Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Romney Can't Win

It was a very clever move by the media to wait for a Perry supporter to comment on Romney’s religion.  Now the media can start incessantly reminding us all that Romney is a Mormon while making it sound like the other guys have the problem. 
Despite the conventional wisdom that centrist/moderate Romney has a harder road in the primaries but has the best chance of beating Obama, Obama’s people and the press want a Romney candidacy because the big secret they are guarding is that Romney is the one they can beat.  Sure, if Perry got the nomination, they’d go for Bush comparisons, but the facts will only allow those comparisons go so far and many people might realize that they were better off economically and the world was a calmer place under Bush.  They make noises like they want such easy pickings, but only to throw us off.  Those pickings aren’t that easy.  In many ways, Cain is worse for them.  His biggest weakness is his lack of political experience, but Team Obama doesn’t want to make that argument too often lest they turn to stone in the reflection.  But Romney, they have an ace in the hole: his political history makes conservatives wary of him and his religion will make independents wary of him.  
Most discussions about how Romney’s religion plays in the general focuses upon evangelicals, of which Pastor Jeffress comment was an example.  Obviously there is some truth to the issue, especially in the West where Mormon history is more contentious.  But, for we evangelicals, I think Romney’s religion will matter less than expected.  The Dallas pastor, he made the comment because his flock is less bothered than he thinks they should be.  
Why?  Partially because Mormons are less strange to us.  We see some common ground with Mormons and points to admire, even if we disagree with major tenants of their faith.   Also, Mormons are increasingly mainstream.  We know Mormons.   Incredibly successful pop culture people are Mormon.  
But for the sought after moderates, independents, socially liberal/economically conservative voter, Mormonism is strange.  To those who think all religion a cult, Mormonism is what the cults think is a cult.  (This article and comment thread is from The Telegraph and so, one assumes, has mostly Brits commenting, not Americans.  I find, however, that  Telegraph reading Brits are a decent stand in for the moderates, independents, socially liberal/economically conservative American voter.)    
With Romney, Team Obama will have their cake and eat it too.  Conservatives will be apathetic about Romney because he’s never been a conservative. (An example of this concern from today.)  Moderates and assorted disillusioned liberals will not cross over to vote for Romney because they will be too afraid of what a Mormon would do now that he’s trying to be conservative.  If the press can stoke that fear enough, they might even be able to put some fire back into the disillusioned left.  ‘Sure Obama is a disappointment, but we can’t let that guy win.’ 
The media has stoked fear of Christians for decades.  This will be easy pickings.  That they will blame the fear on the right, that will just be bonus.