This article was first posted on God’s Own Party. It has been updated for this site.
Recently on a stage with war heroes Mitt Romney praised the sacrifice of the great men and women of every generation who have served in our armed forces. One thing he did not mention is that not only did he not serve when his time came, he received several deferments despite the fact he marched in support of the war in Vietnam. As a matter of fact the Mormon church as a whole supported the Vietnam war and I imagine there were many who served from the church just not the chickenhawk Willard.
The son of George Romney, then Michigan’s governor, was one of a limited number of Mormon youth chosen as missionaries — a status that protected him from the draft between July 1966 and February 1969 as a “minister of religion or divinity student.” Essentially, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints re-routed Romney from Vietnam to the south of France, where he served as a missionary. Mitt Romney spent a significant portion of his 30-month mission in a Paris mansion described by fellow American missionaries to The Daily Telegraph as a “palace”. It featured stained glass windows, chandeliers, and an extensive art collection, staffed by two servants — a Spanish chef and a houseboy.
As a matter of fact he received 3 more deferments over the next few years and did not stop applying until he figured out his number was too high to be drafted to serve.
So what he so reveres now as a sacrifice is something the Republican presidential candidate was not willing to make himself. President Barack Obama, Romney’s opponent in this year’s campaign, did not serve in the military either. The Democrat, 50, was a child during the Vietnam conflict and did not enlist when he was older in the voluntary armed forces. Had he done so he might have been involved in minor skirmishes however more than likely he would have served only a minimal stint(3-4 years) and not re-enlisted. It might also be noted that President Obama has also never been a warhawk either.
But because Romney, now 65, was of draft age during Vietnam, his military background — or, rather, his lack of one — is facing new scrutiny. Perhaps if he had been against the war his lack of service would be understandable however when you protest FOR a war then refuse to serve yourself, people are going to question your ethics. Yes they are going to question your ethics when you are so eager to send others off to die for their country, a sacrifice you refused to make in a war you supported. A look at Romney’s actions with regard to Vietnam offers a window into a 1960s world that allowed him to avoid combat as fighting peaked.
From the Political Carnival:
May 20, 1966, a 19-year old Romney, whose father was at the time Michigan’s governor, standing with pro-war University president Wallace Sterling. To the young Romney, anti-war activists hoping to end the draft — and the senseless deaths of nearly 60,000 young American men — should not sit-in, they should sit down and shut up in preparation for potential deployment. With one caveat—not his deployment oh no, Mitt had things to do in France-in a palace-at sidwalk cafes.
In 1994, when he was running for Senate, Willard told The Boston Herald, “I was not planning on signing up for the military. It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam, but nor did I take any actions to remove myself from the pool of young men who were eligible for the draft.”
So, while he is eager to confront Iran or “The Soviet Union”, our “geopolitical enemy” (in his words) and any other comers, he was never willing to put himself in the line of fire. For someone with no military background he speaks carelessly about taking this country in to another war we can ill afford. Even though he never stepped onto a battlefield just like the other neo-con war mongers who are on his current staff. Heck he cannot even decide if he would or would not have gone, according to his words and he figures the best way for his sons to serve their country is to ride in RV’s around the country stumping for his campaign.
In 2007 he said about serving in Vietnam that he had “longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam.”
What the reality of the situation is that he didn’t have the courage to go. He didn’t feel it was important enough to him to serve his country at a time of war… Vietnam was a war that the poor and the people who couldn’t afford to go to college served in while people like Mitt holed up in a mansion in France. For anyone who has made the trek to our nation’s capitol and visited the Vietnam Wall, stood in the silence of people mourning the lost, or touching the name of a friend or loved one who perished in that war, his disregard for the suffering of others becomes magnified. There were many who did not support that war but I know, at least for me, it was a general distaste for war overall, not the soldiers I was against. It was a country willing to lie to it’s citizens in order to effect regime change, chase a “communist insurgence” that was real or imagined but most importantly to secure the rich minerals and rubber in Southeast Asia. It was a country willing to sacrifice the lives of over 60,000 US Citizens in that endeavor.
In a recurring theme of Frat boy activity, it seems that he also liked to impersonate Michigan State Troopers in his youth and in fact a few of his staffers in 2007 left the campaign after it was learned they, too, impersonated Massachussets State Police.
From the National Memo:
When Mitt Romney was a college freshman, he told fellow residents of his Stanford University dormitory that he sometimes disguised himself as a police officer – a crime in many states, including Michigan and California, where he then lived. And he had the uniform on display as proof.
So recalls Robin Madden, who had also just arrived as a freshman, the startling incident began when Romney called him and two or three other residents into his room, saying, “Come up, I want to show you something.” When they entered Romney’s room, “and laid out on his bed was a Michigan State Trooper’s uniform.”
Madden, a native Texan who graduated from Stanford in 1970 and went on to become a successful television producer and writer, has never forgotten that strange moment, which he has recounted to friends over the years as he observed his former classmate’s political ascent. The National Memo learned of the incident from a longtime Madden friend to whom he had mentioned it years ago.
Said Madden in a recent interview,
“He told us that he had gotten the uniform from his father,” George Romney, then the Governor of Michigan, whose security detail was staffed by uniformed troopers. “He told us that he was using it to pull over drivers on the road. He also had a red flashing light that he would attach to the top of his white Rambler.”……..
You can read the rest of the article and the Boston Globe articles on his staffers who ultimately resigned the campaign here:
This habit of lying or flip flopping or even some of the practical jokes he thought were funny are part of a very disturbing pattern. Not only was he cruel in his pranks, he has never, to this day, given a heartfelt apology to my knowledge. We all do silly things as young people but I would hope, at some point in our lives, we show sincere misgivings about such actions. Romney does not seem to be that person. We all have changes of heart, but how many times in a lifetime do you change your core values? In my opinion it would take a life changing experience not a run for public office every few years. So, as it is with most of Romeny’s core beliefs, it is not surprising that he has told different stories regarding this time in his life. His recollection of those days and his decisions, have evolved as well, all in relation to whatever office he is running for at any given time.
The Etch-a-Sketch does not work in real life. In fact we all know etch-a-sketch is not permanent. All you have to do is turn it over, shake it a bit and you have a clean slate. That is very seldom the case in the real world. Your actions count, they matter and they can have devastating or incredibly positive repercussions. Your word should count as well and I personally have a hard time believing you can have a Commander in Chief who lies whenever it suits him become a good influence on the nation as a whole. Yet Republicans are lining up in a row to vote for this man. Once again they are voting with their anger which is how we got a Tea Party Do Nothing Congress. Do nothing because their ideas are so stuck in some bizarre ideologue they cannot publish any meaningful bills. In a world where this country is still recovering from another Frat Boy the right gave to us it would seem to be a cruel trick of nature to foist another spoiled, richie rich empty headed candidate on us. It would seem the Evangelicals are even willing to compromise their beliefs to stand behind a man who in all Evangelical teachings belongs to a cult. So it would seem they also can compromise their values in order to insure Republican is the word in Washington DC. In the real world people who think their values can be changed like an etch a sketch have no business leading our country.