Over the weekend, The New York Times ran an interesting piece by Jodi Kantor on the role of Gov. Romney’s religion in his life. It was less interesting, honestly, due to what it revealed about Gov. Romney as opposed to what it implied about the mainstream media today.
As to Gov. Romney, there’s little there you didn’t know before reading it. He used to teach Sunday school. He tries to apply the tenets of his faith to his daily life. He works hard. He and Mrs. Romney pray about big decisions. He’s big on marriage between a Mr. and a Mrs. He believes God did shed his grace on thee, America. He doesn’t cuss and only recently stopped using substitutes for profanity that sound funny in today’s culture (“golly” and the like). He thinks personal virtue matters. And so on.
Basically, the piece paints a picture of a man who’s a lot like the kid in the picture above this post: He loves America and a lot of seemingly outdated values that used to be part and parcel of her, and he’s not afraid to show it, even when it earns him ridicule. We knew that already. And particularly from the perspective of a conservative evangelical, it paints a picture of a man for whom a faith with which we don’t agree manifests itself in terms of values with which we absolutely do agree. We’re all in this together, guys.
And what about the media? Well, this is something Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post got me thinking about. Check out this line: “He may have many reasons for abhorring debt, wanting to limit federal power, promoting self-reliance and stressing the unique destiny of the United States, but those are all traditionally Mormon traits as well.” Ms. Rubin, who is Jewish, responds:
Now substitute a different religion: “He may have many reasons for abhorring debt, wanting to limit federal power, promoting self-reliance and stressing the unique destiny of the United States, but those are all traditionally Jewish traits as well.”
Zing! It’s a good point. I don’t necessarily see this piece as “rank bigotry,” as Ms. Rubin does–in fact, I think it’s more than reasonable to assess the ways in which a candidate’s faith affects his values and actions, if you do so intelligently–but the thought experiment she’s set up is a good one. For instance, what would The New York Times call “traditionally evangelical traits?”
You guys respond in the comments, but here’s my entry:
There are many reasons then-Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) prevailed in the 2008 presidential election, but a main one, according to Charles Mitchell of the website Evangelicals for Mitt, is that too many Americans fell for a nice-sounding pitch from a smooth-talking messenger, despite the fact that he lacked credibility and ended up taking them for a ride. These are, Mr. Mitchell said, “traditionally evangelical traits” that, oddly enough, ended up infecting the entire electorate.