Correspondence

Imagination Deficit

Dear Mr. Romney:

In spite of the Herculean labors of their spin doctors, politicians on the stump often say stupid things in the heat of the moment, and you are probably right to resent the unfairness of journalists who exaggerate the importance of such mundane stupidities.  But rarely are politicians’ unconsidered remarks so remarkably unconsidered as your own attempt, in a 60 Minutes interview this summer, to distance yourself from the polygamous practices of your Mormon ancestors.  When questioned on the issue by Mike Wallace, you stated,

I have a great-great grandfather.  They were trying to build a generation out there in the desert.  And so he took additional wives, as he was told to do.  And I must admit, I can’t imagine anything more awful than polygamy.

In the interest of fair play, Mr. Romney, I will extend to you the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps you have in your possession some old letters passed down to you, or a diary, maybe, in which your great-great-grandfather reveals that he entered into polygamous relations (polygynous, strictly speaking) only because he was instructed to, presumably by Mormon religious authorities.  You implied that he had no choice, that he “took additional wives” reluctantly.  Perhaps that is true, but, the masculine nature being what it is, what sort of a man, Mr. Romney, would only reluctantly accept a guilt-free...

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