Friday, November 25, 2011

Mitt Romney: The Ziploc Candidacy

The Republican Party has been looking to clone Ronald Reagan for a long time now. Reagan, as you recall, was often depicted as the Teflon president because no scandal could tarnish him.

Ronald Reagan wasn't the only president to earn that moniker, Bill Clinton did, too, except Clinton was quickly shown to be made not of teflon, but flesh and blood.

Those who are looking for teflon can celebrate. They may have found their man, only this time in a ziploc bag. Mitt Romney manages to keep his lips sealed on important subjects, and in such an imperial way, delivering a smile as if it were a swagger, and all the time escaping scrutiny.

Pundits on both the left and the right have long inveighed against his flip flopping on choice, and other issues, but the media focus has consistently been on what Romney has said, and not what he hasn't which is where the spotlight rightly belongs.

For one thing, the former Massachusetts governor hasn't said what role religion plays in his life. He hasn't divulged how much he earned in 2010, or any year in which he ran for elected office, and has been equally taciturn about his campaign contributors.

Another politician from Massachusetts, then-Senator Jack Kennedy, when he ran for president in 1960, emphasized the constitutional proscription against a religious test for elected office. A candidate's belief system, whether it's Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim assuredly has no place when considering how qualified he or she may be to be in the White House. But, it's not religion that's at issue here, it's transparency, and the degree to which religion is a force, and/or a factor, in a prospective president's life.

Importantly, too, when he ran for president as senator from Massachusetts, JFK also said that if, at any point as president, his religious beliefs impacted his actions as commander-in-chief, he would immediately step down. A laudable comment, and one conspicuously missing from the mouth of candidate Romney.

When it comes to both his religion and his finances, Mr. Romney has kept his counsel in a ziploc bag, and sealed it tight.

Romney has also, quite remarkably, managed to keep his tax returns quiet, too.

While the press has given the ziploc candidate a pass when it comes to his tax returns, and campaign contributions, one wonders whether, if pressed, Romney would be able to say as Jack Kennedy did that his religious worldview would not influence how he governs and if it did, he'd be prepared to step down.

Keep in mind that the former governor of Massachusetts is not just an elder in his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he is a Temple Mormon, and he is also a high priest. Thus, any oath of office Romney takes is secondary to his oath of obedience to his church.

In order to become a member of the temple in the first place, he had to swear his allegiance to the Prophet, or church leader, who is currently Thomas S. Monson. Were he to become the commander-in-chief, Mr. Romney would essentially be consulting the same God George W. Bush did, but instead a real live human being, so the U.S. would effectively become the kind of theocracy that we condemn in Iran.

Of course, there is an important difference. We have a Constitution. Notably, though the Mormon church has vigorously disputed the notion of the White Horse Prophecy as church doctrine, as has Mr. Romney, many believe the prophecy is still very much in play.

It might be instructive then to take a quick look at Latter Day Saints founder, Joseph Smith, Jr.'s teaching that when the time comes that the U.S. Constitution is "hanging by a thread," latter day saints will come along to save the Constitution, thereby converting this country not just into a theocracy, but a theocracy under the thumb of LDS. This view of the Constitution as a damsel in distress has also been espoused by Brigham Young, as well as Sen. Orrin Hatch, and right wing talk show host, Glenn Beck. The savior, of course, is a bunch of saints on white chargers.

While it's no longer permissible for Mormons to practice polygamy, the concept is still alive and well in the "celestial kingdoms" where men become gods of their own planets. The Mormon god is named Elohim, and he is said to reside on a planet near a star called Kolob. There are many gods in Mormonism, but Elohim is the only one worthy of worship; Jesus and Lucifer are seen as brothers. The Mormon church also teaches that "black-skinned people are of inferior origins."

Then, of course, there's the Oath of Vengeance in which blood that is spilled is avenged by the shedding of one's own blood, a form of ecclesiastical asymmetric warfare.

One of the key advantages of keeping his lips sealed is that, as Raw Story reports, Romney's faith is proving not to be a costly matter for his candidacy. While many polled, especially evangelical Christians, claim to be concerned about Romney's Mormonism, ironically those who have expressed the greatest agitation are Romney's staunchest supporters.

Importantly, too, Mitt Romney isn't the only Mormon running for president. Utah's former governor, Jon Huntsman, is a practicing Mormon, too. Aside from being Mormon, both Romney and Huntsman are blue bloods, and would be about as concerned with workers' rights as J.R. Ewing.

As a candidate, Romney has been poker-faced, hiding whatever corporate, or corporal transgressions he may have behind that million dollar smile, and deep inside a ziploc bag. But, a ziploc bag is transparent, Romney isn't, and religion isn't the only thing he isn't transparent about.

Romney is just as secretive about his business practices. He touts his experience in the private sector, but doesn't say that, as head of Bain Capital, his policy of leveraged buyouts resulted in thousands of pink slips. Another senator from Massachusetts, Teddy Kennedy, successfully exposed Romney's dubious business practices back in 1994 during the Massachusetts Senate race. At that time, too, Romney used his personal wealth as a way to buy his way into office. Only it didn't work because of Sen. Kennedy's diligence in exposing what was really behind the Romney campaign. The capital gains of big business at the expense of unions and labor.

If he were here now, Sen. Ted Kennedy might want to remind us again of the Latter Day Saints former policy of not admitting blacks into the priesthood, as well as the fact, as reports, that Bain Capital got a $10 million bailout from the FDIC back in 1993; so much for Mr. Romney's business acumen.

Here's hoping Romney's prodigious loss to Ted Kennedy in the Massachusetts Senate race may be a harbinger for Romney's defeat to Obama in the 2012 presidential race.

For, as Sen. Kennedy said, elected officials are public servants, and Mitt Romney is no public servant. He serves big business. The only time Romney is transparent is when he argues that "corporations are people,too." He thinks that when corporations are happy, you and I are happy. Sound familiar? The Republican Party has found their Reagan clone who can only be defeated by the truth, the truth that big business, and big money don't trickle down.

Mitt Romney will, in the end, prevail and be his party's nominee. And, if the press does its job, he will be defeated in 2012, just like he was in 1994, not because he's a high priest of the Mormon church, but because he's the high priest of profit and profiteering. If we learn nothing else from the 99 movement it's that that kind of thinking doesn't work anymore.

Don't be deceived. Danger lurks beneath that ziplock smile.