Wednesday, February 21, 2007

We've only just begun

Last week, Mitt Romney, Mormon, declared his intention to run for President. And that night, CBS ran a story on some (very out and proud) polygamists. Coincidence? I think not.

But Romney's candidacy deserves more extensive comment, from my media savvy perspective, of course (I leave the real politics to the experts). Let's just get this out the way first: can a Mormon be president? My answer, no. It's not gonna happen, people, no matter how many of my LDS compatriots want to believe it's manifest destiny. There. It has to be said.

In fact, if Mitt's (and I use the first name to indicate, well, not so much respect) behavior over the weekend is any indication, he's not even going to last very long at all in the race to the primaries. Sunday morning, Good Morning America presented a story on Mitt, largely because he was heckled last week in Florida by someone yelling "You don't know the Lord!" (I assume this someone believes in some other form of Protestantism.

As part of the story, GMA turned to George Stephanopoulos, anchor of ABC's Sunday morning program, This Week with George Stephanopoulos (gotta love that creative naming, no?), who had apparently interviewed Mitt earlier that week. George (using his first name because who can keep spelling his last name??) revealed that he asked Mitt about how Muslims would respond to the Mormon belief that Christ will return and reign 1000 years on the earth from the United States. Cut to Mitt's reply, in which he said something along the lines of "like all Christians, we believe what it says in the Bible, that Christ will live again in Jerusalem and stand on the Mount of Olives."

Does anyone else see how the question is not being answered here? But it turns out that is the least of Mitt's worried, because intrepid George, of course, contacted the LDS spokesperson who said that this statement wasn't exactly true because Mormons believe that the new Jerusalem is in Missouri (yes, yes, we do, why there is a huge long story we're not going to get into here).

So here's why Mitt is doomed, as I see it:

1--He doesn't seem to remember that the Church works very very hard to present a unified, coherent statement of doctrine to the world and that PR is of huge importance to a modern church trying to combat more than a century of erroneous myths about and misinterpretations of its doctrine. Mitt should know the importance of PR not only as a Mormon but also as a politician. I mean, duh!

2--He also doesn't seem to remember that though it's a cliche, honesty really is the best policy, not least because they are going to find out when you fudge! The more savvy (and also, happily, more true!) answer to that question would be that Mormons believe, like all Christians and Jews, for that matter, that Christ will reign personally on the earth in the future. Muslims take issue with this belief, and nothing can be done if Muslims decide to take issue with this belief and act accordingly when voting. Where Christ reigns is really beside the point.

3--In addition, Mitt seems to be pretending that people aren't suspicious of Mormons from the jump, as they say here. But they are. Witness the heckler and the thrust of the GMA coverage and the polygamy stories and, well, you know, pretty much any mainstream coverage of the church that doesn't involve Larry King (who loves the president of the church and is, by the way, married to a (by all accounts inactive) Mormon). Now, I do think it's unfair that George contacted the church spokesperson for the skinny on Mitt's comments, only because I don't see us contacting the Pope's office when a (practicing or lapsed) Catholic makes some sort of declaration about, say, abortion. Unfair, yes, but certainly inevitable. Did Mitt really expect anything different?

So I'm starting my Romney requiem now. I think the chorus will join me sooner rather than later.

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