Peggy Noonan wrote in her column (which was actually all about Fred Thompson):
While the other candidates bang away earnestly in a frozen format, Thompson continues to sneak up from the creek and steal their underwear–boxers, briefs and temple garments.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the best joke ever told, but it wasn’t terrible. Hugh Hewitt, pretending that he cares about religious prejudice because he has a pro-Romney book to sell, retorts in faux outrage:
If an orthodox Jew was in the running, would Peggy have added “yarmulke?” Or if a devout Catholic, a mention of a rosary or a scapula? I doubt it. There are acceptable bigotries and unacceptable bigotries. Anti-Mormon drive-bys that are good for a laugh play well in some circles –the same circles that used to indulge Catholic and Irish jokes.
Where on the body exactly does Hewitt think yarmulkes are worn? And it plays well in those sinister Irish joke circles! Not that! Yes, I understand that Mormons take these garments very seriously and invest them with real religious significance, which is their business, but if Mormons or their would-be defenders (who are typically much more sensitive about these things than actual Mormons, because they are working overtime to show how enlightened and inclusive they are) want Mormonism to become better known and more widely accepted in American society they could all really do without the humourless whining of Hugh Hewitt. The main problem that Romney has with his Mormonism, outside of the dedicated anti-Mormons who will never vote for a Mormon, is that he simply refuses to talk about it in any detail. By trying to overcome prejudice or aversion to what some people see as a “cult,” he treats it as a very secretive, almost embarrassing subject–in other words, he acts as if he belongs to a cult, and not in a good way. Instead of seeing Noonan’s column as part of a process of normalising and “mainstreaming” Mormonism as an everyday part of American life, making it into something that pundits can poke fun at the same as any other American religion, Hewitt naturally assumes the worst. Perhaps this is because he knows that among many conservative voters Romney’s Mormonism is a deal-breaker, so he overreacts to any instance of potential anti-Mormon sentiment in the conservative press because he already knows how dire the situation is for his chosen candidate.