Words fail me

by John Holbo on December 3, 2007

On the surface of it, Romney shouldn’t have to give a Mormon speech any more than Obama should have to give a Muslim speech.


Perhaps comments will be better.



des von bladet 12.03.07 at 2:13 pm

Whatever it was, it’s 404ed now.


stuart 12.03.07 at 2:16 pm

I guess I am missing something, or are you trying to point out that for about the first time ever something has been posted at townhall.com that isn’t completely moronic – although maybe it is the sort of place that only really gets links to it when the writers go off the rails, I am not a regular reader of the site, I just get pointed there from time to time when there is some really bizarre stuff posted there.


Aidan Kehoe 12.03.07 at 2:17 pm

Works for me, Des. Though that to piginiwig.diaryland.com doesn’t, hah.


Jacob Christensen 12.03.07 at 2:20 pm

Hoisted from the comments, written by the signature “Manfred”:

That is clearly a smear in the guise of a stupid comparison. Romney IS Mormon; Obama isn’t Muslim.

But this – by “Marc” – is a wee bit mind-boggling, or perhaps proof that you should always proof-read your comments before hitting the “post”-button:

Amen Manfred. I’m Mormon and have been bothered by the bigotry shown toward Romney’s faith by both the right at the left, but Patrick’s post makes no sense. Obama is not Muslim and never was. Romney is.


des von bladet 12.03.07 at 2:44 pm

They should both work now. (But the FA really didn’t half an hour ago.)


JP Stormcrow 12.03.07 at 2:52 pm

He does have a clarifying update in response to some comments.

In response to some comments: No, I’m not trafficking in the Obama Muslim rumors. Merely pointing out that these false rumors seem to have gotten more traction than the much-ballyhooed talk of Romney’s religion. Obama shouldn’t be forced to dignify these rumors with a substantive response. And neither should Romney with regards to anti-Mormon bigotry.

I can respect that sentiment (especially since he at least did characterize the Muslim rumors as “false”), but to me he certainly should have given it more thought before conflating a candidate’s need to respond (or not) to factually false rumors with potential negative feelings about an acknowledged fact. Yes they both have “religion” in common – but his post is now just becomes more bit of Obama/Muslim buzz.


P O'Neill 12.03.07 at 3:10 pm

He could remove any partisan ambiguity by saying something like

On the surface of it, Romney shouldn’t have to give a Mormon speech any more than Condi should have to give a lesbian speech.


rm 12.03.07 at 3:13 pm

The American Public Mind:
— is all about general impressions, “the news with the sound off”
— is now firmly convinced that a devout Protestant is actually a Muslim
— and will elect President Guliani on that basis


rm 12.03.07 at 3:13 pm

That was supposed to be a bullet list.


rodeo 12.03.07 at 5:29 pm

The writer is an anti-Muslim bigot [not simply rumormonger]


Everett 12.03.07 at 5:56 pm

And Hugh Hewitt shouldn’t have to prove once and for all that he’s not a child rapist and puppy eater.


saurabh 12.03.07 at 6:25 pm

Is this pointless whinging? It seems a perfectly respectable article to me, saying that both Romney’s Mormonism and Obama’s faux-Islam are complete non-issues.


Kathleen 12.03.07 at 6:30 pm

As are, of course, Hugh Hewitt’s child raping and puppy-eating. complete non-issues, that is. To be clear about HH’s child-raping and puppy-eating.


Antti Nannimus 12.03.07 at 6:45 pm


Here in The Real World, a candidate’s religion certainly IS an issue, and should be, especially if it is claimed as a credential. I am sure they would ALL be very quick to disavow atheism. Thus they deserve scrutiny about all the silly ideas they may hold dear, and where they might take us as a result of it.

Have a nice day!


John Emerson 12.03.07 at 6:52 pm

Hewitt was clownish and fraudulent as usual. Romney’s Mormonism is an issue because the Republicans rely on the votes of demented Armageddon Christians, many of whom think that Mormonism is a Satanic cult. Secular humanist liberals don’t care a bit — we love the Udalls, who’re all Mormon, and our issues with Reid are unrelated to his religion.


Bruce Webb 12.03.07 at 7:06 pm

Sorry this flips the matter on its head. It wouldn’t matter if Osama was a Muslim, the Democratic Party follows the Constitution and shows no sign of wanting to violate the ‘No religious test for office’ clause. On the other hand a large part of the Republican Party is insisting that this country was founded as a Christian nation under Christian principles and has in fact imposed a religious test against Muslims (see both the Ellison swearing on the Koran flap, and Romney saying he wouldn’t appoint a Muslim in his cabinet). The Republicans have gone well beyond dog-whistling on this, for all practical purposes they have indeed applied a religious test, if you are not Christian or Jewish you don’t pass.

Maybe the leadership of the Republican Party are now sorry they let this progress to the point that it has, but it is what it is. Whether Mormons are really Christians is important because the Party made that question important. That under the US Constitution the question should be irrelevant doesn’t make it irrelevant. The GOP has pandered to Christian Theocrats for a couple of decades not, now they want to rewrite the rules they themselves wrote.

If Romney didn’t want to face a religious test for office he should have run as what his record shows he really is which is a DLC style moderate Democrat. Instead he chose to lie down with bigots and now is faced with the consequences of that choice. Well tough.


Jim Harrison 12.03.07 at 7:06 pm

Since Romney was born into a Mormon family, I don’t hold his religion against him. Had he converted as an adult, on the other hand, I would recommend therapy.


abb1 12.03.07 at 7:08 pm

I want to know how closely he follows the teachings of prophet Joseph Smith, Jr, self-proclaimed “second Mohammed”.


rm 12.03.07 at 7:09 pm

You see, it even works on people who read philosophy blogs. Obama doesn’t have any “faux” or any other kind of Islam. He is a Protestant. That’s why the false comparison matters — it creates a general impression which is a lie, but which will never die, and getting to the real point is like nailing jello, even on a philosophy blog. And that’s why we will have President Guliani.


jqpublic 12.03.07 at 7:27 pm

It probably is a false comparison:
It is believable that Obama is Muslim (just look at him), but it is not believable that Romney is Mormon.


John Emerson 12.03.07 at 7:33 pm

Abb1 wasn’t shittin’ y’all:

In the heat of the Missouri “Mormon War” of 1838, Joseph Smith made the following claim, “I will be to this generation a second Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was ‘the Alcoran [Koran] or the Sword.’ So shall it eventually be with us—‘Joseph Smith or the Sword!


John Emerson 12.03.07 at 7:35 pm

Seriously, except in places like Minneapolis both parties are going to be running away from Islam. It’s not something to get excited about. The only reason Ellison ever got elected is that he’s just so goldarned nice.


notsneaky 12.03.07 at 9:01 pm

John Emerson, you better watch it or they’ll make your grandma a Mormon.


Drake 12.03.07 at 9:41 pm

For some reason, I was immediately put in mind of this chestnut:

Sartre was sitting at the Café de Flore when a waitress came over to ask if he’d like anything.

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I’d like a coffee without cream.’

‘I’m sorry,’ replied the waitress. ‘But we have no cream.’
‘In that case,’ said Sartre, ‘I’ll have it without milk.’


John Emerson 12.03.07 at 10:41 pm

My son’s Grandma was a Mormon, and Mormons have a saying “Sometimes it skips a generation” (my son’s mother was extremely lapsed). My son seems to be completely safe, however. He has been approached, however.


novakant 12.03.07 at 11:06 pm

I fear that when things get ugly towards the end, his middle and last name alone (Hussein Obama!) will make a difference that might be crucial (it might only take a few thousand gullible voters) – but one can always hope.


rm 12.03.07 at 11:12 pm

. . . towards the end?


Ross L 12.03.07 at 11:33 pm

A. re #16, does Bruce Webb intend to use the name Osama in his comment, or did he mean Obama? Or perhaps Hussein Obama? Have I stumbled into Redstate here?

B. re #17, Jim Harrison’s comment is perhaps backwards. I was also born into a Mormon family, though not the Romneys. I converted at age 18, and suppose I would need serious therapy if I had not.


novakant 12.03.07 at 11:36 pm

. . . towards the end?

True, some right-wing motormouths and also the Clinton campaign have been playing dirty with this issue already, but I doubt that has had much effect on voters. I was thinking more along the lines of the McCain illegitimate black child smear either right before the primaries or election day.

Maybe it’s a good thing they’ve brought this “issue” up so early and people will have lost interest when it counts and Obama will be able to dismiss it easier. Maybe democratic and swing voters are generally less susceptible to such smears. Who knows.


soru 12.04.07 at 12:25 am

It wouldn’t matter if Osama was a Muslim

I think I have just found a member of a set previously thought to be null: the dirty election trick the Republicans would refrain from playing.

I actually think that if somone suggested secretly negotiating with Osama, then entering him on the ballot in Florida in the hope he would get that crucial 1% typo vote, somone would shoot the idea down.

I could be wrong.


Master Mahan 12.04.07 at 1:46 am

For extra stupidity, I’m impressed at using Google search terms as actual proof. Based on this political theory, I look forward to President eBay’s first term in office.


nick s 12.04.07 at 5:13 am

The real question: does Hugh Hewitt have to give the complete fucking bastard speech?


Z 12.04.07 at 1:15 pm

Relax people, the disturbing rumors that Hugh Hewitt was eating a puppy while raping that child are greatly exagerated.


Uncle Kvetch 12.04.07 at 5:15 pm

You mean he ate the child and raped the puppy?


Bruce Webb 12.04.07 at 9:55 pm

While shaving enroute to being late to an appointment I worried that maybe I had committed a typo but didn’t have time to check. It is telling that people accuse me of being a Redstate mole without considering my record or the comment in its own context.

Of course I meant Obama. On the other hand the logic works just as well using Osama. We don’t reject bin Laden because he is Muslim, we reject him because he is a mass murderor.

Here is a hard question for all you. Would it make any difference if Obama’s name was Osama? If so why? If not why would a typo matter? Only someone who kind of has bought into this racism to start with would care.


brantl 12.05.07 at 6:47 pm

Mittens is trying to get elected by a bigotted crowd and now he figures out that they might be bigotted against him. Poor planning on a party to join, Mitt. It sucks to be him. I’d feel worse for him if I hadn’t heard a lot of his campaign platform. And the double guantanomo crap. Oh, and the dog on the car roof, thing. And >.


Ross L 12.06.07 at 3:46 am

Bruce Webb, I did not intend to disparage you, and I do not think you are a Redstate mole. There was intended to be a sense of irony in my comment. In a post that was IMO at least partly about the foolish right wing frame of “Obama Osama”, your comment seemed to confirm the effectiveness of the Limbaughesque slur, in a rather humorous way. If you say you made a typo, I can certainly believe you. But the “b” key sits a long away away from the “s” key on the keyboard, which raises the issue of why the typo sprang from your fingers. The obvious context of the rest of your #16 comment only amps up the irony. As for your record, I do not find that relevant to the point (what is your record anyway – infallible tireless champion of all that is good and right?). As for the vague charges of racism in #35, they do not seem to me to be on point. Since when is Islam a race? I always thought it was a religion shared by people of sundry races. There are and will be people in the political fray selling and buying the Obama Osama shtick and while I do not think you are one of those people, you do not seem aware of the vile ramifications that might ensue from the tactic


jw 12.07.07 at 2:12 am

Sheesh 17, 23, 25: you’re as bad as the mindless Evangelical nutcases that made Romney feel like he had to make The Mormon Speech in the first place. Your enlightened liberalism sure sounds like smarmy, self-congratulatory bigotry to me.

Romney didn’t give the speech to us, but to right wingers in Iowa, who are jumping on the Huckabee, the “Christian leader.” That man scares the crap outta me. I’m much more afraid of a theocracy coming from Huckabee than Romney, that’s for sure.

Romney’s difficulty is that he’s chosen to participate in a party where the base is becoming more and more intolerant of people like him. Evangelical republicans hate Mormons in the same way segregationists hate multiracial marriage. Why any Mormon continues in the Republican party is a mystery to me. I guess that’s why fringe third-party candidates do better in Utah than they do other places.

I’d love to see Mittens lose the nomination to Huckabee as the Evangelicals swell in anti-Mormon sentiment, and then the twelve Mormon Republicans in Congress up and leave the party in protest. Then again, I’d love to see most of the right-wing Evangelicals that are surging in American politics get a swift kick in the groin.

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