Saturday, December 8, 2007

Romney Faith Speech cont.

Under the original entry, Is there a difference between watching and reading?, VA posts the following comments:

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.

VA and I are very much in agreement regarding Romney. She notes that Romney strikes her as being artificial when she watches him speak. I too have always been impressed by Romney's "artificiality." Perhaps it's just a quirk that both VA and I possess which has us seeing his "sincerity" as being artificial and manufactured, but I think I can safely speak in VA's behalf, since she and I share the same impression of him, when I say that this impression we get of Romney is nonetheless real to us. So in essence Romney's sincerity comes across as insincerity to me, and I imagine to VA as well.

Regarding my own impression of the man, and only my impression of the man, I will say as well that beyond seeming insincere, Romney also gives off an holier-than-thou aura. I've noticed this about him on several occasions including the clips I saw of his speech the other day. In other words, I doubt that Romney's charm eludes VA anymore than it eludes me. I would say to the contrary that his charm is not very appealing to people like myself and VA, while apparently it is to others.

There's an old adage Dad taught me way back that goes something like this: "you can't fool a fooler." I suppose it could be said as well that "you can't charm a charmer." ;)

To attempt an answer as to VA's query concerning why conservatives heap praise on the man when they never had before, I would venture a guess that there are a couple of dynamics at work here. First, I think Romney is seen by conservatives as the closest thing to a truly conservative viable and electable candidate that the GOP (the party that conservatives, including myself, still identify most with) has to offer. His shortcomings, then, are sort of swept under the rug for the higher goal of defeating the dhimmicrat demagogue nominee, whomever that turns out to be -- Hillary. Second, I think Romney was relatively unknown to conservatives (and liberals) until fairly recently. Now that his name and his political affiliations are becoming household words, it stands to reason that he'd catch the eye of many conservatives and right leaners where he'd eluded them before. I don't really have a good explanation for why a paleo like Buchanan, or a traditionalist like Auster, or evangelical leaders like Dr. Dobson write glowing reviews of the man and his speech, except to say that I think in every case these individuals are applying rule number one above. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing. I'm simply calling it as I happen to see it. In the end, when it's all said and done, I may reluctantly climb on the Romney bandwagon as well. But seeing as how it is a rather high step for me at this very moment, I may require a little help getting onboard.

Finally I agree with VA as well that Romney makes an inappropriate comparison between the persecution suffered by Pilgrim and Puritan dissenters in England, and the "persecution" suffered by the early Mormons at the hands of orthodox American Christians. I wrote that it chaps my hide that Romney made such a comparison, marking both groups as committing essentially the same sin of intolerance precisely because the comparison has no historical basis in fact. He's just saying things that he knows appeals to modern conservatives because they're generally not that knowledgable about the two historical events, nor are they very knowledgable about their own faith and its essential aspects, nor are they that "conservative" in truth. As has been said before, we can argue over the non-essentials, but the essentials must remain intact. If it's considered as persecution to deny a group of so-called "Christians" the right to have numerous wives and concubines, then count me firmly among the persecutors. If that's not incompatible with historic Americanism and a biblical-Christian worldview, I don't know what is. I'm no expert on Mormonism, but I do realize that to be a true and consistent Mormon, much like Islam, one must accept that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God. This is simply not possible with orthodox Christians, and I personally make no apology for it. And seeing as how our forbears were much more biblically and historically astute and orthodox than we are, it makes no sense to me to compare them to the persecutors doing the dirty work of the church of England two centuries before Joseph Smith ever came along.