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Over at The Corner , Michael Novak has joined the National Review ‘s stampede into the arms of Mitt Romney by endorsing the former one-term governor of Massachusetts.

The National Review editors make the curious case that Romney—who has, by my count, lost at least as many elections as he has won and run away from a reelection challenge from the non-entity Deval Patrick—is the “most viable” conservative candidate.

But Novak’s argument for Romney is even curiouser:

These days, though, it has become imperative for some Christians to come out publicly for Mitt, now that his religion has come under unfair attack. I am no expert on Mormon theology, but I do profoundly admire the good family life and good individuals it keeps sending forth into the world. Those are signs I read clearly . . . .

Someone has to protest, in the name of Christianity itself, that spreading bigotry and hatred for the sake of winning a political campaign is wrong. I for one don’t want to let this issue of bigotry and suspicion pass by without protest—and without open support for its victim. The least Americans can do is speak up for each other on matters of religious liberty.

Perhaps I’m misreading Novak, but it seems that he’s saying that (1) Romney’s Mormonism is not a fair issue for discussion, and (2) the very fact there is some discussion of it creates a positive Christian duty to support Romney.

Michael Novak is a member of the First Things board and someone with whom I disagree with trepidation. But I just don’t understand how he can hold this. His first point seems to be directly in conflict with something Fr. Neuhaus wrote earlier this year . And that second point—isn’t there something very odd about it?

Misuse doesn’t eliminate right use, after all, and the fact that an attack on Romney’s religion creates sympathy for the man doesn’t mean that it creates a reason to vote for him.



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