Romney wins Iowa by 8 votes

Rick Santorum surged into a virtual tie with Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucus votes, the difference being a mere 8 votes.  Ron Paul came in third.  Here are the results, with the raw numbers and the percentages:

Mitt Romney      30,015      24.6%

Rick Santorum   30,007     24.5%

Ron Paul             26,219       21.4%

Newt Gingrich   16,251        13.3%

Rick Perry           12,604       10.3%

Michele Bachmann 6,073     5.0%

Jon Huntsman           745       0.6%

Others                          341        0.3%

 

via Iowa Caucus results, visits and political geography – 2012 Campaign Republican Primary Tracker – The Washington Post.

I’d like to credit my “What’s Wrong with Santorum?” post for turning the tide to him.  (The post was linked to a lot and picked up by a Christian news aggregator.)  [I don't seriously think that.  It was obvious for social conservatives to finally consider the last man standing.  And if anyone read the comments, they would see that you readers found quite a bit wrong with him.]

But still, does this make Santorum the non-Paul alternative to Mitt Romney?

Paul performed worse than expected.  He did, however, win one of the proverbial three tickets out of Iowa.

There was a big gap with the other candidates.  How the mighty Newt has fallen!  And Perry!  And Bachmann, the winner of the Iowa straw poll!  If their supporters rally to Santorum, though, the percentages add up dramatically in his favor.  Do you think that will happen?

“See how dumb I am” moments

Jennifer Rubin is a conservative.  But she is sick and tired of Republican candidates and office holders who flaunt their  ignorance and celebrate unintelligence:

Republicans have sometimes mistaken anti-elitism with anti-smarts. Put differently, Republicans should not have contempt for the voters or for ideas, lest they be judged unworthy of serving in office. It’s one thing to heap scorn on liberal elites who parrot unsupportable leftist dogma or who show contempt for ordinary Americans’ values; it’s quite another to celebrate ignorance.  We’ve had two rather appalling examples in 24 hours, which I would suggest, are perfect examples of what conservatives should reject.

After the Florida debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on Fox passed on a comment from someone she purportedly spoke to after the debate who claimed that the HPV vaccine that Texas Gov. Rick Perry had attempted to make mandatory caused mental retardation. This is complete nonsense. . . .

Then today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry went to Liberty University. It was, at least in part, a celebration of ignorance. The Post’s reporter at the scene Phil Rucker tweeted some of the remarks. Jon Ward at Huffington Post likewise recorded some comments. Things started off on a poor note with Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. praising Perry’s seccessionist remarks as “gutsy.” Are we to believe now that Perry was serious about secession? Then Perry, apparently deciding to make ads for the Obama campaign, came out with a series of “See how dumb I am?” one-liners. He observed that he needed to pull out a dictionary to see what “convocation” meant. The next knee-slapper: He didn’t have the grades to be a vet, so he became a pilot. And then the real howler: He was in the top 10 in a high school class of 13.

Yes, he was trying to be self-deprecating, but it’s disturbing to see that he thinks being a rotten student and a know-nothing gives one street cred in the GOP.  . . .

But what if, for example, a really smart Republican with a great track record, lots of policy ideas and the ability to counteract the stereotype of Republicans ran? Oh, maybe there already is one or two in the race. Maybe there could be more, and perhaps conservatives would be relieved not to have to make excuses for candidates who think ignorance is virtue and intelligence is a vice.

via GOP should not fall into the trap of being proudly ignorant – Right Turn – The Washington Post.

Now it turns out that Gov. Perry at Liberty University ended up giving a very personal, non-political account of his faith.  Good for him.

But what bothers me even more than conservatives who are or try to come across as ignorant and unintelligent are CHRISTIANS who are or try to come across as ignorant and unintelligent.

People who act this way are seldom as dumb as they present themselves, or, one would like to hope, they couldn’t have risen to their current stature in life.  They are joking, trying to be self-deprecating.  (Well, I think Mrs. Bachmann was just firing off the top of her head.)  But why is that attractive to some people?

The Antichrist, revisited

You have GOT to read Mollie Hemingway’s column in the Wall Street Journal, which should definitively put to rest the media’s shocked discovery that Lutherans believe that the papacy is the antichrist.   The piece has the best lede (journalese for opening paragraph) that I’ve read in a long time:

American political reporters aren’t known for their vocal support of Roman Catholic teachings. But when they discovered recently that Minnesota Congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was once a Lutheran, they began defending the papacy as if they were the Vatican’s own Swiss Guard. They asked with concern, could Catholics even vote for a former Lutheran?

The media as the Swiss Guard!  After patiently explaining the Lutheran position and its historical and theological context, she also includes an interesting detail about the current antichrist’s–I mean, pope’s–interest in Lutheranism!

And yet the current pope, Benedict XVI, is particularly close to the Lutherans. As his biographer John Allen has written, the Lutherans are to Pope Benedict what the Orthodox were to his predecessor John Paul: “the separated brethren he knows best, and for whom he has the greatest natural affinity.” Indeed, far from the sectarian battles that reporters may envision, the fact is that confessional Lutherans and Pope Benedict are partners in the battle against what he has called the “dictatorship of relativism.”

via Mollie Ziegler Hemingway: Michele Bachmann and the Pope – WSJ.com.

Headaches for Bachmann

It is being reported that presidential candidate Michele Bachmann suffers from “incapacitating” migraine headaches.  The implication is that this disqualifies her from office.  Is this a concern?  Or an example of the punditocracy, having already discredited her religious background, being willing to bring up anything to damage the prospects of a conservative candidate?

See Bachmann’s Headache | Stress-Related Condition | Pill Use | The Daily Caller, which broke the story, and The Fix at the Washington Post, which makes a big deal about how this will hurt her prospects.

Those edgy, dangerous Lutherans

You’ve got to read Mollie Hemingway on the Lutheran/anti-Christ controversy, in which she notes the irony of the media becoming indignant over the “anti-Catholic bias” of the Lutheran confessions, while they themselves savage Roman Catholic beliefs at every opportunity.  An excerpt:

Also, you’re kidding me that Lutheran views on the papacy are controversial. Again, there is no doubt that they were controversial back when Pope Leo X was in power. Where’s the controversy now? Except in the pages of papers that are normally working overtime against Catholicism and its views on abortion, euthanasia, the priesthood, marriage and social norms? And traditional Christian views on homosexuality are now “controversial,” too. How come that never works the other way? You know what word wasn’t used once in that 5500-word hagiography of Dan Savage and his support for consensual adultery that the New York Times Sunday magazine frontpaged two weeks ago? “Controversial.” . . .

But the WELS is controversial. Got that? I want everyone to remember that confessional Lutherans are the new dangerous, edgy people. I have so wanted this reputation for so long and I don’t want this opportunity to be missed. We’ve been tarnished as the people of casseroles and you-betcha for too long.

But who thinks that we’re so edgy? Hard to tell. Here’s how the Post puts it:

It has been criticized in part because it holds that the Catholic pope is the Antichrist.

By whom? By noted theologianreporter Joshua Green? By 16th Century Catholics? The passive voice is really inappropriate considering how much this article is built around the claim of a controversy that presumably extends beyond the Washington Post newsroom or liberal blogs that never would have supported Bachmann in any case. I mean, I doubt that lapsed or collapsed Catholics give much of a hoot about it and I’m pretty sure that all of the more regular Mass-going Catholics I know would pick the media over the Lutherans when deciding who’s involved in a coordinated, if not vicious, campaign against their church.

Lutheranism & the Antichrist

The teaching that got Michele Bachmann into trouble–that the papacy is the antichrist– and made her leave Lutheranism in order to be a creditable presidential candidate (see the other post for today) is not limited to the Wisconsin Synod.  It is a tenet of the Lutheran Confessions, serving as the climax of Melanchthon’s Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (41-42) and affirmed throughout the Smalcald Articles.  This, however, is not in the sense of the premillennialist understanding of the Antichrist, as in the Left Behind series or in the various historical figures from Napoleon to Henry Kissinger who have been given this label.  Rather, it is in this sense, as explained in another one of those confessions, referring to the notion that humanly devised ritual, rather than the Gospel, confer saving power:

If the adversaries defend these human services as meriting justification, grace, and the remission of sins, they simply establish the kingdom of Antichrist. For the kingdom of Antichrist is a new service of God, devised by human authority rejecting Christ, just as the kingdom of Mahomet has services and works through which it wishes to be justified before God; nor does it hold that men are gratuitously justified before God by faith, for Christ’s sake. Thus the Papacy also will be a part of the kingdom of Antichrist if it thus defends human services as justifying.  Apology of the Augsburg Confession XV. 18.

Now Lutherans are not alone in this.  Reformed confessions say the same thing in the Westminster Confession, Chap. 25, Art. 6, though conservative Calvinists in the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church have apparently repudiated that section. (Perhaps someone from one of those traditions could explain how it is  possible to be a confessional body, as these groups claim to be, while rejecting part of the confession.)  The Reformed Baptists also associate the pope with anti-christ in their statement of faith.  (See this Catholic site, which keeps track of such things.)

Perhaps a better question could be asked by reporters to ferret out “anti-Catholicism” with an even broader application:  “Do you consider Roman Catholics to be Christians?”   Many, if not most, evangelicals will say, “no.”  Lutherans, on the other hand, including those who believe the pope to be antichrist will say, “yes.”   The Church of Rome is still part of the church, since it retains the Word and Sacraments, which are the marks of the Church, and the Gospel is still present in its liturgy and in the teachings of many of its pastors and theologians.  A major argument that Roman Catholics are part of the true church is precisely that, according to 2 Thessalonians 2, the antichrist will arise in the true church!  Lutherans, unlike many other conservative Protestants, do affirm that Roman Catholics may well and often do have saving faith in Christ.

These theological subtleties, of course, will go over the head of most reporters and other outside observers.  Does that mean it would be impossible for a confessional Lutheran–or a Calvinist who confesses the whole Westminster Confession or an Evangelical open about his or her beliefs about who is a true Christian–to win the Catholic vote and thus win national office?


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