I hope you are sitting down for this. What I am about to tell you may shock your very core. What this will do to your pacemaker will make a microwave look like a flashlight. Ready? Here it comes… Mitt Romney is a Mormon!
Not only that, his great-grandfather was a polygamist! (No, a polygamist is not someone married to a parrot. If that was a disqualifier, then Alan Greenspan would have had to leave office as soon as he married a media person.) Poor Romney had to drag his wife onto 60 Minutes last night for baring his forebear’s soul and insisting on his ancestor’s guilt.
Back in 1968 I was a ten-year-old politics junkie who read every word of every article in Newsweek and Time about the presidential primaries and chose a favorite in each party. I backed Eugene McCarthy on the Democrat side and George Romney among the Republicans. Never was it brought up that Romney was a Mormon. He had more trouble from being born in Chihuahua, Mexico, where a technical constitutional issue arose; he was born a naturalized citizen but not on U.S. soil. This was the issue, not religion (despite the fact his family moved to rural Mexico specifically to continue practicing polygamy). Yep, back in ’68 LSD was an issue, not LDS.
Orrin Hatch signed up for the primaries a few years ago without the national press running mock-ups of the floor plan of Joseph Smith’s house or scholarly exegesis on the Book of Mormon. Harry Reid is the majority leader of the Senate and the main complaint voiced against him is that he is an idiot; his Mormonism has never proved an issue. Suddenly, in this wonderfully enlightened era, peopled by progressives with hearts of gold, appreciation of the sweep of history has so broadened. Now Great Grandpa Romney’s espousal of spousal duality enters the duel.
The implications for my own career are far-reaching.
Until now, it was a source of family pride that we have a tradition of descent from the classic Bible and Talmud commentator, Rashi (1035-1105), who in turn traced his line back to King David. Another fine writer who shares the Rashi-to-King-David background is Charles Krauthammer. To have a leaf of the family tree planted by the greatest poet of history was thought to be a resume enhancement for scribblers.
But now it is time to pay the piper. David’s achievements pale when we recall he was also a polygamist of note. Charles and I stem from Shepatiah, son of fifth wife Avital, his birth recorded in Samuel II (3:4).
Why stop there? David’s great-grandmother was Ruth the Moabite. Moab himself was the product of an incestuous rendezvous between Lot and his daughter (Genesis 19:31-33, 37). She thought no men had survived the destruction of Sodom, so to repopulate the world she liquored up her father and had her way with him. So there is another murky episode in our provenance.
Ruth’s husband was Boaz, who descended from Peretz, son of Judah (Ruth 4:18-22). Peretz was born from a liaison Judah had with a woman who solicited him under the guise of a roadside prostitute (Genesis 38:13-29). She was actually motivated by a legitimate familial claim for his hand in marriage, but that particular seduction which produced the pregnancy was conducted under sordid conditions. My past grows darker and darker.
If you add the Talmudic tradition that Ruth came from the royal family of Moab and was descended from Balak, that buys me a progenitor who hired a sorcerer in the hope of eliminating the entire Jewish people through a curse or a spell (Numbers 22:2-24:25). All in all, by the 1968 standards I had every right to serve as a political columnist or even, if the bug bit, as a candidate. The new 2008 standards preclude such participation on my part. In recognition of this new reality, we will institute a petition drive wherein anyone who thinks Romney is an illegitimate candidate can appeal to have my commentator license revoked. As for Krauthammer, I think we should give him a break; I’ll take the hit for the extended Davidian family.
It is not every day you see conservatives pining for the good old days of the 1960s. Right now things are so wacky we will accept sanity from wherever it can be drawn. Give me global cooling over global warming any day of the week. As for Mitt, I don’t care whose issue he is, I care who he is on the issues.
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