Will Harry Reid Elect Mitt Romney? | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Will Harry Reid Elect Mitt Romney?
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Will Harry Reid make Mitt Romney President?

Will the Senate Democrats’ leader, a Mormon as is Romney, be the inadvertent shield for the religious bigotry card liberals — in particular MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell — are itching to turn into the ultimate election weapon?

A major election issue the left wing ex-New York Times columnist Frank Rich (now writing for New York Magazine) calls “the big dog that has yet to bark.”

First MSNBC.

One has to ask yet again: what are these people thinking?

Having had hosts in the news recently for attacks using homophobia and racism as tools of public debate (MSNBC host Al Sharpton here and here) and women (MSNBC host Ed Schultz here) — unbelievable as you would think it to be, MSCNBC has now seen another of its hosts ramp up on religious bigotry.

Lawrence O’Donnell is on a tear about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith. Not Harry Reid’s Mormon faith, just Romney’s. Do the two men belong to the same Mormon faith? Yes. But you would have no idea of that when listening to O’Donnell’s appalling religious bigotry.

Doubtless because Reid’s membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is largely unknown to the American electorate. An electorate that is about to have Romney’s membership in the very same Mormon faith as Reid’s — the man Democrats have repeatedly chosen to be the U.S. Senate Majority Leader — thrown in its face as a reason not to elect a President Romney.

Take a good look at O’Donnell in this rant on the history of the Mormon Church and race. And this O’Donnell diatribe on the Mormon Church and race on The McLaughlin Group.

What is O’Donnell saying about Mitt Romney’s religious faith? This:

On March 8, 1863, Brigham Young said in a sermon: “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed, mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so.” So there is Mitt Romney’s hero, Brigham Young, telling him if he has sex with a black woman, he will die. And this will always be so.

[…]

Racism’s grip on Mormon practice has been so strong during Mitt Romney’s lifetime that it was not until 1978, ten years after Martin Luther king was assassinated, 1978! — that the Mormon church suddenly decided to allow black men to become priests in the Mormon Church. Mitt Romney was 31 years old at the time. If we had a candidate running for president today or any nominee facing Senate confirmation who belonged to a racially exclusive club until he was 31 years old, that man’s candidacy for the presidency or for the Cabinet or for the federal court that man’s candidacy would be doomed. 

O’Donnell’s objective?

To convince voters that GOP nominee-to-be Romney is a closet racist because somewhere back in the history of his religious faith — “1863!” “1978!” — racism against blacks was church doctrine.

But take a look here when O’Donnell sits down with Senator Reid. The conversation is respectful, hushed, focused on nuclear energy, the budget, social security. Then there’s this interview back when Reid was running against conservative Sharron Angle. Suddenly it’s Angle who is not in the mainstream, bashed because O’Donnell claims she believes in “the Party of God.” There are more of these, but you get the point.

If, as O’Donnell says, Mitt Romney was 31 years old in 1978 when “the Mormon Church suddenly decided to allow black men to become priests in the Mormon Church,” that would mean Harry Reid was 39 — eight years older than Romney. Think of this when you realize O’Donnell went on to say:

If we had a candidate running for president today or any nominee facing Senate confirmation who belonged to a racially exclusive club until he was 31 years old, that man’s candidacy for the presidency or for the Cabinet or for the federal court that man’s candidacy would be doomed.

In other words, O’Donnell has just raised the obvious question.

If Harry Reid “belonged to a racially exclusive club” until he was 39 years old… why in the world is this man elected by Democrats to be their leader in the United States Senate?

More to the point, if O’Donnell and liberals really believe all of this:

Shouldn’t Harry Reid be forced to resign as Senate majority leader — today? Pronto? Poste haste?

Certainly Frank Rich must think so.

If, as Rich says, the fact “that blacks were given full status” in the LDS only in 1978 constitutes an “embarrassing fact” for Romney — then it certainly counts equally as well for Reid.

Reid not only keeps a copy of the Book of Mormon in his office just off the Senate floor, he is described as being “very active” in his church. 

Writes Rich of Romney’s church activism and his charitable contributions (Mormons tithe 10% of their income to their church) in a New York piece titled “Who in God’s Name Is Mitt Romney?”

… the questions are about the Mormon church’s political actions during Mitt Romney’s lifetime — and about what role Romney, as both a leader and major donor, might have played or is still playing in those actions.

But the flip side of this hands-on engagement is whether, in his various positions in the church, he countenanced or enforced its discriminatory treatment of blacks and women, practices it only started to end in earnest well after he had entered adulthood. 

OK.

But Harry Reid has been in the United States Senate since 1987, and either the Senate’s majority or minority Whip or Leader since 1999. Where have Rich and O’Donnell been for the last thirteen years in which Reid had his hand on the Senate’s leadership wheel?

Answer: Somewhere being just as quiet then about Reid’s Mormonism as they are now.

Rich, who makes much of his support for same-sex marriage, writes now of the Mormon history of polygamy as a “scandalous credo” — apparently willing now to cast himself as just another bigot whose big concern was changing the sacredness of gender in marriage to number. Heedless that in opening that door the demand would surface to legalize polygamy — as is in fact happening right here in the pages of his old stomping grounds at the New York Times.

The Mormon Church opposes same sex marriage — as does President Obama — yet somehow it will be Romney, a supporter of traditional marriage — who will be morphed into a bigot because of his church’s stance. But mysteriously — not Harry Reid.

So.

What we have here is that rare nullifying effect in what many see as a campaign that may be among the dirtiest in history.

To charge Mitt Romney with anything related to his Mormon faith will be to cast all eyes at Senate Majority Leader Reid, one of the most prominent — and visible — Democrats in the country.

The Mormon sauce being equally ladled between the Romney goose and the Reid gander.

In other words, in this latest version of the left-wing attempt to distract from the central issue that is Obama’s record (Ann Romney never worked, the dog was on the roof, etc., etc.) there’s a fly in the ointment here: Harry Reid.

O’Donnell and Rich would have you ignore not only Harry Reid — whom O’Donnell has interviewed multiples of times without once discussing his Mormon faith — but ignore the sterling reputations of the nation’s most prominent Mormons who have served in public office. (Utah’s long-serving Republican Senator Orrin Hatch another, former Ford and Bush 41 national security adviser General Brent Scowcroft another. Here’s a link to a whole list of Mormon Church members whose faith was invisible as they served as everything from a director of NASA’s space shuttle program to generals and admirals in one branch or another of the American military.)

The most relevant in this instance of Mormons and race would be Mitt Romney’s own father George, the Republican Governor of Michigan in the 1960s and himself a onetime presidential candidate. (George Romney was briefly the frontrunner for the 1968 GOP presidential nomination, losing ultimately to Richard Nixon. He went on to serve as Nixon’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.)

Remember when O’Donnell badgered Herman Cain for “sitting on the sidelines” during the civil rights movement in the 1960’s — a time when Cain was still in high school? Then went after Cain for following his father’s advice to stay out of trouble? Asked O’Donnell of the then-GOP presidential candidate who happened to be black:

Where do you think black people would be sitting on the bus today if Rosa Parks had followed your father’s advice?

Like Cain — and O’Donnell himself — Mitt Romney was still in school in the early and mid-1960s.

But Romney’s father was decidedly a public official — and in the tradition of the Republican Party to which the senior — and junior — Romneys belonged and belong, George Romney unhesitatingly put himself out front for civil rights, just as O’Donnell was demanding of Cain.

Writes Pulitzer Prize winning author David J. Garrow of the senior Romney’s leadership following “Bloody Sunday” — the infamous 1965 voting rights march in Selma, Alabama in which marchers were attacked by local police (read Democrats-O’Donnell’s party of choice):

In Detroit, Michigan’s governor, George Romney, and Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh had led a crowd of some ten thousand through the downtown area at midday.

In fact, noted Hugh Hewitt when this slur against Mitt Romney first arose in 2008:

George Romney marched in civil rights actions in 1962, ’63, ’64. His young son was with him on that, and that it’s silly to attribute to Romney a racist bone in his body on the basis of whatever the teachings of the Mormon Church were, and you know it’s silly …”

Martin Luther King himself was so impressed with George Romney’s support for Civil Rights that he listed Romney as a potential presidential candidate.

See this picture from the way-back of the 1960s? That’s right. The smiling man in that picture with a young Michigan State Student is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the woman on the right? That would be the Mormon First Lady of Michigan, Lenore Romney. The wife of Governor George Romney — and the mother of Mitt Romney.

All of which is to say, what O’Donnell is about is little short of scurrilous hackery that could easily backfire big time. Nothing more than using old fashioned religious bigotry to try and change the subject of the Obama failures — the latter decidedly a frightening thing if one is, like O’Donnell, a professed socialist.

Doubtless you are wondering.

With all of this fury over Mitt Romney’s Mormonism — the fury about polygamy and a “new religion” yada yada yada….why isn’t O’Donnell going after liberal Democrat Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison for Ellison’s devotion to his Muslim faith? After all, if O’Donnell feels free to deride the Mormons’ Prophet Joseph Smith for his multiple wives, why won’t he mock and deride the Prophet Muhammad for, among other things, having multiple wives? Muhammad, history records, had 12 wives and one of those marriages, to the wife of his adopted son, caused accusations of incest. Attacking Mormonism for being a “new” religion compared to Judaism (4000 years old) and Christianity (2000 years old), why not a word about Islam, which while not as young as Mormonism is still “young” compared to Judaism and Christianity?

Anyone, anyone?

Of course we all know the answer. When O’Donnell started down this anti-Mormon path when Romney first was running for president in 2007, the MSNBC host went on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, where the perceptive Mr. Hewitt challenged O’Donnell on exactly why he didn’t go after Muslims like he did Mormons. Here… really… the Hewitt-O’Donnell exchange from December of 2007:

Hewitt: Would you say the same things about Mohammed as you just said about Joseph Smith?

O’Donnell: Oh, well, I’m afraid of what the…that’s where I’m really afraid. I would like to criticize Islam much more than I do publicly, but I’m afraid for my life if I do.

Hewitt: Well, that’s candid.

O’Donnell: Mormons are the nicest people in the world. They’re not going to ever…

Hewitt: So you can be bigoted towards Mormons, because they’ll just send you a strudel.

O’Donnell: They’ll never take a shot at me. Those other people, I’m not going to say a word about them.

Hewitt: They’ll send you a strudel. The Mormons will bake you a cake and be nice to you.

O’Donnell: I agree.

Hewitt: Lawrence O’Donnell, I appreciate your candor.

So there it is.

O’Donnell says it straight out. He’d actually speak up about Islamic fundamentalists but he’s “really afraid” to do so. But Mormons? They’re so nice he doesn’t have to worry!

Thus, he feels free to savage Romney’s faith as a collection of over-married racists, of which the potential next president of the United States is a card carrying member. Not Harry Reid, mind you. Just Mitt Romney.

Simple bald-faced hypocrisy, yes.

But hypocrisy alone rarely loses elections.

What can lose an election is when one side is ready to play what it believes to be, in Frank Rich’s words, “the big dog” of issues. The political deal-clincher for undecided voters. And is suddenly forced to abandon the issue completely, the deal-clincher suddenly neutralized completely when not becoming a deal-breaker. Which, in the 2012 race, means the issue that will still be least favorable to Obama — the dominating issue of the day — is his record. Or, in the immortal words of James Carville, the economy, stupid.

O’Donnell has cited Gallup polling data claiming that 22% of the American people say they would be reluctant to vote for a Mormon.

When they find out that Democrats have elected a Mormon to lead them in the United States Senate for over a dozen years — there will be a one word answer to all of this nonsense.

A word from the world of chess.

Checkmate.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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