The NY Magazine article by Frank Rich reads like a mystery story. The mystery is why it’s a mystery: who is this plastic Mitt Romney?
The answer isn’t so difficult to understand. He’s nobody.
At least, that’s my opinion. He’s the consummate Mormon, a family man, wealthy, glib, but guarded. This isn’t something odd or new. It’s Mormon tradition. Mormons have always had something to hide.
When I think of Mormons in high places, I think of the idea of placing people where they can influence politics. You don’t need to fill all the seats, only a small percentage is necessary to exert control, and Mormons do like control.
In 1861, Sir Richard Francis Burton visited the Mormons, and was disappointed at how little they would reveal to him. The church was naturally persecuted for their odd views of plural marriage and strange practices – secret practices much derived from Masonry.
In modern times, there are secret handshakes and life-threatening vows as well as group chants such as “Pe Le Ale!” and who wouldn’t be a little nervous that the general population might find these things out? Much of this has been watered down a bit from the earlier practices because it was shocking even to the members. No longer are the members touched on their bodies through the slits of their tunics.
“Milk before meat,” they say, and the missionaries give you a pre-recorded session of teachings that are suitably whitewashed for non-Mormons. You will never get the meat, and from the apparent ignorance of the missionaries, they never got it, either. In fact, the deciding factor of many Mormons who left their faith was knowledge of their own church and practices and history.
Catholic priests wear the collar and nuns wear the habit. The Pope dresses in Medieval clothing. Orthodox priests wear funny hats. Orthodox Jews have dreadlocks. The Mormons have no paid clergy, so they say, and the missionaries wear business suits. But even the Mormons’ clothing represents their reticence to show themselves to the world. The magic underwear. What other religion wears specifically religious clothing where it cannot be seen?
How much money does the Mormon church take in? How much money is involved in the Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? We’ll never know. It’s a secret. The inside of the SLC temple is a secret – only Mormons are allowed there. There is a distinct discomfort in revealing any of these secrets to the general public because the Mormons know, somewhere in their heart of hearts, that they would be embarrassed by the revelations.
So it’s no surprise that Mitt has a practiced penchant for secrecy. He doesn’t want you to know how insanely wealthy he is, doesn’t want you to know where he keeps his money, doesn’t want you to know if he wears magic underwear or if his real loyalties are to the church rather than to the country.
Further, it is my opinion that a lifetime of such secrecy leads one to shun social connections and that self-disclosure is seen as a character flaw rather than a way to involve people with you. Mormons are told many things about the rest of the world and how pathetically immoral it all is. Many of them have little cultural literacy outside their “allowed” practices. So if it seems that Mr. Romney doesn’t actually have a personality, that isn’t far from the truth. His is a cultured and shaped caricature of a human that must be built to replace the personality he is not allowed to have. He’s not hiding his real self; he simply doesn’t have one.