Meanwhile, here’s Chris Matthews in full tantrum after the Republican candidates were asked if they accepted Biblical literalism in the big You Tube debate:

MATTHEWS: Governor, I think you, like a lot of conservatives, believe in the original purpose of the Constitution as written. It’s our sort of secular bible. It says there should be no religious test ever required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. Why are you Republican candidates submitting to religious vetting about your belief in the literal nature of the Bible? Why put up with those kind of questions?

HUCKABEE: Well, Chris, when guys like you quit asking it, we’ll quit answering it. But the fact is, we get asked these questions in the debates, and if we evade them, if we act like we’re not going to answer them, then we’re going to get hammered for being unwilling to address the questions that are put to us. So that’s why I keep answering them.

MATTHEWS: But these are religious test questions. They’re not about public policy. They’re not about what you believe the country should be about. They’re what you believe about the Bible. They’re particularly religious testing of you fellows. Why didn’t somebody raise their hand last night and say, This is not what America’s about. If there was a Jewish fellow up here, an Arab fellow up here, a non-believer, he’d have to say, I don’t believe in the Bible. Then where would we be? Some people some giving the correct answer, according to some, and others giving the incorrect answer.

Gosh! I’ll bet he must have been real upset with Romney for all but saying that you have to be religious to be President. From last night’s show:

MATTHEWS: Here’s the American part of this, the truly American part. I thought he did a really good job. Someone said he got this idea from Jon Meacham, who wrote, “The American Gospel,” who’s on this program a lot. Here’s Governor Romney referencing the beginnings of our country.

And later:

Chrystia, I thought it was an amazing speech this morning. What were your thoughts about it? What struck you? I know you watched it.

Matthews devoted his entire first segment to the Romney speech. His guests? Pat Buchanan and David Quo (formerly of Bush’s office of faith based intiatives). Nice and balanced.

This, sadly, was more typical of the cable news reaction. Here’s brain-dead pseudo-liberal Bill Press telling us about what’s really important, on last night’s Tucker:

I thought he did what he had to do today. And may I add by the way, he certainly looked presidential. All three cables carried him live. He had eight American flags on the stage. He was introduced by Daddy Bush. No candidate on either side so far has had that kind of positive exposure.

I thought it was a real 10 strike for Romney.

Standing in front of American flags makes you look Presidential. Why haven’t the other candidates thought of that?

As I said, typical of the cable news reaction, save for Olbermann’s show. The print media managed to do better, but we’ll save that for another time.


  1. #1 Coturnix
    December 7, 2007

    NPR was decent in its coverage as well, if you can dig out the transcripts.

  2. #2 The Ridger
    December 7, 2007

    OMG. Next we’ll see Huckabee with TEN American flags! And Rudy with twenty (carried by firefighters, of course).

  3. #3 Coturnix
    December 7, 2007

    No, Rudy in drag, wearing a swimsuit with the flag design.

  4. #4 Tyler DiPietro
    December 7, 2007

    Why does Chris Matthews get paid to be an idiot? I can understand that O’Reilly pulls big rating, but Matthews is usually lucky to average 100,000 viewers for a broadcast. What gives? Why don’t I make his kind of money? I can get on the air and be a moron for an hour, and I’d do it better!

  5. #5 Karl
    December 7, 2007

    I guess I’m slow, but I don’t get your point. Are you saying that Matthews statement that the candidates should not answer that question is bad, or stupid, or what? Since I just had a letter published in the local paper where I made the point about “no religious test” that questioners should not be allowed to ask and candidates should refuse to answer anything about their religions, I’m kind of curious.

  6. #6 Jason Rosenhouse
    December 7, 2007


    My point here was simply that Matthews contradicted himself. When the Republican candidates were asked for their views on Biblical literalism, he felt that was outrageous and tantamount to setting out a religious test for office. But when Romney pretty strongly implied that only a religious person (as opposed to an atheist) could be President, he did not treat that as establishing a religious test.

    Independently of that, I also beileve that since all of the major Republican candidates have touted their religious faith as a reason for voting for them, it is legitmate to ask them to elaborate on the nature of their faith.

  7. #7 Karl
    December 7, 2007

    Ahhh! Thanks.

  8. #8 Cuttlefish
    December 7, 2007

    The Catholics and Protestants cannot remember Belfast
    As long they can join to send the Atheists to Hell fast.
    Snake-handlers from the Church of God are laying down their rattlers
    To join with Mormons, hand in hand, as fellow Atheist-battlers.
    This scholar, Romney, paints a picture of religious history
    That other, lesser authors must confess is quite a mystery—
    For instance, all varieties of Christians are the same;
    And historians must simply find some other source of blame,
    For the bloodshed and the violence between competing sects;
    They simply cannot see the stuff this Romney guy detects.
    If Romney finds that Muslims have the votes that he requires,
    I have no doubt he’ll find that they and Christians share desires—
    These silly little “holy wars” are piddling little quarrels,
    As one, the Sons of Abraham, united in their morals,
    Will denounce the common enemy, the Atheist (of course),
    And declare Jihad—announce crusades—with no sign of remorse.
    The Prophet, Romney, may unite believers, East and West,
    As long as he can tell them that believers are the best.
    They’ll defeat a strawman army—the Atheist abomination…
    But will they be enough to git, for Mitt… the nomination?

  9. #9 Michael Clarkson
    December 8, 2007

    My problem with Matthews is that Huckabee is essentially right. And we know he’s right because all the cable pundits (including plenty of guests on Matthews’ and other MSNBC shows) have spent months going on and on about how Romney will have to “answer the question” about his faith. Like it or not, plenty of voters apply a religious test for candidacy.

    On the other hand, there is one candidate who could really come out against that kind of question, who could take the questioner to task or even evade the question without losing his fundie street cred. That candidate: Mike Huckabee.

  10. #10 Gerry L
    December 8, 2007

    I just watched tonight’s Bill Moyer’s show on PBS which was about religion in politics. Part of the discussion was about the YouTube debate bible question. Kathleen Jamieson said she wanted to believe that when the questioner said “your answer will tell me everything I need to know about you” what he really meant was “if you’re willing to submit to a religious test, you are unqualified for the office you are seeking.” (I am paraphrasing from memory.)

    I would like to believe that, too, but I sure haven’t heard anything from Joseph, the questioner, about it being a trick question.

  11. #11 pough
    December 8, 2007

    Isn’t the Genesis question just as much a science question as a religion one? You’ve got to admit that a president who believes in a literal Genesis account might make biologists, geologists and astrophysicists a bit nervous.

  12. #12 tomh
    December 8, 2007

    Michael Clarkson wrote: Like it or not, plenty of voters apply a religious test for candidacy.

    As well they should. The “no religious test” that’s in the Costitution applies to government . Voters can apply any test they want to decide who to vote for.

  13. #13 Richard Wein
    December 8, 2007

    tomh wrote: Voters can apply any test they want to decide who to vote for.

    True. But the question (it seems to me) is whether it’s reasonable for voters to apply a religious test, and whether the media should pander to such religious testing by helping to expose the religious beliefs of the candidates.

    I would say it’s perfectly reasonable for voters to take into account the religious beliefs of the candidates in so far as it’s reasonable to think that those beliefs will significantly affect the candidate’s conduct as president. And to that extent it’s right for the media to expose the candidate’s beliefs.

    In the past, religion probably had little influence on a president’s conduct. I doubt that JFK’s policies were influenced by his Catholicism. If any voters were put off by his religion, it was probably pure prejudice against Catholics. That’s the kind of religion-based voting which should be avoided.

    But today’s conservative Christian candidates are quite likely to be influenced in office by their religious beliefs. And it’s quite reasonable for voters to be concerned by that.

  14. #14 Gerry L
    December 8, 2007

    One day during the last presidential election I was out canvassing for Kerry. In the parking lot of one apartment building, two little girls informed me that they didn’t want Kerry to be president because they didn’t think he was a real christian.

    I bit my tongue and didn’t come back with a nasty riposte, but I think in the coming election cycle I will use their statement whenever anyone call to promote one of the republican candidates. No matter who the candidate, I will say, “Oh, I wouldn’t vote for him. I don’t think he’s a real christian. Goodbye.” (hang up)

  15. #15 Ginger Yellow
    December 9, 2007

    “Why are you Republican candidates submitting to religious vetting about your belief in the literal nature of the Bible? Why put up with those kind of questions? ”

    Gee, Tweety, maybe because Huckabee’s entire campaign is based on him being an evangelical Christian? Because he has a campaign ad declaring him to the “real Christian” in the race. Do you think that might be relevant?

  16. #16 Grodge
    December 9, 2007

    The founders’ disdain for a “religious test” for office leads to the trap that Romney has stumbled into.

    If you try to defend a “faith” that goes against the mainstream, you are isolated. Regardless of what Chris Matthews think, Romney lost the debate about religion and, likely, the Republican nomination because Republicans are famous for obsessing about the irrational and unprovable– whether it’s about the Bible or a National Intelligence Estimate. In a word, Romney’s done.

    The only proper answer to the question asked of Gov. Romney is this:

    “Of course I do not believe is silly sky wizards and miracles. The stories from our faith traditions are allegorical, intended to be metaphors for incidents that occur within the human condition. Many of the lessons form ancient texts are pertinent today, but some are not. Our Constitution states that no test be given a candidate for office in regards to his or her religion, so I decline to comment further.”

    Something tells me Jefferson, et al, had this in mind when penning the great document… and somewhere in the great beyond they are all chuckling. I know I am.

  17. #17 Satcomguy
    December 10, 2007

    I sat through Matthews and Buchanan as well. I don’t recall which of them said it, but the phrase “the faith of his fathers; he can’t change that” really struck me. I’m pretty sure that I managed to change (read “discard”) my Catholic upbringing at the age of 12 or so….

  18. #18 gazeteler
    May 6, 2008

    thanks for message!

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