Mitt Romney, All American
The other night, the impossible happened: We learned something new about Mitt Romney.
It was near the end of Iowa Night, and Lawrence O’Donnell, discussing Rick Santorum’s Italian-grandfather anecdote, observed that in politics, you don’t say things like that by chance. In Santorum’s case, you say that to draw implicit contrast with somebody else’s grandfather. Or, in this case, great-grandfather.
The story, briefly, goes like this: Mitt’s great-grandfather Miles Romney was an old-school Mormon. A Big Love Mormon. A Mormon who bequeaths you not just a great-grandfather and great-grandmother, but a lot of step-great-grandmothers, whatever you call them.
(And what do you call them? Love Grannies?)
When Congress passed a law defending Singular Opposite Marriage in 1882, Great-Grandpa Romney saw this as a violation of God’s Will — and promptly skipped the country with his three wives. Landed in Mexico. Where George Romney, Mitt’s dad and the Romney some of us grew up with, was born in 1907.
That’s right: 1968 Presidential candidate George Romney was Mexican. So to speak. The technicality offered at the time was that the family of potential felons on the lam had kept their U.S. citizenship. Not that anybody cared. George’s campaign was a bust.
By all rights, Mitt should have been Mexican, too: The family didn’t intend to return to America. But a certain revolution got in the way, and they hopped a train north to safety in 1912. Happy centennial, Romney clan!
Which is all well and good, and more than a little amusing. But what do we do with this information?
Well, if it was anybody else, in any other context, here’s what we would do: We’d celebrate it.
Those of us who aren’t of the land, came here from somewhere else. Adventurers, misfits, pilgrims, slaves — we all have our family stories. And here we are, survivors of other people’s lives. If that doesn’t always unite us, it certainly characterizes us. America, Land of the Mutts.
So your great-grandpa was a polygamist who fled America for Mexico, then fled Mexico for America? That’s awesome, dude! Next round’s on us!
Only Mitt Romney can’t tell us that. He can’t tell us that because he’s running for President. He can’t tell us that because he’s too wrapped up in his faith to see the humanity that underlies it. He can’t tell us that because he’s ashamed for something that happened before his time, which he fears will reflect upon him today. Mitt Romney, who incessantly panders to American nationalism, can’t tell us about the one thing that makes him as American as the rest of us.
What do we do with this information? The only thing we can do: Advise Mitt to quit this silly business of running for President and discover his true calling as a stand-up comedian.