Mitt Romney was on with Jay Leno last night, and the YouTube video is here. In the new world of American politics, candidates have to be able to engage in such conversations which go from light hearted self-mockery to the very serious and back again. Romney did that last night, just as Rudy and Senator McCain have in other settings. It is a key talent, and the first tier candidates have it.
There is no way to deal with religious bigotry that demands answers to questions that are not a candidate’s to answers. Robert Novak’s column today is just amazing in this regard. The estimable Mr. Novak writes a review of a new movie about the “Mormon Massacre,” and then casually asides:
Mitt Romney surely is not responsible for what kind of man Brigham Young was, but that question hurts his candidacy. Romney has been described by many Republican insiders as the perfect candidate: magnetic, smart and with an excellent record as an executive. His greatest liability has been religious bias against him. He has never seized this issue, thinking it so wrong-headed that it will go away.
Similarly, he has rejected efforts by the producers of “September Dawn” to reach out to him. I made three attempts without success to get his views of the movie. Neither watching it nor condemning it, he may just hope that Americans will not include this bloody tragedy in their spring and summer viewing.
Has Novak approached Giuliani on Urban VIII’s imprisonment of Galileo? What an incredibly absurd question and line of reasoning. On Monday the New York Times profiled Barack Obama’s relationship with the pastor who brought Senator Obama into his Christian faith, the controversial Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. This is a fascinating and appropriate subject to raise, as the Rev. Wright has many controversial views and is a significant figure in Obama’s life.
But the attempt to pin the Mountain Meadows Massacre on Romney is nothing short of the worst sort of prejudice –the assignment of guilt or at least the responsibility to explain a particular act of 150 years ago on to a candidate for the presidency in 2007? And when Novak writes that Romney has “never seized this issue” of religious bias against him, the reporter also reveals he hasn’t done much reporting as Romney has done so again and again —at length in my book, but also in profile after profile.