What Happens If We Wake Up With a Mormon in the White House? What Joseph Smith's Run for President Suggests About Mitt Romney
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It sounds too crazy to be true, I know -- but by now we liberal elites should know not to trust our instincts. Look at what happened in the case of Barack Obama: rather than taking at face value his stated ideas about financial reform (Obama made Larry Summers, architect of the financial deregulation disaster, his economics brain-bug), about health care (he ran on the least progressive and most pro-industry health care plan of the three major Democratic candidates), and about the American empire (which were neocon-friendly), liberal media elites projected onto him everything they wanted him to be: an idealized secular humanist version of Obama. By dismissing the “obvious” surface of our presidential politics, the media set us up for the biggest political Obummer of the century.
That’s where this movie comes in. A Mormon President tells the story of some stupid and confused hillbillies and the boner-wielding con man who leads them to ruin. In other words, it’s about us. In January 2013.
Forget about being clever, folks: To paraphrase a line from Starship Troopers , “To fight stupid, we must become stupid.”
CHAPTER TWO: Mugged by Moroni
If it’s not clear by now, the problem with reviewing A Mormon President is this: The movie was supposed to be unintentionally funny, softball material, a 21 st century version of those old “Crown” history films they used to show in my public school civics class. It was supposed to serve one purpose: To make me look like I have talent. It would play the Washington Generals to my Harlem Globetrotters.
But I done figured wrong. As the story of Joseph Smith’s 1844 run for president unfolded into something weirder and scarier than I had bargained for, I started to realize it didn’t matter if the movie was unintentionally funny or not. Like it or not, my smug lack of curiosity about Mitt Romney’s religious identity was crumbling before a straight-to-DVD production. I found myself, as it were, Mugged by Moroni.
Now that I know a little more about Mitt Romney 1.0 -- that is, Joseph Smith, Jr., who was not only the first Mormon, but the first Mormon to run for president -- I’m not finding much to laugh at anymore.
Let me cut to the quick here and make things clear, in case I’m starting to sound like the Mel Gibson character in Conspiracy Theory .
First of all, although Joseph Smith's candidacy was equal parts tragedy and farce (in a Tommy Boy sort of way), he did offer a template for a future Mormon president with the example he set as ruler over the township of Nauvoo, Illinois, a unique post granted him via special city charter by the Illinois governor after the Mormons' cruel expulsion from Missouri in 1838.
Within a couple of years after settling in Nauvoo -- a city whose population quickly grew to parity with Chicago’s -- Smith transformed his fiefdom into a sort of Mormon Bantustan. He was Mayor, and Chief Justice, and got away with calling himself "King, Priest, and Ruler over Israel on Earth." Creepiest of all, he led the Nauvoo Legion, a unit roughly one-third the size of the total United States military. Not one for half measures, Smith gave himself the rank of “Lt. General,” the highest rank held by an American military officer since George Washington.
In 1841, Lt. Gen. Joseph Smith displayed his might by leading a huge military parade. One historian interviewed for A Mormon President compares the procession to “a May Day parade in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And this terrified a number of people, who, at that point, really switched gears and said, ‘These people are dangerous and we need to protect ourselves.'"