He’s only been gone for a day, but I’ve started to wonder if the intense interest in Mormonism that resulted from his presidential campaign will fade away. Who knows whether President Hinckley’s death and funeral would have received as much mainstream media coverage had Mitt not been a major player in the Republican primaries. Whatever happens to the interest, Richard Bushman noted in the Salt Lake Tribune that “I don’t think we’ll ever be the same.”
I have mixed feelings about Mitt’s passage from the national spotlight. On one hand, whenever I felt afflicted by blogger’s block, there was always something Mitt-related to read or write about. He was a convenient and ubiquitous topic, if not target, for many months. On the other hand, as I mentioned in an earlier post, at some points it just got to be too much. Too much Mitt, too many places, too many times.
Will Mitt’s fleeting moment in the public eye mean anything long-term for the Church? I am more skeptical than Brother Bushman. The 2002 Salt Lake Olympics don’t seem to have increased the Church’s long-term profile much. A presidential election is much more important and interesting to most Americans than the Olympics (and in particular the Winter Olympics) but Mitt got out before the really fun stuff happens.