Mitt, You're No Jack Kennedy: Romney's Faith Speech Fails to Deliver
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This post, written by Steven Reynolds, originally appeared on All Spin Zone
Mitt Romney has now given his defining speech, but it defines nothing about his Mormonism. I'm amazed that he didn't even talk about service, a vitally important Mormon tradition of which I approve. He stayed vague, and as such he may remain the vague candidate.
Mitt Romney today gave his speech on faith. I wrote the other day that he would touch on nothing about the Mormon faith as far as details are concerned, and I was absolutely right. So if Mitt Romney was trying to counter misconceptions evangelicals and others have about his role as a Latter Day Saint, he's not done so. Still, the speech is interesting, if not all that revealing about how Mitt Romney will satisfy the thirst of the bloc of Republican voters who reject his candicacy because of his Mormonism. To that end, it may have done zero good for him except to give him a national stage.
Let me parse a few segments of the speech. From the New York Times transcript of it:
"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. In John Adams' words: 'We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people.'
Here Mitt Romney tells us that religion is important, both to individual Americans and to our leaders, and he's promising that his religion is important to him. The implication there is that he'll tell exactly how his religion is important to him. I'll assume he'll say something about the moral guidance his religion gives him. But he goes nowhere later in the speech to dispel the notion in the minds of the radical religious right in this country that Mormonism is an anathema to Christianity. (I'd prefer a quote from Sam Adams, instead of John. . . but I love Sam's beer.)
There was ZERO doubt Mitt Romney would compare himself to Jack Kennedy, and I find that distasteful, given that he holds no values in common with Jack, at least as far as his theory of governance.
"Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for President, not a Catholic running for President. Like him, I am an American running for President. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.
"Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.
"As Governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution - and of course, I would not do so as President. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.