I’m beginning to think that if Mitt weren’t a Mormon, I probably wouldn’t be as excited about him.
Better writers than I have plumbed the depths of CNN’s perfidy in their plant-ridden YouTube debate, which I thought was a disgrace from beginning to end. And I was also deeply disappointed in the performance of all the candidates. Huckabee had far and away the best showing of the night, which doesn’t say a lot about the prickly Giuliani, the plastic Romney, the Manchurian McCain, and the somnambulant, drooling Thompson. (They’re the only candidates that matter. Paul is a novelty; Tancredo and Hunter are wastes of space.) It’s also somewhat irksome that Huckabee seems to be riding the crest of a whispering anti-Mormon campaign, which is disappointing but hardly surprising.
Mitt, however, isn’t doing himself any favors.
The defining moment came when CNN found a Unabomber wannabe who brandished a Bible and, with a zombified glare, demanded that all the candidates swear eternal fealty to “every word” in the Good Book. Even Huckabee, the self-proclaimed “Christian candidate,” was wise enough to point out that the Bible contains allegorical passages, citing Christ’s injunction to “pluck out thine eye if it offend thee” as something we ought not take literally. Giuliani did the same, albeit less artfully.
But all Mitt could say was “I believe the Bible to be the Word of God.”
A nice, safe answer, yes? Yes. And it didn’t hold up to scrutiny. Do you believe every word in the Bible? I believe the Bible to be the word of God. But what does that mean? It means I believe the Bible to be the word of God. Every word? Well, I believe the Bible is the Word of God and I try to live by its teachings. Great, Mitt. You also try to dodge difficult questions with stock answers.
The best answer to that question comes from Brigham Young, who would have responded to Mr. Unabomber thusly:
I have heard ministers of the gospel declare that they believed every word in the Bible was the word of God. I have said to them “You believe more than I do.” I believe the words of God are there; I believe the words of the Devil are there; I believe that the words of men and the words of angels are there; and that is not all – I believe that the words of a dumb brute are there. I recollect one of the prophets riding, and prophesying against Israel, and the animal he rode rebuked his madness. (See Discourses of Brigham Young, edited by John A. Widtsoe, pp. 192-193)
That wouldn’t have gone over so well, though. Neither would a recitation of the LDS Church’s eighth Article of Faith, which includes the line “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” But a discussion of the allegorical concept that was co-opted by Giuliani and Huckabee would have gone a long way toward making Romney look less mechanical and evasive.
Word has come down that Romney will soon be giving “The Speech,” wherein he addresses his Mormon faith directly and tries to assuage the fears of a wary electorate. It’s a risky thing to do, but Huckabee’s surge, fueled largely by antipathy to Mitt’s faith, leaves Romney with no choice. He hasn’t contacted me to tell me if he’s going to use my speech, but he’s welcome to it at this point. I’m not sure if it would do him much good.
If Mitt loses Iowa, he’s in serious, serious trouble.