Sunday, July 29, 2007

Is Mitt Romney The Devil's Manchurian Candidate: Rememberance Of Things Past

Should a practicing Mormon be excluded from high political office because of his religious beliefs?

Frankly, the question had never occurred to me before I read a recent article on the Huffington Post.

Mark Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy in the UCLA School of Public Affairs, in a recent rendering on the Huffington Post, spotlighted an excoriation of a Fr. Richard John Neuhaus for his article regarding Mitt Romney and Mormonism at the First Things website. First Things is a website and organization headed by Fr. Neuhaus and is generally credited with being fairly right-wing in the political sense, not the KFC sense.

Mr. Kleiman, one of the good Friar's many nemeses, headlined his brief contribution, "As JFK spins in his grave ..." a backhanded reference to the anti-Catholicism that JFK overcame in his successful bid for the Presidency in 1960 and, by inference, equating the religious bigotry JFK overcame with Fr. Neuhaus's reservations regarding Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's religious affiliation with the Mormon Church.

My immediate reaction was that, although Fr. Neuhaus may be many things, even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while. Apart from that, it prompted a few memories.

I've known a few Mormons, even spent a year in Salt Lake City, capitol of the faith. Those I've known impressed me as, if tending toward rigidity and naivete, admirable in their devotion to high moral values in everyday dealings.

Side note: in the service I once had a young Mormon sailor working for me. He was industrious, devoted, and patriotic. When he left he called me aside and spent 30 minutes telling me what a bastard I was for my coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking, beer-swilling, and womanizing ways, all behaviors I'd thought up to then were required of a healthy, active duty sailor. I'm still thankful I didn't advise him that I'd spent the better part of the past year shielding him and his fellow strikers from a sexual predator who was our mutual superior, a warrant officer whom I'd first crossed paths with during a stint in a criminal investigations unit. Better he didn't know, better I didn't puncture his comfortable innocence. I'm still a coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking, beer-swilling reprobate, by the way, but passage of time, hair and tooth loss have cut down on the womanizing considerably.

And it's also true, that as a beneficiary of a gentle but insistent proselytizing by Mormon missionaries at one point, I confess that I found many of their beliefs -- there is no kind way to put it -- pretty loony. I still take strong exception to their demonization of Black Africans and African-Americans, even though more recent "revelations" to church leaders prompt the claim that the Mormon scriptures on this particular topic don't actually mean what they say.

True that many ex-Mormons decry Mormonism as a vicious cult, embodying the worst aspects of Scientology and televangelism and worse.

Despite all that, and after reading the rants on both sides of the argument, I find myself not really giving a damn what Mitt Romney's personal religious beliefs are. Like most hypocrites running for elective office, what's important is their degree of hypocrisy and self-delusion regarding their archaic and destructive political beliefs.

Romney isn't responsible for the religious system he was born into. But like all the rest of us, he is responsible for his intentions toward the rest of us.

Didn't get around to the "Devil's Manchurian Candidate" issue, did I. So it goes. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

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