FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Obama Campaign: That Mitt Romney Comes From A Strange Family
Dispatches from the Meme Wars. Part II.
Last week we pointed out the Obama re-election strategy of criticizing his wealth and religion.
After two false starts, one castigating Ann Romney for her decision to be a stay at home Mom — part of their War on Women theme — and another calling into question the reason there is a dog in the White House, one would think that the White House might try to refine their strategy a bit. But the White House is nothing if not consistent.
On Friday they dispatched the hapless Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) to The Daily Beast reprise the War on Women attack and to criticize Romney’s religion.
While discussing swing states, Schweitzer said Romney would have a “tall order to position Hispanics to vote for him,” and I replied that was mildly ironic since Mitt’s father was born in Mexico, giving the clan a nominal claim to being Hispanic. Schweitzer replied that it is “kinda ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy.” Women, he said, are “not great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico.”
This attack is hilariously wrong on many levels.
First, it is Obama, not Mitt Romney, who has a problem with women. This shouldn’t be surprising. Obama is the candidate who has singlehandedly devastated the female workforce in this country. Of the 740K jobs lost since Obama took office, 683K were held by women. This is a number that even the simpleton Glenn Kessler can’t argue with and is reduced to calling it “true but false.”
Saying that Romney’s father “came from a polygamy commune in Mexico” makes about as much sense as saying that Schweitzer comes from a state where “the men are men and the sheep are nervous.” It is perhaps amusing, but at least in the case of Romney’s father, irrelevant as Mitt Romney’s grandfather who moved to Mexico was not polygamous.
Even though at a point in his genealogy Mitt Romney can find a polygamist, it is hard to see how this would hurt Romney with women voters considering Barack Obama’s father was a run of the mill bigamist descended from a line of polygamist and wife-beaters.
The line of polygamists in Obama’s family can be traced back generations in western Kenya, where it was an accepted practice within the Luo (pronounced LOO-oh) tribe. His great-grandfather, Obama Opiyo, had five wives, including two who were sisters. His grandfather, Hussein Onyango, had at least four wives, one of whom, Akumu, gave birth to the president’s father, Barack Obama, before fleeing her abusive husband. Obama Sr. was already married when he left Kenya to study at the University of Hawaii, where he married again. His American wife-to-be, Stanley Ann Dunham, was not yet 18 and unaware of his marital situation when she became pregnant with his namesake son in 1961.
It is difficult to see how this line of attack has helped the Obama campaign. Even though the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake thinks Schweitzer’s statement was major hit on Romney:
But despite Schweitzer’s overly blunt and inartful phrasing, it’s worth looking at the broader point he was trying to make.
The truth is that Romney should be able to draw on his personal history for ammunition to fight back on issues such as the Latino vote and his image as a fat-cat businessman. But in both cases, fighting back would require reminding people that he’s a Mormon.
(Gee, Aaron, in most circles this is technically called “bigotry.” It is a “gutsy call” on your part to admit what you are.)
The fact that this attack hasn’t resurfaced is an indication that it didn’t get the desired effect.
A free bit of advice to you Democrats. If you are going to try to portray your political opponent as some variety of “the other” you need to make sure that your own candidate didn’t register for school as a muslim and hasn’t bragged about eating dog. If you are going to criticize a man because his great-grandfather observed a now-discarded marital practice with a long history make sure your guy isn’t the by-blow of a bigamist marriage and make sure your party isn’t the one pushing to make the rather bizarre practice of homosexual marriage normative.