In 1978, the Mormons received a new revelation allowing them to withdraw their longstanding policy of official discrimination against black people. Talking to Tim Russert today, Mitt Romney recalled his own emotional reaction:
"I can remember when, when I heard about the change being made. I was driving home from, I think, it was law school, but I was driving home, going through the Fresh Pond rotary in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I heard it on the radio, and I pulled over and, and literally wept. Even at this day it's emotional ... "
Touching. There is one small inconsistency in the tale which may or may not mean something. In 1978, Romney was not a law student. He had finished his joint JD/MBA at Harvard three years earlier, and was now a successful management consultant, about to change companies. There is a world of difference between being a graduate student and a wealthy businessman. We find it odd that he can be so specific about where he was on the road when he got the news, and so vague -- as in wrong -- about where he was in life.
Does it matter? Maybe not. But Romney, who in the interview speaks movingly of his parents' commitment to civil rights during the 1960s, is not known to have taken any stand, publicly or privately, against the entrenched racism of his own faith community. A casual listener, hearing the story as Romney tells it, may well think, "What do you expect? He was just a kid, a grad student -- what difference could his stand have made?"
But consider who he really was: the 31-year-old son of a former Michigan governor, Presidential candidate and Nixon cabinet member; a graduate of the LDS's own flagship school, and of America's most prestigious university; and (we'll say this part again) rich. It is entirely possible that Romney's voice could have made a difference in the LDS's internal deliberations.
It bothers us less that Romney was silent then, however, than that he seems a little cagey -- even deceptive -- about it now. But then, consistency is not one of Mitt's virtues, is it?