The Associated Press has done some research–it isn’t hard in the genealogy-conscious Mormon Church–and has found that, sure enough, Mitt Romney had ancestors who were polygamists:
While Mitt Romney condemns polygamy and its prior practice by his Mormon church, the Republican presidential candidate’s great-grandfather had five wives and at least one of his great-great grandfathers had 12.
Polygamy was not just a historical footnote, but a prominent element in the family tree of the former Massachusetts governor now seeking to become the first Mormon president.
Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, married his fifth wife in 1897. That was more than six years after Mormon leaders banned polygamy and more than three decades after a federal law barred the practice.
For extra credit, consider the intended significance of the dependent clause that begins the AP’s first sentence.
Normally, the press doesn’t have much interest in the foibles of candidates’ ancestors. You didn’t have to go far back in Bill Clinton’s family tree to find discreditable conduct, and Rudy Giuliani’s father was a part-time petty criminal who served time in prison. Yet the media either ignores these antecedents entirely, or else credits the candidate with rising above them.
Why, then, this interest in Romney’s great- and great-great grandfathers? It gives the press an opportunity to take a pot shot at Romney’s religion. He is a Mormon, and Mormons are Weird; the best evidence of this proposition is their former practice of polygamy. (Yet to come are articles on how the Mormons once discriminated against African-Americans. Watch for it: “While Mitt Romney insists that he himself is not a racist, … “)
There is something odd, though, about trying to hang the polygamy albatross around Romney’s neck. One of the obvious differences between Romney and his Republican rivals is that Mitt is the only one who has been married just once. So isn’t the polygamy rap a bit unfair?
I’m old enough to remember when it was commonly believed that a man who had been divorced couldn’t be elected President. (I believe Ronald Reagan was the first.) In today’s world, though, it’s Romney’s life-long monogamy that is a bit Weird, especially given the fact that the Romneys have five children. Polygamy a hundred years ago, monogamy today: that Romney character is a little Weird all the way around.
Via Power Line News.
UPDATE: Several readers have pointed out that Barack Obama’s father was a bigamist. Somehow, though, there doesn’t seem to be any interest in this story, even though it’s several generations closer in time.
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