Colbert on Romney and Oaths

A touching tribute to doing the right thing.

A touching and amusing take from late night comic Stephen Colbert:

Unlike Colbert and Romney, I’m not a religious man. But I’ve taken an oath to the Constitution multiple times—as an 18-year-old cadet, a 20-year-old Private First Class, a 22-year-old being commissioned as an officer, and as a 47-year-old entering the civil service for my current position. It’s meant different things to me at different stages of my life. But I’ve always taken it seriously.

FILED UNDER: Humor, Religion, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    I’ve never said anything positive about Mitt Romney, but good job Mitt.

    5
  2. CSK says:

    The latest from Cult45 is that Romney is a “bedwetter,” a traitor, a Marxist, a crybaby, a backstabber, a loser…

    The most hilarious thing is how the cult rewrites history. Not only is Trump the greatest president we’ve ever had, he’s a self-made man. Sure. Right up from poverty to riches, by dint of his own hard work.

    8
  3. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    What do you know of the hours of begging, crying, and holding his breath he had to go through to get his daddy to loosen up a few hundred million more?

    3
  4. Joe says:

    I find it separately interesting (and disconcerting) how so many in the TRUMPublican party will brook no dissent. The one measure of party membership is unflagging loyalty to Trump without regard to anything he does. Somehow that feels unhealthy.

    I cannot imagine a Democratic Senator voting against Obama, even on some critical vote (or a Republican Senator against Bush) being treated as a traitor to party. This is nutty.

    11
  5. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    It must have been grueling for him.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My politics don’t agree with Mitt’s at all, and over the years his ambition has overcome his stated principles on more than a few occasions such that I have to wonder: If he represented a state that wasn’t full of trump loathing Mormons would he have done this? Who knows. All I can say is,

    Well done Mitt, well done indeed.

    11
  7. mattbernius says:

    @CSK – remember that Cancel Culture is a bad thing! Not to mention the way that people were offended at the idea that anyone who broke ranks with Trump was under threat of their head ending up on a pike…

    4
  8. CSK says:

    @Joe:
    Those senators and representatives don’t want to make themselves targets for Cult45. It’s probably true that most of them regard Trump with extreme distaste if not outright loathing. But making that clear would result, at best, in them losing their jobs if not their lives.

    I get it. I don’t approve, but I get it.

    4
  9. mattbernius says:

    It seems appropriate, given both Colbert and Romney’s invocation of faith, to share this headline from Franklin Graham’s chosen president:

    :Trump impeachment live updates: President lashes out at Democrats as ‘corrupt people’ at National Prayer Breakfast, in his first public remarks after acquittal”:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-impeachment-live-updates/2020/02/06/f45f94b4-48ce-11ea-bdbf-1dfb23249293_story.html

    Man, ask evangelicals about Catholics and Mormons and you’ll hear a lot about how they aren’t real Christians. Clearly the President is teaching us how real Evangelicals are supposed to act.

    5
  10. CSK says:

    @mattbernius:
    Well, exactly.

    1
  11. HelloWorld! says:

    @Joe: Senator Joe Manchin did it many times and only received minimal criticism from the democratic party, with no long term fallout from the party heads.

    10
  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:

    he’s a self-made man.

    Trump has always tried to sell that myth.
    I continue to think that the way to fight Trump is to puncture the whole of his mythology. Expose him for the fraud he is.
    His followers are all under the thrall of the cult…but certainly some of them can still understand the folktale about the Emperor with no Clothes.
    Combine that with real policies that speak to the real concerns of real people, and you will have a winning candidate.

    3
  13. Moosebreath says:

    @CSK:

    “Not only is Trump the greatest president we’ve ever had, he’s a self-made man.”

    As the old joke goes, he’s a self-made man and worships his creator.

    2
  14. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: @ Moosebreath:

    The cult started referring to Trump as “the blue-collar billionaire” a few years ago, so I think that this mythologizing is an attempt to make him more like them. What they don’t realize is that Trump has been a dedicated social climber all his life, and his rejection by the Manhattan elite is a constantly festering wound within him.

    3
  15. mattbernius says:

    Man, it appears that a lot of “evangelical proxies” are really triggered by Romney’s invocation of God and faith as guiding his decision…

    Brian Kilmeade lambasts Mitt Romney for invoking his faith in voting to convict Trump: “‘My faith makes me do this’? Are you kidding? What about your faith and this case meld together? That is unbelievable for him to bring religion into this. ‘His faith.'”

    https://twitter.com/revrrlewis/status/1225386013255749635

    To Colbert’s point, these are the “Christians” that Bolt was writing about in “A Man for All Seasons.”

    3
  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:

    “the blue-collar billionaire”

    He is neither.

    4
  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    Christians don’t have to take oaths seriously, they have their many convenient get-out-of-jail-free cards. Sorry, God, but all is forgiven, amiright?

    Non-believers have to take these things more seriously, we have to be true to ourselves, and we may not forgive ourselves as easily as bearded sky daddy does.

    It’s one of the great advantages of Christianity: nothing you do matters so long as three seconds before you die you repent, and then huge, huge, eternal reward. And it’s one of the burdens of atheism, there’s no one to blame but yourself for your misdeeds.

    11
  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’ve said for years that you can’t trust people who won’t behave decently without the threat of eternal damnation.

    But I think the “so long as three seconds before you die you repent” deal is basically a Catholic thing. Protestants seem to bend more toward the Calvinist thing that they’re one of the elect, and if they’re one of the elect, that’s it, forever. ‘I’m a good person, I’ll go to heaven despite a few missteps.’ I should perhaps clarify that I don’t believe they consciously think through theology so much as that Calvin et al were on to how a lot of people naturally think. What else, after all, is revealed belief except what you’re inclined to believe?

    5
  19. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s one of the great advantages of Christianity: nothing you do matters so long as three seconds before you die you repent, and then huge, huge, eternal reward.

    This is unfair to to most Christian denominations. It’s pretty much only Evangelicals who believe it’s that simple.

    It’s not that I’m particularly sympathetic to other forms of Christianity, but Evangelicalism is the fucking worst.

    It completely sanctions shameless hypocrisy, freeing Evangelical elites and their allies from having to live up to the same standards they seek to enforce upon others (working stiffs, poor people, and – of course – godless Democrats).

    I sincerely think that Evangelicalism and its concomitant get-out-of-jail-free mentality is one of the main causes of the poisoned political climate.

    ETA: @gVOR08:

    Catholics take repentance seriously. It doesn’t work like this. You can’t endlessly repeat your “sincere” repentance, for instance

    7
  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    As I noted yesterday, Romney deserves credit for honoring his oath half way. Yes, half is better than none, but whatever the degree, it was an empty gesture yesterday and still is today. MAWA!

  21. Gustopher says:

    I will never get tired of the religion bashing here. Good times, good times…

    4
  22. reid says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: If this was a movie, I could certainly Trump slumped on the ground in tears, muttering that “it was all a lie… what have I done…” People walk by ignoring him. Fade to black.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: There are more than a few atheists who think if they can get away with it, they’ll have gotten away with it. Moral corruption is not limited to the faithful.

    2
  24. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: About 80% of black folks in the US are Christian of one form or another. 15% are evangelical.

    It’s probably why they listen to all that Hip Hop and Rap Music, and why they disrespect the national anthem. They just gotta repent at the end and it’s a get out of jail free card straight from Jesus. Amirite?

    Why, I heard that MLK was a fornicator.

    And some of them even find novelty gods that will forgive even more of their sins, like Malcolm X.

    2
  25. mattbernius says:

    @drj:

    This is unfair to to most Christian denominations. It’s pretty much only Evangelicals who believe it’s that simple.

    Yeah, the entire question of “sola fide” is a complex one. Technically all Protestants believe in salvation via true faith rather than good works (which separates them from the Catholic and Orthodox Churches — thanks Martin Luther).

    However the relationship between faith and good works varies from Protestant sect to Protestant sect (including Evangelicals). Some believe good works are necessary because they are a marker of true faith. These often tend to be more culturally like Catholics.

    Others take a really literal reading of Luther and it’s faith alone, which theoretically should lead people to good deeds, but also allows for meaningful death bed conversions.

    2
  26. drj says:

    @mattbernius:

    Technically all Protestants believe in salvation via true faith rather than good works (which separates them from the Catholic and Orthodox Churches — thanks Martin Luther).

    Actually, the juxtaposition of faith and good works is somewhat misleading. The quick and dirty explanation is as follows.

    God stands so far above mankind and people are so weak (comparatively speaking) that there is simply no way they can earn salvation through their own efforts. Rather, salvation depends on God’s free gift of grace. So far, pretty much all Christian denominations are in agreement.

    Catholics believe that if one engages in faith & good works, God will meet that person halfway and extend the gift of grace – not as an obligation, but because God has freely chosen to enter into this covenant with mankind.

    Mainline Protestants, however, believe that good works are a only consequence of being given the gift of grace. And while faith is the only thing that leads to salvation, faith can only be effectual after the believer has already received the free gift of grace. In other words, God alone elects those who he will save through grace; and people can do nothing whatsoever to infuence that decision.

    Evangelicals have taken something from both the Catholic and mainline Protestant traditions (even though they would vehemently deny being influenced by godless popery).

    From the Protestant tradition they have taken the idea that good works are not necessary in order to be saved. But they also believe that God extends to gift of grace to all those who really want it.

    But while Catholics actually have to do something (i.e. good works) to receive the gift of grace, Evangelicals only have to “accept Jesus as their personal savior” (or whatever the formula is). And that’s it: salvation (and moral superiority) without any real effort. Poof! Just like that.

    It’s not hard to see that this is a pretty toxic combination. Especially since one can fall off the wagon and get back into God’s good graces (and moral superiority) just by accepting Jesus as one’s personal savior again, and again, and again.

    In short, Evangelicalism is almost guaranteed to bring about the worst in people.

    6
  27. the Q says:

    Obama IS Trump’s DADDY. Much like Fred turned over to the idiot a fully functioning stable and profitable company, Obama did all the heavy lifting in turning over a fully functioning stable and prosperous economy to the nitwit who now brags about cutting the unemployment rate from 4.9% to 3.8% and boosting the economy a whole 0.1% from 2016’s 2.0% GDP to 2019’s 2.1%, all the while DOUBLING Obama’s last budget deficit of $560 billion, to over $1 TRILLION.

    Our only hope is that his syphilis kicks in and kills the bas tard soon. If not, we will have to wait for President Bernie Sanders to order the Treasury Dept. to look into the decades of Trump’s (and his whole clan) past bank statements, loans and tax returns. Now that the GOP has basically let Trump do this with Hunter Biden, it will be great to watch Trump in handcuffs next year,

    2
  28. Neil Hudelson says:

    @drj:

    From the Protestant tradition they have taken the idea that good works are not necessary in order to be saved. But they also believe that God extends to gift of grace to all those who really want it.

    But while Catholics actually have to do something (i.e. good works) to receive the gift of grace, Evangelicals only have to “accept Jesus as their personal savior” (or whatever the formula is). And that’s it: salvation (and moral superiority) without any real effort. Poof! Just like that.

    Following the line of Protestant thought to it’s (to me) logical endpoint, one arrives at Universalism/Universal Reconciliation, which for some reason is detested by most Protestant sects. One would think that “Jesus is the savior of all Mankind” doesn’t imply any sort of caveat, but alas…

    3
  29. drj says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Following the line of Protestant thought to it’s (to me) logical endpoint, one arrives at Universalism/Universal Reconciliation

    I’ve seen enough acient and medieval theology in my day to know that, besides being incredibly diverse, Christianity is barely (if that) internally consistent. I wouldn’t assume anything like a “logical endpoint.”

    Apart from that, Protestantism is all about the elect and the damned. Hard to see how that gets you to Universal Reconciliation.

    1
  30. mattbernius says:

    @drj:

    Mainline Protestants, however, believe that good works are a only consequence of being given the gift of grace. And while faith is the only thing that leads to salvation, faith can only be effectual after the believer has already received the free gift of grace. In other words, God alone elects those who he will save through grace; and people can do nothing whatsoever to infuence that decision.

    Yes, no, kinda. I guess it all depends on your hermenutics and your definition of “influence.”

    Speaking as a traditional-trained Lutheran (and someone who studied a bit of comparative christianity for my anthro work), that interpretation — or rather the last sentence — reads as a bit too much of a Calvinistic take for most protestants. There’s an interaction between sola gratia and sola fide in most protestant groups. Grace is extended to all who want it (that’s the entire sacrifice of Christ thing). You still need true faith to be saved. So to that degree it is the influence of true faith that determines salvation (Grace is taken as a given). Salvation comes through faith alone and in that way human action is required.

    Its really only groups like Calvinists who feel that there is no possible influence whatsoever — to the extreme that we end up at predestination. For them you can have True Faith but still be damned because it’s the grace not the faith that ultimately matters.

    Evangelicals to your point moved in the opposite direction and took the most liberal/permissive definition protestant (because they are protestants — but not mainline) of salvation through faith.

    Maybe I missed it in your argument, but I don’t really see what evangelicals took from Catholicism (other that the general things that most protestant groups took from Catholicism).

    (Ok, so this was definitely a conversation that I didn’t expect to have today).

    Edit 1 — perhaps the issue is that when I think about the way I am using “influence” I’m connecting it to a notion of “choice.” I don’t think that’s not necessarily the way you are using it.

    Edit 2 — I should also note that we’re to some degree arguing theory/doctrine versus practice. The reality is that a lot of protestants still integrate some notion of good works into their cosmology of being saved — or at the very least that’s what they told Pew Research – https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/08/31/poll-most-protestants-and-catholics-believe-faith-and-works-are-necessary

    1
  31. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    And it’s one of the burdens of atheism, there’s no one to blame but yourself for your misdeeds.

    This is true, or put in a more positive vein…atheists inherently accept that they are not the center of a Multiverse created solely for them, and what they think and dream and do isn’t determined by the whim of some creator, and thus life is far more fulfilling than if those things were true.

  32. Teve says:

    Hitchens said the christian universe was worse than North Korea, because at least in North Korea you could get away from it by dying. 😛

    2
  33. drj says:

    @mattbernius:

    Doctrinally, this is pretty complex stuff. So it’s hard to catch all the nuances. As I said, this was the quick and dirty explanation.

    Still, Lutherans generally believe in uconditional election, meaning that God elects to salvation whoever he wants to save for whatever reason pleases him, while Catholics, for instance, believe in conditional election, i.e. God elects those he foresees to have faith.

    So while Catholics believe that the elect move (causally speaking) from faith to election and salvation, Lutherans believe that the elect move from election to faith to salvation. So even if an act of faith is necessary, it follows from election rather than vice versa.

    Due to this causal order, there is less stress on human actions than e.g. in Catholicism. On this Lutherans agree with Calvinists.

    Its really only groups like Calvinists who feel that there is no possible influence whatsoever — to the extreme that we end up at predestination.

    But Lutherans – and even Catholics – also believe in predestination.

    Lutherans and Catholics believe in single-sided predestination, meaning that God predestines some people to be saved. Calvinists, by contrast, believe in double-sided predestination: God predestines some people to be saved and some people to be damned.

    But while Lutherans and Catholics agree on one-sided predestination, they disagree on the (un)conditionality of election.

    Lutherans and Calvinists, by contrast, agree on the unconditionality of election (and thus the causal order of election -> faith -> salvation), but disagree on whether predestination is single or double-sided.

    Grace is extended to all who want it (that’s the entire sacrifice of Christ thing).

    But while some are predestined to want it, this isn’t necessarily true for everyone.

    Does all this make sense?

    You tell me, but I didn’t make this up.

    1
  34. Teve says:
  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    The theological discussion is excellent, but there is a vast difference between official beliefs and what the people believe.

    4
  36. An Interested Party says:

    It’s sad that a comedian has to shame these hypocritical Republicans/conservatives…oh wait, these assholes are shameless, never mind…and it’s amusing that Republicans are laughing about all the latest snafus with the Democrats…meanwhile, these Republicans don’t even seem to realize that their entire party has been hijacked by a grifter…I mean, who really believes that things will end well for the GOP with Trump at the helm? I guess they don’t realize that he will eventually cast aside their party when he no longer needs them, just like all the people he has swindled over the years…Republicans have already shown they can turn their former leaders into pariahs, like they eventually did with Bush, but this is an unhealthy trend…

    1
  37. 95 South says:

    @drj:

    Catholics believe that if one engages in faith & good works, God will meet that person halfway and extend the gift of grace – not as an obligation, but because God has freely chosen to enter into this covenant with mankind.

    Yes, no, kinda. No. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us….The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity….God’s free initiative demands man’s free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him….He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy.

    1
  38. Kylopod says:

    @HelloWorld!:

    Senator Joe Manchin did it many times and only received minimal criticism from the democratic party, with no long term fallout from the party heads.

    Manchin isn’t a good analogue to Romney in this case, as he represents one of the reddest states in the country. A Republican version of Manchin would be someone like Scott Brown or Mark Kirk who were elected in very blue states–and who did in fact defy the GOP mainstream quite a bit, voting for such Obama initiatives as Dodd-Frank, DADT repeal, and an assault weapons ban.

    Likewise, there really is no Democrat in recent times in an equivalent situation to Romney (a blue state filled with Democrats who hate the sitting Democratic president).

    1
  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @drj: Most doctrinal statements that I have read over the years have read that good works are not sufficient rather than necessary, but as Evangelicalism has evolved and continued to “split the difference” to conform to the vision of salvation as a product and Christians (particularly pastors) as sales representatives, I expect that what many evangelicals actually believe is not what doctrinal statements say.

    I have a friend who was raised among Methodists, Nazarenes, and Brethren who has always been afraid that he would fall into a community of “hard core Calvinists” who would destroy his faith with their quasi-Satanic, Manichean, and pseudo-Gnostic doctrines. It took him most of his life to realize that most Evangelicals wouldn’t recognize the teachings of John Calvin from John Stuart Mill (and frequently confuse them given the opportunity 😉 )

    1
  40. mattbernius says:

    @drj:

    Still, Lutherans generally believe in uconditional election, meaning that God elects to salvation whoever he wants to save for whatever reason pleases him, while Catholics, for instance, believe in conditional election, i.e. God elects those he foresees to have faith.

    Again as a confirmed Lutheran (albeit not practicing) who had had to read translations of most of Luther’s key works, that is not a reading that I think most LCMS or ELCA churches would buy into.

    But at this point we are arguing past each other.

    If you can find something on a Synod site or text that supports that reading I would truly be interested in seeing it.

    Edit: this link does a pretty good job of explaining how Lutheran concepts of “predestination” are different than Calvinist ones in very key ways. Hopefully it helps explain how I am thinking about things in different terms:

    https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/10/why-lutheran-predestination-isnt-calvinist-predestination

    This one is also pretty good:

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/was-luther-a-calvinist/

    2
  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    but there is a vast difference between official beliefs and what the people believe.

    Just watch what happens when a *Catholic* teenage girl has her first period.

    **somewhere around 50% is my early ’70s recollection,

    1
  42. Paine says:

    It’s easy to have integrity when you have easy decisions to make. The real test is when you are forced to make a tough choice. I’ve been critical of Romney in the past but I commend him for this decision.

    2
  43. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: what happens?

    1
  44. Kathy says:

    Sometimes I think what differentiates a religion from a cult is the number of denominations, variations, confessions, splinters, or whatever one calls them, that grow out of the original.

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: SIN! Of the most GRIEVOUS KIND!!! Birth control.

    ETA: Can you guess what happens in case of pregnancy?

    1
  46. Teve says:

    @Kathy: there’s an old joke, what’s the difference between a cult and a religion? About 100 years.

    1
  47. An Interested Party says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It’s the same way some Republicans, like Dick Cheney or Rob Portman, become gay-friendly once one of their children comes out of the closet…funny what happens when certain beliefs/ideas suddenly clash with reality…

    3
  48. Teve says:

    I live in Lake City Florida, home of a cult that was featured on 20/20 With Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters. The church survived the death of the cult leader, but then exploded in a molesting scandal in 2015.

  49. drj says:

    @mattbernius:

    I don’t follow what you are trying to say. I looked at both your links and they basically support (I think) what I was trying to say:

    1) Lutherans believe in predestination, but not like Calvinists (because Lutherans prefer single-sided predestination over double-sided predestiation).

    2) Unlike Catholics, Lutherans believe that human beings are unable to work towards their own salvation; and God elects those whoever he wants. Also, the elect are given justifying faith, rather than faith being something they acquire themselves.

    See also the Augsburg Confession on justification through faith alone (Art. IV):

    Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.

    Or, for a more extensive discussion on the inability of human beings to contribute to their own salvation, see Luther’s On the Bondage of Free Will.

    To be fair, my understanding of Lutheranism (such as it is) is based on what Luther and his immediate followers believed. I am not particularly familiar with later interpretations.

  50. mattbernius says:

    @drj:

    To be fair, my understanding of Lutheranism (such as it is) is based on what Luther and his immediate followers believed. I am not particularly familiar with later interpretations.

    Got it. I think that’s where the difference is. I’m coming at it from more of a modern American Lutheran hermeneutics, which is attempting to reconcile a lot of the contradictions within Luther (as noted in the second essay, Bondage of will contains a number of seeming contradictions). So that’s coloring the way I’m reading Luther.

    Admittedly, I’m years removed from most current Lutheran discussions. And this is the type of dialog that is probably better had not online and I’m sure I’m reading past a lot of your points.

  51. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Let’s see if he can keep it up. (Maybe we should check with Ann about that?)

    He finally gets off his butt and makes one right vote, and everyone carries on as if it were some amazing example of courage. I’ll be impressed if he continues in this vein, but somehow I think he’ll retreat to his cave until the next time he can get a lot of good press for a bare minimum action.

    3