Time's Jon Meacham says Mitt Romney and his allies may be using his LDS faith as a shield against other criticisms.
According to Meacham, some are saying the Obama campaign's attacks over Romney's "secrecy" on his finances and other issues is actually a covert attack on Romney's LDS faith. Meacham says that line of defense is a bit of a stretch, and he thinks the 2012 campaign will largely be religion free.
It seems a stretch to say that the President’s campaign is engaging in religious bigotry by talking about Romney’s tax returns, bundler records and purged e-mails. For one thing, they don’t need to; the truth is potentially bad enough for Romney, who won’t release years of tax returns and took hard drives from his gubernatorial offices in Massachusetts when he left. (According to the Associated Press, “Late last year, Romney acknowledged that near the end of his governor’s term in 2007 he approved a sweeping purge of executive e-mails from the state government’s computer servers, and the removal of top aides’ hard drives and computers. Romney justified the purge as legal, prompted by privacy worries.”)
Add in Romney’s elastic policy views of recent years — an issue fully explored in the primaries and sure to be with us until November — and the Axelrod “Who is this guy?” question appears justified without any reference to, or implication about, religion.
One other point on this: it’s possible that the 2012 general-election race will be the least overtly religious one since 1972, the last campaign before Roe v. Wade and the rise of Jimmy Carter brought evangelicalism into the political mainstream. That’s because faith remains a complicated issue for Obama, who is still (wrongly) thought to be a Muslim in some quarters and for whom the subject remains linked in the public mind to the extreme sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s old pastor in Chicago. It’s possible that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will have much to gain from raising religion in any way.