Mitt Romney’s Mormon Problem

Well, today’s M Day. Mitt’s Mormon Monologue day. And it’s appropriate, as Mitt Romney’s Mormonism can be argued to be at the root of his recent illegal alien problem.

Some time ago, the Boston Globe did a story on Mitt Romney’s lawn — and the company he hires to take care of it. It’s owned by a Mr. Saenz, a (legal) immigrant and fellow Mormon. (I believe he’s from Colombia.)

Well, the Boston Globe had a hunch about the immigration status of some of Mr. Saenz’ employees, so it put three reporters on the case. One of them even went to Mexico to interview one of the workers, and yup — several of them were illegal. Romney, naturally, was embarrassed and said it wouldn’t happen again.

But it did. Mr. Saenz kept working for Romney, and kept sending illegal aliens to his house.

And the Globe did the predictable followup, and busted them. Again.

I believe at least a part of Romney’s problem here is his religion. Not any particular tenet of Mormonism, but the fact that Mr. Saenz is also a Mormon. Romney met Mr. Saenz through the church, and later hired his company, “Community Lawn Service With A Heart.” (The guy’s business card must be incredibly crowded.) And after the first mess, reports say that Romney did fire Saenz, but he begged for a second chance — and enlisted one of Romney’s sons to lobby for him. Mitt relented, and now it has turned around and bit him on the ass.

This, I think, is probably the only way Romney’s Mormonism might affect his presidency. I don’t think there’s some “Mormon agenda” he’s going to put in place the instant he gets elected. I don’t see a host of new laws enforcing “magic underwear” or declaring a government war on caffeine.

On the other hand, it appears he has a little bit of a blind spot when it comes to his fellow Mormons. He seems to invest a smidgen too much trust in them. That could be a serious problem were he to be elected, as there are several other Mormons in positions of power — the most prominent one has to be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Romney’s inclination to put a great deal of trust and faith in the good will of his fellow adherents could lead him to make some serious blunders.

It’s an understandable flaw. I’m an agnostic, and find that most religions have some elements that… how can I put it delicately… “require faith.” To put it more candidly, require its adherents to believe a lot of things that are downright absurd. And among all the major faiths in the US, Mormonism is probably the most giggle-inspiring. (South Park did a huge number on that.)

But that’s Mormonism, and I reject that. But I don’t reject Mormons.

Pretty much every single Mormon I’ve ever met has been upright, decent, honorable, respectful, and nice. Consequently, I tend to trust Mormons to behave themselves and do the right thing in most cases.

(And I really think they need to stop sending out their young people on missionary work with name tags pronouncing them “Elders.” It’s hard to not giggle when talking with a young, earnest, fresh-faced kid less than half your age who calls himself “Elder Smith.”)

I, personally, don’t feel the need to hear Romney speak on his religion. He’s not running for Deacon or Bishop or whatever the Mormon equivalent of Pope is, and he’s already shown he can govern without pushing the “Mormon Agenda.” The only element I question is his tendency to put a wee bit too much trust in people who don’t deserve it, solely because they are fellow Mormons — and I think Romney’s learned that lesson the hard way.

But he’ll make his speech, and it will be hailed as a milestone by his supporters and a desperation play — a failed one — by his detractors. In fact, I’m sure half of them have their accounts of his speech already written up, waiting for quotes from the speech to cut and paste in appropriate places.

And in the end, will it matter? Will it make any difference at all?

I dunno. Unlike those I mentioned above, I’m going to wait and see.

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