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News » Deep End

Nephite Fight

Campaign tell-all reveals LDS candidates' quirks.



New Book: Aides Dissed Huntsman as “Lazy, Whiny Wuss.” —Headline in The Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 4

It’s not all that flattering to be called a wuss, and a lazy, whiny one at that, by your very own aides. Yet that’s just one of the juicy tidbits about Jon Huntsman in Double Down, the new campaign tell-all by Washington insiders Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

Still, Ambassador Huntsman might prefer to be a whiny wuss than a horse’s ass, which is how Joe Biden characterized the other Mormon in the 2012 presidential race, Governor Mitt Romney. (Mr. Romney has reinstated the superfluous T in his first name now that he doesn’t have to worry about being perceived as a rich guy with too much money, too many houses, too many sons, too much Brylcreem in his fine head of hair and too many Ts in his name.)

The terms of endearment applied to Messieurs Huntsman and Romney represent just a fraction of all the delicious revelations in Double Down. In the affectionate-nickname department, for instance, we learn that Gov. Romney referred to the husky Chris Christie as “Pufferfish,” and regularly marveled at how such a fatso was able to navigate the narrow middle aisle in the campaign aircraft. Always a stickler for punctuality, Gov. Romney was apparently very annoyed that the out-of-shape Pufferfish was continually “tardy.”

Then, there are the run-of-the-mill revelations that really should come as no surprise to aficionados of the noble calling of politics. For example, no one should be shocked that Mr. Huntsman swore up and down to President Obama, when he approached then-Gov. Huntsman about becoming ambassador to China, that the last thing in his mind was a presidential run of his own. The authors of Double Down provide ample evidence that Mr. Huntsman’s prefrontal cortex was already awash in plans to run against Mr. Obama.

Aside from these predictable revelations, some of the most interesting sections of Double Down, at least for us Mormons here in Utah, concern the relationship between Ambassador Huntsman and Gov. Romney. Anyone who witnessed these two fine exemplars of our faith could quickly see that behind the bland affability, their relationship was tense. That tension was surely exacerbated by their similarities, as well as their differences.

The similarities between the two gentlemen are immediately obvious, and several passages in the book refer to their fastidious grooming regimens. On page 201, we read: “The other candidates were left cooling their heels on the stage while Romney and Huntsman were putting the finishing touches on their carefully styled coiffures. There was just a small mirror in the makeshift make-up area, and the two gentlemen seemed engaged in a battle to gain possession of the mirror—elbowing and shoving to such a degree that their handlers had to separate them. Audience members were startled when Romney minced on stage with his hair sticking out in all directions, as if he had just awakened from troubling dreams. Huntsman had been so flustered by the mirror contretemps that he confused those in attendance by raising his right eyebrow instead of his left when responding to questions.”

Despite the care and attention both gents devote to their fleshly tabernacles, their spiritual differences run deep. Ironically, these differences are a function of the very faith that would seem to seal them together in an eternal bond of brotherhood. One way to appreciate their differences would be to consider the monikers referenced earlier, namely, whiny wuss and horse’s ass. A startling correlation exists between these terms and the theological terms that characterize the men’s respective spiritual identities: Wuss lines up pretty well with Liahona Saint, and Horse’s Ass almost exactly coincides with Iron Rod Saint.

Double Down, in fact, mentions in passing this esoteric Mormon dichotomy. On page 387, we read: “Acquaintances of Romney and Huntsman describe them, respectively, as Brother Iron Rod and Brother Liahona. In Mormon mythology, Iron Rod was a fierce Lamanite warrior who terrorized and plundered the land of Zarahemla in 330 B.C., and was known as a horse’s ass (which proves that horses did roam the American continent in ancient times). Liahona was a gentle Lamanite princess who left her tribe and took a slow boat to China.

As usual, when it comes to Mormon arcana, the authors of Double Down don’t have the slightest idea of what they are talking about. Everyone knows that neither Iron Rod, nor Liahona were ethnic Lamanites. They were, in fact, Nephites.

D.P. Sorensen writes a satire column for City Weekly.