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Tilting at Windmills

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November 26, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

MITT AND THE MUSLIMS....Via Democracy Arsenal, here's what Mitt Romney told Mansoor Ijaz recently about the possibility of appointing a Muslim to his cabinet:

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, "...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."

Hmmm. I thought Republicans were the ones opposed to identity politics and quotas? Let's just check their party platform and....let's see....aha, here it is: "Finally, because we are opposed to discrimination, we reject preferences, quotas, and set-asides based on skin color, ethnicity, or gender."

Sorry, my mistake. There's no mention of religious discrimination there, so I guess Mitt's on solid ground. Quotas for Muslims are OK.

What's really telling about this is that you can almost see the gears turning in his brain when he came up with this answer. Obviously he had to say "no," because he knows that the Republican base would go nuts over the idea of a Muslim in his cabinet. But he can't just say that, can he? So his Bain-trained analytic mind went searching for a plausible excuse and the first thing that popped out of the wetware was a numerical explanation: (a) minorities deserve cabinet positions in proportion to their population, (b) one cabinet position is 5% of all cabinet positions, (c) therefore only groups with at least 15 million members are "justified" in getting one, (d) Muslims aren't even close to that, so (e) no dice. However, since they do make up about 2% of the population, they certainly qualify for 2% of all the lower level positions.

Any Tammany Hall ward heeler would understand the logic, but even Silent Charlie understood that this kind of thing wouldn't fly at the presidential level, and that was nearly a century ago. Maybe Mitt should have stayed quiet too.

Kevin Drum 8:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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Comments

I wonder if he'd consider a Jew for his cabinet? There aren't too many more of them than of Muslims in this country.

(A quick google search suggests 6 million Jews, maybe 3 million Muslims).

Posted by: Alex F on November 26, 2007 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

What's the percentage of Mormons to the general population?

Posted by: tankwipe on November 26, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Laugh all you want at this Brilliant Businessman who Gets RESULTS.

And he's no slouch in the looks department, either. Just watch the ladies pull that lever, you loser liberals. Grrr....wow. THAT is a man. Hah.

He's a great man. A family man. And he will lead us, despite your stupidity, you liberals. I am proud as I write this. Too bad you dont' know that feeling.

Posted by: Free Lover of Freedom and Free Liberty on November 26, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

---
I am proud as I write this.
---

Congratulations! I guess learning to read is next on your list of life accomplishments!

Posted by: eightnine2718281828mu5 on November 26, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

There are about 5 million Mormons in the US, i.e., not much more than the number of Muslims. Using Mitt's logic, most of the cabinet should be made up of "unchurched" people, with a few Catholics and Southern Baptists thrown in for good measure.

Posted by: C.L. on November 26, 2007 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

Well, in Romney's defense, he is from liberal Massachusetts and therefore, too used to talking to liberals and Democrats in their own terms. And the thought process you describe is one that any Democratic politician would recognize and employ as well. Just ask the National Democratic Party, which has quotas for how many delegates have to be women, or members of various minority groups and occupations etc. I would not be surprised if the Party has a quota or "goal" for the number of delegates who have to be Muslims, based solely on their proportion to the population.

Do you have a problem with this article of liberal faith that all outcomes must be in accordance with the ethic/racial/whatever breakdown of the population as a whole?

[There is no such thing as the "Democrat" Party, and future references to same will be deleted.]

Posted by: Chicounsel on November 26, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

He had to say no, hehehe.

Posted by: Crissa on November 26, 2007 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel: Democrat Party

There is no such party.

Posted by: alex on November 26, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

PS: Women vote. And not for good looking men.

Women vote for the qualified candidate.

You know, actual issues?

PPS: Family men don't tie dogs to the roof of vehicles driving at highway speeds.

Posted by: Crissa on November 26, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Following Mitt's logic, where the hell does he, a Mormon, get off running for President, when Mormons comprise less than 2% of the population at large?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 26, 2007 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

So Mitt is saying that HALF of his cabinet will be women?

Can't help myself: how many of them will he be married to?

Posted by: tomeck on November 26, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Since gays and lesbians represent 10% of the population, I expect that two cabinet posts will go to us in a Romney administration. I bet the Hillary or Obama won't pander to me like that!

Posted by: Inaudible Nonsense on November 26, 2007 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Progressives should tattoo this one to Romney's forehead without ever saying the word "Muslim".

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 26, 2007 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

And he's no slouch in the looks department, either. Just watch the ladies pull that lever, you loser liberals. Grrr....wow. THAT is a man. Hah.

He's a great man. A family man. And he will lead us, despite your stupidity, you liberals. I am proud as I write this. Too bad you dont' know that feeling.
Posted by: Free Lover of Freedom and Free Liberty on November 26, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

You seem like a nice person, so let me give you some friendly advice: if you don't really have an argument to make or anything interesting or original to say, you might as well just stay off the internets.

BTW, could you fit free into your commenter name a few more times? Got to keep President Romney's apparatchiks thinking you're a party member in good standing, I guess. Not one of those terroristy Mooslims he won't give a cabinet post to...

Posted by: Lev on November 26, 2007 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Gays and lesbians represent 10% of the population? I kinda doubt that... Another quick google search suggests that Kinsey produced that number a long time ago with unrepresentative samples, and better and more recent surveys (like the National Survey of Family Growth) suggest something less than 5%.

Not that this is really relevant to Kevin's post or anything.

Posted by: Alex F on November 26, 2007 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Mitt had two good answers available. One, suggested by Mansoor Ijaz, would be to say that he wanted a moderate Muslim as a key advisor, whether in the Cabinet or not, to help him better understand radical Islam. Another answer, suggested by Kevin, would be to say that he would choose the most-qualified people, regardless of religion.

Assuming that Ijaz's report was accurate, I would consider Romney's actual answer bizarre, worrisome and disappointing

Posted by: ex-liberal on November 26, 2007 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

other answer, suggested by Kevin, would be to say that he would choose the most-qualified people, regardless of religion.

This is the answer I would have expected from an experienced politician, familiar with conveying coded messages: "As long as he meets the high qualifications of our American administration, etc." After all, conservatives have done a pretty good job of translating "pro-life versus pro-choice" into "strict constructionist versus activist" for judges.

Posted by: RSA on November 26, 2007 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Free Lover of Freedom:

By your stupid-ass argument, a libertarian socialist like me should elect Mary Carey president; she wasted her time running for something as lowly as governor of California.

(And, if your horizon hasn't expanded enough, come over to my place and I'll 'splain Mary Carey to you.)

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 26, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

No weird cultists who read sacred texts through green glasses and think blacks are the devils' people.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on November 26, 2007 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Mitt Nixon.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 26, 2007 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Is everyones parody meter broken? Or just mine? I can't read Free Lover of Freedom as anything but.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 26, 2007 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: Another answer, suggested by Kevin, would be to say that he would choose the most-qualified people, regardless of religion.

I think it would be appropriate to simply stop at "the most qualified people". Regardless of their religion, ethnicity or whatever should go without saying. Although these days it might be reasonable to require an explicit affirmation from candidates.

In any case, Romney appears to have entirely missed the point. Having people who have a clue as to what the rest of humanity--that is, those outside the US--are thinking would be a good start. That applies whether we're talking about Islam, China, Africa, ...

That said, we no more require a "moderate Muslim" in the cabinet than we do a "moderate Chinese". It is no more a given than a US Muslim understands the problems in the Middle East than a third-generation Chinese understands WTF is happening on the other side of the Pacific.

We're suppose to be the world's sole remaining superpower. That means we need someone who can not only lead the US, but who can also provide global leadership. On that score Romney (and the rest of the pack) are sorely lacking.

Posted by: has407 on November 26, 2007 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

The cabinet and Supreme Court should be expanded so they can look like America.

Posted by: Luther on November 26, 2007 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

There is much debate about Kinsey numbers. The number may actually be higher. No one has done a comprehensive survey recently. Even the Kinsey institute. I've read the right wing propaganda that says the number is below 5%, but they have no research to back it up either. Just wishful thinking.

But yes, it's relevant to Kevin's post -- he's talking about quotas. So let's hold Mitt to those quota comments. And that's exactly what I was doing.

Posted by: Inaudible Nonsense on November 26, 2007 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Inaudible -- I meant that *my* response to you wasn't relevant to Kevin's post, since I was just nitpicking a point you brought up. I didn't mean to say that *your* comment wasn't relevant.

Posted by: Alex F on November 26, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

[There is no such thing as the "Democrat" Party, and future references to same will be deleted.]

My apologies. I knew that one form or the other was the bad one. I tossed the coin and lost.

Posted by: Chicounsel on November 26, 2007 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

I Am Parody (And So Can You.)

Posted by: Free Lover of Free Innuendos and Free Stephen Colbert on November 26, 2007 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

This thread is almost empty of trolls. Weird. I usually see some crank popping chaff, and someone like Blue Girl Red State engaging them on the (de)merits, validating them and encouraging them to keep doing it.

Come on, this is the INTERNET! What good is it without trolls?

Anyway, back on topic -- Romney is teflon; nothing will come of this. If the rooftop-dog thing didn't hurt, this won't ... Americans sympathize with dogs more than they do with muslims.

Posted by: anonymous on November 26, 2007 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

If you read Freedom's other comments in previous threads, it's clear he and Jesus' general come from the same school of parody and sarcasm. His attempt this time just came across wrong to some people I think.

Posted by: An Anonymous American Patriot on November 26, 2007 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Anonymous: Romney's HAIR is Teflon. Put him as the nominee with Rick Perry as his Veep choice, and there's your true Breck Girls.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 26, 2007 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel: My apologies. I knew that one form or the other was the bad one. I tossed the coin and lost.

I wonder if that's how Chicounsel researches for his clients!

His logic is equally flawed, since the point Kevin was clearly making was the HYPOCRISY of Republicans, not that quotas are bad (or good).

Leave it to Chicounsel to exhibit utter intellectual dishonesty and then plead false ignorance about a clear, intended, and childish slap at Democrats.

Posted by: anonymous on November 26, 2007 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

What a pussy comment by Romney. I'm waiting for a real man and a real Christian republican (not some anti-Christ cultist charlatan) to raise the stakes and demand that all them people be shipped back to the desert.

Posted by: The Grand Wizard on November 26, 2007 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

It would have so easy to brush the question off, or even turn it to his advantage, by saying "I will not take anyone's religion into account when making appointments to my cabinet. Some people have gone after me because I'm a Mormon, and I don't like it."

BS, maybe, but a better answer.

Posted by: Culture of Truth on November 26, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Missed opportunity on Mitt's part. He should have said: no way, a Muslim in the White House would compromise national security.

Beat that, Giuliani!

Posted by: JC on November 26, 2007 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

When it comes to the demographic make-up of his future cabinet, Republican White House hopeful and legendary flip-flopper Mitt Romney proved he can completely reverse his position in the span of just a single day. Appearing on CNN's Situation Room Monday, Romney told Wolf Blitzer he rejected the use of quotas in appointing cabinet members. But according to the Christian Science Monitor today, Mitt does indeed have a quota for the number of American Muslims in a future Romney cabinet. That number, as it turns out, is zero.

For the details, see:
"Romney: No Muslims in My Cabinet."

Posted by: Furious on November 27, 2007 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

The real question is, will this get 10% the attention that Hillary's supposed 'stumbles' have gotten? I would certainly not put money on it.

Posted by: dc susie on November 27, 2007 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

One, suggested by Mansoor Ijaz, would be to say that he wanted a moderate Muslim as a key advisor, whether in the Cabinet or not, to help him better understand radical Islam.

Does this make any sense? Would a moderate republican be any use in helping understand the Right-wing Crackpot Party that the GOP has become? Of course, the question is rhetorical, since there is no such thing as a "moderate republican."

Posted by: craigie on November 27, 2007 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

tankwipe on November 26, 2007 at 8:18 What's the percentage of Morons to the general population?

What was Bush's percentage of the popular vote in 2004?

Posted by: thersites on November 27, 2007 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

folks: when Free Lover of Freedom has to tell you that he/she is a parody, then either your sense of humor is broken, or kevin's done such a good job of getting rid of trolls you've forgotten what a real one reads like.

Posted by: urk on November 27, 2007 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

Indeed. Even the name Free Lover of Freedom is a joke. Come on, boys and girls.

Posted by: craigie on November 27, 2007 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

By Mitt's logic, there should be the same number of Muslim people in his administration as Jewish people.

Protestant 52%, Roman Catholic 24%, Mormon 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 1%, other 10%, none 10%

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html

Posted by: Facts Maam on November 27, 2007 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

If Huckleberry beats him [Mitt] in Iowa his entire campaign will collapse - it's looking more and more like he's the Steve Forbes vanity candidate of this cycle. Still, I think he could serve a good role in helping to change the tone in Washington if a Dem is elected - wouldn't it be refreshing to see Obama appoint Mitt as UN ambassador, for example, or Rudy as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Posted by: mr insensitive on November 27, 2007 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel: My apologies. I knew that one form or the other was the bad one. I tossed the coin and lost.

Just shows how clueless you are.

and mr insensitive: Rudy as Sec of HS????

now that is a serious troll

Posted by: natural cynic on November 27, 2007 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

As Yglesias has pointed out, this would exclude Zalmay Khalilzad, current US ambassador to the United Nations, from ever getting a job in a Romney cabinet, not because of his record, but purely based on his religion. Some White House reporter should ask how president Bush feels about that. Or maybe a few prominent Mormon conservatives...

And, seriously, if the Democrats can't find a way to stab Romney through his vinyl heart after this bizarre little bit of mealy-mouthed discrimination... I'll, I'll stamp my foot or something.

Posted by: sweaty guy on November 27, 2007 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

"Is everyone's parody meter broken? Or just mine? I can't read Free Lover of Freedom as anything but."

No, Blue Girl, you have to be right on this. And ex-lib, much as I hate to agree with you on anything, this was a spectacularly boneheaded move on Mitt's part. As cited above, there were at least three better answers sitting there waiting that even a beginner could grab onto in time to save himself. Expect more flubs from Mr. M.T. Suit.

Posted by: Kenji on November 27, 2007 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

Mitt Romney: " '...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.' "

You know, I'm trying so hard to overcome my deap-rooted skepticism and inherent reservations about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I really am.

But I swear to God, the holier-than-thou judgmentalism and unbridled arrogance of so many of its leaders and members keep bringing out the dark side of my nature, and thus religious bigotry becomes an oh-so-tempting proposition indeed.

Mitt Romney really ought to take a page from the playbook of fellow Mormon Harry Reid, who doesn't wear his faith so conspicuously on his sleeve when discussing matters of public policy.

To be perfectly frank, I'd no more vote for Mitt Romney for public office than I would for Donny & Marie.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on November 27, 2007 at 5:26 AM | PERMALINK

There are between 20 and 30 million atheists, agnostics, and people who otherwise claim no faith in this country, depending on whose numbers you believe.

What are the odds that Romney--or any candidate, for that matter--would appoint one or two atheists to the cabinet?

Posted by: folkbum on November 27, 2007 at 6:01 AM | PERMALINK

Will the religious right support the seperation of church and state if Romney gets elected ?

Posted by: Stephen on November 27, 2007 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

and mr insensitive: Rudy as Sec of HS????

now that is a serious troll

I agree the chances of Rudy accepting such an offer are slim to none, but still I think Obama or Hillary might get some props for offerring. And suppose he did accept, the biggest issues Repubs have to work with in the next few years are immigration, border control and national security. Having Rudy at the Cabinet table could help.


Posted by: mr insensitive on November 27, 2007 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Kevin on the "most qualified" criteria.

I am sure the author of the piece was being totally objective and wants only the best most qualified to serve in the cabinet, no matter their background. Let's see what the title of the article is...

A MUSLIM BELONGS IN THE CABINET

And he says further down...

He, and other candidates for the presidency from both political parties, should actively begin searching for American Muslims and Arab Americans who can serve in primary decisionmaking cabinet level posts.
Posted by: SJRSM on November 27, 2007 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Based on the article's title and content, unless Romney's answer was public and heard by others who corroborate, I wouldn't put too much stock into Mansoor's memory of Romney's answer.

Posted by: SJRSM on November 27, 2007 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Silent Charlie? Brain lookup; empty results.

But, wikipedia worked, yet too little to make connection w/ presidential politics. Nice arcanum.

Romney's muslim gaffe; very funny and sad, helps him in the primary, and to our shame will be long forgotten by the time of the general. Romney/Huckabee is almost a done deal it seems to me and they will be formidable despite the GOP track record of late.

Posted by: dennisS on November 27, 2007 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps he could take a page out of James G Watt's statement, when Watt was Secretary of Giving Away the Interior for Reagan.

When asked about his staff, he stated that he had "a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple, and that they had talent". Resigned a week later.

Something about those Wyoming cowboys.

Posted by: bert on November 27, 2007 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

"It would have so easy to brush the question off, or even turn it to his advantage, by saying "I will not take anyone's religion into account when making appointments to my cabinet. Some people have gone after me because I'm a Mormon, and I don't like it."

BS, maybe, but a better answer."

What does it say about Romney that he couldn't figure that out for himself?

Posted by: CJColucci on November 27, 2007 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

The problem I have with all this crap about Mitt and the Muslims is that the source is Mansoor Ijaz, the same wanton self-promoter who has been flogging his story of having delivered Osama Bin Laden all gift wrapped by the Sudanese to Clinton. A longtime darling of Newsmax and FREEP, Ijaz has been a notable promoter of the myth of the Al Qaeda/Saddam Hussein connection, and claimed a leading role in brokering a ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

As an intelligence source Ijaz is a cut above Curveball, at best. So, why should I take anything he has to say seriously? Just because it fits my biases and preconceptions? If I started doing that I would be a Republican, wouldn't I?

Posted by: majun on November 27, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

You know, setting aside any questions of general fairness, there is at least one prominent Muslim who would be an obvious choice for a high level post in any Republican adminstration: Zalmay Khalilzad, presently Ambasaador to the UN. Khalilzad certainly has been a loyal neocon and prominent supporter of Bush's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan (he has been ambassador to each of those countries).

Note that the UN Ambassadorship has long been regarded as a cabinet-level post, although if I recall correctly, Bush formally downgraded the positionat the beginning of his adminstration.

WTF does Romney have against Ambassador Khalizad?

Posted by: rea on November 27, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin - I've been reading your blog since it was calpundit.

Editing or deleting people's posts because they write "Democrat Party" is beyond petty.

Posted by: Adam on November 28, 2007 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

WRONG! Mansoor Ijaz personally contributed $250,000 to Bill Clinton in 1996 and bundled over $500,000 in order to pursue personal and business agendas by gaining access to the Clinton Administration.

Take whatever he says and smoke it. Read here:

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/016122.php

Posted by: David F. on November 28, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

mkvdgpub nockjqlwv xrdc jesgv mrsafy osalmebqw bghu

Posted by: njplurzwt omjnpbuxv on January 14, 2008 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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