Like microwaving one minute rice. I’m busy, I’m on the go — I just don’t have time to conduct the massive, protracted analysis that’s all over the internet and print media on the topic of The Speech. So I’m going to do bottom-line commentary here and go back to writing final papers.
First consider the NYT editorial:
The founders were indeed religious men, as Mr. Romney said. But they understood the difference between celebrating religious faith as a virtue, and imposing a particular doctrine, or even religion in general, on everyone. As Mr. Meacham put it, they knew that “many if not most believed, yet none must.”
Then Peggy Noonan’s one big gripe about Mitt’s one “significant mistake”:
I do not know why Romney did not include nonbelievers in his moving portrait of the great American family. We were founded by believing Christians, but soon enough Jeremiah Johnson, and the old proud agnostic mountain men, and the village atheist, and the Brahmin doubter, were there, and they too are part of us, part of this wonderful thing we have. Why did Mr. Romney not do the obvious thing and include them? My guess: It would have been reported, and some idiots would have seen it and been offended that this Romney character likes to laud atheists. And he would have lost the idiot vote. My feeling is we’ve bowed too far to the idiots. This is true in politics, journalism, and just about everything else.
I think this is the bottom line from where we’re standing today: nobody needs to believe in God for America to be America. Whereas the bottom line from where the Founders were standing was that, indeed, no individual must profess any faith to be an American — but many people, if not most, must profess some faith, if our political liberty and our free government is to be preserved. This is one minute rice so you’ll have to find the quotes yourselves. But this to me seems to be the point on which the center of this issue turns. Without a religious people, does a secular government turn against the ends we imagine it should have?
But on second thought, this is only the former bottom line, the second-to-bottom line. Because what worries me about Nice Hugabee and Barack Obama — as opposed to what worries me about Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani — is that religious faith will continue to serve increasingly as just one facet of a more universal and abstract political creed — evangelical ‘Americanism’. If religious conservatives are not satisfied on this score with the abuse they enjoyed under George W. Bush, perhaps they really are the uneducable dupes that people the fantasies of their enemies. I’d like to think otherwise. But the apparent necessity of The Speech itself leaves a heavy burden.