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Santorum Makes a Hat Trick But Where Are the Voters?

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No doubt about it – former Senator Rick Santorum’s hat trick last night, winning the caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado, and the non-binding primary in Missouri, gave his previously lagging campaign a new boost of energy and raised serious questions, actually one serious question about Mitt Romney: Why are Republican voters reluctant to get on-board his bandwagon?

There are some answers to that question, which I will get to in a minute, but, the biggest news from last night was the turnout. It was low. Very low. Roughly 251,000 people in Missouri turned out to vote last night. In 2008, 588,720 Republicans voted in that state’s primary. In Colorado, about 67,000 Republican voters showed up at last night’s caucuses, but in 2008, 70,229 showed up. And in Minnesota, some 48,000 voters went to the caucuses last night compared to almost 63,000 in 2008. There is not that much enthusiasm for these candidates and that is potentially a big problem for the GOP come November.

Compromise? Not So Fast

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Yesterday, Politico reported that David Axelrod, the President’s chief political strategist, admitted that the administration needs to revisit the issue of conscience exemptions and the HHS mandates. Axelrod, however, also re-stated the administration’s lame arguments for the original decision.

Also, yesterday, the editors of Commonweal opined that while the administration’s decision was bad, the bishops have over-reacted and that it is time to find a compromise.

MSW on Radio & in Person

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A reminder, this afternoon on will be interviewed on the Colin McEnroe show on WNPR in Connecticut. If you are not in the listening area, I will post a link to the interview as soon as I get back home.

Also, tonight, I will be speaking at the UConn Co-op about my biography of Jerry Falwell at 6 p.m.

Tomorrow, I will be visiting St. Bernard's High School in Montville, CT to speak with their "Global Issues" class.

And, on Thursday, I will be in WHYY, at 10 a.m., discussing the Falwell book and the role of religion in the 2012 election.

Should Romney Discuss His Mormonism?

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Over at the New Republic, Randall Balmer argues that Romney should more openly discuss his Mormon faith. I am not sure Balmer is right and I am betting the Romney campaign has done a bunch of focus groups on the issue. Of course, before we hand anyone as much power as we hand a president, we are entitled to know a great deal about that person. And, I would relish shifting the national political conversation from "values" to how we arrive at values, what philosophic anthropology and what religious doctrines inspire those values, although there is precious little in American history to suggest the country is even ready to have that discussion.

One thing is clear: Romney's Mormonism, like his wealth, is not going away as an issue.

Religious Liberty Abroad

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Weekend before last, I was determined to undertake no writing and no heavy reading. What better way to kill time than an old and wonderful movie. I watched “Gandhi.” Of course, I had been writing a great deal about the issue of religious liberty, and the movie reminded me that we should avoid histrionics, to be sure, but that religious liberty is something that must be defended – and not just liberty but a culture of religious tolerance to support that liberty.

The highpoint of the movie “Gandhi” is not when the Union Jack is lowered over New Delhi. It is not the end of British rule that really provides the drama: It is the question of keeping India united. Gandhi succeeded in ending British rule but he was unable to keep India from breaking apart into two countries, one Muslim and one Hindu, and violence between members of the two creeds forced mass displacement of people on both sides of the border. Pakistan and India have fought several undeclared wars since and the paranoia of Pakistan’s military remains a hurdle in U.S.-Pakistani relations, especially as we improve relations with India which is the world’s largest democracy.

Parker on HHS

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If you watched the cable news stations or the Sunday morning talks shows on the networks, you know that the controversy over the Obama administration's decision to force Catholic institutions to pay for insurance that covers abortifacients, sterilization and contraception has landed squarely in the mainstream media and that most commentators understand that this was a really stupid move by the White House. This morning in the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker, who is not a ranter by any stretch, looks at the HHS decision and the controversy surrounding the Komen Foundation.

Egan's Moral Idiocy

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I had thought that by now, 2012, it was impossible to be shocked by an example of episcopal moral idiocy regarding the sexual abuse of minors. For every bishop like Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who has self-evidently tried to do the right thing by the victims of this horror, there is a grand jury report, actually two, in Philadelphia cataloguing indifference or worse. For every archdiocese like Washington, where three consecutive archbishops – Hickey, McCarrick and Wuerl – have handled accusations of abuse with swiftness and justice, there is a diocese like Kansas City-St. Joseph, which is under criminal indictment for failing to follow civil law, let alone moral law. And for every brave and decisive bishop like Wilton Gregory, who as chairman of the USCCB in 2002 refused to ignore the gravity of the crisis or accept half-measures to face it, there is a bishop like Fabian Bruskewitz who still refuses to even permit an audit of his diocese’s compliance with child protection procedures. As I say, I thought I was beyond shock.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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