This is a guest post by Michael Tracey. He is a journalist in Brooklyn, New York.
Last night the esteemed newsmagazine program 60 Minutes aired dueling interviews with both candidates for the presidency, Barack Hussein Obama and W. Mitt Romney.
“What are the essential qualities of a leader?” the correspondents queried. “I wonder what you’ve learned from the history of presidents in the White House?”
“Can you win this thing?”
Eventually the topic turned to prayer, and Scott Pelley (also the recently-installed anchor of the CBS Nightly News) made sure to pull no punches.
“Prayer is a time to connect with the divine,” Romney commented, reporting on what comprises his evening ritual, when wife Ann has gone to bed.
“You pray every night before you go to bed?” asked Pelley.
“I do pray every night, yeah,” Romney replied.
“What do you ask for?”
“Heh heh!” Romney winked. “That’s between me and God.”
A more discerning journalist might have asked the candidate to elaborate on the nature of this God to whom he apparently prays, or perhaps to describe what precisely the candidate meant by “the divine.” Given that Mormonism and Christianity are in clear doctrinal conflict — i.e., Mormonism is most certainly NOT just another sect of Christianity — the answer given likely would have been illuminating.
If Romney was not such an utterly dismal campaigner and the race were closer at this point, you can bet that soon enough we’d all be treated to our week-long “Mormon Moment,” wherein the News Media reckons with the fact that America could imminently have, for the first time in its history, a non-Christian for president. Whenever “faith” is discussed on the campaign trail, Romney smoothly elides any distinction between Mormonism and Christianity, affirming his commitment to “Judeo-Christian values” and studiously avoiding invocation of the words “Mormon” or “Church of Latter-Day Saints” — nevermind “Joseph Smith” or “golden plates”! The fact is, Romney was once the highest ranking Mormon prelate in Boston. His ties to the Mormon Hierarchy are strong. He should have to account for these things. (Whether he genuinely believes in the truth of Mormonism, I don’t know, but whether he genuinely believes in anything is doubtful.)
A theory percolating now is that Romney never really intended to be the President; as a businessman, he merely sought the Republican nomination for business-oriented reasons, one of which being the legitimation of Mormonism in the eyes of Movement Conservatives. Indeed, Romney has already succeeded in that goal. In order to “shore up the base,” GOP elites have spent much time convincing leery Evangelicals that Romney is really “one of them,” that they needn’t worry about the LDS Church’s “odd” conception of the Trinity or posit of an additional Testament. No, Romney is just a humble Christian like the rest of them good-natured folk.
This is an outright lie, as many honest Christians have long recognized. But because facts, logic, and reason are obsolete in the deranged Movement Conservative universe, lies are perfectly OK. Obama must be defeated, even if it means replacing him with a Chief Executive who is in fact a polytheist. (See my interview with Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association on the polytheism issue.)
What’s clarifying about this absurd dynamic is that it further exposes the emptiness at the heart of the Conservative Movement. They are not tethered to any semblance of principle — they are simply impelled by hatred, infantile rage, xenophobia, wild conspiracy theories, and a host of other nasty forces that maybe I will elucidate in some subsequent blogpost.
Happily, this hate-filled element can look forward to Four More Years of Barack Obama. Good job, guys!