The Brouhaha about Bannon and Romney

Mitt Romney

The word “brouhaha” is fairly ancient but truly describes the latest flare-up in Washington and beyond regarding sexual harassment accusations against Roy Moore (running for Senate in the Alabama special election).

brouhaha: 1. excited public interest, discussion, or the like, as the clamor attending some sensational event; hullabaloo.  

2. an episode involving excitement, confusion, turmoil, etc., especially a broil over a minor or ridiculous cause.

Here’s the lowdown: Mitt Romney was early to speak out about accusations against Moore, saying he should drop out of the race. Former White House chief strategist (and Breitbart exec) Stephen Bannon let loose on Romney, accusing him of avoiding the draft by serving an LDS mission, and of being dishonorable, immoral, dishonest, etc. In fact, Bannon accused Romney’s entire family of corruption.

A plethora of pundits and public figures lept to Romney’s defense.

From Even for a figure as nihilistic as Bannon, these remarks were shameful. It speaks volumes that Bannon felt the need to go after Romney rather than focusing on a positive message for Moore’s candidacy, if such a thing exists. Romney’s lack of military service has nothing to do with the Alabama election. Bannon was shrewdly playing to some evangelicals’ long-held mistrust of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) — and getting in a few ugly personal attacks as well.

Romney was not hiding behind his religion when he could have been wearing a uniform.Missionary service is recommended for Latter-Day Saints Church members who are physically able and mentally capable of serving (including women, now), and it is a commitment that is taken very seriously. Mormon missionaries spend two years away from home, and are allowed only two annual phone calls to their families. While not the same as fighting in a foxhole, Mormon missionary service is noble….

From the Salt Lake Tribune: The Tribune quoted Senator Orrin Hatch — “Steve Bannon’s attacks on Governor Romney and his service are disappointing and unjustified. Mitt is a close personal friend, an honest leader, a great American, and someone who has sought every opportunity possible to serve our country….I’d be more than happy to sit down with Mr. Bannon and help him understand more about the LDS Church at his convenience. I’ve got a copy of the Book of Mormon with his name on it.”

From Meghan McCain took aim at former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon on “The View” on Wednesday after he attacked Mitt Romney and his family for not serving in the military.

McCain that Bannon should “take a seat” and ripped the former Trump aide for using military service as a political cudgel after what President Trump said about McCain’s father, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

From The Guardian (US): [Bannon’s attack against Romney]  brought whoops and shouts from the crowd, illustrating just how rapidly some parts of the Republican party have shifted behind Trump’s influence. Five years ago, Romney – apparently so reviled by the crowd in the barn – won 98% of the Republican vote in Alabama.

From Hal Boyd at the Deseret News: Society must not let the likes of Steve Bannon or Roy Moore define “honor and integrity.” Those in uniform deserve respect and admiration. Their service should never be used as a political tool.

While Bannon is familiar with the accusations against Moore regarding his alleged treatment of teenage girls, if he really cares to learn about “honor and integrity” he would do well to read about Romney’s efforts to rescue a teenage girl back in the summer of 1996.

According to reports by the Boston Globe, Romney temporarily shut down his firm, Bain Capitol, to devote its sizable resources to search for the teenage daughter of one his colleagues who had gone missing after a night out in New York City.

Romney chartered a flight from Boston to New York, and, according to the Globe, “set up elaborate search parties, mapping out territories of New York City and turning to a public relations firm for help. Within days, they’d been featured on TV news, and the teenager who had taken (the daughter) home to Montauk, N.Y. — where she was shivering through detox after a massive dose of ecstasy — called hoping for a reward.”

More from the Deseret News: Bannon’s comments drew reactions from many local leaders, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, who accompanied Trump to Utah on Monday.

Utah Governer Herbert’s tweet said, @MittRomney and his family are honorable people and represent the very best of Utah values. Utahns reject the ugly politics and tactics of @SteveKBannon 

Senator Mike Lee tweeted, Mitt Romney is a good man. Whether you agree or disagree with him on any matter of public policy, you can’t credibly call into question his patriotism or moral character—especially on the basis of his religious beliefs or his outstanding service as a missionary.

Ben McAdams tweeted, @mittromney served his faith & humanity as a missionary. @Steven_K_Bannon remarks are despicable & anti-religion. Honor, integrity define both Mitt & our troops who served. 

McKay Coppins tweeted, .@BoydMatheson—who met with Bannon when he was considering a Senate bid in Utah—tells me Bannon’s attacks on Romney’s religion are “what is wrong with politics today.”

Joe Scarborough tweeted, Mitt and Ann Romney are two of the most decent, honorable people I have met in public life. They have raised a wonderful and loving family. I am proud to call them friends.

Matt Bowman, associate professor of history at Henderson State University in Arkansas, author of ”The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith,” said Bannon’s account doesn’t tell the whole story. As quoted in the news he said,

“Romney did receive a draft deferment while a missionary and student deferments before and after,” Bowman said. “In 1969, he was entered in the draft lottery and drew a very high number, making being drafted unlikely.”


Gale Boyd is the managing editor for She is a Jewish convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has lived all over the world. She has raised 6 Third Culture Kids and is always homesick for somewhere.