The Mormon curse

Here’s a Friday afternoon prediction: The fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon will be the reason he is not elected to the White House—and everyone will pretend it isn’t. Behind the scenes, ABC’s The Note tells us, the opinion of the “Gang of 500” media elites is that he’s doomed: Mitt Romney — Flip-flopping (Mormon); ruthless (Mormon); ...

Here's a Friday afternoon prediction: The fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon will be the reason he is not elected to the White House—and everyone will pretend it isn't.

Behind the scenes, ABC's The Note tells us, the opinion of the "Gang of 500" media elites is that he's doomed:

Mitt Romney — Flip-flopping (Mormon); ruthless (Mormon); opportunistic (Mormon); slick (Mormon); a Mormon can't get elected (not ANY Mormon).

Here’s a Friday afternoon prediction: The fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon will be the reason he is not elected to the White House—and everyone will pretend it isn’t.

Behind the scenes, ABC’s The Note tells us, the opinion of the “Gang of 500” media elites is that he’s doomed:

Mitt Romney — Flip-flopping (Mormon); ruthless (Mormon); opportunistic (Mormon); slick (Mormon); a Mormon can’t get elected (not ANY Mormon).

But in public view, the denial has already started. Don’t believe it? Just pick up this morning’s Washington Post, where the editors make a delusional attempt to take the high road by declaring, “Mr. Romney should be judged on a basis other than his faith.” So, instead of slamming his religion, the Post criticizes Romney’s flip-flopping on issues such as abortion, discrimination against homosexuals, stem cell research, and other issues. But don’t be fooled. The Post‘s editors say that Romney’s faith is “one topic that shouldn’t matter,” yet in the last six weeks or so alone, the Post has run no fewer than five articles that touched on that very subject.

The reason every article on Romney has to mention Mormonism is simple. At dinner parties and fund-raisers, even the Republican chattering classes may like to pretend that Romney will be judged at face value. But he won’t. Romney will judged, ultimately, on his faith. Call it a form of soft bigotry if you like. It is. It’s also a political reality.

This reality will first play itself out in the primaries, where evangelical Christians make up at least 30 percent of the Republican voting base. The debates will politely side step the issue. Oh, there might be an attack ad or two that alludes to it secondhand. For the most part, Romney’s competitors will tread lightly in public. But behind closed doors, the dirt will by flying fast. As The Washington Monthly‘s Amy Sullivan presciently pointed out way back in 2005, the push polls coming out of McCain’s shop practically write themselves:

Would you be more or less likely to vote for Mitt Romney if you knew he was a Mormon, and that Mormons believe in polygamy?”

Which brings us to the second act in this play. Let’s say Romney makes it through the primaries. The general election could be even more vicious, especially if Romney is running against Hillary. For those who haven’t been paying attention, Romney’s great-grandfather was a polygamsit who had five wives. Talk about push polls for female voters writing themselves. Combine that with the fact that Romney is probably the only candidate who could get Southern evangelical preachers to sign up for Team Clinton and, well, you get the picture.

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