Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Romney in space

Many bloggers are not taking Mitt Romney seriously as a Republican candidate. They give him derogatory nicknames like "Multiple Choice" Mitt to highlight his attempts to run away from his past as a politician from a northeastern liberal state. They wonder aloud if anyone could really vote for someone who seems to named after an article of baseball equipment. They point out that many on the religious right believe his religion (LDS or Mormonism) to be a non-Christian cult.

Till now I have though that they were wrong. Mitt is a good looking, bland guy and, if he can stay out of the way long enough, he could emerge as everyone's second choice should the Giuliani and McCain forces either deadlock or destroy each other. I'm not saying this is my prediction of what will happen; I'm just saying that it's a possibility of what could happen.

Running a campaign based on denouncing the state he used to represent (Massachusetts) is certainly tacky, but it's a state that Republicans love to hate, so Romney won't lose any points there. Suddenly changing his positions to appeal to the base is certainly hypocritical, but none of the other front-runners are any more genuine to the base and the base hadn't heard of him back when he held his old opinions, so he might come out okay on that one. Many of his flip-flops are more annoying to those of us on the left than to the right. As for the religious right, they are only a block to the nomination if they are active in the primaries. If they sit them out, then their disapproval doesn't hurt any of the candidates.

Meanwhile, Romney isn't taking the religious right for granted. He's aggressively courting them just like he has the other Republican base, special interest groups.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) did not discuss his Mormon faith as he continued his outreach Saturday to conservative Christians in a graduation speech at Regent University, the school founded by televangelist Pat Robertson.

Instead, Romney, who is intensely courting this key segment of the Republican base in hopes of winning the party's 2008 presidential nomination, expounded on conservative themes such as the importance of child-rearing and marriage and the presence of evil in the world.

"There is no work more important to America's future than the work that is done within the four walls of the American home," Romney said. He also criticized people who choose not to get married because they enjoy the single life.

"It seems that Europe leads Americans in this way of thinking," Romney told the crowd of more than 5,000. "In France, for instance, I'm told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up. How shallow and how different from the Europe of the past."

If you are like me, you read that phrase "marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms" and your brain came to a full stop. Huh? The Washington Post article which reported this didn't notice anything wrong with that statement, but others did. Neither France nor any other European country practices anything that even remotely resembles that. Both Time Magazine and the New Republic mentioned it on their blogs.

The closest thing anyone can find to the seven-year marriage is a plot element in the 1992 science fiction novel The Memory of Earth by Orson Scott Card. It might seem like a stretch to suggest Romney might have picked this idea up from a fifteen year-old novel, but there are some tempting connections here. Romney is a known science fiction fan. He recently named L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth as his favorite book. Hubbard is, of course, the founder of Scientology, a religion that is regarded as a cult by far more than the religious right. Orson Scott Card is a Mormon who has grown increasingly conservative in recent years. His book The Memory of Earth is the first volume of the Homecoming saga, a science fiction adaptation of the Book of Mormon. Added together, it seems very likely that Romney is familiar with Card's novel.

If Romney can't tell the difference in his own mind between the planet Harmony and France, we may have a problem. What's next; will he confuse Nevada with Mordor? One thing I'll say is that Romney keeps this up, I'll have to revise my appraisal of the possibility of him staying quietly on the side and stepping in as the compromise candidate. It looks like he's more likely to end up fighting it out with Tancredo and Brownback for the title of most entertaining loon in the race.

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