distinctions that a conservative can't possibly appreciate, might somehow have failed to appreciate this subtle distinction: "Some evangelical Christians support Mitt Romney. Some don't. Some Mormons support Mitt Romney. Some don't."

The real question is why The New Republic has such a fixation about Mitt Romney. Could it be that he is the candidate that its staff would least like to see facing off against the Democratic nominee in November 2008?

[Lowell the Hedgehog appends: I know a little something about this, being, ahem, a life-long church-goin' Mormon. Mitt Romney has alienated Mormons who are Democrats. This is, well, unsurprising. Romney has alienated even some Mormons who are Republicans. Also unsuprising. Jonathan Chait is one clueless polemicist. No suprise there, either!]

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