Of course, one is supposed to despair at this sort of negative campaigning even when, as in this case, it is directed against a candidate one loathes. But, really, I take my hat off to whomever came up with the idea to send South Carolina Republicans fake Christmas cards purporting to be from Mitt Romney.
The text, taken from the first Book of Nephi (part of the Mormon bible) reads: "And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth, and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin and she was exceedingly fair and white".
Best of all, however, is a line from the Mormon "apostle" Orson Pratt, printed on the back of the card that says:
"We have now clearly shown that God the father had a plurality of wives, one or more being eternity by whom he begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus, his first born, and another being upon the earth by whom he begat the tabernacle of Jesus, as his only begotten in this world."
According to CNN a Romney spokesman said: "It is sad and unfortunate that this kind of deception and trickery has been employed. There is absolutely no place for it in American politics."
Of course not. There is nothing wrong with Mitt Romney's deception and fakery however. That's just standard campaign operating procedure.
For more on South Carolina shenanigans, see this entertaining Mike Crowley piece which begins:
Shortly before a Republican presidential primary debate in Columbia, South Carolina, this last May, several conservative activists in the state received mysterious envelopes in the mail. The letters arrived anonymously, each one containing an eight-page document, a typewritten manifesto with a pseudo-academic title: "Mormons in Contemporary American Society: A Politically Dangerous Religion?" The letters depicted Mormonism as based on "hoaxes" and ridiculed the church's founder, Joseph Smith, as a "gold digger turned prophet. " The mailing also provocatively dubbed Smith "the Mohammed of the West." "Like the prophet of Islam," it said, "Smith founded his religion upon prophecies and revelations which commanded him to become a polygamist and warlord. Many centuries apart, these two men became the focal point of large religions that blurred the lines between religion, war, domestic life and politics."
But - gasp! - this is bigotry isn't it? And anti-Mormon prejudice has to be as pernicious as ant-anything else bigotry? Well, yes of course it is. And yet not all religions are created equal. Or rather there's nothing that requires the outsider to treat them with equal seriousness, respect or reverence. Alas, like Scientology, Mormonism has not been around long enough to divest itself of the suspicion that it began life as an enormous confidence trick and, more importantly, it remains the case that Mitt Romney made his faith part of the campaign, not me or any of his other critics.
[Hat=tip: Eve Fairbanks]