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Crossing the Line

Romney cultivates an air of sexual mystery.



Mit was fit to be tied.

“Did you see Meet the Press this morning?” My old missionary companion, Mit Romney (he recently downsized his first name, his houses and his family to show that he’s taking the recession seriously, even though he’s loaded), was on the phone, spitting mad about the latest piece of good luck to come to his arch-rival, fellow Mormon high priest, and eternal bete noire, Jon Huntsman Jr.

I, too, had seen the earnest and slightly dim David Gregory, the host on Meet the Press, announce that Gov. Huntsman had hurt his future presidential chances by confessing to an extramarital affair. Mr. Gregory almost immediately apologized for mixing up the Utah governor with Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who had spilled the beans a while back about cheating on his wife.

“Mit,” I said, “this is good news, my man. This helps you out. What is it they say, you can’t un-ring a bell? Even though Gregory corrected himself in the next breath, people will always think somewhere in the back of their minds that Huntsman had violated his sacred marital vows.”

Mit gave out a bitter laugh. “Don’t you get it? That dickhead Gregory has done your well-groomed governor a great big favor. Instead of being a dull and boring pussy-whipped Mormon guy like me, he suddenly acquires an air of sexual mystery.”

Once again, my old missionary companion had bested me in the astuteness department.

“I can’t catch a break,” said Mit, who sees himself as the Rodney Dangerfield of American politics, the man who can’t get no respect.

“First, Junior gets appointed ambassador to China, where he’ll be sipping tea and talking about Confucius with those Chinese commies, while I’m humping my bag all over Iowa making nice with the rubes so they’ll vote for me in 2012. Now this.”

“Who knows,” I said, trying to soothe my seething friend. “This thing will just blow over. Just like the Mark Sanford deal with the babe in Buenos Aires. Already, people have moved on to the Michael Jackson stuff.”

Mit was having none of it, and in my heart of hearts, I knew he was right, as he always was.

“Here’s what I want you to do,” Mit said, now all business, as always focused on the task at hand and getting down to brass tacks. “You’ve done a good job of hinting at all the good times we had on our mission together in Paris, France, like our ménage a trois that steamy August afternoon with the cute little femme de chambre. By the way, have you seen Public Enemies? That actress who plays Johnny Depp’s girlfriend, what’s-her-name Marion something-or-other, reminds me of that little brunette chambermaid gal.

“But, I digress. I’ve got to do something more dramatic, something to get the electorate’s attention. I don’t want to get out there like that Sanford guy and blubber all the way through a press conference about my soul mate and her sexy tan lines. All that schmaltzy crap just made me puke.

“No, what I have in mind is some juicy rumor that can never be tracked down. Can’t have those media weasels tracking down one of those German girls we met in Wiesbaden and spilling the beans about the nude hikes we took. Do you have any ideas?”

I was thinking about those German girls, Ursula and Gudrun, and trying to picture them today, probably dowdy hausfraus measuring out their days with kaffee und kuchen.

“You don’t want to go back too far,” I said. “It would just be something chalked up to youthful indiscretion. How about something slightly exotic, with perhaps just a suggestion of something forbidden? Or maybe a showbiz angle that would give you an aura of being a hip and swinging guy?”

“I got it!” Mit said. “Marie would be perfect! I know all the Osmonds, and they would all go along with the story. And I’ve always thought she was sexy as hell. Remember when we used to read those fan magazines about Donny and Marie on our mission? And wasn’t she great on Dancing With the Stars?”

For a guy so astute, sometimes Mit didn’t have a clue.

“I really doubt folks would be surprised by a liaison with Marie. You need an affaire de coeur that crosses what Mark Sanford calls the ultimate line. Why don’t we give Gladys Knight a call?”

There was a long pause. “I’ll sleep on it.” Another pause. “But I’d sure prefer Marie.”

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