Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Founded by Mark Kleiman (1951-2019)
Huntsman’s Candidacy and the Danger to Mormonism
As Jon Huntsman prepares to declare his candidacy for President, I wonder whether what he will have to do to become viable will pose a threat to GOP Mormon political figures outside Utah.
Given the collective insanity that now characterizes the GOP, Huntsman is going to have to flip-flop on a variety of issues.Â Climate change?Â He used to favor cap-and-trade, and as Utah Governor he had the state join the Western Climate Initiative.Â Now he opposes both.Â The stimulus?Â In 2009, he said it was too small.Â Now he supports the Ryan plan and wants to cut the budget even further.Â He happily accepted the job as Obama’s Ambassador to China and is now running against him; despite a relatively cordial campaign statement, his rhetoric will have to get more extreme.Â That’s going to get him the reputation in Republican circles as someone with no real convictions.
And what other candidate in the Republican race fits that pattern?Â The other photogenic, former GOP governor who also just happens to be a Mormon: “Multiple Choice” Mitt Romney.
All politicians change their positions, flip-flop, backpedal, etc.Â It’s part of the job.Â It’s not a sin.Â And it goes without saying that Mormon politicians are no better or worse than any other religion.Â Orrin Hatch is very consistent, despite changing on the DREAM Act, for example.Â Ditto Harry Reid.Â Or all the Udalls.
But the current Republican base is religiously intolerant.Â There is little doubt that one major reason why Romney flopped in 2008 was because evangelicals didn’t trust Mormons.Â Jews are convenient to much of the evangelical “dispensationalist” base because Israel might provide a convenient Rapture launching pad, but anti-Semitism suffuses much of it, as does anti-Catholic intolerance: the website of Michele Bachmann’s church for many years referred to the Vatican as the “whore of Rome.”
And now the two Republican candidates who will be most susceptible to the charge of flip-flopping, inconsistency, lacking core convictions, untrustworthiness are members of a religion that much of the GOP base distrusts anyway, and for good measure, like many religions, keeps secrets.Â
I suspect that over the next year we will be reading some very ugly things coming from evangelicals about the Latter-Day Saints.
Author: Jonathan Zasloff
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees.
Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses.
Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.
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