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Political Animal

God in The Cabinet

By Brian Morton | Posted 12/5/2007

Have you ever seen something said by a political candidate for a high level office that made you stop dead and think: They didn't really mean that, did they?

Sure, politicians say dumb things all the time, but I'm talking about amazing dumb, spectacular dumb, Poland-isn't-dominated-by-the-Soviet-Union Gerald Ford dumb. It didn't get a lot of coverage last week, but still, as dumb goes, what Mitt Romney told a Republican businessman of Pakistani descent is world-class dumb.

In response to Mansoor Ijaz's query about whether or not Romney would choose a Muslim to serve in his cabinet should he be elected president, Romney said, according to Ijaz, ". . . based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."

Wow-let's unpack that, shall we? Romney says that he wouldn't put a Muslim in the cabinet because there just aren't enough of them in the United States to warrant it. I guess that means that right off the bat, Romney's using a quota system to decide who does deserve cabinet posts under a President Mitt.

But, of course, positions lower than cabinet level-well, that's just fine! So if we're going to be allocating positions by religious preference, I think we can rule out a Zoroastrian secretary of the interior, or possibly a Hindu secretary of agriculture as well, so beef eaters can sleep easy under a Romney presidency. Except for one small detail, I can't see any problems-and that detail is that by Romney's own standards, Mormons shouldn't warrant any representation in the cabinet either.

In case you missed it, Romney is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Already the Mittster is having to fend off queries about whether or not government policy under his administration would be run from Salt Lake City, and at press time it's rumored that Romney is scheduled to make his big "JFK and Rome" speech where he comes out and says that he's his own man when it comes to religion and government.

It's no surprise that Romney would pander to the far-right crazies that currently make up the hard-core base of Republican party. It would be hard to land the nomination without them, and George W. Bush and company have spent the last six years stoking the flames of anti-Islam sentiment into a nice white-hot crusade. I know someone who objected to the proposed theme of a charity fundraiser-"Arabian Nights." This is the type of mindless hysteria that drives our foreign policy these days.

Of course, I really have never understood how those in the American Christian community who insist on railing against Islam fail to see the irony in their own fundamentalism. After all, what kind of god would not be for his own people's triumph over The Other Guy, right? Years ago, Susan B. Anthony (you remember her-she's the one on the money) once said, "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

Romney later denied making the comments, which is unfortunate given the fact that there are witnesses at more than one event who state that he's said as much before. But aside from all of that, don't any of the candidates for president of the United States ever take a look at the document which lays out how the government is run?

Article VI, section 3 of the United States Constitution says in part that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to an office or public trust under the United States." Given how it's buried in a middle section of the Constitution (and how the current president has found various sections to be null and void at his whim), one can understand how it might have slipped past Romney's and many other conservatives' notice, especially last year this time when they were all in a kerfuffle about incoming Rep. Keith Ellison, the only Muslim in Congress, and his plans to take the oath of office on a Quran. Except of course, the only time the oath is taken on any kind of religious text is in private and usually as a photo opportunity, and Ellison took the oath that day (after the full, Bible-free swearing in of all incoming members) on the Quran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson.

All this shows is that the more you try and inject religion into a government that was founded specifically on getting away from religion, the more trouble you start. Romney has enough problems trying to survive a Republican primary election-pandering to the theocratic base by offering religious quotas is something that a Mormon shouldn't even think about trying. Because for the base of his party, their quota of Mormons in the executive branch might very well turn out to be "zero."

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The Fix (8/4/2010)

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Funny Business (6/9/2010)

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