Sunday, December 9, 2007

Holy Underwear

Mitt’s No J.F.K.
Published: December 9, 2007

Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
-Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle
October 5, 1988
Mitt Romney makes Maureen Dowd recall her Irish Catholic youth.
When I was a kid, we used to drive on the Beltway past the big Mormon temple outside Washington. The spires rose up like a white Oz, and some wag had spray-painted the message on a bridge beneath: “Surrender Dorothy!”

Which is what the Wicked Witch wrote in the sky in The Wizard of Oz. This then leads her to flash on some of the nuttier Mormon rituals.
Now in addition to asking candidates about boxers or briefs, we have reporters asking Mitt Romney if he wears The Garment, the sacred one-piece, knee-length underwear with Mormon markings and strict disposal rules.

“I’ll just say those sorts of things I’ll keep private,” he told The Atlantic.
Which shows that Romney has more discretion than Bill Clinton. He also didn’t address what he thought of thongs on interns. But Dowd sees a bigger non-underwear related issue:
The problem with Mitt is not his religion; it is his overeager policy shape-shifting. He did not give a brave speech, but a pandering one. Disguised as a courageous, Kennedyesque statement of principle, the talk was really just an attempt to compete with the evolution-disdaining, religion-baiting Huckabee and get Baptists to concede that Mormons are Christians.
John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, gave a speech decrying religious tests for public office.
That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe--a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.
Compare that soaring rhetoric with the words from Romney earlier this week:
Given our grand tradition of religious tolerance and liberty, some wonder whether there are any questions regarding an aspiring candidate's religion that are appropriate. I believe there are. And I will answer them today.

Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president. Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.
He can’t even steal material well. Mitt Romney is no Joe Biden either. But he doesn’t stop there. He insists of going further:
No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust.
He then rattles on about nativity scenes and abortions. Dowd rightly figures out that Romney is a little unclear on the whole church/state separation thing.
The world is globalizing, nuclear weapons are proliferating, the Middle East is seething, but Republicans are still arguing the Scopes trial.
And despite his appearance, Huckabee is not on the side of the chimps. She concludes:
Mitt was right when he said that “Americans do not respect believers of convenience.” Now if he would only admit he’s describing himself.
Time to start marketing those Romney flip-flops, complete with matching underwear.

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