Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rolling the dice with Mitt

Still wondering what makes Mitt Romney tick? Writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Laurie Winer tours LDS history and uncovers some clues. She writes that unlike other Christian sects, the Mormons were borne of recent history -- one that unfolded in full view of witnesses and documentarians. Ergo, there are few biblical fig leafs to obscure the traditional half-truths. That means, Winer says, Mormonism demands a different kind of faith. It asks its members to ignore or not believe "wide swatches" of American history. "To believe Mormonism is true depends on a mindset that downplays intellectual openness in the name of obedience, even obedience to doctrines that might change in an instant." This is because founder Joseph Smith was well-known for frequently rearranging the LDS deck chairs on a whim. Winer notes that Smith and Romney share "an ability to shape-shift without anguish, a refusal or inability to see those shifts as hypocrisy, and what looks like a full belief in whatever they are saying, until it comes time to say something else." This may help explain Romney's "etch-a-sketch" beliefs. I don't care how or why Romney practices his faith. Though he is devout, he's unlikely to go all Pope Borgia on us if elected. But his penchant for seeing black as white (or vice versa) without questioning the illogic is worrisome. That is a clue to a narrowness of mind, one possibly closed off to fresh thinking or even seeing the world as it is. I mean, does it bother anyone that Romney has called Russia our pre-eminent foe even though the Cold War ended 20 years ago? Given that Sarah Palin, too, had a viable shot at a White House slot only 4 years ago, why do our elections increasingly resemble Russian roulette?

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