The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 1, 2012

Biggest news of RNC was Huckabee’s speech, not Romney’s

The Back Porch

By Nerissa Young
Columnist

— The Republican National Convention is over, Mitt Romney is the official nominee for president and any undecided voters looking for direction on whether to vote for Romney came away empty-handed.

His acceptance speech Thursday was a mix of snarky one-liners directed at President Obama, fuzzy anecdotes to make him appear to be a regular guy and empty platitudes. For what some pundits noted beforehand would be the most important political speech in his career thus far, Romney disappointed mightily.

He offered no details, no real plan on how to fix anything. He summed up his qualifications as “I’m not President Obama. Vote for me.”

That mentality of running against the incumbent but not running for anything didn’t work for John Kerry in 2004, and it won’t work for Romney in 2012.

His speech, his candidacy and the country would have been better served if Romney had talked specifically about what he accomplished as governor of Massachusetts. His ability to serve as chief executive of that state is more telling of his ability to serve as president than heading up the Olympics. People plan events all the time; that doesn’t mean they should all be president.

It’s both sad and ironic that the best speeches to come from the floor came from everyone but the nominee.

The only thing of note on a national scale was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s religious revelation that Romney’s Mormon faith wasn’t a problem. “Let me say to you tonight, I care far less as to where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I do about where he takes this country.”

That was big news — an ordained Southern Baptist minister giving his blessing to the first non-Protestant Republican ticket in history.

Since the Reagan Revolution of 1980 and Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, conservative Republicans have been adamant about the faith component in their candidates. And many evangelicals consider Mormonism a cult.

It was a watershed moment from the party that has become more and more beholden to the conservative Christians within its ranks.

Conservative Republicans have either decided that evangelical Christianity isn’t as important as they’ve made it out to be for the past quarter century or they are willing to throw faith under the bus wheels to beat their opponent.

Perhaps this will mark a new approach to modern politics, that religion may be one component of a candidate’s portfolio but not necessarily the whole package. Maybe the ability to govern will assume a greater importance.

Many of the nation’s founders were religious, but more than that, they were intelligent men who knew how other countries functioned and the pitfalls of those systems because they had studied them or traveled there or both. They knew the art of compromise. There was a reason the Constitution was written behind closed doors; the founders didn’t want their vociferous debates to cause their constituents to lose hope in the new country.

Romney may not be the best poster child on the governing part, but the election is still two months away. A lot can happen. Someone should check to see whether Jerry Falwell is spinning in his grave.

— Young is a Register-Herald columnist. E-mail: ynerissa@frontier.com

© 2012 by Nerissa Young