May 13, 2012

AP Writers Seem Stunned That Romney Didn’t Deliver ‘A Red-meat Conservative Policy Speech’ in a Commencement Address

The headline at the Associated Press’s Sunday morning story primarily about GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s commencement address at Liberty University (“Romney urges grads to honor family commitments”) was at least acceptable. It went downhill from there, betraying what appear to be deeply-held biases held by writers Kasie Hunt and Rachel Zoll against Republicans, conservatives, and Christians — up to and including a “red meat” reference in what the Administration’s Press will probably still claim is an objective report.

Apart from the self-evident bias, Hunt and Zoll failed to grasp the fundamental concept that a commencement speech is not a political stump speech. It is supposed to be a chance for the speaker, at least one who isn’t a self-absorbed narcissist, to inform, inspire and advise graduates on what awaits them in the real world and how they should generally consider carrying out the rest of their lives. That, to the AP pair’s apparent disappointment and astonishment, is what Romney did. Their opening six paragraphs plus a few selected others come after the jump, with prejudicial verbiage in bold, followed by several paragraphs from Romney’s speech which Hunt and Zoll, if they they had been there to report a story instead of serving as Team Obama apparatchiks, would have noted:

Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith has shaped his life, but he barely mentioned it [1] as he spoke to graduates at an evangelical university Saturday.

And he hardly touched on hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage, [1] instead offering a broad-based defense of values like family and hard work.

“Culture – what you believe, what you value, how you live – matters,” Romney told graduates gathered in the football stadium on Liberty University’s campus in the Virginia mountains. “The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and at the foundation, the preeminence of the family.”

Instead of a red-meat conservative policy speech [2], Romney discussed his own family and offered a defense of Christianity, saying that “there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.” Still, he was inclusive: [3] “Men and women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life,” Romney said.

He had one sustained applause line in a 20-minute speech delivered days after President Barack Obama historically embraced gay marriage. [4] “Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman,” Romney said to a cheering crowd of students who have to follow a strict code of conduct that considers sex out of wedlock and homosexuality to be sins. [5]

… On Saturday, Obama was not seeking to revisit the issue of gay marriage. In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president didn’t mention his history-making endorsement. [4]

… (Meanwhile, in Washington) Obama and Biden were all smiles as they walked to the sun-splashed ceremony [6] (honoring award-winning law enforcement officers) together.

… at arguably the most religious venue he’s addressed during the campaign – since announcing his bid, Romney hasn’t made a public appearance in a church of any kind – he continued to keep his own faith in the background. [1]

Notes follow.

[1] — As covered in the intro, this was a commencement speech, not a political stump speech.

[2] — Really, guys? “A red-meat conservative policy speech,” likening conservatives to carnivorous beasts? When was the last time a news organization described a leftist’s oration as “a red-meat liberal policy speech”? Google Web, Google News and the Google News archive, all of which found no such examples, tell us the answer.

[3] — Oh my gosh, a Republican was “inclusive.” That never happens. (/sarc)

[4] — Talk about obsessed, mentioning how “historic” President Obama’s reversion to his 1996 position on gay marriage — twice? Of course, the AP won’t dare recognize that Obama supported gay marriage without qualification 16 years ago, because it would expose the utter hypocrisy and cynicism behind the falsely portrayed “historic” announcement.

[5] — Uh, Kasie and Rachel, that “strict code of conduct” is based on the teachings found in something known as “The Bible.” You ought to take a look at it and truly comprehend what’s in it sometime.

[6] — I guess we should be relieved that Hunt and Zoll didn’t write that trumpets blared, the seas parted, and the heavens opened.

Here are a few paragraphs from Romney’s speech which the AP pair should have cited or excerpted and didn’t, perhaps because of a desire to avoid truths that are uncomfortable, the need to ensure that someone on the right isn’t perceived as inspiring — or both:

… Today, thanks to what you have gained here, you leave Liberty with conviction and confidence as your armor. You know what you believe. You know who you are. And you know Whom you will serve. Not all colleges instill that kind of confidence, but it will be among the most prized qualities from your education here. Moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals will set you apart in a world that searches for meaning.

That said, your values will not always be the object of public admiration. In fact, the more you live by your beliefs, the more you will endure the censure of the world. Christianity is not the faith of the complacent, the comfortable or of the timid. It demands and creates heroic souls like Wesley, Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, John Paul the Second, and Billy Graham. Each showed, in their own way, the relentless and powerful influence of the message of Jesus Christ. May that be your guide.

… The power of these (Christian-based) values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study that Senator Rick Santorum brought to my attention. For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%. But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor. Culture matters.

… The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate. It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with. Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government.

But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man.

How odd (no, not really) that none of the above made it into the AP pair’s over 1,000-word report.

Cross-posted at


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