Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Weapons of Mormon Destruction

Florida Votes
Today Florida will vote (I was walking the dogs this morning at around 5:30 AM and a random guy drove by asking me where the Community Center was) and the turn-out is expected to be large. The big questions are:

  1. Will Mitt Romney win by 20+ points or, at least, more than he was beaten by in South Carolina?
  2. Will Santorum finish ahead or behind Ron Paul? (The RCP average shows Rick Santorum ahead--but not by much).
In the end, none of this matters that much as Newt will (most likely) remain in the race through the grim drought of February, hoping for a March Super Tuesday resurgence and Santorum has pledged to remain in the game as well  (conspiracy theory: Mitt has paid him or offered him a cabinet job to do so. Maybe, like, 30 minutes of Mitt's annual income would suffice?).

The question is what does Newt do next? He doesn't have debates to fall back on--there won't be one until the end of February--and while he'll appear in the remaining states he needs to bash the heck out of Mitt Romney in order to keep the second part of his narrative going (the first part is: I'll attack the left-wing media. The second part is: I'll attack everyone else).

The main gig on McCain was that he refused to "attack Obama." He refused to call him an Islamist, a Marxist, Indonesian-born, and all that jazz. He didn't play Rev. Wright screaming "God Damn America" over images of airplanes flying into the twin towers (I've seen that video on YouTube and I'm glad it didn't make it to general air-play).

The fact is, McCain knew what the RNC also knows: doing that--getting really dirty is the ultimate Hail Marry play. It's like going "All In" in high stakes poker--it works every time until it doesn't. The probable back-lash from that sort of thing is hard to control and while McCain was going to lose--and it was pretty clear in the end--the risk-to-benefit analysis probably didn't involve playing bumper-cars with the slim chance he did have.

But the base won't hear it.

Likewise, Newt has been demonized (as has Mitt) for "attacking from the left" because of his assault on Bain Capital (and Romney's use of Social Security against Perry).This is destructive. Possibly very much so. Some quotes:
In all of this, I get the real sense that there are wounds opening up that will not be healed by November of 2012.
and  from here:
But the poisonous practice of irresponsible smears is an issue that is bigger than Gingrich, Romney or any other candidate of either party.
There have long been reports of people who decline to be nominated for federal judicial appointments because that means going before the Senate Judiciary Committee to have lies about their past spread nationwide, and the good reputation built up over a lifetime destroyed by politicians who could not care less about the truth.
The same practices may well have something to do with the public's dissatisfaction with the current crop of candidates in this year's primaries -- and in previous years' primaries. Character assassination is just another form of voter fraud.
So I want to look at the weapon that, so far, Newt hasn't used: the Mormon card.

You Tube: What Mormons Really Believe
 Before I get anywhere near this I want to be clear on a few things. The first is that I have nothing against Mormons--as far as I am concerned they are as Christian as I am. Secondly, I know almost nothing about their faith or creed. Oh, sure, I know what people say about them--but as far as I can tell every religion has something the others find weird in it and, being no expert ... well, I don't know. In any event, this is not about what's true. Political attack ads do not trade in truth but in truthiness--the appearance of being true. Whether or not anything here is factual, kind of factual, or a well-entrenched lie is besides the point--the allegations themselves are the ones that do the damage, not the weight of facts behind them.

If you put the above search-string into Google, this is what you get:
But let's look at the key, damaging elements of Mormonism to Mitt Romney.

  1. The Nicene Creed: The Nicene Creed is a litmus test of Christian belief that is used to separate the True Christians from the Heretics. By some, anyway. Mormons do not believe the Nicene Creed (so I am told) and therefore, if you belong to a church that uses it--they're heretics. Plain and simple. You can read here to get some fire and brimstone: "  I say to you in Christ name not to vote or support for a Mormons for such as these. No Jesus will not punish you while you are living but after death when you come before Him for judgement He will say to you " be gone from Me you evil one for I do not know you and say to His Angel on His left cast them into hell". Jesus will not bless or help anyone who commits evil acts. In the United States of America can not expect any blessing from God for the evil politicians the vote into office and in the evil way they are running the country."
  2. The Black Thing: Black people are, according to the church's detractors, said to be "cursed by God." To be sure there is some tangled history there. Until 1979 blacks couldn't hold high church offices--according to Wikipedia, anyway. That's pretty darn recent. Also, Romney is a high official in the church and did missionary work in France. He arrived in France in 1966 while whatever rules there were were still in effect. Presumably, if it came up, he may have preached that blacks were dirty and cursed by God--or whatever the doctrine actually was. I'll say again, I don't know for sure--but imagine the attack ads.
  3. Polygamy--His Mexico Family: The story is that Mitt Romney's great grandfather went to Mexico to avoid prosecution for polygamy. If true--and the sources seem credible (he had four wives?) the fact that Romney decries polygamy and has never visited his family there may not matter. Indeed, from the Republican Party Platform of 1856 one of it's founding planks was " Resolved: That the Constitution confers upon Congress sovereign powers over the Territories of the United States for their government; and that in the exercise of this power, it is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism — Polygamy, and Slavery."
This would all make for a blistering attack ad and the one thing we're probably lucky about is that Newt would likely not survive it (whether or not he would stoop to doing it--which I'm unsure of, but tend to doubt). 

What Do I Think?
I think that the Mormon card will likely remain off the table due to the almost assured nature of the blow-back. But if he decided to? Approximately one third to 40 percent of the Deep South voters are "evangelical." These are the people who would, likely, be swayed by that--but the unsavory taint of polygamy and racism would also be, well, very, very damaging if they could make it stick. 

I think it's actually a good thing that we don't see this stuff in play. And despite my love for political combat, I hope this bullshit stays in the launch silos.

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