Brody: Romney’s answer to bible question “problematic”
“Romney’s answer [to the ‘do you believe this book’ asked at the CNN YouTube debate] is more problematic,” writes David Brody of the Brody file in a post titled Bible Lesson, Republican Style
I’m not talking theology here. Forget the Mormon vs Evangelical question. What I’m talking about is the way Romney answered that question. He hesitated about whether the Bible was the literal word of God. He looked very uncomfortable up there during that moment. For Evangelicals, that hesitation is code for “not really”. You got the sense that, in that moment of hesitation, Romney was trying to figure out what the best political answer was going to be …
Nota: Brody’s interpretation based on observation is consonant with experts recruited by Psychology Today (August 2007) to evaluate the rhetorical styles of the 08 candidates—Romney was said to e.g. shrug, hesitate, smile defensively (masking), and in other ways communicate detachment from his own themes. In other words, Romney’s words and Romney’s gestures are often incongruent. His most impassioned appeals often evince a divided self … etc.
Back to Brody:
Look, Romney already has an image problem when it comes to flip-flopping on some issues so why not just come out and address the Mormon thing head on …
But Romney refuses to “address the Mormon thing head on”; he prefers delay and a strategy of blurring distinctions. See:
- eyeon08.com: “Is there any evidence that this poll contacted anyone in Iowa who was not a Romney staffer or supporter?”—also: Romney completes step (1) of the Romney crisis protocol, where we discuss Romney’s response to Rep. Inglis’ admonition to Romney that “You cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, ‘I am a Christian just like you,’“
- how Romney botched the Mormon-Kennedy-speech issue by setting up impossible expectations, by consistently failing to identify opportunity and seize the initiative, and by allowing others to frame the debate
Back to Brody:
He could take the lead on this and be a straight shooter rather than dancing around it. It’s not like he’s fooling Evangelicals in Iowa. They know the deal. They know there is a difference. Why not just recognize the differences between the two religions and then pivot to higher ground by saying this election shouldn’t be about a religious test for office. Romney and his advisors seem so concerned about the Mormon issue, but Romney also has an authenticity issue too. Addressing the Mormon issue may kill two birds with one stone. It was an opportunity missed … etc.
Brody gets it, just as Rep. Inglis gets it. Team Romney, alas, does not. It is acceptable to be distinct; it is unacceptable to be distinct and to claim that there is no distinction.—here is how Romney himself puts it:
“ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said yesterday that he hopes to convince voters that his Mormon faith is mainstream,” writes Joseph Curl for the Washington Times in an article mis-titled Romney puts faith in Christian past.
“I think as people come to know my faith they’ll recognize that the values of my faith are — they very much flow from the Judeo-Christian tradition of this country. I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in the equality of all humankind,” Mr. Romney said in an interview with The Washington Times … etc.
Here is the problem for Romney. Christianity is not a philosophy; it is a confession, and what you confess are creeds—e.g. The Nicene Creed, The Apostle’s Creed, The Creed of St. Athanasius—i.e. Christianity discovers its personal and even organizational basis in creedal declarations of belief, intent, and value. Even non-liturgical traditions—e.g. Pentecostals—establish their identity (their difference, their sense of uniqueness) as enumerated sets of claims. To adhere to a creed is to be distinct. And: different confessions depart from one another on the basis of their own creeds—and they cherish their distinctions, even their minor ones—especially their minor ones. And: You cannot stake out common ground until you acknowledge the differences and distinctions.
To say to an Evangelical, as does Romney, “I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in the equality of all humankind,” is at best meaningless and at worse inconsistent to the point of being false, because as every confirmed Christian knows the terms God and Christ achieve specificity only as articulated in a line of confession that links the confessor to the witness of the apostles. What is it that you Christians say?—something like this:
… Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble …
The tradition is the terrain, Boy Romney. Learn it, or perish upon it.
P.S. We’re Orthodox Jews, BTW. But we’re also immersed in the classics. A lot of the classics are Christian.