Posted by Jack @ 9:08 pm on November 28th 2007

More on Muslim Mitt

Brad beat me to the post yesterday, and covered the religious bigotry angle in detail. But I don’t want a couple of other points to get lost in the discussion. Once again, here is the contentious alleged Romney quote:

…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.

Aside from the pure religious test for office angle, Jim Henley asks, I assume rhetorically:

So, the Mittster is saying that cabinet positions are diversity tokens a President hands out to ensure representation of important demographic groups. Republicans hate that kind of talk, don’t they?

Point to Jim. Meanwhile, a few have pointed out that, regardless of the small population percentage represented by Muslims, there is a pretty strong precedent for one particular practitioner of Islam to take a cabinet position under the next President, assuming he is Republican. As Yglesias asks, why not Zalmay Kahlilzad, US Ambassador to the U.N.? Afterall, we have extraordinary precedent for moving from UN Ambassador to a cabinet level positon: Madelain Albright (State), Bill Richardson (Energy), John Negroponte (Dir Nat Int) George HW Bush (CIA).

“But Romney’s telling us that current UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is too Muslim to be so much as considered for a cabinet post? Really? How repugnant. ”

Meanwhile, those members of the right blogosphere that have already declared for Romney jumped to his defense, including noted Mitt fan and Cornerite Katheryn Jean Lopez

After reading both Geraghty and Mike Allen it seems like he was responding to an Ijaz Muslim mandate idea. We no more NEED a Muslim than we NEED a Catholic or (dare I?) a Mormon in the Cabinet…is what I assume Romney was saying. The Cabinet should have people who are qualified for the agencies they’re assigned to.

If the original report on this is reasonably accurate, and follow on reports suggest that they may even be understated, K-Lo’s interpretation is somewhere between incredibly strained and partisan charity.

Meanwhile, the emerging consensus is that Mitt’s “gaff” was a completely intentional play for Southern voters, particularly in South Carolina. Call it a plank in the new GOP Southern Strategy. Call it dog whistle politics barely disguised. Call it whatever you want, but how will it effect the race? In the primaries, given the target audience for whom he is competing, I doubt it will hurt him at all.

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