Friday, July 24, 2009

Mitt Romney, After the Storm

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 7/24/09

Before the storm, said Louisiana resident James Madison, he had Mormons knock on his door just like everybody else and the object was to try to get rid of them as fast as possible; go away, not interested, don’t want to hear what you have to say. After the storm, “ . . . a little bit different now. They’re part of my family now. Always will be. They got into my heart. They’ll never stand on my doorstep again without being invited into my house.”

They were hearing stories of troops coming in and heard helicopters were flying over, he said, they even heard that the President was flying over. But no one was there on the ground with them except the Mormons in their yellow t-shirts to help them clean up.

Katrina turned the seas and changed the political tide. It has become the symbol of a late great country. As Harold Meyerson asks this week in The Washington Post: Suppose our collective lack of response to Hurricane Katrina wasn't exceptional but, rather, the new normal in America. Suppose we can no longer address the major challenges confronting the nation. Suppose America is now the world's leading can't-do country.

In contrast, the Mormon relief trucks were on the way before the hurricane had even made land fall. Police Chief Larry Hess went over to the Bishop’s warehouse and found a huge building. “ . . . it was all catalogued and categorized and with their warehousing procedures and policies . . . they just knew where everything was, they knew how much of each thing they had, they were able to get not only saws to us but canned goods, outlets to outside communications . . . they had satellite phones . . . it was almost as if a business that specialized in emergency or community disaster response had arrived.”

When pundits and policy makers go on vacation this summer they might find a beach house with a DVD player and plug into the documentary The Mormons which aired last year on PBS. The episodes are also available at the PBS web site. Because now that we have listened to everybody else it might be time to listen to the Mormons.

Their’s is an astonishing journey of grace, faith, heartbreak, perseverance, determination and courage and one fully original, integral and indigenous to America. It may take a couple of quiet walks on the beach in the evening to fully metabolize. But it could well be that our sea has changed with Katrina and our American journey will begin again with the Mormons. Former Bay State Governor Mitt Romney is in a dead heat with President Obama in the first major poll that asked voters who they would support in the 2012 presidential election, the Boston Herald reports.