Montana’s Democrat governor, Brian Schweitzer, decided to do his bit for the War on Mormons with a Daily Beast interview on Thursday:
While discussing swing states, Schweitzer said Romney would have a “tall order to position Hispanics to vote for him,” and I replied that was mildly ironic since Mitt’s father was born in Mexico, giving the clan a nominal claim to being Hispanic.
Schweitzer replied that it is “kinda ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy.”
Women, he said, are “not great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico.”
Ben Jacobs of the Daily Beast hastened to explain to readers that George Romney “was born in Mexico in 1907 to a family of American Mormons who fled to Mexico when the United States government cracked down on the practice of polygamy,” but George Romney’s parents “were in a monogamous marriage.”
Jacobs also included a denunciation of Schweitzer’s comments from an Obama campaign spokesperson, and said that “while the Obama campaign has ruled Romney’s faith off-limits, it was the subject of some attacks from evangelicals during the GOP primary.”
That’s how the War on Mormons will be waged by the oh-so-tolerant media. They won’t be making the attacks themselves. They’ll be writing about what all those evangelicals, women, and Hispanic voters are saying, or thinking, or possibly thinking about saying.
Also, the same people who consider anything more than a week in Barack Obama’s past to be “old news” and a “distraction” from the issues will simultaneously regard the past century of Mormon history – from that Mexico commune to the ban on black members of the priesthood, which ended in 1978 – to be as fresh as a loaf of bread hot from the oven.
Hence, the Washington Post’s take on the Schweitzer flap:
President Obama’s campaign quickly disavowed the comments and said it would not engage in “attacking a candidate’s religion.” In fact, the remarks are outside the bounds of what both sides have said is acceptable discourse for the campaign.
But despite Schweitzer’s overly blunt and inartful phrasing, it’s worth looking at the broader point he was trying to make.
The truth is that Romney should be able to draw on his personal history for ammunition to fight back on issues such as the Latino vote and his image as a fat-cat businessman. But in both cases, fighting back would require reminding people that he’s a Mormon.
And that would be just awful, because while we media paragons of tolerance don’t have a problem with Romney’s religion – perish the thought! – a lot of you knuckle-dragging rubes out in flyover country might hold it against him. Why, a lot of you guys probably continue to associate polygamy with the mainline Mormon church, even though they outlawed it over a hundred years ago… probably because the tolerant, respectful media incessantly reminds you about it, as the Post does in the very next paragraph:
Romney has given more than $11 million to charity over the past 12 years, but 80 percent of it went to the Mormon Church, according to a recent Boston Globe report. So even if Romney wanted to talk about the $1.8 million that went to other causes, he would probably have to broach the Mormon issue — at least a little bit.
In the meantime, Democrats are successfully painting a picture of a wealthy businessman who is looking out only for his fellow millionaires. The candidate’s history of charitable giving, it seems, would be a strong counter-punch.
Oh, they’re “successfully” painting a picture of “a wealthy businessman who is looking out only for his fellow millionaires,” are they? Jon Corzine, George Kaiser, Tony Rezko, Warren Buffett, and all of Obama’s diamond-studded Hollywood and Wall Street contributors agree!
By an interesting coincidence, the latest mutation of Obama’s “Attack Watch” just this very day uttered a Tweet that asked, “Romney is depending on his high-dollar friends to back his campaign. But just who are they?” That’s a fascinating question, Truth Team! Here’s one for you: who is Abake Assongba?
At any rate, those Hispanic and female voters who have big problems with polygamy might be interested to know there will be a candidate in the 2012 race whose father and grandfather actually were polygamists, and his name is not “Mitt Romney.” As related in the very same Washington Post not two weeks ago:
The line of polygamists in Obama’s family can be traced back generations in western Kenya, where it was an accepted practice within the Luo (pronounced LOO-oh) tribe. His great-grandfather, Obama Opiyo, had five wives, including two who were sisters. His grandfather, Hussein Onyango, had at least four wives, one of whom, Akumu, gave birth to the president’s father, Barack Obama, before fleeing her abusive husband. Obama Sr. was already married when he left Kenya to study at the University of Hawaii, where he married again. His American wife-to-be, Stanley Ann Dunham, was not yet 18 and unaware of his marital situation when she became pregnant with his namesake son in 1961.
(Emphasis mine.) So you’ve got to go back to Mitt Romney’s paternal grandfathers to find an actual polygamist, while Barack Obama’s father was a polygamist at the time of his conception in 1961.
In neither case does this have any bearing on President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, because neither man is responsible for the actions of his forebears, or had any control over the circumstances of his birth. But the media isn’t going to treat both cases the same way. You won’t hear Big Media expressing any deep concerns about members of strategic voting groups recoiling from the Obama family’s polygamous history, any more than you’ll hear them express concerns about Obama’s millionaire friends… even though none of Romney’s millionaire friends are likely to owe as much in back taxes as Warren Buffett does.