Now that Romney has outlasted the other candidates to become the Republican nominee for president, DeMoss is using that street cred to help the candidate close the deal with evangelical voters in the weeks before Election Day.
It’s unclear whether he will succeed.
Polls show that although most evangelicals have come around to Romney, there’s a sizable chunk who have not. With those voters making up a huge part of the GOP base in swing states like Ohio, Iowa and Virginia, whether DeMoss’ gambit works could mean the difference between an Obama or a Romney White House.
For DeMoss, who is officially a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, the stakes of his work go well beyond electoral politics. He’s trying to open the American evangelical mind.
“I took this on to tackle prejudicial attitudes,” DeMoss says, explaining how he approached Romney about running for president in 2006, convinced that the then-Massachusetts governor was the most qualified man for the presidency that he’d ever seen.
“I discussed it with Romney the first time we met,” he continues, sitting in his room at the elegant Vinoy Resort and Golf Club in St. Petersburg, his home during the convention. “It bothered me that some evangelicals said they couldn’t support a Mormon for president. As a public relations guy, I wanted to change that mindset.”
Which is why DeMoss was in front of the North Carolina delegation at the convention Monday morning, arguing that it’s unfair for some Republicans to insist on a presidential nominee with whom they agree about everything.
One of the major reasons that science is held in low repute among portions of the citizenry is that it has too often allowed itself to become entangled with public relations. The PR connection has nothing to do with peer review, that essential element in the scientific method. The PR connection has to do with institutional politics, funding, and personal ambition.
What happens is this:
1. Some scientists publish a report of their work.
2. An alert PR guy who works for the university or institute notices some potentially hype-able words in the report.
3. He writes up a release, under the impression that he is Arthur C. Clarke.
4. J-school grads at a number of media outlets, whose science education ended in 8th grade, pick up the release, change three words to make it their own, and it is published to an unsuspecting public.
5. The unsuspecting public, which is not as dumb as the PR guy believes, dismisses the story as bushwah and blames the scientists.
Here is a dandy example. The Journal of the American Chemical Society has recently published a paper titled “Evidence for the Likely Origin of Homochirality in Amino Acids, Sugars, and Nucleosides on Prebiotic Earth.” No non-chemist would get beyond the seventh word.
Here’s what the original paper is about. (I am no chemist, but among the formulae and jargon there are patches of intelligible English. I welcome anyone to correct my interpretation.) Many of the compounds that make up organic life exist in mirror-image forms. This is called chirality. So, amino acids, sugars, and other things can have right-handed (D) or left-handed (L) forms. On Earth, almost all living creatures incorporate L amino acids and D sugars. Since, purely as a chemical matter, either form is equally probable, the question arises, why is Earth’s life so strongly biased? We are immediately in the realm of conjecture. Of course, this is fine for science, which begins in “maybe” and proceeds by way of evidence to “probably.”
What is the evidence? Well, there isn’t much, really. Some meteorites found in Australia contained compounds with a slight bias in favor of what is found on Earth. Why might that be? Well, it has been shown that circularly polarized light of just the right directionality and wavelength can produce such a bias. And so the author of the paper tells us:
If there was also [yet undetected] right circularly polarized light with energy in the uv or higher irradiating the asteroid belt when the amino acids were present on a particle that later came to Earth, this could account for the small excesses of the L anantiomers seen in the α-methyl amino acids.
Or not. The key words in that sentence are “if” and “could.” It’s pure speculation, with no foreseeable possibility of being confirmed or disconfirmed. Again, this is not a bad thing in science. Speculation like this points out areas for active investigation.
The protest has become a network of mutual support for the lost and destitute.
The Bank of Ideas is almost empty. It’s midnight, and on the roof of London’s financial district a serious discussion about the future of the Occupy movement has been interrupted to allow two stray humans to chase after one stray cat.
“We found him in a scrapyard,” says a young man called Spiral, cuddling the rescued ginger tom into his hoodie. Spiral is homeless, having left Essex to live in the London occupations last October. “He didn’t seem to have any owners, so now we all take care of him,” Spiral says. He’s talking about the cat, which purrs like a happy engine as more dart-eyed young people approach to offer it some of their dinner — homemade vegetable soup supplemented by hunks of fish they found in a skip.
Three months on, this is what the Occupy movement looks like: a network of mutual support for the lost and destitute, with anti-capitalist overtones. The Bank of Ideas, an abandoned building owned by the Swiss banking giant UBS and transformed into a space for art sessions, lectures and late-night discussion on the future of the free market, is one of four sites squatted by London’s branch of the movement. The occupations began with the encampment on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, which has just lost its battle against eviction at the Royal Courts of Justice, and branched out to Finsbury Square, and an empty magistrate’s court on Old Street. As other world cities have seen similar protests violently evicted by local police, the occupiers of London have clung on through a winter that has seen the nature of the camps change profoundly.
“I came here for the community,” says Declan, 29. “Before this I was living in Galway, essentially trying to get together enough weed to get through the day. It’s better here.” He passes a glowing spliff around the other roof-dwellers. The tranquility group, with its strict policy against drugs and drunkenness, would not approve this gesture of friendship. Muriel, a french artist in her forties, is excited and a little stoned, examining the walls daubed with murals, slogans and lovingly pasted pamphlets. “If bird catcher comes, occupy the sky,” she says, reading off the brickwork. “That is truly beautiful. I feel that something beautiful is happening here.”
As the winter drags on, many of those who have stayed are those, like Spiral and his cat, who can’t or won’t go home. They are the waifs and strays and nuts and eccentrics, the wide-eyed young men with theories about how computers can calculate the perfect democracy, the straggle-haired women with bags full of paintbrushes and dirt in the creases of their cheeks. For the more media-savvy organisers of Occupy London, this has created something of a public relations dilemma.
Imagine for a moment, a media company in the late 19th century hired to handle public relations for Jack the Ripper. What could the agency say to smooth over the heinous, irredeemably violent nature of the serial killer?
“His surgical style suggests he is a capable doctor and well-educated”. “He recognizes that times are changing and he must change with them”. “He has not tried to murder anyone in nearly three weeks”. “He has offered to consult with other serial killers on decisions of who is next to be butchered”. “He has agreed to limit his activities to East London”. “He is moving his office to Dubai”.
So it goes with that peddler of malodorous balms, Reuters Jerusalem Bureau Chief Crispian Balmer (curly-haired perfume peddler), in a risible piece intended to makeover the public image of the terrorist group Hamas:
#f3f3f3;">#f3f3f3;”>Let’s cite again, one of Balmer’s assertions above to illustrate the chicanery with which Reuters goes about its public relations duties:(Reuters) - The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has felt the political winds shift across the Middle East and is bending with them, making peace with its secular rival Fatah and trying to cool its conflict with Israel.
Israel has ridiculed the idea that the Hamas leopard can ever change its spots, but analysts poring over a recent slew of interviews from the movement’s senior leaders believe change is under way, wrought by upheaval across the Arab world.
Despite the fact it looks secure in its coastal stronghold, the Gaza Strip, Hamas last month reached out to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who governs in the West Bank, and agreed to a surprise unity deal to end years of fierce feuding.
By doing so, Hamas effectively renewed its commitment to a ceasefire with Israel. No mortars or missiles have been fired out of Gaza since the accord was announced on April 27 — a rare period of calm on one of the region’s most dangerous borders.
Hamas has also conspicuously failed to provide wholehearted support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who faces the worst civil unrest of his 11-year rule, despite the fact that he has harbored the Islamist group leadership for a decade.
The chilly relations have raised speculation that Hamas might move its main regional office out of Damascus, which would take the group further out of Shi’ite Iran’s orbit. It would strengthen ties with administrations that have good relations with the West, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt.
Growing signs that the Islamist group is considering moving out first originated in the Saudi-owned pan-Arab al-Hayat daily, which cited unnamed Palestinian sources for its report.
“I think Hamas is serious this time. It is taking a chance and wants to be given a chance,” said political analyst Hani Habib, who lives in Hamas-controlled Gaza […]
“Concerning bin Laden, everyone knows Hamas has differences with al Qaeda … especially (its) operations targeting civilians,” Hamas leader in exile Khaled Meshaal told France 24 TV.
Meshaal has given more interviews in the past several weeks than he has done in the past several years, apparently eager to show the world exactly where Hamas stands on Middle East peace.
Although he stopped short of recognizing Israel, he repeatedly stated that he wanted to establish a Palestinian state along pre-war, 1967 borders, implicitly suggesting that Hamas was ready to accommodate the reality of Israel.
He also said that he would henceforth consult with more moderate Palestinian factions over how to confront Israel, suggesting that he would no longer attack without consensus.
Another Hamas official, Sami Abou Zuhri, told Le Monde daily that observers should not focus on Hamas’s uncompromising 1988 charter, but rather judge the group on the words of its leaders.
#f3f3f3;">#f3f3f3;”>Meshaal has not said anything in his interviews with Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, nor any other media organization which even remotely suggests that “Hamas was ready to accommodate the reality of Israel”. This is a complete figment of Balmer’s imagination, or fabrication, that the Reuters Bureau Chief wishes his readership to mindlessly swallow… cont’d
Although he [Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal] stopped short of recognizing Israel, he repeatedly stated that he wanted to establish a Palestinian state along pre-war, 1967 borders, implicitly suggesting that Hamas was ready to accommodate the reality of Israel.
In an example of appalling bias and selective reporting known in propaganda studies as card stacking, Reuters correspondent Dan Williams rushes in to provide PR for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas as he feigns horror at the slaughter of a Jewish family over the weekend:
(Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday the killing of a Jewish settler couple and three of their children was “inhuman,” telling Israel he was determined to help catch those responsible.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had complained that Abbas’s administration insufficiently condemned the attack and even encouraged such bloodshed through “incitement” in official Palestinian forums.
“This was inhuman and immoral. We deplore this incident, without a doubt. It is an abomination,” Abbas told Israel Radio.
“I can’t imagine a four-month-old child murdered,” he said, speaking in Arabic. “Children, of all things … Any person who has a sense of humanity would be pained and driven to tears by such sights.”
At the same time Abbas was crying crocodile tears for the children who had their throats cut, his political party was officially celebrating the murder of 37 Israelis, including 13 children, with the naming of a town square after the Palestinian terrorist who led the attack.
Two years ago, Abbas personally congratulated the family of Palestinian Samir Kuntar for his release in a prisoner exchange with Israel. Kuntar murdered three Israelis including a father and his 4-year-old daughter whose skull Kuntar had crushed with the butt of a gun.
While Williams is quick to parrot Abbas’ purported sympathy for murdered children, the Reuters correspondent is oddly silent on Abbas’ long record of sympathy for Palestinian child-murderers.