The Hartford Courant‘s story on the speech used my class’s reaction as the frame. Buck did a nice job, though I would have liked to see more of the students, less of me. Romney did come off poorly in comparison to JFK–but since most people will only see, at most, Romney sound bites, I suspect our reaction was more negative than the consensus judgment that will emerge. What’s now happening is that The Speech has put religion on the table in a way that reminds me of 1987, when the revelation that Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsburg (remember him?) smoked a lot of dope put marijuana on the table, and every would-be president had to start answering the “have you ever smoked” question. Now Huckabee’s starting to get peppered with questions about what he believes re: creation, Jews going to heaven, etc. Blowback? Well, if Huck did not put the Mormon Problem on the table, he has, as Krauthammer notes today, not refrained from exploiting it. What K fails to mention–not a surprise–is that it is the GOP establishment that has been oh so happy to encourage evangelicals to make having a “Christian leader” a priority. Now there’s blowback for you.
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About the author
Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service