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Blogging "The Speech" (Updated)

I'll be live-blogging the much-spoken-about speech on faith this morning by Mitt Romney, scheduled for 10:30 EST in College Station, TX. If he flubs, fibs or triumphs, we'll point it out!

Meanwhile, Tom Bevan and Erick from RedState wonder what the big deal is. And if you just can't wait to watch it (or if you're at work), you can read some excerpts here.


For what it was, and if I were a Romney supporter, I would view "The Speech" as an overall success. Stylistically, it had all of the little nuts and bolts you might look for in a strong political speech. He created an "us vs. them" scenario, and asked Americans to remember who the real bad guys are--"Violent Jihadists" and those evil Secularists! The latter, he argued, threatens the religious heritage of our nation at home, while the former threatens liberty abroad.

He invoked the founding fathers, always crucial, but especially so in this case. One of the concerns surrounding Mormonism, as I've seen it, is the very "newness" of it. Romney makes the point that the founding principles of our nation--the most important "political religion" of America--is our one binding faith, and the very fact that Mormonism "tests our tolerance" makes religious freedom all the more necessary in these times.

Romney went on to compliment all of the faiths in America, and drew upon the pleasant qualities they all possess. The Catholic mass, the devout Protestant ethic and the Islamic priority of prayer. Ed Morrissey fears this all religion buffet may have come across as pandering, but I think it served more of a technical role. It's a common speech technique, and it reminded me of President Reagan's speech on Omaha Beach in 1984. Much like Reagan, Romney's speech pulled people in by enumerating the things they all share. It was another way to remind voters that this isn't simply about his faith, but all faiths. "He said Catholic...hey, I'm a Catholic!"

But in a way, Romney sort of duped us all here. We were waiting with bated breath for a "The Speech," and instead got a complete campaign speech. He's Mormon. He fights terrorists. He loves to protect life (wink,wink), and he thinks secularism is the scariest religion in America. In addition to hearing about how his faith "informs" him, we learned all of the reasons why we shouldn't worry about it. He'll do his job, 'nuff said.

Best line, in my opinion: "No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths."

One criticism--When John Kennedy gave this speech, there was a pretty extensive Q&A session at the end. Why didn't Romney answer a couple of questions? This again leads me to believe that we were kind of conned here, and that this was simply the stump speech on steroids.


The Corner:

That was perhaps the best political speech of the year. It was well-crafted and delivered with conviction and -- this is unusual for Romney -- considerable emotion. I thought his contrast of the empty cathedrals of Europe with the violent jihadis was particularly adroit. He managed to make this a speech about patriotism as much as about religion. Brilliant.

Taylor Marsh:

Frankly, I don't care about Romney's religion. After watching him through videotape my conclusion is that this man has no political compass and will say whatever is needed, changing what he must with the blowing political winds, even more than most. That has nothing to do with his religion. It says something about the man. However, his speech today says more about this country, but particularly the Republican party.

The Moderate Voice:

As a religious Jew, it is obvious to me that religion (yours, mine, anybody else's) does not belong in the public square. Romney would have us keep the nefarious 1954 interpolation "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and fill public property with Nativity scenes and menorahs (but probably not Muslim crescents or Wiccan ceremonies). Oh, "The legend, "In God We Trust," became a part of the design of United States currency in 1957 and has appeared on all currency since 1963."

So, Romney would have us restore a faux-1950s generic Protestant Christianity to American citizenship.

Chris Cillizza:

A quick search through the text of Romney's speech -- 2,540 words -- just once did Romney utter the word "Mormon." ("I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it," he said.) If Romney is embracing rather than diminishing his faith, it seems as though he would mention it a time or two more, no?

I disagree with Cillizza. Im sure this was intentional, and the real point of this speech was to bind voters together in a "symphony of faith." This was not Kennedy's "The Speech," it was simply sold as such. The real message here, as I saw it, was that there are cohesive American values, and Romney believes that he's the guy to defend them from enemies at home and abroad.

Update III:

This line is getting a lot of play so far:

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

Politico runs this as their headline, and it has Steve of No More Mister Nice Blog steamed.


Shorter Hugh Hewitt: If you didn't like the speech you're stupid.

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