Presidential History

Is Mitt It?

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Over at The Politico, former Democratic National Committee spokesman and self-described libertarian Democrat Terry Michael goes boney moroni for Mitt Romney in a fun and interesting assessment of the telegenics [?] of former governor of Massachusetts and Republican presidential hopeful. Snippets:

To experience why former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may be a better than even bet for next Leader of the Free World, point your web browser toward "Mitt TV," the streaming video site of Mitt Romney's presidential exploratory committee….

No one else in either party's field of presidential wannabees comes close to Romney's communication skill and executive presence. He makes Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., look like just another charming candidate for high school class president….

[H]aving viewed the Mormon (did I mention Mormon?) ex-governor of liberal Massachusetts in digital, virtual reality flesh, every bone in my libertarian Democrat body tells me the presidency is Mitt Romney's to lose….

Mitt Romney is Bill Clinton with his pants up. And he'll very likely be cast in 2008 ("nominated," if you prefer the political science verb) against Clinton's wife, who has all the seductive qualities of John Kerry in a pants suit….

Observe how Romney looks straight into the camera and almost laughs off his switch from gay rights in his failed Senate campaign to anti-gay marriage in his presidential bid.  Just got 13 years older, more gray hair and wiser, he deadpans.

If all that reads like cheap armchair psychoanalysis of the candidates and the voters, go to Mitt TV and see what I mean. I scared myself. I believe the Iraq war is a nearly criminal enterprise. I'm a social-cultural leftie who wants the government out of my bedroom and away from my body. But I was nearly mesmerized by a guy whose religion I consider akin to a cult, whose Iraq war support angers me, and whose posturing against gays I find obnoxious.

More here.

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  1. Mass. gave us the first Roman Catholoic President, it could give us the first Mormon one as well. I am not a Mormon, nor do I even play one on TV. I know that the B.O.M. was written out of whole cloth by Joe Smith but . . . is it really any crazier than any other faith-based religion?

  2. I need to work “boney moroni” into more conversations.

  3. Except that I think it’s pronounced “mor-oh-nigh”

  4. Jason,
    I got a gal named Boney Moronie.
    She’s a skinny as a stick of macaroni!

  5. “Is it really any crazier than any other faith-based religion?”

    Other than flip-flopping on polygamy for purely political purposes? I suspect enough weirdness will be dug up about LDS folks that Mitt won’t make it to the finish line.

    It’s like the Osmonds. Growing up, everybody thought that they were all American. Turns out, there is an Osmond who couldn’t sing, and was virtually disowned by the family. This isn’t all Mormons, but my point is that perceptions on any issue will change as the election gets nearer. I have a lot of personal reasons why Mormons are repugnant to me, but each person will have to decide for themselves. And no, the Osmond example wasn’t meant to make you hate them. You should do that reflexively.

  6. After all the talk of Romney’s religion being a potential problem with traditional protestants etc, I just polled my very fundamentalist evangelical mother and she doesn’t see any problem with his Mormonism as long as his positions fit what she is looking for.

    I’m curious how many are actually asking the people that supposedly would never accept a Mormon what they think.

  7. There is one religion I know enough about to judge “cult” – Scientology. I have a personal anecdote for that one. I was young and nieve and deceided to take a personality test at one of theri locations. While waiting for my “results” I perused their books and became fascinated by a couple of them. I asked about them and was told I could only have those if I signed up for a class. I had quite a lot of loan money left over from my college loans and was curious enough about them that I decided to pay for a class with no intention to actually attend. I just wanted the damn books. So I signed a bunch a papers that caused me to “join” the church and yadda yadda yadda. Finally my results came in and (surprise) I needed their help. Yea, whatever, just let me go with the books I paid for. So I left. The date of my “class” cam and went without me attending the meeting. A couple of weeks after that my parents told me I got a phone call and was told to relay a message that I had agreed to help them set up some meeting or other. What? I never signed any papers to that effect.The message also had a code word “winzip” or something like that. I came to the conclusion that I probably would have been brainwashed had I gone. That is the only way they could have “known” I would have agreed to this. Also some of their techniqes sould like brainwashing.

  8. I only vote for Bene Gesserit sisters, myself.

    Incidentally, in Doon, the Harvard Lampoon parody of Dune, the sisterhood was called the Boni Maroni. Significant?

  9. what’s the difference between a “cult” and a “religion you don’t believe in?”

    i dunno, my reaction to romney was “blow-dried gucci-toed real estate salesman.” brrrrrrrrr.

  10. Is Romney a “stealth scientologist”?

    you heard it from the prognosticator first.

  11. Somebody should ask Mit Romney about the theory that the Mormons had a hand in the 9/11 attacks. This is the most underreported story ever. Why? What are the mainstream media afraid of?

  12. I have no idea how his religious persuasion might affect his chances. But he does have more charisma than any potential president since Clinton, and at first glance he seems to be smarter than the field. If there are no skeletons in his closet, he might have a realistic chance.

    However, he seems to be towing the Bush line on Iraq, and that might be his undoing.

  13. towing the Bush line on Iraq

    How about “toeing the Bush line on Iraq.”

  14. “How about “toeing the Bush line on Iraq.””

    Yes, that too.

    Did I mention that I gradumatated from the 3rd grade?

  15. What is truly surreal, given the stereotype about Mormons, is that the only G.O.P. frontrunner at the moment who has not had a total of more than one spouse . . . is a Mormon.

  16. Utter nonsense.

    Assuming there can even be such a thing as a “rational social conservative,” no rational social conservative would ever vote for Romney so long as the far more “pure” values candidate, Sam Brownback, is in the race.

    Romney will not only not be the nominee, he will be the first to drop out.

  17. Kip, I am not sure the “social conservatives” will win the day in this election. A higher percentage of Republicans are concerned about security than “eroding social values.” After all, you can’t repent if you are dead. Among security types there is a movement to “draft” Condoleezza Rice in a similar fashion that Dwight D. Eisenhower was drafted. They even have the classic style 50’s-ish buttons that read “I LIKE CONDI.” Not much is known about her social issues except that on abortion she has been heard saying that she is “mildly pro-choice” whatever that means. But that a person who is mostly known for her views on security matters might be drafted tells me something about the priorities that a great many voters have.

  18. The guy gives a good stump speech. My favorite line:

    “Our immigration policy is all wrong. We allow the best and the brightest the world over to come to our graduate schools if they pledge not to stay. We should be stapling a green card to their diplomas.”

  19. what’s the difference between a “cult” and a “religion you don’t believe in?”

    Many of my friends belong to religions I don’t believe in. I don’t know anyone in a cult (including a cousin and her husband and kids who used to be part of my family) because they tend to restrict their members from having outside friends.

  20. Unfortunately, for me the most memorable association I have with Mitt Romney was Jon Stewart’s throw-away comment “which, in German means…’with Romney.'”

    Cracks me up.

  21. Edna nailed it dead on for me.

    In my best Larry the Cable Guy accent,
    I BELIEVE. . . . I’ll have another beer.

  22. Haven’t the two dinosaur parties become cults with interchangable personalities?

  23. what’s the difference between a “cult” and a “religion you don’t believe in?”

    As someone who doesn’t believe in any of them, I’ll still draw the distinction. Cults try to isolate you from your friends and family, try to take your money, use force and intimidation and blackmail to try to keep people from leaving, try to directly manage all parts of your life, etc. Read up on Scientology and the shape of the thing will become clear.

  24. so islam is a cult? orthodox judaism?

  25. Trivia: If Romney and Obama both get nominated, it will be a race between two Harvard Law alums.

    Rutherford B. Hayes is the only U.S. president so far who attended Harvard Law. http://www.hno.harvard.edu/guide/students/stu5.html

  26. Terry Michael is looking at Mitt’s chances through his Democratic eyes.

    Republican primary voters are much less likely to vote for a Governor Goodhair they don’t trust ideologically just because he appears “electable” and “mainstream” than are Democratic primary voters.

  27. “And no, the Osmond example wasn’t meant to make you hate them. You should do that reflexively.”

    If you have never seen it, check out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A326pE_kPYQ

    The song doesn’t rank high on the libertarian index (there is a debate about whether it a statement against smoking or air pollution), but it certainly sounds better than anything by Rush…

  28. Mormonism is nearly as nutty as Scientology. It is most cretainly NOT just like any other faith based religion. It is modern enough that it can be and has been proven a fraud.

    I do not apply a religious test to the presidency, but I do apply a judgment test. While I would vote for the right candidate of mainstream religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism or Bhuddism, I would not vote for a candidate who clings to an outlandish religion such as the Raelian religion or Mormonism.

    If a person can be duped by a fringe religion (Raelians), or a cult (Moonies) or a religion that has been proven false (Mormonism), then that person lacks the judgment for the oval office. Again, this is a judgment test rather than a religious test.

    Presidents must have both good judgment and good character. While I am sure Mr. Romney has good character, if he is a temple-recommend-holding Mormon, he lacks good judgment.

  29. how do you prove a religion false? I don’t think you could even do that with Scientology; what you can prove is that there’s a lot of information they don’t want the general public to know, they’re highly demanding of time and money, and they have a huge bunch of lawyers.

    I dunno, if you’re willing to believe in virgins giving birth and people coming back from the dead, I fail to see at what point anything in Mormonism makes you go “Wait a minute! That’s too much!”

  30. “how do you prove a religion false? I don’t think you could even do that with Scientology; what you can prove is that there’s a lot of information they don’t want the general public to know, they’re highly demanding of time and money, and they have a huge bunch of lawyers.”

    Dagny has a good point here. A faith-based religion, by its very nature, requires the acceptance of something without evidence. Any “proof” a skeptic of Mormonism could bring out i.e. actual translations of Egyptian writings claimed by Joe Smith to be Mormon Scriptures (no living person during Smith’s lifetime was able to read Ancient Egyptian) could be explained away as an elaborate fraud or God testing a Mormon’s true faith.

  31. A faith-based religion, by its very nature, requires the acceptance of something without evidence
    ===============================
    Not all things that are accepted without evidence are equally unlikely. Not all reports of the supernatural that fall short of the evidentiary requirement are equally unsupported.

    Which is to say that

    “this guy stopped being dead after being very dead, walked around, ate some fish, appeared to at least 500 people who are alive as I write this, and dissapeared into the clouds”

    isn’t directly comparable with

    “when I was by myself, an angel appeared to me and gave me these gold tablets with egyptian writing on them, helped me translate them into english when no one was looking, and left. By the way, it’s funny, I lost the tablets.”

    The first might appear less likely on it’s face, but the second is much more likely to be a hoax, since there’s no independent scrutiny.

  32. “The first might appear less likely on it’s face, but the second is much more likely to be a hoax, since there’s no independent scrutiny.”

    Pick up a copy of the B.O.M. (they give away free paperback, abridged versions) and near the front there are “testimonies” of people who supposedly saw the plates. Well, I do not believe the stories either but to a “person of faith” that could be enough. Hey, Moses’ tablets thing could have been a hoax also. I have never seen the original Ten Commandments (any of the three versions) have you?

  33. Dagny has a good point here. A faith-based religion, by its very nature, requires the acceptance of something without evidence. Any “proof” a skeptic of Mormonism could bring out i.e. actual translations of Egyptian writings claimed by Joe Smith to be Mormon Scriptures (no living person during Smith’s lifetime was able to read Ancient Egyptian) could be explained away as an elaborate fraud or God testing a Mormon’s true faith.

    Any body of evidence can be accommodated by any system of beliefs if you make enough loopy adjustments elsewhere (e.g., God’s testing us, everything’s an illusion, we were created 5 minutes ago filled with false memories). That’s not just true of religion, that’s true of everything.

    But it doesn’t follow that the right evidence can’t discredit a system of beliefs, or that all claims are equally worth believing, or that all theories are equally successful at explaining the evidence.

    In conclusion, Mormonism is stupid.

  34. Pick up a copy of the B.O.M. (they give away free paperback, abridged versions) and near the front there are “testimonies” of people who supposedly saw the plates. Well, I do not believe the stories either but to a “person of faith” that could be enough. Hey, Moses’ tablets thing could have been a hoax also. I have never seen the original Ten Commandments (any of the three versions) have you?

    I think what he’s saying is that there’s always something fishy about someone claiming to have remarkable physical evidence, and then claiming that (whoops!) it’s not here any more. So if the Torah had Moses telling the people about how awesome the two tablets were, and then they ask to see them, and then Moses says “Oh, sorry, I gave them back to God”, then that story would involve the same sort of unbelievable fishiness (not to deny there’s already a lot of unbelievable crap in that story).

  35. “?or that all claims are equally worth believing, or that all theories are equally successful at explaining the evidence.”

    Oh, please do not misunderstand, I am NOT saying ALL claims or ALL theories are equal. Just all faith-based religions. (If an organized religion commits actual crimes like has been accused of the Church of Scientology, the Roman Catholic Church and others that is a separate debate from their dogma.) I find all faith-based religions I am at all familiar with to be, frankly, insane. I have an open mind and am willing to explore strange new worlds and new civilizations and boldly go where I have never gone before. But I will not claim any of the ones I have seen so far is any crappier than another.

  36. “I think what he’s saying is that there’s always something fishy about someone claiming to have remarkable physical evidence, and then claiming that (whoops!) it’s not here any more.”

    Oh, yes, I agree, I think there is something fishy about ALL faith based religions.

  37. Wow, out of all of those comments, two of them actually mentioned POLITICAL issues (three, if you are willing to push the point)!

    I’m a Mormon. I’m not voting for Mitt (now that’s 4 posts mentioning politics).

    As far as all of the “experts” in here bashing my beliefs, how about telling us what cults you belong to, so that we can go over some or your own absurd beliefs?

    Let’s start with one of my favorites, the Nicene doctrine that Jesus prayed to himself, and even begged himself to release himself from his covenants, then told himself “. . .not as I wilt, but as Thou wilt . . .”

    Sorry, guys, I refuse to believe that Jesus is insane.

    As far as evidence, there is actually no independent evidence that Jesus ever existed. The Romans not only have no record of his birth (small surprise there) but there is no record of his appearance before the military governor (Pilate) or of his execution. No military commander ever suggested that someone had shown up who was believed to be the promised Messiah (whom the Jews expected to wipe the occupation forces off the face of the map). NOTHING. The oldest “record” was by Josephus, who was born years after the Crucifixion, and who reported on the Christian MOVEMENT, not on Christ himself.

    Yes, I have faith in Christ. He’s proven to me more times than I can count that not only did he live, but he DOES live — but that is not the kind of proof which would hold up in court.

    NOBODY has any proof of Christ that can stand up to independent investigation . . .but there are a lot of people who call my church a “cult” because I can’t prove my religion any more than they can prove theirs.

    Protestants are SOOOOOO amusing.

  38. Many serious theologians conclude that the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are fiction. I am certainly not a theologian, but listening to the analysis has convinced me that the bible is not nearly so immutable as preachers would have us believe. Editors created the bible by selecting from amongst many “sacred” writings. I suppose you could assert that God guided the editor’s choices, hence the bible reflects His will, but that is simply an assertion.

    Having said all of that, I don’t think the Ladder Day Saints (LDS) aka Mormons are any loopier than any other religion. In my opinion, Romney is not disqualified by his religion. I have known quite a few Mormons, and in my experience they are really good people. I would have no qualms whatever with a Mormon president.

    The one criticism I would level against Mormons is their tendency toward cronyism, or nepotism: If you put a Mormon in charge, soon the organization will be run by Mormons. I have seen this happen several times.

    By the way, I am impressed by Mitt!

  39. I have known quite a few Mormons, and in my experience they are really good people. I would have no qualms whatever with a Mormon president.

    I was about to post the same thing. I don’t think the question should be “Are the candidate’s religious beliefs plausible?” but “Do the candidate’s religious beliefs interfere with his ability to think rationally about everyday questions, especially the questions he would face once elected?”

    I know from my experience of Mormons (including the historian Richard Bushman) that being a practicing Mormon doesn’t prevent one from exercising normal good sense. I don’t know any Scientologists or Raelians, but I doubt I’d be able to say the same about them.

    BTW — Why are people using the phrase “faith-based religion”? Is there any other kind of religion?

  40. Wayne: Latter-day Saints tend to associate with other LDS for several reasons. One is that we share a common culture, which is a little different from most others. Another is that we are held to a slightly higher standard of behavior than most people — and this includes the workplace and honesty in our dealings with others. Violation of these standards can result in excommunication. Thus, we (sometimes erroneously) expect better from Saints than from non-members.

    However, with that in mind, let me repeat that I will NOT be voting for Mitt, unless his opponent is Hillary. His being a Mormon isn’t a factor for me — so is Harry Reid. Neither of them reflects my own political position, they are both collectivists.

    Regarding the Bible, I suggest that you do some study into how we got it in the first place. The Third Councils of Carthage (at the end of the 4th Century) gathered together as many books and letters as they could from the various Christian churches, then decided which were true Gospel and which were not. In some cases, they had to select between slightly different versions of the same books. Once this was done, they submitted their list to the Pope, and eventually the Holy Bible was admitted as canon.

    We Saints believe that the Bible is the word of God “as translated correctly.” We do not believe that it is a perfect book, because we believe that God doesn’t WANT us to have a perfect book or a perfect knowledge — we’re here to walk by faith, not knowledge.

    I don’t want to proselyte, but if you would like to discuss this further, please email me (jg@utahskies.com) and I’ll answer any questions that I can.

  41. jp wrote:

    “I know from my experience of Mormons (including the historian Richard Bushman) that being a practicing Mormon doesn’t prevent one from exercising normal good sense.”

    Funny, I was about to say pretty much the same thing about non-Mormons. I have known many who were a credit to their people.

    . . .though many of the smarter ones have become Mormons . . ! 😉

  42. JGR,

    Thanks for the offer, but I have no need. One of my very best friends, and colleague is LDS. In fact, he is an elder in the local Temple. He is a great guy. Sometimes he and I talk about religious things, but usually only when I broach the subject.

    I fear that I am a lost cause, religiously, at least from the perspective of anybody trying to convert me to the path of God. I just can’t get past my own reasoning on the subject of supernatural things. I mean no offense to any believers here, but it is all just supertition.

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