Mitt Romney is attracting some attention after the Christian Science Monitor reported on some bizarre comments he made regarding his position on Muslim participation in his administration:
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."
Mansoor Ijaz, the rightly flummoxed author of the piece, contends that Muslim-Americans' "Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America's Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats." Atlantic Monthly blogger Matt Yglesias takes it even further, pointing out that Romney is "telling us that current UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad," who Yglesias trenchantly identifies as "exactly the sort of person who [one would] expect to see on short lists for cabinet jobs in the next Republican administration," is "too Muslim to be so much as considered for a cabinet post."
Romney's surrogates are out in force today, attempting to weakly spin his percentage-based demographic dismissal (which he very straightforwardly stated was the basis for "justifying" the level of participation in his government) as nothing more than a stand against religious litmus tests. And it's pretty easy to see why Romney would need to backtrack: while Muslims only account for 0.6% of the U.S. population, the total membership of Mormons in the United States amounts to a similarly feeble 1.9% of the population.
Naturally, it would be fatuous to suggest that a Mormon should not be President based upon demographics, but in Romney's case, one cheap shot surely deserves another.