Bigots in space

Mitt Romney issued a statement to commemorate the passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong over the weekend: “Neil Armstrong today takes his place in the hall of heroes. With courage unmeasured and unbounded love for his country, he walked where man had never walked before. The Moon will miss its first son of Earth.  I met and spoke with Neil Armstrong just a few weeks ago – his passion for space, science and discovery, and his devotion to America will inspire me through my lifetime.”

Romney accompanied this statement with a Twitter message containing the lovely “Moon will miss its first son of Earth” line, prompting Obama for America co-ordinator Sam Cook III of Louisiana to respond, “Kolob?”

“Kolob” is a celestial object referenced in Mormon scripture.  It found its way into popular culture thanks to Battlestar Galactica, which switched around a few letters in its name to come up with “Kobol,” the original home world of the human race.  (Full disclosure: I know that because I’m a student of Battlestar Galactica, not Mormonism.)

There was, obviously, no reason to bring this up as a response to Romney’s tribute to Neil Armstrong, even as a joke.  It’s not as if Romney’s statement left a hanging comedy curve ball, by saying something like “Armstrong was the first man to set foot on another world” without specifying which one.  That wouldn’t have excused Cook’s bigotry, but there wasn’t even such a tiny little hook for an anti-Mormon joke.  Cook just squawked “Kolob?” like a parrot when Romney mentioned Armstrong and the Moon.

Cook originally tried defending his ugly comments, adding a few more along the way.  Then he tried claiming the original Tweet was meant as a joke.  Then he tried deleting the offensive Twitter messages completely, which doesn’t speak very well for his intelligence.  For the benefit of everyone, everywhere: cowardly deletions of offensive Web postings do not work.  The Internet does not forget.

Cook even made a weak attempt to disguise his connection to Obama for America, once the heat was turned up.  Left with nowhere else to turn, he eventually issued an apology for his original “inartful remark following [Romney’s] Armstrong tribute,” which Cook said was “crass and undignified.”

It’s past time for President Obama to issue a definitive, unambiguous, unqualified statement that Mitt Romney’s religion is off-limits to all of his campaign flacks and associated political action committees, including the media.