Can a Mormon Be Majority Leader?

A few weeks ago, outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke at the American Spectator’s annual dinner. His speech hit all the right marks—patriotism, national security and self-deprecation that was actually funny. I thought he was going to close with “And that’s why I’m asking for your vote.” If there was a ballot box on each table we probably would have given it to him.

While still nursing a little bit of mid-term malaise, many conservatives are looking forward to the 2008 presidential election. Romney’s name frequently comes up and he seems to have criticism coming from both sides. Those on the right are leery of his conservatism. Actually, we’re leery of anyone from Massachusetts. It’s not all that surprising that Romney didn’t make HUMAN EVENTS’ list of the Top Ten Most Conservative Governors. Interestingly, none of the names on the list have been thrown out as likely 2008 contenders. As a native Floridian, I’m disappointed that No. 1 has a bit of a surname problem among many voters.

I didn’t start paying attention to Romney until the media told me to. Judging by their growing protest against him, I’m starting to like him more and more. The media’s case against Romney can be summed up in one word: Mormon! This catchy retort must have come from the same guy that brought us “Halliburton!” There have been countless newspaper and magazine articles questioning whether a Mormon can be president. For people who despise evangelical Christians, the media is awfully concerned about giving them the perfect candidate.

A frequently cited Los Angeles/Bloomberg poll in June found that 35% of registered voters wouldn’t vote for a Mormon. When Romney’s father ran for president in 1968, a Gallup poll found that 17% of respondents wouldn’t vote for a Mormon. In 1999, another Gallup poll showed that still only 17% wouldn’t vote for a Mormon. While 30 turbulent years left the anti-Mormon sentiment unchanged, what has happened in the last seven years to change people’s views?

The mainstream media set the agenda and by default people think the issues they see on magazine covers and on the evening news are the most important. When Time magazine asks, “Can a Mormon be President?” it puts the issue center stage, implying that a person’s religion can hinder his presidency. In its cover story on Barack Obama they didn’t ask “Can a Former Muslim be President?” Or in the case of Sen. Harry Reid, “Can a Mormon be Majority Leader?” The way the left celebrated after the election, you’d think Reid will be running the country. Apparently, his Mormon beliefs won’t hinder their agenda. In fact, many of the people I’ve talked to didn’t even know that Reid was a Mormon.

Liberals and the media alike thrive on ignorance. Accidentally hearing opposing views on Fox News or at a conservative campus lecture is their greatest fear. The last thing they want is an educated populace. Discussing the Book of Mormon isn’t a sexy topic, so the media focus on Mormons’ underwear. Among the inquisitors are Andrew Sullivan (well, that’s no surprise), Time magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Wonkette and the New Republic.

In the Time cover story, Mike Allen wrote, “A writer for the Atlantic Monthly asked Romney last year if he wears Temple Garments—white underclothing, with the ‘Marks of the Holy Priesthood’ sewn in, donned with reverence by the most faithful Mormons. ‘I’ll just say those sorts of things I’ll keep private,’ he sensibly replied. Will that dodge work for other theological questions?”

For these intellectual heavyweights, one’s underwear choice is a theological discussion. They long for the politician who was brave enough to answer the boxers or briefs question. For the record, I have no interest in whether Sen. Hillary Clinton wears granny panties or … never mind.

A recent SurveyUSA poll found that among the voters in Massachusetts who attend church (and most likely a Catholic church) regularly, 55% approve of the job Romney’s doing as governor compared to 47% of the state population as a whole. Among whites, his approval/disapproval is split 48%/48%. Among Hispanics, he garnered a 57% approval rating, which should make the RNC’s ears perk up.

In “How to Talk to a Liberal,” HUMAN EVENTS legal correspondent Ann Coulter wrote, “Despite all the goobledygook about the ‘profession’ of journalism and the absurd conceit that ‘journalism’ is a well-honed craft one has to master over time, the only standard journalists respect is: Will this story promote the left-wing agenda?”

Forget Mormonism, the real groupthink hurting the country is on the left. Liberals and their followers in the media aren’t scared of Romney because he’s a Mormon. They’re scared of him because he could win.