Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Why I don't take Mitt Romney seriously

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is leading the field of Republican Presidential candidates in fund-raising. The TV political pundits are tripping over themselves to say how serious a candidate Romney is, but I don't buy it for a second. Yes, part of the reason is that Romney is a Mormon, but there are other reasons. Romney may play a spoiler, knocking someone like John McCain out of the race, but he has zero chance of winning the nomination, much less the White House.

When Mitt Romney ran for the U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney embraced gay rights even more strongly than Kennedy, who is generally considered to be in the left wing of the Democratic Party. Now he's taking a much harder anti-gay line, opposing same-sex marriage, civil unions, and even domestic partnerships, which he vigorously supported in 1994. He's also flip-flopped on abortion, having made a sensible argument for abortion rights, based on the death of a relative from a botched abortion, but now making the bizarre argument that we should outlaw abortion because he opposes stem-cell research. Right now, he's in the soft glow of friendly media attention, but he won't last through the first round of attack ads — even from the other Republican candidates, much less from the Democratic candidate in the fall.

And then there's the issue of religion. John F. Kennedy broke the religion barrier, becoming the first Roman Catholic major-party candidate for President. However, Romney is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, better known as LDS or the Mormon Church. Beyond that, he was not only a missionary for 2½ years, but later a bishop in the Mormon Church. John Kennedy was a Catholic, but he never held office within the Catholic Church. I've heard various numbers, but a sizable chunk of the American electorate is actively hostile to the idea of a Mormon President. More Americans say they would never vote for a Mormon than say they would never vote for an orthodox Jew, for instance.

The U.S. Constitution says quite clearly that no religious test can be required for any office, but the voters are free to consider any factor they like, whether it's religion or hairstyle. The bottom line is that, especially on the heels of two terms of "faith-based" Presidential "leadership," America doesn't want a President who believes that God commands him to wear magic underwear. Much as the Republicans want a candidate who is still on his first (and only) marriage, they're not going to nominate someone who is guaranteed to lose in November.

Mitt Romney for President? Ain't gonna happen!

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