You Can't Win The Presidency If You Have Polygamous Ancestors
I'm completely forgetting who, but yesterday in a comment thread someone outlined all of the ways in which Barack Obama's family and childhood were outside the norm. The commenter then expressed surprise that the Obama campaign's m.o. would be to paint Mitt Romney as "weird." That's the language that people close to the campaign have been bandying about for months.
This has to be the most ill-considered campaign strategy ever. For instance:
The Daily Beast contacted the office of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer today to talk about whether his state would be in play in the 2012 presidential election. About a half hour later, the governor called back, and he had a lot to say. He didn’t think that Montana would be a swing state, but the Democrat did say that Mitt Romney could have issues nationally because his father was “born on a polygamy commune in Mexico.”
Now, I married someone who was raised Mormon and I can tell you that when I found out, on the eve of our wedding, that he had polygamous ancestors, I was more surprised than I should have been. Everyone on earth probably has polygamous ancestors, but in most cases mine are a hundred generations or so removed. It's not part of my culture and we have well-established theological reasons for opposing it.
But are we really supposed to believe that Romney is beyond the pale because his father was born on a polygamous commune? That argument would seem to work a lot better if President Obama's father weren't in exactly the same situation. As the Washington Post mentioned:
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.
I'm not a campaign professional, but if we want to have a weird-off instead of discussing the actual issues, I'm not entirely sure this would help President Obama as much as his advisers seem to think it would.