Friday, December 7, 2007

New Reactions to Romney's "Faith in America" Speech

In the News

Yesterday, Governor Mitt Romney delivered his "Faith in America" address at The George Bush Presidential Library. Today, the newspapers and columnists are reflecting upon Governor Romney's words. Please find below some key columns:

Kathleen Parker: "One Nation Under Mitt" (Townhall, 12/7/07):

"He held up a mirror and, for the first time in a long while, Americans did not have to avert their gaze. They could see themselves reflected and be both proud and humbled by their country's unique beauty."

"Voters may not know any more about Mormonism than they did before Mitt Romney's faith speech on Thursday, but they surely know more about what it means to be an American.

"Romney's much-anticipated address from the George H.W. Bush library at Texas A&M reminded Americans of some fundamental truths that often get lost in the guerrilla warfare of presidential politics."
...
"If Kennedy's speech was an important landmark in American political history, Romney's was surpassing. With heartfelt humility and poetic eloquence, he tracked the nation's struggle with and for freedom.

"He held up a mirror and, for the first time in a long while, Americans did not have to avert their gaze. They could see themselves reflected and be both proud and humbled by their country's unique beauty.

"That may be the most valuable result of Romney's speech. He raised the bar by focusing on broad principles of religious freedom, rather than on the small details of doctrinal differences. In the process, he elevated everyone – even those not-so-deserving."


Patrick J. Buchanan: "Mitt's Hour Of Power" (Townhall, 12/7/07):

"And it is hard to see how Romney does not benefit hugely from what was a quintessentially 'American' address."

"If Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination, it will be due in large measure to his splendid and moving defense of his faith and beliefs delivered today at the George Bush Presidential Library."
...
"This was a tour de force, and it was delivered before perhaps the largest audience Romney will have for any speech before the January caucuses and primaries. It will be the subject of editorials and columns in coming weeks. And it is hard to see how Romney does not benefit hugely from what was a quintessentially 'American' address."
...
"The issues of religious tolerance, what it means to be a Christian in politics, and of secularism versus traditionalism are all now out on the table, and will likely be the social-moral issues on which the race turns between now and January.

"To this writer, Romney is on unassailable grounds. Nor is he hurt by the fact that his wife and five children testify eloquently that he is a man of principles who lives by them."


Rich Lowry Op-Ed: "Mitt The Patriot" (The New York Post, 12/7/07):

"He partially wrote and then delivered a speech that was a deeply felt love poem to America, a defense and celebration of its religious vibrancy and world-shaping commitment to liberty."

"In College Station, he delivered his speech with a transparent sincerity and, at times, passion. He even misted up."
...
"In the conclusion of his speech, Romney talked of the difficulty of settling on a prayer at the First Continental Congress in 1774 because of all the different faiths represented there: 'Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot.' Amen."


Michael Medved: "Romney's Home Run" (Townhall, 12/7/07):

"This is, frankly, precisely the sort of clarity and courage
Americans expect of a presidential candidate."

"The key to that notable and perhaps historic success involved the candidate?s eloquent ability to insist on the proper distinction between religious values (which nearly all Americans share), and specific doctrines and traditions (on which we differ dramatically).

"The former Massachusetts governor drew this distinction with the most memorable rhetoric of the Presidential campaign so far.

"He satisfied his first goal – arguing that his Mormon faith shouldn?t disqualify him – and he did so while affirming his personal loyalty and devotion. While acknowledging that there are some who 'would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion?or disavow one or another of its precepts,' he stoutly and emphatically refused to bend. 'That I will not do,' he declared. 'I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers – I will be true to them and to my beliefs. Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.'

"This is, frankly, precisely the sort of clarity and courage Americans expect of a presidential candidate."
...
"There's still more than three weeks before the Iowa Caucuses and I still feel potent admiration and affection for Romney rivals Huckabee, McCain and Giuliani.

"But in Mitt's remarks today, he not only looked and sounded like a President – he actually looked and sounded like a great one. All Americans should feel encouraged and grateful."


Dallas Morning News Editorial: "Reminders Of Tolerance" (12/7/07):

"In so doing, a passionate Mr. Romney delivered one of the clearest articulations of our civic religion by any presidential candidate in recent memory."

"Rather, the candidate took a more prudent path, focusing on the basic moral tradition that religious believers share. He persuasively contended that on important moral and political questions, his faith convictions are well within the mainstream of American history. In so doing, a passionate Mr. Romney delivered one of the clearest articulations of our civic religion by any presidential candidate in recent memory.

"The candidate properly assured his audience that, as president, he would recognize limits on his church's authority. Going on offense, he connected America's greatness with its religious tolerance and pointedly observed that 'religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.'

"Mr. Romney contrasted the American genius for accommodating religion in public life with Europe's history – state religion, followed by sterile secularism – and the Islamic world, where a totalist creed often persecutes dissenters. Only in America, he argued, are faith and reason held to be compatible within their respective spheres, thus keeping religion vibrant and relevant to democratic life. And this, he contended, is possible because in America, we honor God while respecting religious difference.

"The message was clear: Religious faith and religious tolerance define America's pluralist democracy and make it great. To dishonor that is to be less of a patriot."


Michael Gerson: "Answering Critics – And Kennedy" (The Washington Post, 12/7/07):

"Kennedy's speech remains a landmark of American rhetoric.
But Romney's deserves to be read beside it."

"Before his remarks, Romney tipped his hat to Kennedy's Houston address as 'the definitive speech.' But Romney, speaking at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University, declared his independence from the Kennedy model. Kennedy's speech began by playing down 'religious issues' as a distraction from the 'real issues' of 'war and hunger and ignorance and despair.' Romney declared this perspective – 'that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us' -- to be 'at odds with the nation's founders.'"
...
"Romney's speech, however, was an achievement. It had the boldness to argue with Kennedy on key issues and the intellectual seriousness to win some of those arguments. Kennedy's speech remains a landmark of American rhetoric. But Romney's deserves to be read beside it."

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