Sunday, December 02, 2007

...And That Will Be All For Romney

Until November 28, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was the leading Republican candidate on my list. Some of his shenanigans at the debate on Wednesday took him out of first place for me. He still had a chance to regain my support, but any chance he had of that went out the window when I read this piece by Clinton-era negotiator Mansoor Ijaz in the Christian Science Monitor, in which Romney said the following:
Based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.

OK, let's dissect everything that is wrong with this statement. First, Romney has the bizarre idea that a president's Cabinet nominations ought to be decided by the proportion of a nominee's racial, ethnic, or religious group. Diversity is good, but it's not an exact science and keeping proportions right never should preclude the choice of qualified candidates. (And isn't it usually the Republicans who make this point?). Second, since when did being a member of a small community eliminate you from consideration for a job? Sorry, you can't work here, your religious community is too small? Should we use this argument against Romney, too, since his religious community constitues less than 2% of Americans? Third, the most qualified Republican candidate for Secretary of State right now is probably U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad - a Muslim. Should he be rejected for his religious beliefs (which, in a diplomatic position, could be a credit when we're trying to negotiate with Muslim nations)?

Put more succinctly, what the heck is Romney trying to get at here? Is he saying that he'll only nominate a Muslim if he has to, and he doesn't feel like he has to, so he won't? If so, this is identity politics at its absolute worst. As a member of a historically kicked-around religious group, Romney should know better than to exclude someone based on their religion.

Is Romney saying he wouldn't nominate a Muslim because of a possible association with the crazy-bastard jihadists? I doubt it, since he did say Muslims could serve in his administration. But if so, it's proof that he doesn't understand the difference between a Muslim and a radical Muslim, and thus he's a bigger foreign-policy idiot than anyone thought.

I hope none of this is true. I hope that Romney simply misinterpreted Ijaz's question - maybe Romney thought the question was "would you feel obligated to nominate a Muslim" instead of "would you nominate a qualified Muslim." If so, then he's back in my mediocre graces. But he needs to explain himself - and soon - before this really blows up in his face.

1 comment:

Mike said...

After Ron Paul (of course), my favorite Pub is still John McCain; while his sudden change in catering to the religious right bothered me initially, I now recognize it as merely pragmatic (and them as dumb enough to fall for it) and am no longer worried.

Honestly, though, I'll be surprised if this little Romney statement makes all that big of a splash.