Thursday, December 06, 2007
That Dog Won't Hunt
Sorry to dissent from my colleagues on the Corner, but once the murmurs over the oratory subside, people are going to realize: that speech did not work. Here's why:
"There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance."
To be blunt, Romney is saying:
It is legitimate to ask a candidate, "Is Jesus the son of God?"
But it is illegitimate to ask a candidate, "Is Jesus the brother of Lucifer?"
It is hard for me to see a principled difference between these two questions, and I think on reflection that the audiences to whom Romney is trying to appeal will also fail to see such a difference. Once Romney answered any question about the content of his religious faith, he opened the door to every question about the content of his religious faith. This speech for all its eloquence will not stanch the flow of such questions.
Bad move - and one with very unfair results to a candidate who all must acknowledge is a man who has proven that his mind actually operates in a highly empirical, data-driven, and uncredulous way.
Had he focused instead on simply arguing that presidents need only prove themselves loyal to American values, he would have been on safe ground. Instead, he over-reached, super-adding to his civic appeal an additional appeal to voters who demand faith in Jesus as a requirement in a president. That is an argument that will not work - and a game Mitt Romney cannot win.
12/06 12:21 PM