Friday, December 7, 2007

Is there a difference between watching and reading?

(Update: Two of my favorite conservative thinkers, Mike Tams and Lawrence Auster, have reacted positively to Romney's speech. This gives me some pause as to my initial thoughts.)

Much has been written about Romney's faith speech across the blogosphere. Dr. Dobson of CitizenLink commends Romney for speaking so highly of the role of religion in our society. I hear that Pat Buchanan has some kind things to say about the speech as well, though I've not read Buchanan's take as yet.

I don't have time to go into all the details of where Romney and I part ways on religion in America, but I will excerpt one passage from his speech here:

Romney said:

Americans were unable to accommodate their commitment to their own faith with an appreciation for the convictions of others to different faiths. In this, they were very much like those of the European nations they had left.

Now, that just really chaps my hide! If he hadn't already lost me with his admiration for Islam, this statement would have sealed the deal with me. I imagine that Romney thinks the same thing (it seems to be the implication here) about people like me who are "unable to accomodate their commitment to their own faith with an appreciation for the convictions of others to different faiths," namely Muslims.

As I wrote to Auster, it's one thing to say you admire Muslims' commitment to frequent prayer. It's something altogether different to preface it with the statement Romney chose. If you don't know how he prefaced the above statement, then go read the transcript of his speech.

Which brings me to the point of the post:

Are we sometimes enamored by a candidate's presence, his personality, his ability to communicate effectively, his clean appearance and so forth, to the point that we're not hearing the implications of his words? I didn't have a chance to watch Romney's speech except for short clips after I'd read the speech and had found it wanting in several respects. But I thought it was an interesting question--seeing vs. reading--and I'd be interested in your take.


the populist said...

To answer your question.... ABSOLUTELY! This is a TV SOCIETY buddy and that means that good looks, charisma, charm and being well spoken can and do help candidates that don't have much substance overcome candidates that are better qualified and have more substance, but don't come across on TV with a lot of appeal.

Look no further than Nixon v. Kennedy and you can see just how true that is.... on paper.. I think most would agree the Nixon had the credentials and experience.., but lets face it.. Matched up against the golden boy on TV, he never had a chance.

the populist said...

Having said all that... I think I would be a shoe in to when an election!!! :-)

Terry Morris said...


It's good to see you here after a lengthy absence. Since I already know you're not a resident of my state, I'll not try to solicit your vote. BUT, there's a very good chance that yours truly may be making a run at a seat in the OK HoR within the next ... ten years or so, so if you have any connections...


Michael Tams said...


I'm a little confused. Romney was discussing the history of the Mormons, who were, to my understanding, shunned here in America; hence their move west to find a place of their own. Wasn't that much like the experience of the first settlers to America? I think that's what he was trying to say. They wanted to worship according to their conscience, and came to the new world to do that in peace. The people of that same faith were then intolerant of Mormonism.


Michael Tams said...


Another entirely different topic, probably deserving of its own post, is how different Christianity would be if Christians had the same discipline and commitment to prayer that muslims do. That's not to say that Christians don't pray, just that it isn't comparitively such a critical part of every Christian's daily routine. You and I are probably very similar - I try to pray every morning, and every night as a family. During the day, I pray when I get a chance, but I'm sure there are days when I don't do it but twice, and even some days only once. And I consider myself a pretty serious believer.

Again, this is less something one could consider an admiration of muslims, but more an admiration to the commitment to pray. Does that make sense?


Vanishing American said...

Gentlemen - I've been at a loss as to why so many conservatives have been writing glowing praise for Romney's speech when they didn't express such admiration previously.
However I read the speech rather than watching it, so maybe Romney's charm eluded me. When I have watched him during the debates, however, he strikes me as artificial.
It is probably true that Americans at least in our day are more concerned with a candidate's image and less with substance and character. If leaders had been judged by those standards back in the days of the Founding Fathers, I suspect Jefferson would have been found wanting, since he was said to be a weak public speaker and extremely retiring.
Too much emphasis is placed on glibness, surface charm, and good looks.
If Romney was likening the intolerance shown by Christians to the early Mormons to the persecution of Puritans and other dissenters in England, it's not a very good analogy. The early followers of Joseph Smith were not always peaceable and their beliefs were a clear deviation from Christianity, which our forefathers were not able to accept as merely another Christian sect.

Terry Morris said...

Mike, as to your first point, I think there's a big difference between shunning a group as Americans did early Mormons, and persecuting a group as England did the Pilgrims and the Puritans. Hence I think the comparison Romney made leaves much to be desired.

As to your second point, I agree with you that Islam has some admirable qualities, which I've said numerous times. That's not what I'm contending against. What I'm mainly concerned with re Romney's mention of Islam is that he thinks Islam draws its adherents closer to God, which is not the case at all from an orthodox Christian perspective, I don't care how many times daily they're required to pray.

Terry Morris said...

Further to my second point, I would say that, contrary to Romney's position, Islam draws its adherents further away from the true God, and closer to the false god, Allah, and his prophet, Mohammed. The more dedicated to the discipline and prayer regimen of Koranic-Islam a Muslim is, therefore, the more dangerous he is to Western style democracy and self-government. I see nothing admirable in that at all.

Michael Tams said...


I did use the word shun, and perhaps that was inappropriate; some of the leadership of their church were murdered after all, so I'd consider that pretty hard-to-argue-with persecution.

Romney is unlikeable ("glib", "artificial") if you don't want to like him, and that's OK; that's how I feel about some of the candidates, and it's only natural.

I'll only offer this as a last thought, for I won't convince anyone who has already made up their mind: perhaps the reason so many conservatives are applauding is because the speech was pretty good.


Terry Morris said...

"I'll only offer this as a last thought, for I won't convince anyone who has already made up their mind: perhaps the reason so many conservatives are applauding is because the speech was pretty good."

Perhaps. But, Mike, I didn't know we were trying to convince one-another. That wasn't the intent of the original question. The reason I wrote the post to begin with is because Auster mentioned that he saw the speech and he liked it. I replied that I'd read the speech but I hadn't seen it, and I wondered aloud whether he'd read the trascript as well as seeing the speech. I then pointed out a couple of items in the speech which I disagreed with, to which Auster replied "ok, I'll read the transcript." That's where our short conversation on the subject ended, but I came away from it with the impression that he'd missed some of these things in watching as opposed to reading the speech, hence my question in this post.

It is true that you're not going to change my mind or anyone else's who's already made their minds up. But that applies both ways. Like I said, that wasn't my intent and it isn't my intent--to change anyone's mind. I just thought it was an interesting question.

Your reply to me did bring to mind a statement I heard a guest of Hannity and Colmes make one time several years back which I still get a kick out of every time I recall it. The guest stated:

"I don't like the guy; I don't have to like the guy; I'm not going to like the guy."


Any idea who the guest was or of whom he was speaking?


Call Me Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Call Me Mom said...

I've been thinking about this question a bit. Upon reading the speech, (courtesy of Mr. Tam's blog) one thing became immediately apparent.
The speech is liberally sprinkled with quotes from our founding fathers. If one were simply hearing the speech, one would inevitably be impressed by the brilliance and wisdom contained within those quotes. I think it would be quite natural to impute that wisdom and brilliance to the speaker no matter who it was or what else the speech contained.
If, however you read the speech first it is very simple to separate the wisdom of our founders from the other content. This, along with a reasonable delivery of said speech, may be the difference between reading and watching.