April 10th, 2008 by Rightsideup

Paul Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation and conservative commentator, was a Mitt Romney backer when the latter was still in the primary running. However, he was recently cited as a member of a group which had started a petition to keep Romney out of McCain’s VP slot. To have gone from being a staunch Mitt supporter in the presidential race to finding him unworthy of even the VP slot was a turnaround the New York Times thought worth commenting on, suggesting a wider theme which isn’t borne out by the facts (that Romney’s “friends” more broadly have deserted him).

At any rate, two explanations – competing ones – have now emerged, both from Weyrich himself. The first is an account of a supposed conversion he experienced, which was reported by World Magazine, as follows:

Last month at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans, several dozen leaders of the “Christian right” met to strategize next steps—but the meeting inevitably included discussion of missteps in the GOP presidential campaign. Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, an early supporter of Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, chided the group for cold-shouldering his candidate until it was too late. Others, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, disagreed. The meeting quickly threatened to dissolve into accusations, rebuttals, and recriminations.

Then, venerable Paul Weyrich—a founder of the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the Council for National Policy (CNP)—raised his hand to speak. Weyrich is a man whose mortality is plain to see. A freak accident several years ago left him with a spinal injury, which ultimately led to both his legs being amputated in 2005. He now gets around in a motorized wheelchair. He is visibly paler and grayer than he was just a few years ago, a fact not lost on many of his friends in the room, some of whom had fought in the political trenches with him since the 1960s.

The room—which had been taken over by argument and side-conversations—became suddenly quiet. Weyrich, a Romney supporter and one of those Farris had chastised for not supporting Huckabee, steered his wheelchair to the front of the room and slowly turned to face his compatriots. In a voice barely above a whisper, he said, “Friends, before all of you and before almighty God, I want to say I was wrong.”

In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.

Apart from both Weyrich’s statement and the telling of it being unnecessarily melodramatic, this would explain the change of tone from Weyrich – that he genuinely thought he had been wrong, and had therefore somehow abandoned the evangelical base in favor of political expediency. Fair enough – can’t agree on the merits but he’s entitled to change his mind (as Romney was…).

But the second explanation (which I can only find quoted here directly) appears to contradict it, or at least suggests that Weyrich hadn’t really changed his mind, or at least didn’t feel as strongly as that account above suggests:

Recently I received a phone call from someone asking if former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney should be Arizona Senator John McCain’s selection for Vice President of the United States.

I said, “No” because I did not think this was the best path for Romney right now; nor was it, in my view, the right fit for McCain. My understanding was that this was to be a personal letter to the Senator; it was not clear to me that this was to be an advertisement.

Thus, I now request that my involvement in this effort be disregarded as this effort to influence the Senator moves on.

So, basically, he thought it was the wrong move for both Romney and McCain but didn’t feel strongly enough it to state this publicly. Rather a different story from the dramatic conversion experience. But then things get even weirder:

I did support Romney in the early primaries and then supported former Arkansas Governor Huckabee when he and McCain were the last two candidates in the field.

That Senator McCain most likely will be in a position to select a Vice Presidential nominee is a failure of our movement, including myself, to unite behind a single candidate. In the unlikely development that the Senator would ask for my view on this matter, I would convey it to him in private as I have traditionally done.

He seems to resent the fact that McCain will be able to choose his VP candidate rather than having someone foisted upon him by the evangelical movement (at least that’s the implication – it’s poorly worded, and so perhaps he merely means that it’s unfortunate McCain is the nominee at all). I find this a little distasteful.

Yes, it would be great if evangelicals and conservatives more broadly had been able to coalesce around a single candidate for president, but we are where we are – going on about past failures isn’t really helpful to anyone at this point. There was no single candidate conservatives could coalesce around because we had a range of proto-conservatives (Huckabee the social but not fiscal conservative, Giuliani the fiscal and foreign policy but not social conservative, Thompson the lazy conservative and Romney the alleged conservative) and that’s why we ended up with McCain – the electable but slightly soft conservative, but ultimately the man everyone else’s supporters had the weakest objections to.

At any rate, none of these speaks well for Weyrich or the stability of his views.

January 29th, 2008 by Rightsideup

This article by a non-Mormon living among Mormons makes excellent arguments for why the conservative base should be getting behind Mitt Romney, and especially why evangelicals share far more than they differ on with Mormons.

This paragraph is representative:

As a seeker of knowledge that is too analytical to achieve faith, of any religion, I am befuddled by the apparent animosity of evangelical Christians towards The followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons have been the equivalent of at least a couple of vertebra of the back bone of the Christian conservative movement that has brought to fruition the Reagan Revolution and all subsequent gains in the growth of the conservative movement.