OK, maybe it’s stretching the definition of “mainstream” to include the Daily Beast and MSNBC, but the predicted eruptions of the “Mormon Mitt” meme keep occurring with increasing frequency.
Notice how Newsweek/Daily Beast reporter Ben Jacobs hands a cue to Montana’s Democrat Gov. Brian Schweitzer:
While discussing swing states, Schweitzer said Romney would have a “tall order to position Hispanics to vote for him,” and I replied that was mildly ironic since Mitt’s father was born in Mexico, giving the clan a nominal claim to being Hispanic. Schweitzer replied that it is “kinda ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy.” Women, he said, are “not great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico.”
Romney’s father, George — who served as governor of Michigan and was a member of the Nixon cabinet and also a presidential candidate — was born in Mexico in 1907 to a family of American Mormons who fled to Mexico when the United States government cracked down on the practice of polygamy. George Romney’s parents were in a monogamous marriage, but Mexico was the last bastion for the practice of plural marriage in the Church of Latter Day Saints.
Jacobs just casually mentions — oh, by the way, how ironic! — Romney’s father being born in Mexico, and this automatically triggers Schweitzer to start in on a rant about a “polygamy commune,” and to then further contextualize this in terms of what percentage of women voters disapprove of polygamy. This rant then provides an excuse for Jacobs to relate the biographical/historical facts.
Completely coincidental, you see. Just a reporter doing his job.
Meanwhile, on MSNBC, Martin Bashir delivered a sermon Thursday:
It’s now time to clear the air and on Wednesday’s broadcast we brought you a spirited discussion about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith and one pastor’s view that Mormonism is both theologically heretical and a cult.
Today, we wanted to focus on what Mormonism says about lying and the reason is quite simple — Mr. Romney seems to be having some trouble telling the truth . . .
Which brings us to the moral codes of Mormonism that Mr. Romney claims to live by. In section 63 and verse 17 of the Doctrine and Covenants of the Mormon Church we find this: “All liars, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
And from the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:34, we find this: “Woe unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.” Given what the Book of Mormon is clearly saying, Mr. Romney has but two choices — he can either keep lying and potentially win the White House but bring eternal damnation upon himself, or he can start telling the truth.
Now, the video:
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As you can see, Bashir calls Romney “Mitt the Mendacious” three times. The crudeness of Bashir’s rhetorical method is enough to make Allahpundit pine for “the relative subtlety and understated good taste of Keith Olbermann.” Bashir also reminds MSNBC viewers that on Wednesday, he interviewed Pastor Robert Jeffress, the Southern Baptist who endorsed Romney despite Jeffress’s continued insistence that Mormonism is a heretical cult.
What Bashir is doing is something I explained two weeks ago: Using evangelicals as a “hook” to bring up Romney’s Mormonism. This is a familiar theme that mainstream reporters have been working on ever since the 2008 campaign. The supposed anti-Mormon prejudices of evangelical Christians that were much talked about in terms of Romney’s difficulties in GOP primaries will now be reinterpreted as an excuse to talk about Mitt’s Mormonism for the general election campaign.
It’s a great two-birds-with-one-stone-stone trick for liberals: “Look how bigoted these holy rollers are and — hey, by the way — did you notice that Romney’s religion is kinda weird and has a history of polygamy, violence and racism? Also, coming up next, we have an exclusive interview with an ex-Mormon woman who has written a book that says the church is horribly sexist . . .”
There will be no end to this, and those who are sanguine about Romney’s election chances — Ace seems positively giddy these days — may be naive in thinking the media’s steady drip, drip, drip about Mormonism will not hurt Mitt with independents.
Three words: “Low-information voters.”
The kind of people who never vote in primaries and seldom vote in mid-terms, but who feel it their patriotic duty to vote in presidential elections, are notoriously disengaged from politics on a day-to-day basis. They don’t pay much attention to the news, and have only a superificial knowledge of issues and ideologies. They usually show up in poll data as “don’t know/don’t care/undecided.”
What will these voters know about Mitt Romney by Nov. 6? They’ll know he’s rich, and they’ll know he’s Mormon.
What the media are doing now is establishing a pretext for future in-depth coverage of the history, beliefs and practices of LDS. When the “low-information voters” start paying attention, what they will learn about Mormonism from the media will be . . .
Well, it won’t be anything that makes independent “swing” voters want to go storming to the polls to vote for Romney, that’s for sure.
Remember George Allen’s 2006 campaign? Liberals spent months laying down the background of Allen’s alleged “neo-Confederate” connections, with articles in the New Republic and other outlets, so that when he said “macaca,” it was like he had hit a trip-wire that exploded a mine and set off a massive ambush.
They’re now doing the same to Romney with the “Mormon Mitt” meme: Establishing the map-grid coordinates, as it were, so that when the signal flare goes up, everybody is aiming at the same target and Romney is helplessly trapped in the media kill-zone. They’ve got Romney zeroed in already: When he attempts to “distance” himself from whatever out-of-the-mainstream Mormon belief he’s accused of holding, his denial will then be used as evidence that he is just an insincere panderer with no core principles. If Mitt complains that he is the victim of religious bigotry, they’ll mock him as a whining crybaby.
All of this is perfectly predictable, you see: It is foreshadowed already, and the fact that they held back until after they were sure Romney had the nomination locked up — once Mitt won Wisconsin — was a clear clue of their ultimate intention. Yesterday, it was announced that Mitt would give the commencement address at Liberty University. Look how the New York Times played it:
Mitt Romney will deliver the commencement address at Liberty University, the evangelical institution founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, Va.
Mr. Romney’s campaign said the university invited him to speak to the approximately 48,000 people expected to attend the graduation ceremony on May 12.
Virginia is a swing state, but for Mr. Romney, this invitation offers a chance to shore up one of his weaknesses within his base, as many evangelicals remain wary of his Mormon faith.
Jerry Falwell Jr., the university’s chancellor, said in a statement that “we are delighted” that Mr. Romney would be speaking, and he compared the visit to those of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the elder George Bush in 1990. However, the decision has already sparked controversy among students and alumni of Liberty University, with nearly 300 people commenting on the institution’s Facebook announcement within two hours of its posting.
“I am so disappointed in my university for their choice in commencement speaker Romney. You have lost a potential grad student,” wrote Paige Farmer. “It is shameful that you would allow him a stage for political gain. What could a Mormon possibly have to share with Christians?”
You can see it coming a mile away, folks. Don’t say you weren’t warned.