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It is a sad state of affairs when praise is doled out to politicians who refuse to engage in crass prejudice or race baiting, but when it comes to the current incarnation of the GOP, not being a racist is now a big deal. Here's Mitt Romney response to a question regarding Herman Cain’s proposal to make potential Muslim employees take special loyalty oaths (h/t Greg Sargent):
Well, first of all, of course, we’re not going to have Sharia law applied in U.S. courts. That’s never going to happen. We have a Constitution and we follow the law.
No, I think we recognize that the people of all faiths are welcome in this country. Our nation was founded on a principal of religious tolerance. That’s in fact why some of the early patriots came to this country and we treat people with respect regardless of their religious persuasion.
You have to give Romney credit here - he's in an awfully tricky state of limbo where he must pretend to be far more right wing than he actually is while not alienating the mainstream. Historically, this hasn't been too much of a problem, but since George Bush and Sarah Palin turned the GOP into a party of, as Bill Maher put it - "A bunch of religious lunatics, flat-earthers and Civil War reenactors," you have to play dumb to get ahead. Mitt Romney isn't dumb but he's pretty shameless and can sort of play the part. This gives the former Massachusetts governor a good shot at becoming the eventual nominee if he sticks to the script, but every time he comes out defending religious freedoms or renouncing prejudice, he is playing roulette with his prospects for 2012. Romney's advisors will probably tell him he needs to come out and say something crazy to reverse his recent statement, and knowing Romney, he most likely will.
But for today, Romney gets a gold star and an extra cookie because credit should be given where credit is due.