Big MoPublican Primary 2012: Dignity Watch

The big news out this week from the campaign of Mitt Romney, possible Republican frontrunner: Romney is a regular guy.

That’s the message we’re getting from the delicious little details his campaign operatives are letting slip into the national newspapers: like the fact that he gets his hair cut at a random strip mall barbershop in Atlanta, that he shows up at the Daytona 500 sporting a Bass ProShops buttondown, and that his wife buys him skinny jeans at the Gap—an anecdote meant to telegraph regular-guy likeability and connubial charm, but that instead carries the undeniable scent of humiliation, as in, your wife bought you skinny jeans?

It’s all about as convincing as those photos of John Kerry in hunting camouflage that circulated back in 2004.

Meanwhile, the fledgling Jon Huntsman Jr. campaign (which some observers believe has staked out a netfoothold at this intriguing little site) has tried to explain away as sheer coincidence the fact that he showed up at a “Jasmine Revolution” protest in front of McDonalds sporting sunglasses and a leather jacket with an American flag patch on the shoulder. Recognized and then cheerfully interrogated by fellow protestors, Huntsman melted into the crowd.

Both Huntsman and Romney remind me of the premium Mormon culture has placed on clean-cut all-American likeability. Since the middle of the twentieth-century, that’s been the ticket we’ve tried to ride away from our frontier origins and melt into the suburban middle class. And still, Mormons consistently find our faith ranking consistently low in public esteem. Perhaps there is a lesson in all of this for the Big MoPublican Primary contenders? When it comes to faith and politics, likeability is a fickle master.

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