Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Mormon in the White House?

I just finished reading A Mormon in the White House? by Hugh Hewitt. I'm glad I read the book and I do feel like I understand a little more about Mitt Romney's positions on certain issues. I simply felt that the book really offered no strong reasons for me to change my opinions on the issues.
The better part of the book was a biography of Mitt and his family and said little about his politics. The first third of the book is entirely about his life at Bain and then later as chairman of the Salt Lake Olympic committee. Clearly Romney is a successful businessman and very good at building strong teams in business and as the Olympic organizer. I offer little criticism of these traits. I would have liked to have heard more about how Romney had to work with the Massachusetts political machine as Governor.
The chapters that did detail his political stances were sufficient to persuade conservatives that he is one of them, but didn't address his inconsistencies thoroughly enough to convince me that he was truly dedicated to he current stances. Personally these chapters only confirmed that on social issues Romney is very big government. Ironically, he is from the party that typically touts states right. Yet on issue after issue he thinks that those rights should be federalized and taken from the states. Without stating what constitutional authority the federal government should use to usurp this power from the states Hewitt justifies all of Romney's social agenda, from his healthcare plan to opposing abortion and gay marriage.
Much of the book was very disjointed. Hewitt would go out of the way to tell stories that he felt were important but failed to tie them in to his theme. In his introduction he goes out of the way to tell about a dinner he had with Arnold Schwarzenegger. When asked Arnold refused to give an opinion on whether he thought Romney's religion would be an issue. Why would Hewitt go out of the way to quote somebody who didn't have an opinion? Since the Governator (Hewitt's joke not mine p.12) had nothing to add to the conversation, personally it just seemed like he was name dropping.
There is a whole chapter detailing George Romney's (Mitt's Father's) presidential campaign. Nothing in this chapter says anything directly about Mitt more than just the fact that he supported and worked on his father's campaign. In the last pages the insinuation is made that Mitt received the report of his father's failed campaign and he will learn from it. I accept this as valuable information that could help his current campaign. My only hesitation in accepting it fully is that if Hewitt would have us accept Mitt having been involved in the failed presidential campaign of a family member as an asset then would he also accept that being involved in two "successful" presidential campaigns of a family as an asset for Hillary? I seriously doubt it. His logic fails for me on that point. If I accept this logic for Romney I must also accept it for Hillary.
If non-Mormons read Chapter 10, the best of the book, with an open mind I believe that many of the conservatives who would vote against Romney just because he is Mormon would have their concerns answered. Hewitt basically asked potential voters to ignore the theological differences and do what I always refer to as the "fruits test". Romney challenges his audience to look at how he lives his life and then make the decision as to whether or not he is a "Christian". I applaud this strategy and I use it frequently in my own life. Let’s not argue about the semantics. Let’s discuss behavior. Romney still has the best one-liner of the debates. When his religion was questioned he simply pointed out that he was the only one on the stage who had only had one wife.
Although there were parts of the book that I enjoyed I did not find anything in it to convince me that he deserves my vote. I share his faith and I share a few of his economic political stances. However, I do not share any of his big government social agendas.
I recently took a quiz on ontheissues.org. Based on 20 issue questions and a ranking on how important each was to me it ranked the currently announced 19 candidates in both major parties. Romney was tied for last place with 3 other Republicans. We agreed on 10% of economic issues and 0% on social issues. Nothing in this book was able to convince me that I should change my stance on any of the 20 issues questioned.


  1. Thanks for reading the book and letting me know your thoughts!

  2. Granny Sue10:44 AM

    I have also read the book and found it quite good. I doubt that anyone running will fill all of my personal requirements for president but Romney is my first choice and Fred Thompson my second.

  3. It surprises me that you would pick a conservative and a moderate as your first and second choices. I would have thought that your first few choices would have been grouped together on the political spectrum. If you actually look at the issues Fred Thompson ranks more moderate that Giuliani who many accuse of being a RINO. Tommy Thompson’s and Mike Huckabee’s positions on the issues rank closer to Romney’s than Fred Thompson’s.