It’s possible that Patrick Ruffini, normally a pretty astute commenter on the conservative side of the political scene, is having us all on with this post about “Why a Mormon Speech?” Our first clue that he might be being sarcastic is when he calls the announcement of a “Mormon speech” “relatively unexpected.” Yes, it was about as unexpected as Hillary running for president.
But where he really pulls our collective leg the hardest is when he attempts to understand Romney’s motivations by comparing them to the other candidate who is suffering from malicious attacks and unfounded gossip. I refer, of course to Barack Obama. You see the parallels, right? They’re eerie.
Romney shouldn’t have to give a Mormon speech any more than Obama should have to give a Muslim speech. Chatter about both candidates’ religions seem to linger just under the radar, amongst die-hards who are probably lost to both. If anything the false rumors about Obama being a Muslim who attended an Indonesian madrassa seem to attract a lot more attention than the truth about Romney’s religion, as this Google Trends chart shows.
I left that Google Trends reference in the quote because I think it’s funny. Google Trend charts ARE LIKE DELPHIC ORACLES and are UNERRING in the measurement of interest in relatively obscure political topics. (Sort of like a Frank Luntz focus group.)
So here’s the problem with that analogy — apart from its reliance on Google Trends to prove, well, something — is that the rumor that Obama is a Muslim IS NOT TRUE. So, yeah, it would be weird if he gave a speech explaining its place in American culture. It might be a nice thing to do, and actual Muslims might would appreciate his taking on the task of demystifying one of the world’s largest religions. But it’s not even really in the same universe as Mitt giving a speech that explains his own relationship to his own religion. Actually, what I’d love is for Mitt to give a speech about Islam. Apparently he has a fair amount to learn about religious tolerance himself.
Apparently commenters chastised Ruffini for perhaps sneakily reviving the Muslim rumors. His response:
Obama shouldn’t be forced to dignify these rumors with a substantive response. And neither should Romney with regards to anti-Mormon bigotry. The anti-Mormon bigots and the anti-Muslim rumormongers seem to exist on about the same level — and neither candidate should let these fringe elements define their campaign.
I’m gonna try this again, more slowly: Romney is facing a public who aren’t necessarily anti-Mormon, but who know pretty much nothing about it. And, yes, ignorance can breed contempt. But to address the fact that he is Mormon isn’t kowtowing to bigots. Hopefully, it’ll change people’s mind.
But geez, I dunno. Maybe he really believes the two situations are equivalent. Maybe he’s a comedy genius. But I do look forward to Romeny’s Muslim speech.