Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dear Yankee Pundits: I Apologize

Dear Yankee Pundits (And you know who y'all are),

Please accept my humble apologies. I was wrong and so I will make a real apology. A real apology restates the offense without any euphemisms or diminishing comments or excuses. Here is my offense. A mere two days ago, in "Romney's Southern Problem: The "M" Word", I wrote this:

I can see Romney winning Iowa or at least finishing second in Iowa. He should win his neighboring state of New Hampshire; anything else would be a major upset. As for South Carolina - listen to me, well-meaning Yankee pundits - it's not going to happen. It's the "M" word.
Cobb County courthouse in Marietta
Cobb County, GA Courthouse - Image via Wikipedia

What? "Mormon"? No, get real; you guys are far too quick to project your prejudices on others. There are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints all through the South and while they may not be ultra-active in politics, they are viewed as being good people and good neighbors. They are walking examples of the "family values" that the Republican Party endorses so heartily. Mitt Romney's "M" word problem is Massachusetts.

I still stand by the vast majority of that statement: Romney's projected finishes and the likelihood that non-Southerners project bizarre things upon us with little or no evidence and that Mitt Romney's real problems are the ramifications of his successful Massachusetts elections. I can no longer honestly say; however, that Governor Romney's religion is not an issue in the South.

A real apology also states why the statement or action was wrong. In this case, my friend and a fine writer, Jason Pye made a post on Peach Pundit entitled, "Judy Manning is 'afraid' of Mormons" this morning. The content of Jason's piece means I cannot continue to issue a blanket denial that religion is not an issue in the South.

Jason's piece was based upon this story in the Marietta Daily Journal, "Lawmakers sound off on '12 hopefuls". You see, Judy Manning is an elected Georgia state representative from Marietta, the county seat of Cobb County. She was interviewed because she has endorsed former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Before I go farther down this road, let me add that you cannot blame Gingrich for Manning's statements. That's only one click off of judging Romney solely on his personal beliefs.

I don't know Representative Manning. She may well be a skilled lawmaker and a wonderful person, but she needs to think before she speaks. Perhaps she really fears members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. If she does, perhaps she deserves our sympathy.

Manning is no political neophyte. She is a 12-year veteran of the state legislature and holds an undergraduate degree in education and a graduate degree in business. Her legislative profile describes her as "a devout Presbyterian" and I point that out because if I don't some people will make assumptions and attribute the statement to a Southern Baptist. It wasn't us, okay?

I figure if one of our elected officials is responsible for that statement then I can't blame it on "some crank" and so I might as well own up to it. I refer to myself: Ken Carroll's First Law of Politics: Never Defend the Indefensible.

The website has been suspended, though I do not know when that happened. I am hoping that Representative Manning has a credible explanation for her statement and whether she does or not, I hope she issues an honest apology. It was a dumb thing to say. Period.

Mitt Romney is neither my first nor second choice for the GOP nomination. I have concerns with his commitment to conservative beliefs and that he will not aggressively move to reduce the size and the scope of the federal government. Would I eliminate him from consideration because he is a Mormon? No, because to do so would be stupid.

The saddest thing is that I thought we were better than this. I really did.

Written by Ken Carroll

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