A Chat with Hatch

by Jay Nordlinger

With NR ace Bob Costa, I sat down with Orrin Hatch, who covered the waterfront with us: Romney, Akin, the Senate of today, the Senate of tomorrow, the Senate of yesterday. He told us an excellent, dramatic tale involving Bob Byrd, Russell Long, Fritz Hollings, and other such figures. Does terrific imitations of Byrd and Hollings, for two. (Hollings is easy to do. Byrd, a little subtler.)

In 2000, Hatch made a run for the Republican presidential nomination, short-lived. On a plane ride, he said to me, “One of the reasons I’m doing this is to make it easier for the next guy” — the next Mormon candidate. At the time, a poll showed that 19 percent of people would not vote for a Mormon, under any circumstances. Hatch said, “Well, that leaves the other 81 percent to compete for.”

And here we are, with a Mormon presidential nominee (and a Mormon Senate majority leader, I believe). Hatch talked a little about Mormon-evangelical relations (improving). He talked about what it is to be a bishop, as he has been, and Romney has been. You’re responsible for a lot of people. You hear about a lot of problems — the whole, awful human gamut. You do what you can to solve those problems.

Romney has spent a fair amount of his life doing good. We should hear more about it, and appreciate it more. Romney can’t talk about it, of course — that would be bragging. It would kind of cancel out the good. But others can be less reticent. Whether he becomes president or not, Romney has already performed impressively, in a variety of life’s departments. That attracts a lot of envy, of course.

P.S. They used to say of Quakers — not in a complimentary way, I think — that they did good and they did well. Doing good and doing well is fine with me, just fine.

P.P.S. If the race is close, or Romney is ahead, the Obama campaign will pull out all the stops — and the ugliest of those stops, I think, will be religion, race (always race), and wealth.

P.P.P.S. One of Hatch’s staffers is a lovely woman named Antonia Ferrier. Any relation to Kathleen, one of the greatest singers who ever lived? There is a dispute in her family. Some say yes, some say no. Antonia thinks no. Most people would be tempted to claim yes, I think, regardless.