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Liberty University has announced that Mitt Romney, the “presumptive Republican presidential nominee,” (his title now) will be its Commencement Speaker on May 12.
For Romney, this is part of what pundits say is an enormous amount of work he has to do to secure the support of the hard-core right-wingers in his party. Many of them don’t like him, they don’t trust him, and, even though most of them won’t admit it, they dislike the fact he’s a Mormon.
They spent many months looking for the “true conservative” that would so warm their hearts, but they couldn’t find him. In fact, their hearts were broken by a string of weirdo extremists.
Alas, George Romney’s son had the money and enough backing from the still-strong Republican establishment (donors, national and Congressional party leaders, state party officials, etc.) to stay ahead of the goofy parade and be the winner at the end.
Now, Romney will turn his attention to trying to win over the likes of the crowd that will be at the LU commencement.
These, of course, are the “Christian conservatives,” a phrase I insist must be rendered in quotations, because it’s such an oxymoron for the rest of us.
Liberty University is probably the best place for him to start, being as it is, among “Christian conservatism’s” holiest places. It’s a Mecca, if you will, for the religious right (and they’ll hate the Muslim analogy).
But Romney better do a little research before he comes to LU. Maybe the university can identify the fanatic who, during the primary vote on campus, was constantly yelling at the Romney supporters, “Real Christians read the Bible, not the Book of Mormon!”
Yes, it appears to be Romney’s Mormonism that prompted many on the LU campus to support Ron Paul, even though Paul and the Falwells don’t seem a natural fit. True, Paul was the only other person on the ballot, but their real sentiment – as evidenced by that quote reported in the Lynchburg newspaper – seems to be against Romney because of his religion.
Since Romney can not be expected to join the Southern Baptist Convention, he has only once choice: Go to LU and throw all the red-meat “Christian conservatism” at them that you possibly can.
First, he should talk about abortion. At the end of his speech, he should go back to abortion, after, of course, having spent so much of the middle parts of the speech talking about….well, abortion. The Politics of Fetuses originated in Lynchburg, Va.
But ignore the subject of wealth. Jesus clearly thought it dangerous, but the religious right is made up entirely of capitalists and people who reject the “social gospel.” They don’t want to hear about helping the poor, whom Romney has already said he is “unconcerned” about.
On foreign policy, he’ll need to be as hawkish and as war-loving as possible. Don’t expect a “turn the other cheek” view here; you won’t get it at Liberty.
He might consider casting some not-so-subtle digs at the president’s own religious beliefs, which the religious right is apparently very skeptical about. They make such remarks as, “Well, Obama says he’s a Christian,” or, “He professes Christianity,” and likewise.
The President, because he’s a Democrat, couldn’t be a REAL Christian, you see. That’s what remarks of that kind actually mean. They won’t even show enough respect for Obama to give him the benefit of the doubt.
So, how will Romney do at LU? Just think of a crowd of thousands of people sitting in front of a man and listening to him politely while the word, “cult, streams through their minds.
That should be just about the size of it.
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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.