Posted by: mulrickillion | February 6, 2012

Mitt’s Muffled Soul

By Frank Brunei, Co-Ed Columnist, New York Times, Feb 4, 2012 —

LAST week he did it again, wading into a discussion of money — or, rather, of the “very poor” who lack it — and succumbing to yet another pink slip of the tongue. Mitt Romney is forever being tripped up this election cycle by the topic of wealth.

Not, interestingly, religion. . . .

At one of the debates just before the Florida primary, as he and Newt Gingrich jousted over the Latino vote, he answered Gingrich’s charges that he was anti-immigrant by calling them “repulsive” and declaiming, “My father was born in Mexico.” Many news reports mentioned the moment, casting it as an example of his newfound readiness to take the fight back to Gingrich.

But only a few of those reports recognized what an odd line of defense Romney had employed, given why his father was born there. The family lived south of the border because Miles Park Romney, Mitt’s great-grandfather, had fled the United States after the passage of an 1882 law that explicitly banned polygamy, which he practiced. He was reputedly instructed to till a polygamous Mormon colony on foreign soil.

When Romney first ran for president in 2008, there was so much discussion about the potential impact of his Mormonism. . . .

That’s a regrettable motive. But there are valid reasons for the rest of us to home in on Romney’s religion, not in terms of its historical eccentricities but in terms of its cultural, psychological and emotional imprint on him.

His aloofness, guardedness and sporadic defensiveness: are these entwined with the experience of belonging to a minority tribe that has often been maligned and has operated in secret? . . . .

And what of his sometimes huffy expectation that voters accept his current stances against abortion and gun control, to name two flips, and stop fussing over so many contrary positions in the past? Does that track with Mormonism’s blithe reluctance, according to its critics, to explain controversial tenets that it has jettisoned, like a ban on black clergy members that was in place until 1978?. . . . 

The news media’s caution about focusing on Romney’s religion mirrors his own reticence, which, as Frank Rich pointed out in New York magazine last week, may be a big reason he can’t connect with voters in a visceral, intimate way. He’s editing out the core of his identity. He’s muffling his soul. . . .

Mitt’s Muffled Soul – NYTimes.com

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