Saturday, January 13, 2007

LA Times: Romney's Religious Rights

Tim Rutten has an interesting op-ed on Mitt Romney in today's Los Angeles Times. In response to the recent articles in Slate and The New Republic, Rutten argues that while Romney's record is certainly fair game, his faith is unfairly being used against him. Here are a few snippets (the full article can be found here):
[I]t's been nearly half a century since our political journalism has witnessed anything quite as breathtakingly noxious and offensive as the current attempt to discredit Mitt Romney, a potential Republican presidential candidate, because the Massachusetts governor is a Mormon....

Religious belief is a matter of conscience and if there is no privacy of conscience there is no separation of church and state, a principle both Slate and the New Republic claim to defend. Do the editors of those journals really want to take us back to the 1960s, when as many as one American in four said they never would vote for a Catholic or a Jew for president? Not likely.

What both journals are doing is playing with social fire for the sake of narrow partisan advantage, hoping to knock a potentially attractive conservative candidate out of the running in much the same way that some Republican commentators desperately attempted to prod some Catholic bishop somewhere into denying Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry communion because he's pro-choice.

That effort didn't succeed and this one probably won't either because an instinctively tolerant American people understands the difference between legitimate journalistic inquiry and an inquisition.


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