An old friend of mine (Philip Greenspun) recently predicted that Obama will win the 2012 presidency in a close election. I agree, although for very different reasons. He thinks that even though the economy will remain poor, the American public won’t put the blame entirely on Obama and that they will give him some credit for ending the war in Iraq. Phil has more confidence in the American people than I do.
At this point, the Republican nomination seems to be a two man race between Romney and Gingrich. Gingrich is a lunatic and it’s hard to imagine that even a majority of Republicans would vote for him. I mean, the guy left his first wife when she was recovering from cancer surgery. And more recently he converted to Catholicism and now panders to the religious right. Honestly though, it’s his willingness to just throw the country into chaos (remember the Contract with America?) based on whatever principles he happens to hold that day that scares the hell out of me.
So I think Romney gets the nomination. Right now, everyone knows him as a boring but competent business guy who happens to be Mormon. And Americans have a vague idea that Mormons believe wacky things. But it’s going to become very clear very quickly just how wacky that organization is. Here are just a few of quirks:
- Mandatory 10% tithing.
- Secret under-garments.
- Institutionalized racism until 1978.
- I almost forgot “plural marriage”!
And Romney’s been heavily involved as a church leader almost his whole life. Christopher Hitchens wrote a great summary for Slate just a couple months before he died–that’s the sort of story we’re going to see a lot of. Under the Banner of Heaven is going to start selling like hot cakes. The story of Joseph Smith and then Brigham Young is amazing, even without all the crazy polygamy stuff.
By he time the summer rolls around, the press is just going to drag the Mormon church through the mud. It’s going to be like watching a car crash. As someone who views religion as a great spectator sport, I can’t wait!