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I don't know if Jon Meacham has just been ignoring the things Mitt Romney has been saying on the campaign trail, or if he knows full well and he's just being completely dishonest here. On this Sunday's Meet the Press, Meacham suggested that "religion will be less important" and that it's not "in either candidate's interest to be bringing up specific religious issues" come the general election. I guess he missed this:
Romney is already attacking President Obama's faith, but par for the course with Romney, he's doing it completely dishonestly by trying to pretend the President is an atheist. The reason for doing so being obvious, which is, as Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out the other night, the only group voters trust less than Mormons, is atheists (which I find extremely depressing).
And Meacham's suggestion that Mitt Romney's Mormonism is not going to be an issue in the general election is ridiculous, given the large number of Evangelical voters in the Republican base and their mistrust of his religion. There is exactly one candidate where it would not be to his advantage to talk about his faith for that very reason, and it's Mitt Romney.
I think we're going to hear this sort of rhetoric from Republicans on the campaign trail as their primary race finally winds down and the GOP and the media begin doing their best to revive Romney after what's been a really damaging primary season. President Obama doesn't need to go after Romney for his faith. His fellow Republican presidential candidates have already done most of the damage for him.
Transcript below the fold.
GREGORY: Jon Meacham, this question of whether-- his Mormon faith will become an issue, whether the president who has had to face down questions about-- whether he is a Muslim, which he is not-- overtime-- does this become a big issue as we move to the campaign?
MEACHAM: I'm gonna offer a counter-intuitive argument. I wonder if the cause of those two premises you just-- premises you just set out-- I wonder if perhaps explicitly religion will be less important-- i-- in the fall-- in the general election than at any time since 1972 before Roe versus Wade really transformed the landscape.
Because it's not in-- frankly in either candidate's interest to get into theological debates at this point. It is never a candidate's interest I would say. I think the great thing about the country has always been that we have created a public sphere in which reli-- religion shapes us without strangling us.
And that was the great achievement of the founders. And-- it's something that from generation to generation has been-- has been respected. Miss Lotz' father is one of the great figures in this. Billy Graham plays this enormous role in our culture. But i-- in a non-sectarian, non-divisive way. And so that's why when we talk about wars on religion we talk about th-- this-- this-- e-- eternal conflict, let's think about it.
Where do we go in moments of national crisis or mourning? We go to the National Cathedral. Where do you-- you-- people pray at inaugurations? There's-- there's-- there's a tolerance, there's an acceptance, there's a hunger for a kind of religious conversation.
And I think that the-- the more generic it is-- and I understand the theological problems with this. But the more generic it is, the more effective and the more accepted it is. And I just wonder if you get to October w-- whether it's in either candidate's interest to be bringing up specific religious issues.