The EFM Feature

Hey, Frenches! I’m still here, I promise. And I’m even lame enough to blog on a Friday night.
I’ve been distracted this summer by too much work, a move, and (most recently) a perfectly delightful and email-free anniversary vacation in California. But I’m back now, and I missed y’all. Not only that, thanks to our move, the Mitchells are one step closer to being as cool as the Frenches: We each have a desk and a laptop from which we can engage in scintillating inter-couple dialogue like what occurred here earlier today.
David, a couple thoughts on President Obama’s Nobel Prize. First, yes, it shows just how political those prizes have become. Second, it occurs to me we should perhaps be thankful for the choice. After all, better that a prize like this go to the President of the United States (even if we disagree with him on many things) than some tin-pot dictator with blood on his hands. That does, after all, happen quite often with international honors like this.
Nancy, I was surprised by Ramesh Ponnuru’s article. Recall that he was quite a Romney skeptic in 2008; although National Review endorsed our guy, Ponnuru himself was a McCain guy. That makes the praise in his piece even more noteworthy. And this, it seems to me, hit on something critical:

Yet it is extremely difficult — more difficult than many people realize — to capture the Republican presidential nomination from the right in the modern era. The politics of religion largely account for this difficulty. The movement candidacy always runs a risk of being destroyed by an evangelical candidacy. No movement candidate can win without strong support from evangelical voters. But an evangelical candidate running on the basis of his religion can win a lot of votes from his coreligionists, and thus block the movement candidate’s progress, without being able to win the nomination himself. As Huckabee showed in the last race, the evangelical candidate need not be well-known or well-funded to play this role. Pat Robertson played it in 1988. (Pat Buchanan splintered the movement in a slightly different way in 1996.)
Romney’s problem was not that he is a Mormon. It was that he is not an evangelical. A strong plurality of evangelicals “would have backed Huckabee against anybody — Mormon, Buddhist, or Catholic,” says another former Romney adviser. “They were voting for one of their own.”…
The movement candidate labors under another burden: He is competing for votes with everyone else in the field. He has to fight the establishment candidate to his left and the evangelical candidate to his right, while neither of them fights the other. McCain and Huckabee were not, by and large, competing for the same voters. That’s one reason Romney was the man most uniformly hated by the other candidates, and why voters saw Romney as the most negative candidate.

I’m not sure if Ponnuru is exactly right on the history (I don’t know enough to judge) but I do think he’s on the right track with this “one of our own” business. How many times did we hear that attitude on display? The worst manifestation of it, to me, is that idea that God can only work through someone who prays to him (something we also heard in the 2000 cycle). I don’t know about you, but I believe in a God who can do whatever he wants with whomever he wants — including the pagan king who allowed the Israelites to return home from Babylon.
Oh, one other thing: I still can’t believe David wasn’t the first one to pull this off.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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