Friday, January 6, 2012

Romney's Tie (And I Don't Mean Iowa)

When Erik Eckholm writes about Christian evangelicals' increasingly frantic efforts to find an alternative to Mitt Romney, you have to read between the lines to find the real story.

They're afraid he's squishy on abortion and same-sex marriage, Eckholm writes. They want a real conservative, like health care mandate-favoring climate change hawk Newt Gingrich. The head of the Florida Family Policy Council goes so far as to say that Gingrich is "probably...the most viable candidate in the general election." Say what? Gingrich comes with more baggage than the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. President Obama loves his chances in that match-up, and everybody knows it, including, I'd assume, Erik Eckholm.

You can't see dark matter, which holds the universe together, and at least in this article you can't see what's bringing these evangelicals together: Their dislike of the LDS. You'd think Romney's Mormonism would be worth at least a paragraph, if only to let evangelical leaders deny that it's an issue. But Eckholm doesn't go near it. Reuters reporters
Santorum has been challenged for comments such as likening same-sex relationships to bestiality and saying states should be allowed to ban birth control. In Concord, New Hampshire, on Thursday, he was booed after appearing to compare gay marriage to polygamy and saying children of same-sex couples were being "harmed."

Some in the audience wondered if the polygamy reference was a coded reference to Romney's Mormonism.
Polls last year showed both that most evangelicals don't believe that Mormons are Christians and that they were less supportive of Romney that GOP voters in general. Sure, their lukewarm political support might be because of his more moderate views on social issues while serving as governor of Massachusetts. The Times' Eckholm seems inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. In a June 2011 post, journalist Mark Joseph wasn't:

Years ago I once interviewed comedian Jay Leno and he told me something I've never forgotten and think of quite often: when he wants to make fun of a fat man, he never makes fun of him for being fat; rather, he makes fun of his tie.

I think of Leno's maxim whenever I hear conservative Christian voters criticizing Mitt Romney for his alleged failings like Romneycare, flip-flopping, lack of personality etc. because like Leno, what I think they're really doing is describing his "tie" instead of saying what they truly mean to say: he's a Mormon.

As this obfuscation indicates however, it's a prejudice that nobody wants to cop to because there seems to be a general feeling that it's an icky one and so as a result, mainstream journalists continue to be befuddled over Romney's lack of success and try to blame it on the various criticisms of his "tie," only it's not about his "tie," it's about his religion.

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