Sonny Romney VS. Daddy Romney: A stark comparison

We saw it in George W. Bush- that desire to surpass his father. Daddy Bush was not conservative enough, not aligned with Big Money enough, not bellicose enough. So W became a champion for the right, made an alliance with the corporatocrcy, and went to war, twice. He was not going to be a one term President like his dad was.

Mitt Romney seems to be cut from the same cloth. His dad, George, three term Governor of Michigan and Nixon’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was open, direct, honest and self effacing. I suspect that Mitt believes that honesty cost George the nomination of his party for the Presidency because he admitted he had been fooled by the Pentagon regarding the likely outcome of the Vietnam War.

So Mitt has chosen to play his cards very close to the vest. Secrecy is one watchword. Another is that he does not admit error. And the third is that he will reconstruct any value, any position, if it gets him closer to his goal.

Look a little closer and you see that the son who calls his father “my inspiration, my guide, and my model” bears very little resemblance to the man who raised him.

Dad was committed to the Civil Rights movement.

Dad started off life as a person of very modest means working his way up a very tall ladder.

Dad believed in the obligation of the wealthy to support the common good and declined a series of deductions to lower his tax bill.

Dad set the pace for financial disclosure- 12 tax returns- and a standing offer to produce any others as requested.

Dad had a set of principles governing his policy positions and he held faithfully and publicly to them no matter what the impact on his popularity.

Dad was willing to admit error, most famously when he said he had been “brainwashed” by the Generals who misrepresented the Vietnam War.

Dad believed that the essence of business was to produce something, to manufacture, and in the process to provide good paying jobs and benefits. He did this as chief executive of American Motors (later Chrysler) which Obama saved and Sonny would have let fail.

Dad sponsored a series of governors’ conferences emphasizing community organizing as crucial to reviving American cities.

Dad, as governor, made it clear that his priorities were education, services to the needy, medical care, and infrastructure maintenance/improvement; and that taxes made all of this possible- including the state income tax which he introduced in Michigan.

Dad believed that before seeking higher office a politician needed to prove he had done well enough in his current office to earn reelection. He did in three terms as Michigan’s governor.

Dad called himself an Eisenhower Republican and was, as such, a supporter of unions, concerned about the impact of corporate power on industrial and defense policy especially in the military-industrial complex.

Dad referred to himself as a moderate and never changed that label.

Dad believed in the need to provide support services for the poor which he demonstrated as Nixon’s Secretary for Housing and Urban Development.

AND HIS SON……well……we know a lot about him now and Mitt has fallen far from his father’s tree.

Isn’t it odd how such a fine public servant, known for his solid honesty and straightforward speech who embraced the principles of Republican Moderation as a manufacturing, pro-union executive and then as a public service oriented governor could have produced a son like Mitt?




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Olderandwiser55kesmarnbitoMurphTheSurf3SueInCa Recent comment authors
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So true Murph. I’ve been voting a long time and find the constant march of republicans to extremists astonishing. Bob Dole said to Barry Goldwater in 1996 “We’re the new liberals of the Republican party. Can you imagine that?” Neither were liberal in the least yet it’s all about perspective.

As other commenters have also said, I agree it’s the difference between being born rich and knowing the struggle to get there. What is most surprising about Mitt is that it only took one generation to forget. It used to be two at least.


Murph, thanks so much for an article that makes a point that we can’t repeat too often: namely, that there’s a huge difference between traditional Republicans of earlier decades and today’s warped collection of Randists and religious fanatics.

I think you raise a good point when you ask whether George would have voted for his own son.

Sometimes I wonder if George Bush senior ever voted for junior! (“Who the hell is Grover Norquist anyhow?”)



Great piece. You know I wonder if Dad were alive(or even Mother) if Mitt would be acting different? I understand Dad’s penchant for providing his children more than he had, most of us did the same thing. but I really do wonder if his parents were alive if he would be a different candidate. I personally do not remember his father in any sense but I have seen u=tubes of his interviews and he sounds like a moderate conservative. Perhaps his comment on Vietnam was a bit self serving because his own son was not fighting, but he was right in questioning those general’s words. and for the corporatists who were making the money it would have been very disturbing.


Murph, thanks for writing this! And AdLib, Killgore, you’ve absolutely nailed the issue that I’ve been wrestling with for so many years.

I think Mitt shares this lack of empathy and experience as deeply as the majority of young people in this country and I’ve also come to think the cause is all a matter of timing, given some flaws (short memories, tribal instincts, and the need to accumulate security which now equates wealth) in our basic natures as human beings.
The coming HBO series clip dealing with entitlement was emailed to me the other day and it really hit a nerve:

So I sent a response to the friend who sent it which I’m posting here. (Sorry, I tend to rant in large paragraphs).

“It hits to the core of what’s had me in a knot for the past few years. And that “entitlement” is a process I don’t think can ever be stopped. I’ve become more and more convinced every generation who doesn’t experience the ills previous generations found awful enough to rub elbows together to fix will assume the status quo is durable and indestructible; and what once held some truth created by that unity gradually warps into self-deluding lies which can’t really be understood by the disassociated, self indulgent, short term thinking inheritors who haven’t been through the experience. Even if we were capable of learning from history, the vast majority find studying it to be a boring waste of time. (I didn’t find history interesting until I was an adult, and didn’t appreciate until much later why my parents didn’t give me all the stuff I wanted even though they could well afford it.)

I’ve realized for many years that I was born at a time when two huge wars were followed by an exploding economy and a sense of bounty, our country was brought together through common effort enough to allow us to finance huge infrastructure projects, a space program, finance research, address civil rights/voting rights/women’s rights/minimum wage issues/health and safety/environmental and consumer protections. Only after two wars (when we had willingly put government in charge) – and bounty (where the scarcity fear factor didn’t play a role) were conditions right for a more cooperative environment where government and business often even behaved as partners in building a country which considered the needs of all of us. Never unified, but unified ENOUGH!

Today we’re a huge but shrinking corporation (plutocracy), and the aging CEO’s in charge are determined to down-size and fight over scraps rather than concern themselves with the plight of those who’re being trampled or become involved in the process of helping us reinvent ourselves. Our country is politically polarized, our tenuous hold on unity is gone – we’ve all gone tribal again, and the predictable culprits are trying their hardest to undo the rest of what our ill-educated clueless voters have already allowed them to dismantle. We’re drowning in empty “Rah, Rah, USA!!” shouts which accompany the lies promising a fruitful tomorrow if only unregulated trickle down is allowed to reign king.”


Wow, wonderfully said, Cyrano1!

I feel as you do about the deterioration that the entitlement mentality, along with the pathological need to be entertained instead of informed has wrought on the power of the people, our standard of living and our democracy.

I do think though that the rubber band can only be stretched so far until it breaks. This is a mistake that tyrants throughout history make.

The 2010 election only confirmed the low information, short memory, emotionally motivated and short term thinking traits of a majority of voters. Just a year and a half after Republican power brought about the most destructive acts against our economy, a majority put them back in power because Obama couldn’t wave a magic wand and fix decades of economic and political corruption and convert one of the worst economic disasters in American history into a booming economy in less than two years.

As annoying as the immature minds are of many voters and non-voters alike, as much as they seem not to have been taught the important attribute of critical thinking, what the 1%ers always fail to recognize is that emotionally-motivated voters can turn against them for that reason alone.

It’s too bad that there aren’t more long term thinkers in the population. To sustain a Dem majority for a decade or more could have allowed them the opportunity to prove whether or not their policies truly work. But this short term thinking of flipping the channel whenever their attention span wanes, has undermined the ability for meaningful change over time…though passing the ACA will stand as one of those historically heralded accomplishments.

If Americans were longer term thinkers, if they made decisions based off of an understanding of where the course we’re on today will take us, the country and many people in it could have avoided so much unnecessary suffering.

But because of this mindset, the majority of Americans seem to insist on only making decisions about big changes AFTER they have been forced to suffer. Americans are reactive voters, not pro-active. They wait until the economy has been pillaged and destroyed before insisting on financial reforms,they wait until their rights have been taken away to push back.

Though it’s a weakness, it does represent a path for change. This newest adult generation actually does appear to be on track for the first time, having a lower standard of living than their parents. This has never happened before in American history as a sustained projection (limited periods like the Great Depression aside).

Might not the inability to buy houses, pay off school loans and other debts, the disintegration of social services such as public schools, police, firefighters, roads, retirement savings, etc. and the ongoing lowering of expectations about each coming year have a cumulative affect on the way these people feel about those winning their class war on the 99%?

I don’t mean there will be a physical revolution but the building pressure on the 99% would seem to set up a future eruption against the 1% and their domination.

I hate the idea of not being pro-active and acting now to avert suffering down the line. Those of us that are fighting that fight will continue but it may be more likely that many out there must first find themselves suffering in their daily life before acting to stop it.


AdLib: You again said it all! Articulate, concise, and accurate! And I’m also of the view that due to the lack of critical thinking skills – that we’re overwhelmed with a majority of short term, emotion based “thinkers” in those who actually do show up to vote – we’ll continue heading towards increased suffering. I’d love to hear from someone who’s prescient enough to tell us what form the inevitable reaction takes. And you’re right. We react. We aren’t animals who collectively think and plan long term.

In the meantime, I really like diversions, currently my smart phone. A Samsung. Made in Korea. Or maybe not. Do they also outsource to other countries for cheaper labor? We never could stop globalization nor should we want to – but again, the only viable solutions/strategies (responses) we might have would involve long term planning, sacrifice, and consistency. Oh well…..:)


To all that you have mentioned Adlib, I can’t let go of what I see as a great deal of institutional breakdown. The rapidity almost seems to have started with he selection of GW Bush when many saw through the politics of the Supreme Court, from their it seemed to snowball. That one decision put doubt in so many peoples minds developing an even greater division. Then came the Bush tax cuts–division, the invasion of Iraq and the questioning of that further adding to the institutional breakdown. Then the housing/banking breakdown came along and so many things in that brought breakdowns, banks, flyby mortgage lenders, flyby appraisers…Then the Tea Party people backed by the libertarian Koch’s50 year old dream of not trusting government at all. That nothing good can come from government but deregulation and government is an intrusion in everyone’s lives (except “Keep you hands off my Medicare.) I may even throw in the Penn. St affair as another breakdown. Now we have the Banks a LIBOR scamming interest rates and revaluations that they may have also. been doing it with energy rates. And what do we get from the Mitt candidacy but a whole lot of mistrust and questions.

So just adding to all of what you said, our not being able to see what is good for the future, has been tainted by so mistrust and our breakdown in so many institutions tat we once trusted. Congress used to pass 5-6-7 surface transportation acts, no longer they do one year, 18 month pacts, afraid that the other party might do better/worse and collect the most campaign funds


Bito: Agree with you. The breakdown has been rapid and stunning! And I truly believe the primary catalyst for escalation has been the rise in popularity of Fox News promoting corporate interests by using the propaganda tools of hate/lies/misinformation and spreading contempt for education and the educated. They’re masters at it, and competing stations have pretty much diluted their standards just to stay in the game.


Wonderfully put Cyrano, and the video is somewhat mind blowing in it’s honesty. I have learned throughout my life that being #1 is somewhat meaningless, unless one is on a track field. Claiming the #1 spot is vanity and arrogance. It’s looking outward and not inward. Like a pool player of average talent beating another of little talent at all. He considers himself a winner, but doesn’t think of how he’d fare in a game with someone of equal or greater talent.

I am not a religious person, in fact, I am technically an atheist. But I believe strongly in spirituality. It amazes me in these times, the number of so-called holy men, men of god, who can spout bible verses and chapters backward and forward, but seem to know very little about genuine spirituality. In my understanding, genuine spirituality is all about unity. It is about all of us tiny, tiny parts of a greater whole acting together, to create a better whole. I believe America is suffering from a great spiritual illness. We have strayed from the path and the prospects of finding it again seem dire. Spirituality is the key that could unlock the gates to that path we so desperately seek. The huge problem before us is generating the spirituality we need.


Killgore: Thanks! And exactly! And holding onto that #1 label is like the athlete looking back on his/her glory years as being the best years of their lives – as a fixed unalterable state to be encased as a shrine – rather than flexibly moving forward using the different tools required due to different circumstances, to create greater years utilizing the same energy and dedication they poured into their past glories.

I’m glad Murph set us straight on the value of watching the HBO series so I don’t waste money upgrading my Comcast coverage.

Agree with you on spirituality. I suppose my greatest sense of it is to simply marvel at the fact that we’re here at all, and we’re actually capable of giving thought to it. A sense of perspective, maybe in contemplating (navel gazing?) the significance of our existence given the enormity of whatever the whole might be?

Another incredible photo of the milky way framed by gorgeous chunks of our own planet, and they all just blew me away!! As though we could touch the relatively small number of stars we can actually see even with the best equipment – and they’re millions/billions of light years away – and reminds us we’re a mere speck located in the end of a minor spiral in just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies. What a bleeding miracle we’re here to appreciate it, especially now with our access to instant information via the internet our clever species devised!! For instance I looked up how long it takes for our galaxy to do a complete revolution (200 to 220 million years), and our speed since we’re at the outer edge of it is about 155 miles per second!! Holy shit! 🙂


Well done Murph, good article. What a juxtaposition eh? As AdLib mentions below, I think a lot of the differences between Mitt and Dad are because of how Dad got to be where he was.
Coming from modest means, and working side by side with others of modest means teaches some pretty good lessons on humanity, on the human spirit. Those lessons are usually indelible, lasting a lifetime.

I think among those factors that have helped mold Mittens into the “person,” he is today, is the prep-school, rich boy atmosphere in the schools he attended. Mitt is a “blazer boy,” if I ever saw one. Having classmates that, no doubt, derided poor and working class people as being inferior. Having that rarified air of entitlement that surely was present in his school days.
I also think another reason for the glaring differences is the GOP itself, and what it has become since Dad’s time in the party. The party itself has become corrupted and having someone like Mitt as president, makes perfect sense, if one is among the corrupt. Mitt has swung very far to the right of where he was as governor of Mass. If he wants to be president, as a modern day republican, he has to have made such a swing.
This reminds me of one of my favorite movies, “Scent of a Woman,” where the privileged students get into trouble and leave the hard working, principled student on tuition assistance, to take the fall. They know their daddies will keep them from being blamed or punished in any way.

KQµårk 死神

Murph excellent article. They could not be two different people when it comes to how they each conducted their public lives.


Murph, I wonder if the critical difference between George and Mitt is coming from modest beginnings and having to work one’s way up to wealth and accomplishment and being born the son of a millionaire and having everything handed to one.

It’s easier to imagine why George had empathy for the average American, for those with little money and the needy since he would have been living alongside them and struggling himself along the way.

Then looking at Mitt who hasn’t had to struggle or sacrifice a day in his life, who has been surrounded by and part of the elite since his birth, it’s not hard to understand the sense of entitlement and disconnection from the lives of those who don’t have hundreds of billions of dollars to buy whatever they want.

Like most Americans, George had to participate in the challenges of life and achieving adulthood. Mitt has been in the bubble of a wealth-protected childhood and comes off more like someone who is emotionally retarded, not uncommon for those who have grown up wealthy, who retains a level of immaturity and displays the petty and selfish traits of a child.

It is a challenge to parents who are well off, to balance the urge to give one’s children everything money can buy that could make them happy with not spoiling them to the point where they feel entitled to having what they want and become self-centered, having little or no empathy for the plights and feelings of others.

As successful as George may have been in his personal life and career, he failed as a parent. Perhaps the two are very intertwined. How much time and energy could George have been spending on raising Mitt with such an ambitious life? There are only 24 hours in a day. As was the custom back then and especially for a conservative Mormon household, the father went out and invested most of his life in his work while the mother was responsible for raising the kids. Lenore Romney, George’s wife would likely have been the most influential parent in Mitt’s development. And her doting on him appears self-evident.

There is a feminine nature to Mitt that is not so apparent in George, it would seem to come from Mitt being pampered by his mother. Looking at George, one could imagine him getting into a physical fight when he was 20. The same couldn’t be said about the testosterone-lacking Mitt. In fact, we’re aware of his bullying an assumed gay classmate as a coward by having a group of other boys behind him, dressing up in a police uniform and using a red flashing light on his car to assert power over others…the pattern is clear.

Like many born with silver spoons in their mouths, Mitt never had to achieve things all by himself so he never built the maturity and inner strength that comes from personal struggle and sacrifice. Unlike most people, when Mitt had a problem, there was always money or social standing to throw at it, he never got knocked down and had to pick himself up.

Though it sure isn’t desired, the old cliche is that going through something tough “builds character”. So the opposite would seem to make sense, never having to go through difficulties would prevent one from building character…along with maturity and empathy for the struggles of others.

Indeed, the rotten apple fell far from the tree and the cause may have been primarily blowback of George’s wealth and success.

KQµårk 死神

Excellent point about how George had the empathy his son does not possess.

I would not be as tough on George being a bad father though. The paradigm of the time that prevailed in most American culture was that the mother took care of the kids and the father worked to support the family. Not just Mormons. If anything I would blame the mother, especially if I knew her better for not instilling those important values on little Willard. But then again I don’t think Willard played very nice with others from a very young age. In fact I think the only thing that gives him a civil face at all is how he was raised because he seemed to have chosen not to take those traits to heart.


KQ – Good point and as I got farther into that paragraph, I did move a bit away from placing as much blame on George for Mitt being a failure as a human being but it does seem inescapable that as a father, George did not successfully impart necessary attributes of a decent human being into Mitt.

Mitt’s mother may have been a nice person, I know nothing about her, but she was an abject failure at impressing the concepts of empathy, community, justice and equality in Mitt.

So, the net result is that George and Lenore failed as parents and produced a son who is a shallow, selfish, greedy liar. Just because he was handed wealth doesn’t make him a success, he too is a failure and will be remembered as such by history, especially after November.


“There is a feminine nature to Mitt that is not so apparent in George, it would seem to come from Mitt being pampered by his mother.”

Yes, I have a feeling George Romney wasn’t around much and Lenore raised him. Out of curiosity, I looked for some insight into mom Lenore. It’s interesting that she was predictably a stay at home mother yet…

She ran for Michigan Senate in 1970-after her husband had already served three terms as governor. She was quoted as saying “It was disappointing to find that so many people closed their minds just because I was a woman” (Mitt would have been in college)

She was an actress before marrying George-and reportedly turned down an MGM contract to do so.

This makes me wonder-a young woman striking out on her own and beginning to see success…instead she then marries appropriately (she was- and came from a devout Mormon family)…the kids are in college and she makes a run for office. (During that run, she was for more liberal abortion rights-before Roe vs Wade in 1973).

She seemed torn between individual achievement and being a well behaved woman.