Also out today is the new book from Hugh Hewitt. Here’s a a quick review:
You don’t need a taste for politics to devour this tome. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of inside baseball here – details to satisfy even the most politically addicted among us – but the layman will also appreciate this candid and fair examination of Governor Mitt Romney and his presidential aspirations.
From the meticulous picture of Romney’s Mother Lenore to the savvy analysis demonstrating the angst that many conservatives have towards John McCain, Hewitt weaves facts and insights in a way that is both sympathetic and honest. The picture that emerges is not the fainting, fawning, flush that some detractors predicted. Rather, the famous chiseled chin (which Hewitt admits will be used for and against Romney) comes even more clearly into relief; wrinkles and all. And, from the interviews in the book, this seems just fine with Mitt.
“Hang a lantern on your problems…” a maxim that Romney cites in the book seems a savvy approach to both business and politics. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, calls it “facing the brutal facts.” No doubt this was something that Romney practiced in the private sector. It’s also something that Hewitt employs throughout the book. Whether detailing the failures of George Romney’s presidential bid or handicapping the Mormon issue for Romney 2.0, Hewitt pulls no punches pressing sons, associates and political pundits about Mitt’s advantages and disadvantages in the 2008 race.
Admittedly, I’m a fan of Romney, but the book provided me with numerous angles and views I hadn’t considered before. For example, in my mind Romney has always stood solidly in the spotlight, always providing the solo with some ragtag chorus as backup. Hewitt brought into the foreground the interesting characters of Peter Flaherty, Kevin Madden, Spencer Zwick, and many others. In truth, what Hewitt shows, is that Romney is the man who brings the “team of rivals” together, constantly looking for people to challenge his assumptions and forge new ideas.
Hugh also handles the Mormon question extremely well. He provides both the pro-Mormon doctrinal viewpoint (from noted Mormon lawyer Rex E. Lee) and the detractors’ stance (from Walter Martin). Hewitt wisely leaves this doctrinal debate to the professionals but elucidates the constitutional precedent for disposing of denominational litmus tests pretty handily. The book also does a masterful job of defining what bigotry against Mormons really looks like.
Hewitt’s ultimate warning is this: “if because of his faith, he lost the Republican primaries to a less able candidate and that in turn led to the election if Hillary, the defeat of Romney on the grounds of his religious beliefs would be a great tragedy.” [page16].
In short, “A Mormon in the White House” is great read about a tremendous subject and a boon to the conservative movement in this challenging election season.