I had suspected that the target of Gloria Allred's alleged upcoming revelation would be someone on Team Obama. One of these days, I may tell you why I thought that way. Right now, though, the growing common belief is that Allred will represent a woman named Carrel Hilton Sheldon
, whose name will already be familiar
Basically, the story holds that in 1981, when Mitt was a young-ish Mormon bishop in Boston, Carrel Sheldon was pregnant. Her doctor told her that bringing the child to term would endanger her life. Mormon doctrine permits abortion in such cases, and her "stake president" approved the procedure.
Mitt Romney did not.
There was no empathy forthcoming from Romney, according to Sheldon, no warmth or sympathy. Moreover, Sheldon contends, Romney cast doubt on her story about the stake president's approval. He simply didn't believe her. He threatened to call him and track him down. He didn't seem to care a lick about her personal well-being.
"At a time when I would have appreciated nurturing and support from spiritual leaders and friends," Sheldon wrote, "I got judgment, criticism, prejudicial advice, and rejection."
According to R.B. Scott, author of the insightful Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics, Romney's only concern was for the unborn fetus. Last year, Scott, who is also a Mormon, interviewed Sheldon's 90-year-old father, Phil Hilton, who remembered the incident quite vividly.
"I have never been so upset about anything in my life," he told Scott. "[Romney] is an authoritative type fellow who thinks he is in charge of the world."
Hilton was so offended by Romney's single-mindedness and absolute lack of sensitivity to his daughter's health that he ordered the young bishop out of his home. Hilton told Scott that he was fully prepared to "throw [Romney] off the porch if he paused for even a second." Romney kept moving.
Back at the hospital, a distraught Carrel Hilton Sheldon assented to her doctor's advice and terminated her life-threatening pregnancy. She recovered from her medical crisis, moved to the West Coast, and continued to raise her four children.
And because of her ward bishop, Mitt Romney, Sheldon eventually left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, never to return.
Is this woman the figure behind Allred's putative "surprise"? I have my doubts. Allred referred to a potential client. Infuriating as the above story may be, I just don't see a triable case. Insensitivity is not a crime. And even if such a case existed, surely the statute of limitations would have passed by now.
The case was discussed earlier, in a piece
that quotes Judith Dushku, a close friend of Sheldon's. These words may not shed light on the Allred mystery, but they so offer insight into Romney's character:
"Romney just doesn't have any sensitivity to women's issues in general," says Dushku. "But even more than that, he genuinely believes he's always right, that he's never made a mistake. He can never say, 'I might have made a mistake, I didn't understand that.' In Mitt's view, no one else has anything else to offer. He's always right."
When Romney uttered his now-immortal comments at a Republican fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida, about 47 percent of Americans being "victims" who think "that government has the responsibility to care for them," Dushku says that we were seeing the "real Romney."
"He sees other people in need as lazy and slackers," Dushku notes. "He doesn't acknowledge that the path he took was a privileged path, from his parents, that gave him distinct advantages."
Last week, as Dushku watched the first of the presidential debates, she saw a competent, even "slick" politician sparring with President Obama, but she also witnessed someone who is a political chameleon.
"He's not a man who has anything like a moral core," she says. "He's very loyal to the Mormon church, pays his tithing, is faithful to his wife, and so on, but he doesn't have a set of core values you can count on. I've known him for nearly 40 years. He may have a different suit on, but he hasn't changed. His experience hasn't changed. His performance was very consistent with the Mitt I knew back then. He can't relate to average working women--teachers and nurses and care givers. He's still coming from a place of privilege and entitlement."