Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Genesis of a first novel: A candid and revealing interview with the author of Closing Circles



And artist's view of the riverfront of Westport, Connecticut the primary setting for "Closing Circles: Trapped In The Everlasting Mormon Moment"

 







February 14, 2012
Boston, Massachusetts        

Over the course of copyediting the manuscript for R.B. Scott’s first novel -- Closing Circles: Trapped In The Everlasting Mormon Moment – early readers/critics/editors put a number of tough questions to the author. Excerpts from these candid email and telephone exchanges follow: 
1.  You've had a 40-plus -year career in journalism at some pretty prestigious magazines. Why a novel now?
a.   Someone famous once said “every journalist has a good novel inside them.”  Some weather-beaten agent cynically added: “and that’s where they should be kept.” I hope that mine are good ones.  Counting Closing Circles there are five somewhat related novels in me, done or mostly done.  Depending on whether I finish the fifth, the assemblage will either be called “The Pratt Pentalogy” or “The Mormon Quad.”  Common threads-- the “Pratt” family, New England, New York City,  Mormonism, journalism, and golf – tie them together, more or less

Why now?  I am a very slow writer.  Actually, the process began as I left Time years ago. Technically, Closing Circles has been unfolding and revising since about 1983.  The last in the series – Leaving West Perish – got underway in 1987; the third in series – working title Play It As It Lies: A daughter, her father and the rub of the green – was born in the mid 1993; working title Quad Pratt: Prince of New England, Lord of Star Valley, began emerging in 2007; and the second in the series, The Mending: A life too well remembered  sprang to life around 2003.

In long, I was not propelled into writing novels by some age-related crisis or crushing melancholia.   Nor did I wake-up one morning and decide to write a novel.  Initially, my goal was to publish Closing Circles in the 1990s as the “Mormon Moment” began to unfold.  The delay makes the novel all the more timely.  It ties into events that are current in 2012 – the presidential elections, which featured two Mormon candidates – Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney.  Along the way it touches on the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the dot-com bubble of the 1990s and associated turmoil.

My recent biography MITT ROMNEY: An Inside Look At The Man And His Politics , released in late November of 2011, was critical to the process in that it provided (is providing) many opportunities to promote both books.  It is complementary to Closing Circles and vice versa.
2.   So this is a timely novel, politically and socially. What about timeliness in literature? Is Mormonism an under-served entity in literature?
a.   Several years ago, I shared parts of Closing Circles with an editor friend, a lapsed Mormon.   His reactions were instructive.  He said he had enjoyed the parts of the book he read, however he worried that there was no market for the book:  devout Mormons would likely be offended by some scenes and revelations in the book while the rest of the world simply would not interested in a novel about Mormons.   So, yes, I would say that the Mormonism is underserved in the literary world, however I can think of a few notable recent exceptions:  Judith Freeman (Red Water), Joanna Brooks (Book of Mormon Girl) and Brady Udall (The Lonely Polygamist).  I have not yet read Udall’s book, but the Freeman’s is an historical novel, and Brooks recent entry is a wonderfully written, lyrical memoir.  As a rule, Mormon novelists have tended to write for other Mormon readers.  Closing Circles is not aimed at Mormon readers.  My hope is that it will appeal to a general adult audience, like Chaim Potok's and Philip Roth's novels about Jewish characters and culture catch the interest of Christians.  Closing Circles attempts to honesty tell the story of a young man who spends a lifetime wrestling with his religion and culture, adapting as required –and in ornate ways – by the realities of his life. 

3.      What is the toughest challenge you’ve encountered as a novelist?
a.  The toughest challenge? Um…finding an agent.  I have an agent who represents me in the non-fiction world.  She’s wonderful. But she won’t touch fiction.   New novelists – even ones who are established writers – always, always, always complain that fiding an agent is tough business. Finding an agent is usually a discouraging, even depressing process. Introductions from other published authors help, but they are no sure thing. Trust me, I know. I wouldn’t recommend the process to anyone, especially sensitive souls. Many --okay most --writers are overly sensitive, take nearly every criticism personally. Writing the actual novel is much easier, more enjoyable and certainly less stressful than dealing with the condescension and abuse one encounters when searching for an agent.

4.    The mandatory question that must be asked of all first time novelists is: “how much of the story is autobiographical?
a.   Not much.  Next question?  Seriously, germs for some scenes and characters in the novel came from real events and people. For instance, the encounter between the hooker and the churchman in the Old Hotel Utah was sparked by a vaguely similar incident investigated by the Salt Lake City Police in the late 1960s. However, as indicated in the novel, it is a fact that elegant historic hotel, a property of the Mormon Church which frowns on as coffee and tea, once did serve the best coffee in town.
  
5.   Using the actual names of towns and cities like Westport (CT), New York City, Boston, Cambridge, New Haven, Salt Lake City brings authenticity to the novel. However, I can’t find Canyon Mills, Utah on any map.  Where the hell is it?
a.   In my mind and nowhere else that I know of. Closing Circles is fiction. Canyon Mills is a creation, a construct  that encompasses the then unincorporated suburbs of southeastern Salt Lake City, near where I spent some of my youth –villages like East Millcreek, Mt. Olympus Cove, and Holladay. I was writing about what I knew best.  I used some aspects of my experience there as framework for the story. However, while the story is fiction, it is honestly and faithfully told.  The story/stories are within the realm of possibility. They definitely are not stranger than truth.
6.  Your portrait of the Mormon culture is a lot grittier and startling than most reports, even fiction, about the Mormon world. Why?
a.  Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.  Seriously, I tried to write forthrightly about the world and culture as I see it and saw it. No exaggerations. No stones left unturned. No sanitizing.  I tried not to worry too much about howthose with vested interests might react, one way or another.  The goal was to write a novel that people would understand, relate to regardless of their religious or ethnic background.  I wanted readers to see that the Mormon culture really is familiar.  Philip Roth and Chaim Potok made Judaism and its culture familiar to me. As for Mormons: some of us like to think we are soooo different. Now that’s real fiction.

7.   The protagonist of the book – also an author – worries about reprimands from church leaders should he write too candidly and descriptively about sex, or too critically of some church leaders and practices.  Do you worry about being called on the carpet by the leaders of your church?
a.   A little.  But not very much.  The church is much bigger than that, I think.  Closing Circles and the other four novels of what I call the “Pratt Pentalogy” (or the Mormon Quad if I don’t finish the fifth) tell parts of the Mormon story, as did my biography of W. Mitt Romney, for that matter. The books are neither faithful nor unfaithful treatments of Mormons and their religion. They are just good stories – well, I suppose readers will judge for themselves.  I hope they like what they read. And, if they don’t, I hope they will forgive me.

8.      Are you still a practicing Mormon?
a.  Practicing? Absolutely. I’ve been practicing all my life.  Some days I’m better at it than others.  Occasionally, I’m a duck hooking high handicapper with shaky hands, wobbly legs and very cold feet.  I was raised in a profoundly devout Mormon home.  Our world turned around the church.  The church is an all-volunteer organization. It is dependent on the activity and commitment of each member.  As a child I was indoctrinated to accept every “calling” issued by the church.  Here’s an odd fact: even during fairly long periods of being  the “duck hooking, high handicapper” I accepted each and every call.
9.   Time, Incorporated and the magazine publishing industry generally seem to be very important to Jed Russell, the protagonist of the novel.  Was Time an important landing spot for you?
a.   Absolutely.  It was my ticket to write and grow. Truth is, I learned about writing and the real world there.  Time took care of me, treated me with respect, and provided freedom to learn, report.  Writers need demanding editors, and the editors at Time –we all were editors in one sense or another – were exceedingly demanding and quite willing, even eager, to turn my work upside down and inside out.  Usually, their edits improved things.  My editors were my teachers. I rue the day I left Time. That regret may come through in the novel.  Some colleagues have observed:  “well, you never would have become a novelist had you remained at Time.”  I understand what they mean, but I don’t necessarily agree.  I loved the company, the way it was then.  In most respects I still regard it like friends do their years at Yale or Harvard or Amherst. It’s an odd attachment, I know. But, there it is.
10.   Would it be fair to say that sex is a predominant feature in Closing Circles?
a.   If you say so (laughter). Seriously, sex is a prominent feature of life, despite what they say, and you know who they are. So, seeing’s how you asked  – sex is not an issue I would raise (laughter) -- sex is prominent in the novel. So shoot me. But predominant?  No! The demands of writing, fact-gathering and religion predominate even if sex grabs the headlines. In the novel, sex – all of its permutations -- represents taboos, generally.  In the Mormon culture sex is a pretty big taboo. It’s a hush-hush thing even now, although Mormons are hardly unique when it comes to ducking frank discussions of sex. I take it back: Mormons talk about IT a lot, but they do it in the limited and the not very helpful context of “just say no…” This engenders lots of dishonesty, guilt and, um, destructive surprises. 

I remember an intense late night discussion with good friends --we were boys then, teenagers -- about sex and puberty and all that.  The conversation turned into a kind of confessional about masturbation.  Each guy got a chance to fess up.  I got to go last because I was the host.  Guys were saying   blush blush, “oh, uh, um I tried it once, but that was it and I repented.” And, on and on it went and then it was my turn. By then I needed hip waders to get through the B.S.  I said something deflective like: “ummm, well, ummm I don’t have anything to add.”  What I really wanted to: ‘you must be kidding!!!” I thought I was even weirder than I imagined I was already. So, I wanted to write in a way that would encourage personal honesty, connect with readers, most of whom once felt weird themselves and dealt with similar circumstances.  We all have our war stories!
 
11.   Is the book for young people, then?
a.   No, it is adult fiction. It is absolutely not aimed at young people, although some will read. Was Catcher [Catcher in the Rye] written for teenagers?  I don’t think so.  But, I read it when I was 15 or so.  As a general rule, Closing Circles is for adults.  A few chapters may be appropriate for some young people, but I dunno: they turn graphic in a flash. One minute Jed is the swaggering brainy, striving athlete, the next page he’s an outsider, turned upside down with insecurity over his sexual identity and conjured weirdness.
If young people read it, I hope the messages they take away include: you're not weird,  be honest with yourself, adolesence is tough on everyone who every lived even --perhaps especially -- your parents, acquiring self-control is useful but acquiring self-confidence is more important.
12. True to your Mormon heritage, the novel revisits plural marriage/polygamy.  Why go there, it’s so predictable to the point of being trite, isn’t it?
a.   Of course it’s predictable.  That’s why I went there. Polygamy waspart of the Mormon Moment from the beginning. It was the “visible context” for Mormonism for at least a hundred years.  Some will quibble with my estimate. Even today polygamy is the one thing that nearly everyone knows about Mormonism.  So, I had to go there! But let's get one thing straight: I think plural marriage was a really, really bad idea. It is part of my heritage, an interesting part of my heritage. Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and I wouldn’t be distant, distant cousins if our common great-great-grandfather had contended himself with one wife.  Should I curse or bless Great Grandpa Parley?  Just kidding. I’m proud to be his descendant.  A writer from my background would be irresponsible if he attempted to deal with the complexities of sleeping around, marriage, divorce, conflicting family arrangements without examining  plural marriage, past and present.   The novel  does not address same sex marriage, but it deals sensitively, compassionately and forthrightly with same sex attraction. 
13.   What’s with the emphasis on Yiddish, the Jewish-Mormon cultural thing?
a.  Some of it comes from personal history.  My devout Mormon grandmother spoke Yiddish and a little Hebrew.  She ran a kosher household, more or less. Family jokes about this abound. I was 16 or so before I ate pork for the first time.  I was certain I would soon die. I am happy to report that I didn't!

Some of my interest in Judaism comes from Jewish friends in school. Some comes from caddying for really good Jewish men at The Country Club—the one in Salt Lake City. And, of course, some of it comes from my experiences in New York City and Westport, Connecticut, a town unlike most in Fairfield County.  Uniquely, Westport was open to Jews way back in the bad old days when Jews were excluded from some of the WASPier towns of  Connecticut.
Also, I could not pass up the “almost, but not quite accepted” feelings and insecurities that run through both cultures. There are other cultural similarities too like the very tribal Mormon-Gentile and the Jewish-goyim tensions.   These are powerful things.  Mormonism is a religion, but like Judaism it too has spawned a cohesive and distinct culture( I am not so sure about coherent!  Just kidding).  The Mormon culture -- Mormons as an ethnic group-- was there  from the beginning.  It intensified over the years.  I suspect that will continue to be the case.  Right now we are seeing the emergence of people who self-identify as Mormons but are not deeply religious. No doubt there will be more as time goes on. Mormons are also doctrinally connected to Judaism and Jerusalem in ways that go beyond what one finds in most other Christian denominations. 
14.   How would you respond to anyone. who may ask whether your novel is pro or anti Mormon, or whether the protagonist—Jedediah Pratt Russell -- is a faithful and loyal Mormon?
a.  Precisely the dilemma confronted by Jed Russell in the novel. He's uncertain about himself, about where he stands regards his religion. His family and friends are worried too. Ultimately readers will have to decide or whether or not Jed is faithful and loyal. But, before they make those assessments, they should  ascertain whether they consider any of Chaim Potok’s or Philip Roth’s protagonists faithful, loyal Jews. Historically, Mormonism has been a disturbingly black and white world:“Y’er either with us, or y’er the enemy.”  From the outset of his life, Jed is quite a bit more nuanced.  He definitely is a shades of gray Mormon. His approach to religion is unconventional, perhaps indescribable. He was a faithful young man and missionary, even as he became profoundly troubled by the sanctimony, hypocrisy and spiritual inconsistency he encountered.  Yet, it should be obvious to any reader that Jed’s roots run deep into Mormonism – the tribe, his tribe and their religion. 
15. Readers suggest  that your irreverence for the Mormon culture resembles how Philip Roth or Chaim Potok  got their arms around their Jewishness. Are you up to such comparisons?
a.   No.  Absolutely not.  However, my objectives were similar. Ditto John Cheever’s illuminations of his suburban high WASP tribe. Just the other day an early reader, a psychology professor at Brandeis University, compared Closing Circles favorably to Roth. I was thrilled. What author wouldn’t be? But let’s be real.  Another critic, who found freshness in my language and storytelling, observed caustically: “you are no Chaim Potok.”  I would agree wholeheartedly, although there are poignant Asher Lev moments in the novel. As for Philip Roth: we’re near contemporaries. I feel him in my bones. If you asked what writers influenced me, without a moment’s hesitation I would answer Roth, Cheever, Potok, John Irving and, of course, J.D. Salinger.  In different ways, Thomas Mann and the early Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward, Angel) and the contemporary Tom Wolfe (Bonfire of The Vanities, among many others) were instructive and inspiring. Jonathan Franzen and Jeffery Euginides have been recent influences. 
  
16. What’s next for you?
a.   Unless I have to update the Romney biography, I’ll be finishing The Mending: A life too well remembered. As its name suggests, the protagonist remembers too much detail about the past and, as a result, finds himself on a somewhat obsessive and tricky quest to revisit old wrongs and right them.  The story is an earthy and irreverent, and at times wrenching, journey of self-discovery.  It is a fictional memoir. These words from the novel are descriptive: This was a man who alternately remembered too much of everything and too much of nothing. To tell it true, as He might not, He had often visualized locating everyone He had ever seriously hurt or offended or cheated on, or lied to or about, or slapped or slugged or kicked.  One by one, He would fall on his knees like Moses before the Lord, seek their forgiveness and somehow figure out a way to make things right, start the mending on the spot and not stop until it was done. Or, until He was, whichever came first.

17. So you are mending, then?
           a. Always.  Perpetually. The alternative is not so inviting.

Friday, January 6, 2012

CNN's Soledad O'Brien Interviews Scott

The race for New Hampshire* Thursday morning, January 5, 2012, CNN's Soledad O'Brien interviewed R.B. Scott and disucssed his new book on Mitt Romney

http://cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2012/01/05/exp-point-scott-donahue.cnn.html

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

NPR: Five Things You May Not Know About Mitt Story Cites Scott's New Romney Bio

Five Things You May Not Know About Mitt RomneyNPR
In his new book, Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics, author Ronald B. Scott writes that when Romney was a young father, he led a family outing to a state park in Massachusetts. When Romney got ready to launch his unlicensed boat, ...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Washington Times: Romney Book "Superbly Timed, Honest, Succinct and Entertaining"

RICH LIKE ME
Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics


By Rich Stowell


SALT LAKE CITY, November 19, 2011—If voters aren't sure what to make of Mitt Romney, a newly-released biography by Ronald B. Scott isn't likely to help them.

Not that the book lacks solid research, a unique perspective, or a clear and approachable organization. Indeed, it has all three of these qualities. But the author might freely admit that all the insight in the world would still fall short of the task of defining Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics (Lyons Press, 2011) gets as close as one could hope. The author, a former writer for Time, Sports Illustrated, and People, distant cousin to and co-religionist with Romney, and fellow Bostonian, reveals the interesting intersection of Romney's faith, family, and ambitions.

From his 1994 Senate bid against Ted Kennedy to his current run for the White House, Romney's political story is brought to life against the backdrop of gritty electoral politics, a powerful American church, and a legacy of family success and expectation matched only by names like Bush and Kennedy.

Romney, not surprisingly, is a complex character. From the outset, the reader sees an ambitious and tireless man who has always been certain about himself and what he wants. According to Scott, even friends and colleagues are almost too willing to describe him as an egotist or a know-it-all.

As is often the case with the highly successful, Romney's achievements can be traced to the same certainty and patronizing personality that give them fits when they seek elective office. Scott suggests that had he been born in an earlier epoch, Mitt Romney would have been a "benevolent king."

Yet all who know him agree that he is a brilliant problems solver who learns from his mistakes, even if he is unwilling to admit them.

Romney, as Scott tells it, is a man with many flaws, most of them superficial. However far he gets with voters will depend on his ability to connect with them, convincing them that he is authentic and empathetic. His failing, so far, has been his inability to do so, despite the image of him as a decent, moral man and a gifted leader. One wonders whether Romney is simply misunderstood, and Scott never delivers a verdict on that charge. Yet his prose is tinged with a longing for the real Mitt Romney to emerge.

The opening pages reveal who the author hopes that will be, and throughout the book's 14 chapters there are frequent references to Romney's father, George, whom the author obviously admired. George Romney, the one-time governor of Michigan and a leading national Republican moderate, represents to Scott what the GOP could have been, and what his son should emulate. Mitt's main fault, then, appears to be not being his father.

George Romney was a prominent Latter-day Saint, a church leader-turned politician. Toward understanding how one navigates the two worlds, Mitt Romney will be an instructive read. Scott contends that we are living in a "Mormon moment," in which two Republican presidential candidates claim the LDS faith, as does the United States Senate majority leader. To anyone who wants to understand how Romney, Huntsman, or Harry Reid approach their politics, Scott's book will be indispensable. He find the collision points between Mormonism and national politics, capturing them in humorous and insightful ways:

"A Mormon parent's high-flown soliloquy to his newborn child that 'someday, perhaps, you will be president,' is a little more than grandiloquence. Buried in the heady hyperbole is heavy counsel that will be revisited regularly as the child matures: Live your life in such a way that you could be president if called upon– president of the church or president of the nation, in that order of importance, sort of."

Though he doesn't mention it in the book, he may well have described the hymn that Romney, as a 19-year-old missionary, sang dozens of times with his fellow proselytizers. "Called to Serve" is the anthem of LDS missionary work, simultaneously communicating the essence of a way of life; an essence that Mitt has taken to heart as a father, church leader, and "rescuer" of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Mitt the politician is a product of his father's unachieved political ambitions (he ran for president in 1968), his faith (Mitt served two years as a missionary in France, where he nearly died in an automobile accident), service in the church (he was bishop of an LDS ward, roughly equivalent to a Catholic parish, and president of a stake, the LDS equivalent of a Catholic diocese), and living as a Republican in a blue state.

Romney's ambiguities and complexities in the policy realm are explained in these various contexts. The reader comes away understanding the difficulties in which Romney often finds himself, but not much the wiser as to what he really believes.

In the final analysis, it isn't Romney's core that is problematic for Scott as much as the way it is presented. The author seems to be screaming at Romney advice that his father had given him in 1994: "Forget your handlers. Connect with the people. Speak from your heart."

The book's preface describes the origins of Scott's fascination with the Romneys, in the summer of 1964, in Northern California: "It was the very week Michigan Governor George W. Romney made national headlines as he stalked angrily out of the Republican convention … his teenage son Mitt in tow."

In Scott's account, George Romney is cast as the mythical hero-turned-martyr, the victim of a cynical political process that he desperately hopes Mitt can overcome. Perhaps he underestimates the younger Romney's tendency to learn from other's mistakes. If he bemoans Mitt's tendency to pander to the conservative base of the party, his reading of the events at the Cow Palace that summer explains why.

"Governor Romney was protesting how Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater's conservative operatives had hijacked the nominating process… The GOP has yet to fully regain its equilibrium from that nasty coup d'etat."

And it seems the author has yet to forgive the GOP for tacking to the right that year. Scott sings Mitt's praises on his moderation and left-of center stances. Where Mitt goes wrong, either on policy or presentation, is when he goes right.

Mitt Romney:Inside Look at the Man and His Politics, aside from being superbly timed, is an honest, succinct, and entertaining account of politics of a man who is captivating despite himself. For that, we should deeply thank Ron Scott.

Rich Stowell is a teacher and a soldier. He is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic Training; Tunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative, which you can follow on Facebook.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ROMNEY'S MODERATE VIEWS ON SOCIAL ISSUES WILL EMERGE DURING THE 2012 GENERAL ELECTION

Editor's note:  The follow was released  today by  Lyons Press in Connecticut late yesterday. 

 Thom Duncan, left, who was interviewed
 for the book and was a
missionary in
France with Mitt Romney,
 and author Scott
  Below a street sign promoting the
book-signing at The King'
English in Salt Lake City.

November 10, 2011
By Alex Thompson
In his biography of presidential candidate W. Mitt Romney (Mitt Romney: An Inside Look At The Man and His Politics) arriving in stores throughout the nation this week and next, author R.B. Scott, who has tracked Romney’s career and family for more than 40 years, argues that as Romney secures the Republican Party’s nomination, his moderate, nuanced views on conservative touchstone social policies like universal health care, abortion, immigration and “gay rights” will clearly emerge.
                “In very real ways, Romney has always led more by example than by words,” Scott said in a series of pre-publication interviews over the past week. “If you want to know what the man really believes, pay more attention to what he has done than what he says in overheated campaign speeches.”
              Scott offered the following guidance:
Health Care.  “The controversy is somewhat artificial.  ‘Obamacare’ was modeled after the program Romney put together in Massachusetts,” Scott said. “Romney’s main objection to Obamacare turns around states rights.  However, he believes that everyone should have access to adequate health care, children in particular.  While he seems to believe that coverage and access should be consistent across the nation, the costs for a medical procedure in Manhattan should not become the default standard in Boise.  He believes that that a sprawling and entrenched bureaucracy in Washington would be unresponsive to people in North Dakota.”
Abortion and Stem Cell Research: Romney’s views will become more consistent, driven in part by the fact that three of his sons and their wives have needed assistance from In Vitro Fertilization techniques.  Such procedures require the creation of many, many human embryos, some of which will necessarily disposed of after a pregnancy occurs.  “In sum, there is little difference between disposing of unneeded viable embryos stored in a laboratory vial and disposing of an unwanted embryo (before it attaches to the uterine wall) that resulted from unprotected sexual intercourse. Romney will likely never, ever be able to rationalize the need for elective abortions beyond the first month of gestation,” Scott said.  “However, he may reluctantly come to regard so-called ‘Morning After’ treatments as he does intrauterine birth control devices and disposal of unneeded embryos in IVF laboratories.  He has said that life begins at conception, an event that scientists say occurs when the embryo successfully attaches itself to the uterine wall. Will he work to overturn Roe v. Wade?  He will look at the numbers and make a judgment based on realities.  I doubt he will waste political capital trying to overturn what is regarded by many as a landmark ruling.  He may be inclined to fine tune it, to bring it more into line with evolving views and scientific evidence of when human life begins.” 
                “Gay Rights” and Same Sex Marriage:   The book reports that from his first campaign in 1994 on, Romney presented himself as sympathetic to the rights of gay and lesbian constituents. “Many would say his views were quite progressive for the day,” Scott said.  “Even when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court got out in front of him in 2003 by ordering that same sex marriage was constitutional under Massachusetts law, Romney reacted angrily but aggressively enforced the orders of the court, even though he could have thrown up legal roadblocks to prevent or delay implementation.  While he is opposed to “same sex marriage” because he believes “marriage” is a religious construct, he is also a pragmatist.  He recognizes that the court-ordered change in 2003  led to a wholesale revision of state laws he had sought to adjust one by one. Where will his pragmatism take him in 2012?  “Well, it’s a curious thing,” Scott observed.  “According to public records, he didn’t support Proposition 8 in California (that led to a constitutional amendment prohibiting same sex marriage and overturning a decision from that state’s supreme court) despite the fact his church, the Mormon Church, was an aggressive advocate of the proposition and has been a long-time fierce opponent of same sex marriage.  My hunch is that before he goes to bed each night, he prays that the U.S. Supreme Court rules on Proposition 8 before the first Tuesday in November, 2012, effectively compelling him (and the nation) to act, one way or the other.”
Gun Rights:  “So far as I can tell, Mitt does not own a gun.  He never served in the military nor did any of his sons. However, his roots are deeply embedded in the Rocky Mountains, where hunting is part of the culture,” Scott said. “This is the frame for his views on the Second Amendment.  Don’t look for him to support private ownership of assault rifles, shoulder-held rocket launchers and the like. Perhaps he will attempt to lead a rational compromise.”
Immigration: “Knowingly or unknowingly, directly or indirectly, he employed illegal aliens in his yard.  He was aggressive and intimately involved in establishing and nurturing branches of his church that were set-up in metro Boston to address the spiritual and temporal needs of immigrants from Asia and Latin America.  He gets it that immigration is vital to the nation. I can’t think of a presidential candidate in recent memory who has more first-hand, nuanced experience with immigration and immigrants than Romney.

Scott sees the forthcoming general election as a contest between two candidates who are similar and extraordinarily well-
qualified to lead—“the smartest two opponents we’ve had in my lifetime, the best since Kennedy-Nixon in 1960. Forget for a minute smile-in-your-face campaign speeches that pander from one stump to another.


"Think of the political highway and the yellow center line, dividing the left half from the right,"  Scott said. "There on the left side, edging nearer to the center line is the incumbent President Barack Obama.  On the right, hugging the center line as tightly as Iowa and South Carolina will allow for now, is the putative Republican nominee Mitt Romney.  

Even more assuring is this news: they’re both headed in the same general direction. Who knows, the debates between them in 2012 could be heady and instructive, for a change.”