Obama Campaign's Hole Card: Romney's Church
One hole card in the Obama campaign's deck of memes remains to be played against Romney: his affiliation with the LDS Church.
The campaign's race-based, class-warfare, GOP-war-against-women, blame-Bush, and blame-Republicans cards are already in play. Plus, additional efforts to divert attention away from the economy are likely to surface in the months ahead -- perhaps through a brief military conflagration with Iran.
The current brouhaha over the administration's claim of executive privilege (EP) in the Fast & Furious episode may aim to take eyes off the weekly litany of dismal economic news. Would it surprise us if the EP story sucked oxygen out of the news for several weeks, until the Justice Department dumped thousands of innocuous Fast & Furious documents to calm the storm?
The next day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announces, "See, there's no fire to support all the smoke Republicans have been putting out. It's just been about more Republican obstructionism." If that happens, the episode will have been a spin on the blame-Republicans meme. It will not represent a new card.
The hole card yet to drop is the one that puts Romney's religious beliefs into play.
Think back. Former GOP Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee played that card, in late 2007, when he played dumb regarding Mormon religious beliefs by asking a New York Times Magazine writer, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"
Mike Huckabee's rhetorical question -- "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"-- to Zev Chafets in a New York Times Magazine article entitled "The Huckabee Factor" was aimed around evangelical Christian leaders and toward conservative Christian voters.
Two months later, McCain's West Virginia delegates aligned with Huckabee and scuttled Romney's efforts there as a prelude to the final death blow dealt to Romney's '08 candidacy in the Florida primary.
Today, that's all ancient history. Huckabee's playing nice this time. McCain is largely irrelevant.
But the Mormon card is still an Obama campaign option. And, as November nears, does anyone think that the two Davids -- Plouffe and Axelrod -- will hesitate to play it after Labor Day?
Of course, they won't play it face-up, overtly. It'll flip over on the political game table via a circuitous, but transparent, route -- through their allies in the legacy media.
One of the "C" media outlets (CBS, NBC, CNN, or ABC) will produce a special expose on Religion in American Politics - 2012. The correspondents will review the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's role in the '08 election, emphasizing how Candidate Obama distanced himself from his embarrassing, crazy-uncle pastor.
The meta-message will be how the attempt to tarnish Obama through his long association with Wright failed back in '08, and conclude that there is no sacred ghost around to haunt Obama this time.
Then the exposé's focus will shift to Romney.
With nuanced delicacy, the reporter will, purely from an historical point of view, note past polygamist and racist aspects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church), adding that, of course, LDS practices have changed considerably over time. The script will lightly touch on several of the more obscure, less-known beliefs present in current LDC doctrine. Then, in a faux spirit of open-mindedness, the narrative will, in a spirit of fairness, acknowledge how beliefs among LDC Church members differ, just as do those among faithful Roman Catholics.
But the intended innuendo will have been etched into the minds of gullible viewers.
So expect the legacy media to do with Romney what it never did with Candidate Obama -- thoroughly examine his religious beliefs, from a variety of angles. It will, of course, all be presented in the spirit of educating the voting public, while maintaining the façade of intellectual impartiality.
The meta-message, though, will be heard: voters should be somewhat concerned about Mitt Romney's religious beliefs, since they're not mainstream, like Obama's.
It will come as no surprise if the legacy media, once again, carries Obama's water as Romney's religious affiliation becomes a soft target in the fall.
When it happens, all we'll likely hear from Axelrod, Plouffe, and Carney concerning Romney's religious affiliation will be...the sound of crickets.