It seems that our man Mitt! thinks it’s okay for Muslims to be a part of his administration… just as long as they don’t mind sitting in the back of the MittMobile:
I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that “jihadism” is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, “â€¦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.”
Well my goodness this does seem to open up a big ol’ can of religious bigotry worms. Why it seems like only yesterday….
In the course of reporting on the Mormon faith for PBS in the mid-1990s, I heard many denunciations of the theology of Mormons from non-Mormons, but never the idea that their religious beliefs rendered them second-class Americans who ought not be trusted with high office. I have heard thousands of complaints from conservatives about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his politics, but none of them attack the man because he is Mormon. And in the year of research and interviews that went into my forthcoming book on Mitt Romney, when someone got close to the line that Weisberg so bluntly decided to cross, they stopped, hesitated, and evidence the reluctance to declaim the sort of denunciation of a faith that was long the domain of nativists and racists. But now that Romney appears the most conservative Republican in serious contention for the White House, it is open season on Mormons.
In mid-November I addressed a session of the Evangelical Theological Society, an organization of more than 4,000 evangelical scholars. I used the time to warn the theologians that the secular press would soon be approaching them to harvest anti-Mormon quotes for use in profiles of Mitt Romney, and to recognize that to the extent they cooperated in the project to chase Mormons from the public square, and to legitimize the sort of private religious test the public counterpart to which is specifically forbidden by the Constitution, they would be building their own pyre.
Weisbergâ€™s attack on Romney is exactly the sort of attack on other Christians and believers in the miraculous that the secular left would love to make routine. To mainstream Protestants and Mass-attending Catholics, the virtual mob against Romney because of his LDS faith may seem like someone elseâ€™s problem, but it is really another step down the road toward the naked public square. Legitimizing bigotry by refusing to condemn it invites not only its repetition, but its spread to new targets.
Now, to be fair, Mitt did say that Muslims could work at the lower levels of his administration (the proverbial camel with its nose in the tent), so while Romney gets important advice regarding the Middle East from his Foreign Policy and Trade Director Steven Schrage:
Mr. Schrage previously served as Counsel to the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate for Foreign Relations Committee and as senior foreign policy and trade counsel for the late Senator Paul Coverdell. Most recently, Mr. Schrage served in several positions with Bush-Cheney 2000, working with the campaign’s policy team in Austin, and as a policy advisor for the transition. Before joining the Bush campaign, Mr. Schrage was working on his doctorate at Harvard University, where during his time in the MBA program he was awarded a full doctoral fellowship to study international business and economic policy. Mr. Schrage is a graduate of Duke University and of the University of Michigan Law School, where his studies focused on international trade law, and has experience working on international negotiating teams at the State Department Legal Adviser’s office. Mr. Schrage will be responsible for coordinating and overseeing all policy materials and briefings for the USTR and for interactions with other government agencies.
Current Ambassador to the UN and former Ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad can still find work in the Romney administration.
Maybe running the White House Kwik-E-Mart.