Several prominent bloggers were just on a conference call with Hugh Hewitt (kudos to Rob Bluey for setting this up).
Hugh took several questions about his new book, A Mormon in the White House. Obviously, the Mormon issue came up ...
I learned that in the mid 1990s, PBS sent Hugh to Utah to report on Mormonism. His take was that very little is known about the faith, and that there is a lot of misunderstandign about Mormonism.
Perhaps his most interesting argument is that if conservatives allow an attack to be made on Mormonism, we should also be prepared for attacks on other Christian sects.
For example, if an Evangelical (such as former Attorney General John Ashcroft) were to run for president, he would have to talk about theological issues, such as faith healing. In my estimation, this is a good argument to make (if your goal is to convince conservatives that the Mormon issue is off the table).
Hugh went on to say that he believes the public is now too sophisticated for scurrilous attacks to work. For example, he pointed out that the pictures of Rudy Giuliani in drag haven't hurt him. I asked Hugh why it was that attacks that used to work (think Gary Hart, Mike Dukakis, or even the Swift Boat ads), don't seem to be resonating, anymore. I asked: "What happened?"
"The people on this call happened!," he answered.
His point: The amount of information that the public consumes has increased exponentially. For this reason, the old paradigm no longer works. (My take: It may not work with bloggers, but I will be very interested to see how an ad of Rudy in drag would play in South Carolina ... )
My last question to Hugh had to do with the importance he places on Romney's intelligence. I argued that if intelligence were so important, Jimmy Carter would have been a "great" President.
Hugh agreed that intelligence isn't the only thing that matters. He went on to add, though, that the the issues we face today have made it more important than ever to have a president who is intellectually curious, and understands complex issues...