When Republicans have trouble with something in their candidate’s past or present, they fix it by Karl Roving it. This means that they take their candidate’s weakness and make it his strength by using it to smear the other candidate. So, faced with Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and an evangelical base that just yesterday thought Mormons were a heretical cult, they are doing what they do best. They’re taking Mitt Romney’s family history with polygamy (a now renounced tradition of his faith that he does not practice) and painting Barack Obama with the same polygamy brush.
This is supposed to accomplish two things: one, put their base on attack against Obama thereby changing the focus of the conversation and two, use up the media cycle of the story on their opponent until it becomes boring, at which point when the accusation is made about their candidate, no one will care. It’s old school Rove.
Upset about a Democratic governor mentioning Mitt Romney’s family history with polygamy, Republicans have decided the best defense is a good offense.
The Daily Beast started it all with this:
While discussing swing states, (Montana Gov. Brian) 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.”
Never mind that he said he was not suggesting that Romney is pro polygamy, the same evangelicals who used Romney’s faith as an attack during the primaries are now super angry that anyone would dare to mention it as a reason Romney might be in trouble with women voters. My sense from the polls is Romney has enough troubles with women voters on his own, but fair enough.
This has lead to accusations that Obama’s family has a history of polygamy. Fox News, News Busters, et al are on the bus. The attack is to call Democrats a “cult” (hahaha, that’s funny, right?) because nothing hurts like a good projection.
The Republican logic for their base is “Don’t hate Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon, even though we’ve been hating on Mormons for a long time. Because see, everything he has done, Obama has done too!” Luckily for Republicans, their whipped followers can easily adapt their “values” and “beliefs” from day to day, so long as the Republican leaders at Fox News tell them what to believe today. So today, they no longer hate Mormons because Obama. That is all, it just ends with because Obama. This is enough for the Pavlovian conservative base; they’ve been taught to salivate on the cue of “Obama”.
In reality, Obama has said that Romney’s faith is off limits, just as he said Sarah Palin’s family was off limits in 2008. The Obama campaign issued this statement in response, “Attacking a candidate’s religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don’t think others should either.”
Republicans were all too happy to accuse the very publicly Christian Obama of being a Muslim and they continue to do it to this day. But they don’t want anyone else to use religion as a weapon, because that wouldn’t be good for them this cycle. New rules, new values. Try to keep up.
The truth seems to be that both candidates’ families have a history of polygamy according to writer David Maraniss. Maraniss writes that Obama’s comes from his father’s side of the family. However, Barack Obama Senior, a government economist in Kenya, was not a part of his son’s life in any real meaningful way. Barack Sr. separated from the President’s mother when he went to Harvard University and they divorced in 1964 whereupon Obama Sr. moved back to Kenya. The President’s father only visited his son in Hawaii once and died in an automobile accident in 1982.
President Barack Obama was raised by his mother Stanley Ann Dunham and grandparents Madelyn and Stanley Armour Dunham (who is related to six US presidents). His maternal family is mostly English in heritage (shiver me timbers!). In contrast, Mitt Romney was raised by his Mormon father, who was born on a polygamy commune. Certainly, if those beliefs were to influence either of them, it would be more reasonable to assume they influenced Romney, but in reality, Romney is not a polygamist. The Mormon faith condemned polygamy years ago.
By addressing these facts I don’t mean to suggest that Democrats care about silly distractions like whether someone is a Christian or not; after all, there is no religious test for public office – at least, not according to Democrats.
The Rovian attacks on Obama as palling around with terrorists in order to distract from Sarah Palin’s secessionist ties didn’t work. Yes, they distracted the public from Palin’s history, but they did not stick to Obama. In a chess game of Rove V Obama, only a fool would bet on Karl Rove. So let the Republicans play their polygamy game. Meanwhile, the President will talk about the economy, jobs, and the Buffett Rule. You know, things that really matter.
Polygamy might sell to the Republican base, but the rest of the country simply doesn’t care. Sure, it might be strange to some of them that Mitt Romney belongs to a faith that was rooted in polygamy, but they’ll get over it. After all, none of us think Mitt Romney is a polygamist. We think he’s a patriarchal, compassion-devoid puppet of the 1%, and that is enough of a reason to not vote for the guy.
There’s also Romney’s Ted Nugent pedophile problem, which is far more troubling than any family history with polygamy, though one might think uncomfortably close with branches of the Mormon faith’s sordid history with child brides.
Mitt could win some female voters by condemning Nugent’s admitted obsession with under age girls and vowing to protect abused child brides in this country. In 2000, Utah state Senator Ron Allen noted that “fundamentalist Mormon polygamy is too close to the theology of the Church of the Latter Day Saints” and said, “We have thousands of women pulled out of school at an early age, forced into marriages with older men, kept isolated from society, constantly impregnated, and often placed on public assistance with no financial means of their own.”
But those issues most likely won’t stick with the msm ignoring them. Instead, the story of Mitt Romney tying his dog Seamus to the roof of his car for a twelve hour road trip will have a much more lasting impact on how he’s perceived than the story of his family history on a polygamy commune.
Jason Easley explained today how the Republicans are doing the same thing on the Seamus story as they are on the polygamy issue — trying to create false equivalency by attacking instead of dealing with the issue. After all, they can’t deal with the issue. Mitt Romney is a Mormon and judging by their own very public accusations, being anything other than their kind of Christian equates one with being a terrorist.
Mitt should be giving thanks that he’s not a Democrat, because if he were, that commune would be Marxist indoctrination camp faster than he could say, “Corporations are people!”
While Republicans can’t talk about the issues, they love to talk about rumors and they seem to think the American public will be appeased with rumor mongering instead of policy debates.