Jelani Cobb at The New Yorker criticizes the “Rickett’s Plan,” a proposal for a Republican Super PAC ad, news of which broke last week. The ad, which would have exploited Obama’s connection with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, made use of what Cobb sees as an out-of-date tool: “the Professional Black Friend.” By suggesting the ad employ an “extremely literate, conservative African American” as a spokesperson, the proposal shows its “myopic perspective on race.” Cobb writes: “In an age in which cynicism is the default setting for much of the public, the belief that a single black spokesperson can offer insulation from charges of racism is less than tenable.”
At The New Republic Ed Kilgore sees the campaign as a tug-of-war between Romney and the conservative base. Through November, Romney aims to keep the campaign rhetoric locked onto one key issue: the economy, Kilgore asserts. To Romney’s camp, “this election is purely and simply a referendum on Obama’s economy,” an issue that is “particularly attractive to swing voters.” Pushing back on the Romney campaign are social conservatives, who “want their ideological motivations to be reflected in the Romney campaign’s rhetoric.”
During reporter Isobel Coleman’s visit last week to Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah fired Sheikh Abdel Mohsen Obeikan, “one of the most popular Islamic leaders.” At The Atlantic, Coleman sees the dismissal as a symptom of a larger battle over women’s rights in the country. Many suspect Obeikan was removed over the “internal struggle to define the role of women in society.” Despite King Abdullah’s tight reign, Coleman asserts that “dissent over women’s status in society will remain at the heart of competing visions for the country.”
Unlike elsewhere in the world, archaeology in Israel holds center attention and “is followed with the same passion” of soccer in other countries, asserts Mordechai Beck at The Christian Century. “The problem is that another people – the Palestinians – have similar claims to the same land,” making the finding full of political meaning. Beck explores how objects and sites dating back to Biblical times instigate controversy and political disputes thousands of years later.
After Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng’s miraculous escape from “house arrest by jumping over a high wall and hiding out in a pig sty,” Pastor “Bob” Xiqiu Fu from Midland, Texas was “the first to know.” CNN’s Eric Marrapodi reports on Fu’s dealings with Chen and the efforts the former took to ensure the activist’s escape from China. Fu founded ChinaAid, a “Christian human rights organization that has been campaigning for Chen’s freedom.” When the House Foreign Affairs Committee met to discuss Chen’s escape, it was through Fu’s cell phone that Chen was contacted. At the center of the international drama was Fu, a pastor from Texas.
Families of Carrollton, Arkansas still recall the “Mountain Meadows Massacre,” where residents met their demise at the hands of “a Mormon militia” on September 11, 1857. They call it “the first 9/11.” Sandhya Somashekhar at The Washington Post quotes local Scott Fancher, who said how “there have been Fancher family reunions for 150 years, and the massacre comes up at every one of them.” Despite the massacre remaining a visceral memory to people in the area of Carrollton, many don’t think Romney’s Mormon faith will sway their votes. Somashekhar writes how many “say their political values will be more important to their vote than religion or history.”
Continuing a trend reaching back to the early 1990’s, Americans are “growing impatient with religious politicking,” reports G. Jeffrey MacDonald for Religion News Service. While “54 percent [of Americans] want houses of worship to keep out of politics,” that “doesn’t mean they plan to keep mum in the public square.” Faith remains integral in American politics and electoral decision-making, he notes, but churches and pastors at the pulpit may see a smaller role in the 2012 election.
“Dozens of Roman Catholic dioceses, schools and other institutions are suing the Obama administration” over the birth control mandate, Rachel Zoll reports for The Associated Press. Now taking legal action, the organizations’ efforts “represent the largest push against the mandate since President Barack Obama announced the policy in January.” Not satisfied when “Obama offered to soften the rule,” the religious organizations have decided to spearhead the fight against the mandate in “federal courts around the country.”
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley,” David Axelrod said Mitt Romney’s Mormonism was off-limits for the Obama campaign, according to Lisa Mascaro of The Los Angeles Times. “We’ve said that’s not fair game,” Axelrod said. Referring to an ad proposal targeting Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah wright, he added, “And we wish that Gov. Romney would stand up as strongly and as resolutely consistently to refute these kinds of things on his side.”
Defending Georgetown’s decision to invite Kathleen Sebelius to speak at a commencement ceremony, Maureen Dowd at The New York Times is disheartened by the reaction of the Catholic Church, her own faith tradition. “I always liked that the name of my religion was also an adjective meaning all-embracing,” she writes. “I was a Catholic and I wanted to be catholic.” She adds, “So it makes me sad to see the Catholic Church grow so uncatholic.” Seeing the Church as “intent on loyalty testing, mind control and heresy hunting,” Dowd laments that “[r]ather than all-embracing, the church hierarchy has become all-constricting.”