BREAKING NEWS: Kansas Senator Sam Brownback has apologized to Mitt Romney.
Now, please understand that I have nothing against Catholics (but DO excoriate bats**t-crazy ones with an unseemly glee) nor Mormons (ditto, and I was once a Mormon Cub Scout although I wasn’t a Mormon).
But Sam Brownback and Mitt Romney are never going to win any “Exemplary Conduct” awards. Brownback is a religious nut in the tradition of Cotton Mather, and Mitt Romney is the slitheriest political opportunist I’ve seen in the GOP in ages, and that’s really saying something.
So, how did these two weasels end up in the cage match?
Well, Methodist-turned-‘Evangelical Catholic’ Brownback has been engaged in a whispering campaign against Mitt’s Mormonism.
This, sadly, is a very old American tradition that sent the Mormons to the arid state of Utah, just to escape the murderous antipathy to Mormons as ‘apostates’ or ‘heretics.’ After several moves, murders, etc. the founder (human pen behind the Book Of Mormon) Joseph Smith was lynched in Carthage, Illinois.
So the Mormons emigrated via the Mormon Trail to the area around Salt Lake, and thence prospered, far from their tormentors. But they were understandably more than a little paranoid about it. And that led to reprisals in Utah, like the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Never heard of it? Well, a movie about it is opening on August 24, having been moved back from a June release. Jon Voight stars, and there is little doubt that it’s an intentional attempt to inflame old ugly bigotries, like the commercials in 2006, implying that (black) Senatorial candidate Harold Ford in Tennessee was having sex with (gasp) white women.
Is the movie an attempt to inflame anti-Mormon passions in the Bible Belt? Is the Pope a Catholic?
So, Sam Brownback, religious bigot heir to them what hanged Joseph Smith, seems to have stepped a little over the line. (Were we actually surprised?) Here is breaking news from tomorrow (can’t get more recent than that):
Published: 19/06/2007 12:00 AM (UAE)
Candidate Romney’s Mormon faith stokes whisper campaign
By Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murra, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
Washington: Mitt Romney’s Mormonism isn’t something his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination talk much about in public, but his faith appears to have stoked a whisper campaign, engineered by an Iowa staffer for Senator Sam Brownback, Republican, Kansas.
In an email we obtained, former state Republican Emma Nemecek, the southeastern Iowa field director for Brownback’s presidential campaign, asked a group of Iowa Republican leaders to help her fact-check a series of statements about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including one that says: “Theologically, the only thing Christianity and the LDS church has in common is the name of Jesus Christ, and the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith.”
[The Guardian, in England, has a headline seemingly intended to prove that, while the English invented the eponymous language, they don’t necessarily have any idea how to use it: Brownback Aide Chided on Anti-Mormon Bid. ]
So, faced with evidence that his campaign actually put on paper their anti-Mormon bias, Brownback has done the minimally acceptable decency thing and apologized. This in no wise makes Mitt Romney any less of a snake — it should merely point out why Mormonism should neither be a reason to support or oppose the Massachusetts Mendacifier.
Here is part of the standard AP story (by one underpaid reporter), that will appear in every major newspaper in the land:
Brownback Apologizes to Romney
By LIBBY QUAID, Associated Press Writer
Monday, June 18, 2007
(06-18) 17:25 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) —
Republican presidential hopeful Sam Brownback on Monday telephoned rival Mitt Romney to apologize for a campaign staffer’s e-mail criticizing the Mormon church.
The Kansas senator “was very disappointed, clearly sort of personally hurt that this had happened in his team, and he said he is going to be very aggressive to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” spokesman Brian Hart said. “There’s no place for this in his campaign.”
The e-mail asked for help in fact-checking negative statements about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for which Romney is a member, such as “the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith.” Hart said the aide who sent it, Emma Nemecek, was reprimanded.
Brownback is a former Methodist who converted to Roman Catholicism.
Considering the parallel history of religious intolerance towards Catholics, one wonders at Brownback’s culture — for can we reasonably doubt that anything about the campaign staffer’s activities was at sharp odds with the campaign’s shared esprit de corps? Human experience suggests that it was merely an overzealous response of the general attitude within the Brownback campaign.
People who live in glass Cathedrals shouldn’t throw crucifixes.
* With Apologies to the Stephanie Miller Show.