Is Mitt Romney honest? An LDS perspective.

I just discovered that my blog posting from last Friday, titled, The Mormon Case Against Romney, was picked up and published in its entirety by The Free Republic blog. And was commented on in a lively discussion, with comments such as:
“This guy nailed Bishop Romney to a tee.”
“This article should be bookmarked and presented as rebuttal to every clown who argues that a man’s faith is not important in determining his qualifications for public office.”
“Kudos to this man for having the guts to be honest about the liberal Romney.”

I like the idea of getting traction with my opinions. But I feel a little unusual about my position here and was reflecting on what I wrote, the reaction to it, and how I feel about it now. And added into the mix is a report I heard that was read by Rush Limbaugh today on his show. One of Mitt’s Massachusetts strategists, Mike Murphy, was quoted as saying, that, in his Massachusetts campaign, Mitt was “a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly.” Rush then went on to quote from a New York Times story which claimed that, “By 2005, with Mr. Romney eyeing a possible presidential bid, he began to distance himself from his abortion rights platform. ‘My political philosophy is pro-life,’ he told National Review, a conservative magazine, in an article that June.”

Here’s my problem. As a boy, one of my childhood heroes was the boy in Hans Christian Andersen’s famous story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” As being apparently close to my age, I identified with him and admired his naive courage, and wanted to be like that when I grew up. And I’ve been like that, which has sometimes gotten me in trouble because courage like that isn’t always appreciated. There is a good reason most people don’t say things like that – it does get you into trouble sometimes. And in the spirit of that story, let me go a step beyond what I said last Friday and declare to you LDS folk: There is a great disconnect between how you view Mitt Romney and how the rest of the people view him. A lot of my  LDS friends may not be able to go there. Mitt is a good, active, LDS man with a temple recommend. Well, the trouble is my hero, that boy who saw the emperor in his underwear, and if I want to be like him I need to call them like I see them. As I read material written by non-LDS conservatives, that is the impression they have.

I think a lot of LDS people should take a deep breath and look at this situation as dispassionately as you can. You want to think there is anti-Mormon bigotry at play here, and that is why he can’t get above 30% of the vote. Reall?? You think 70% of Republicans are anti-Mormon bigots? You have to know that can’t be true. Yes, there is some of that. But there is a hard core of people that hate anyone in the public eye. They all have dirt spread around about them, and there’s a certain percentage of unfavorable that any candidate has to deal with.

If you’re having trouble with this, read those comments on The Free Republic and read what some others are saying about Romney. There are jokes going around about Romney’s insincerity. One, told at CPAC, goes like this:

“A liberal, a moderate, and a conservative walk into the bar, and the bartender says, ‘Hi Mitt.'”

When I first read this joke, it actually took me a couple of minutes to get it. I thought the ending was left off. No, that is the whole joke. It was told by one of the speakers, not one of the candidates, at CPAC. And it was repeated last night by political consultant Dick Morris as he was interviewed by Sean Hannity. Like it or not that is a very common perception. Not among LDS people, but among the rest of the country.

In 2008, when he was interviewed by Tim Russert, Tim brought out a pair of flip-flops and asked Romney to explain his reputation as a flip-flopper. “Unfair,” you say. As a Latter-day Saint, you understand him, forgive him for any past mistakes, or however you view it. But you need to face up to the fact that this is his reputation.

On his pro-life stance: One of his strategists in Massachusetts said he was “faking it” as a pro-choice governor, and only converted to pro-life as he contemplated a run for the presidency. As a Latter-day Saint, you can’t believe that – it was a sincere conversion, just as he said.

Others are accusing him of fostering vicious attacks against his opponents through his political action committees and they want him to speak up and ask those friends of his to stop. He won’t do that simple act. You accept his explanation that there is nothing he can do about what his friends do. Others don’t accept that and think it would be a simple thing for him to make a public statement asking them to stop.

Others attack Romneycare as an awful, government-centric health care mistake and they can see little difference between Romneycare and Obamacare. One is on a state level. The other is on a federal level. To many that’s a minor difference. To the faithful LDS person, to quote one who spoke to me about it, “That’s Huge!!” Okay, to you it may be. Others can’t see the huge difference.

Others say that his campaign is fundamentally deceptive. A typical politician, they see, who grooms his position to fit his audience. He’s really a moderate, but he tries to pass himself off as the most conservative candidate in the race. He’s the establishment favorite, but to listen to his speeches, he’s an outsider. You don’t see it that way. You understand he’s doing what he has to do, and you believe he is truly honest and upright. Others think he’s just a typical politician.

So think about this, you LDS faithful. Is this the face you want on the first Mormon chosen as the nominee of a major political party for President? We have Harry Reid, who, as far as I know, is also a temple-recommend-holding faithful member. And then, from the other side of the aisle, Mitt. Would that be good for the Church, to have that reputation dogging another prominent Mormon? There is a great disconnect between how you perceive him and how the rest of the country perceives him. Can you at least feel a little queasy about him having that kind of reputation? A flip-flopper? A fundamentally deceptive campaigner? A typical politician? And we could add, ruthless? Think it through. Think it through really carefully. The stakes are high.

Click here to visit the Liberty Musings conservative politics home page.

About mesasmiles

By Dr. David Hall. Dr. Hall runs Infinity Dental Web, a small company that does Internet marketing for dentists. He has had a long-standing interest in politics and as a college student toyed with the idea of a political career.
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One Response to Is Mitt Romney honest? An LDS perspective.

  1. Craig Lund says:

    I am LDS and I throw my support behind Mitt Romney, not because we share a religion but because he is the best for the country at THIS time. I would not vote for Harry Reid, he is Mormon and I would not have voted for John Hunstman, he is Mormon. Religion does not play into my vote for President. I am not understanding this concept that Mitt Romney is somehow dishonest because he is proclaiming to be a conservative and some feel he is a moderate. This to me is a matter of opinion not a clear black and white that you can deem someone as dishonest for. When Mitt ran 4 years ago he was the CONSERVATIVE choice to John McCain, it is funny to see how now he is portrayed as a MODERATE and others are the CONSERVATIVE choice. To say he is dishonest is a little much for me and too gray to define such an accusation. The facts are he may be more Fiscally Conservative than Socially but we need a Fiscally Conservative candidate deeply. Our country is in financial chaos and his entire-life has been spent as a “turnaround artist” which is exactly what this country needs at this time. The comment that he cant get above 30% is just as funny as the comment I also hear that 70% of the people don’t vote for him. Well in Nevada 90% didn’t vote for Rick, 79% didn’t vote for Newt, In ME, FL, and NH it was a similar result. You have to also look at it in-regards to the other candidates as well. There are 4 candidates running, the vote is spread over 4 people so this argument of he cant get over 50% that you hear is also a little outlandish.

    I feel you are creating a definition for conservatism and what makes one a “conservative” that may not be the same definition for all conservatives. I consider myself a conservative but who knows you may define me as a moderate. If changing your mind from one position to the other as Mitt did on abortion means you can’t be a conservative then maybe I am not one. I have heard his explanation for his change and I am okay with the explanation. Here is a thought though, as the Governor of a State you represent the people of the State, so shouldn’t you Govern for the people? Not for your own personal agenda. If you look at it in that light, Romney did what he was suppose to do. He prioritized items of importance and compromised on certain issues to pass other issue he felt needed attention.

    My opinion is you are bringing religion too much into this campaign and blog. Almost scrutinizing Mitt for being a member. You are also generalizing any Mormon who is voting for Mitt and that is the wrong approach. I do not agree with all of his stances but I agree with what I feel is the most important stances for out time. If your not a conservative in business you go out of business. He is fiscally conservative and that is why my vote will be casted for Romney.

    Response by David Hall:
    Thanks for your well-reasoned comments.

    While you feel you are not for Romney because he is LDS, I think that being LDS colors your view of him. It probably colors my view of him also. And while I spoke of his honesty, and I think that many non-LDS people view him as not honest, in my view it is more a matter of a lack of political courage that I see in him. And I do not think he is fiscally conservative or has a conservative view of the reach of government power. I think that, while he understands somewhat the current political climate, that his instincts are to grow government. He has a desire to cut the waste in government, but I think he does not see the threat in the growth of government that I see or that many other conservatives see. I do not see in him the passion for personal liberty that Rick Santorum has. Do you?

    On the percentages of the vote, I think you are missing the point. It’s not the actual vote totals I’m talking about, but the apparent ceiling on the vote totals. With the aura of inevitability that was created around the Romney candidacy, he should have done much better than he did. We don’t yet know Rick Santorum’s ceiling, because he has never been anointed by the pundits as the inevitable nominee. But Romney at one point was and STILL seemed to struggle to get above that 30-40% mark. You have to try to see that there is very little actual enthusiasm for Romney outside of the LDS community. It was more like a resigned feeling that he was the best we were going to get this time around. It’s hard to get outside your personal opinions and see that, but I will tell you that it is a very real enthusiasm gap. But we’ll see what happens now if Rick Santorum can get momentum going, because he seems to be able to generate some widespread enthusiasm.

    Reply by Craig Lund

    You state that being LDS colors my views of Mitt. I can not disagree with you more. As stated earlier, I feel that you are generalizing and suggesting that because he is LDS and I am LDS; he receives less scrutiny in my judgement of who I feel is best to lead this country. I will state it again, religion is not a factor in MY selection for the right candidate. For others that may not be the case but please do not generalize everyone under the LDS faith when writing in-regards to this topic. I would not have voted for Jon Huntsman and I disapprove of Harry Reid. Both are LDS and receive no favoritism for sharing my faith. My education, studies, and work experience are what leads me to selecting what I feel is the right candidate. I can not think of any better resume for the next President than someone who has been the Owner of a Private Equity firm and who had tremendous success, who has the experience of Governing, and has shown great ability to turn things around, such as the Olympics. All the remaining candidates are Millionaires, as they usually are, Mitt is by far the wealthiest and deserves every penny. He is however the only 1 out of the 4 remaining candidates who has received his wealth in the Private Sector and not through the gains received for being a life-time politician in Washington. This is a very attractive resume for me. I stated that I feel this country is in Fiscal chaos, and for me his Private Sector experience is needed. Business owners understand the consequences of tax policies, regulations, and economic cycles. Especially Private Equity firms. I also am wondering why you are not talking about some of this issues Rick has, and why you don’t label him Dishonest? Rick: Voted against National Right to Work Act Voted against Real of Davis-Bacon Prevailing union wages Voted for Alexis Herman to be Secretary of Labor Voted for mandatory Federal child care funding Voted for Trade Adjustment Assistance. Voted for Job Corps funding Voted twice in support of Fedex Unionization Voted against allowing a waiver of Davis-Bacon in emergency situations. Voted for minimum wage increases six times here here here here here and here Voted to require a union representative on an IRS oversight board. Voted to exempt IRS union representative from criminal ethics laws. Voted against creating independent Board of Governors to investigate IRS abuses. Rick Santorum’s wife opted to sue her chiropractor for $500,000 because she “gained weight”. Senator Santorum was stumping for a $250,000 cap on medical malpractice suits. She settled for $350,000 reportedly. These are just some examples. My point is you characterize Romney as dishonest because you stated, “If Romney were so honest, he would portray himself as a moderate. But he’s not. He’s trying to portray himself as the most conservative. ” I can state the same case for Rick, so my question is, does that make Rick dishonest? My opinion is no, because its just that an opinion, not a black and white fact. So I would just urge you to either hesitate from calling him dishonest or understand that it can be applied to Rick, Newt, and Paul because it is a matter of opinion. I do respect your opinion but do not like the generalization. I am sure there are plenty in the church that find his shared faith as a plus but to suggest they are voting for him strictly because of faith, I would disagree with. I do not think you would see the same result with Harry Reid running for President.

    And Another Response by David Hall

    Really? You are LDS and it doesn’t color you views? I don’t know how you do that. For me, it colors just about everything.

    Your comments are thoughtful and I appreciate them.

    Click here to visit the Liberty Musings conservative politics home page.

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