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Friday, September 28, 2012

Mitt, love and war

Just now I saw Lawrence O'Donnell flash this image onscreen while decrying Mitt Romney's stance on the Vietnam War. At the time this shot was taken -- summer, 1968 -- Mitt was on a beach in France, having received a deferment from the draft to preach the word of Joseph Smith to the people of Gaul. That deferment was Uncle Sam's special gift to the Mormon Church.

What fried O'Donnell was the fact that Mitt Romney had also participated in what may be the only pro-war, pro-draft demonstration ever held on a college campus. That was in 1965, in Stanford. One must quickly admit that there seemed to be a century's worth of difference between 1965 and 1968; George Romney (Mitt's father) originally supported the war but later declared that the military had "brainwashed" him. He took a lot of heat for that remark, from both the right and the left. I think he demonstrated courage when he admitted in public that his views had changed.

Did the younger Romney do likewise? I see no evidence that he had mustered up the same courage. This analysis indicates that Mitt refused to take a stand:
In 1965, as an undergraduate at Stanford, [Mitt] Romney not only supported the war in Vietnam, he participated in pro-war protests. That same year, he sought and received his first deferment.

A year later, Romney received a longer-than-usual 4-D deferment, which allowed him to do Mormon missionary work in France, despite the fact that other "young Mormon men elsewhere were denied that same status," and the Mormon Church, which backed the war, "limited the number of church missionaries allowed to defer their military service using the religious exemption."

By 1969, Romney had completed his work in France, but sought and received new deferments.

Many years later, in 1994, Romney said, "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." That wasn't true -- he took several steps to remove himself from the eligibility pool.

By 2007, Romney, a presidential candidate, argued. "I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there, and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam."

But that's not what he said in 1994, and if "longed" to serve in the war he protested to support, Romney probably shouldn't have gone so far out of his way to make sure he didn't have to go.

Again, I can appreciate why this all seems like ancient history. But if Romney has misled voters about his decision to avoid military service during a war -- and there's ample reason to believe he has -- that's clearly a legitimate campaign issue. For that matter, if Romney benefited from preferential treatment, unavailable to those who weren't born into a wealthy and politically influential family, that matters, too. 
Before you say it -- of course I know that Bill Clinton also sought to escape military service. (Rush Limbaugh used to call him a "draft dodger." I wonder why Rush doesn't use that term nowadays?) The difference is that Clinton also went on record as stating that he thought the entire war was misguided, and that the American military should get out of Vietnam. He didn't take the stance that others should fight in his stead.

That said, I must also make this concession: The outrage O'Donnell directs toward Mitt Romney over this issue probably wouldn't have been expressed by many young people in 1968. If you weren't alive then, you may not understand that, back then, most with-it anti-war twenty-somethings would have interpreted the "Mitt on the beach" image in a very different way.

Most of them would have seen that photo and said: "Far out, man." Instead of making war, Mitt made love -- on the beach. At least, he made the word "love," in very large letters.

At the time, every hippie in America and every baba-cool in France would have considered him très groovy.
Comments:
Willard exhibits stereotypical behavior of an entitled aristocrat. He earned nothing for himself and rode off the success of his father's high position and connections. It's so hypocritical that Willard condemns others he accuses of being entitled when he himself feels he is entitled to everything, money, power, gentry, etc. And of course he supported the Vietnam War, he views Communism and Socialism (which he confuses and garbles the two together as so many do) along with Non-religiosity to be enemies that should be fought by any means necessary. He doesn't give a fuck about Vietnamese folks, even children, get slaughtered in the process. More parasites to get rid of in his view.
 
Although his actions might be galling, the word in this context is Gaul. As the French put it, "nos ancetres les Gaulois" (with apologies to those who know there should be a circumflex over the e between the c and the t; I haven't figured out how to do that without getting weird characters instead), not to mention smoke it.
 
Near-perfect, Jay. There's no doubt the young Romney honestly supported the false-flag created Vietnam war. Being a member of the American aristocracy, he certainly must have believed and still believes that godless communism/socialism must be opposed like any other ideology or belief that might restrain unlimited profits for people like the Romneys of the world. Of course this opposition and the fighting and dying that that entails would mostly be provided by lower class rural whites and inner city blacks and other minorities, the sort of people that the war criminal Kissinger referred to as "dumb, stupid animals" fit only to be used as "pawns" for the benefit of the upper 1% who actually own the country and inherit the right to rule it and loot it at will.
 
Chickenhawks, the lot of them. It wasn't getting out of going to Vietnam it was the hypocrisy. according to Joe Conason in The Hunting of the President, Bill Clinton did register for the draft and lucked out with a high lottery number.
 
It's not often noted, but when Clinton reneged on his ROTC commitment to U of Arkansas (or wherever) to attend Yale Law THAT PUT HIM IN THE DRAFT. He stood in the draft, and got a high number that wasn't called that year.

XI


 
C-Knitter: I really must not post when I am so close to sleep. Apologies for my error. I DO know better, being a bit of a Francophile. The correction has been made.
 
No Joe.....Mitt wouldn't have been considered Groovy, he would have been considered a total, absolute Square. He supported the war, but didn't want to fight in it, That was a major no-no in the 60's. We respected those who went and fought and we respected those who refused to go and fought against it because they were conscientious objectors, but not those who supported it but got out of going because of who their daddy was.

In 1965-1968 if you would have shown those 2 photos, side-by-side, and said he wants you to go fight while he goes to the beaches in France, he would have been a total outcast.

And Rush Limbaugh didn't go either, he had a boil on his ass! No kidding.


 
People who got deferments weren't "draft dodgers." That phrase has been perverted over the decades. The REAL "draft dodgers" were those who resisted the draft and went so far as to go to Canada or other foreign countries to avoid it. Many burned their draft cards in a display of defiance. Taking legal deferments never qualified as "dodging" the draft. I am plenty old enough to remember the Vietnam War era. I think it is a bunch of hooey to go after people who took legal deferments such as Romney, Cheney, and Clinton and avoided military service.
 
ANonOMouse...actually, you kind of missed my point. We don't know what Mitt's stance on the war was in 1968. We know what his father's stance was. He changed his views and said so in public, thereby saying adieu to his party's nomination. But if Mitt underwent a change of attitude, he never made that change known to anyone else.

That's kind of Mitt's whole act, isn't it? Always trying to have it more than one way...

I was just a kid in '68, but I was precocious and talked to a lot of folks twice my age. I think they would have seen the "on the beach" photo and decided that the guy in the picture had wisely decided that Vietnam wasn't worth it.
 
Susan, I might agree with you if those deferments were available to all but they were not. If you avoided actual military service and were qualified to serve, then you are a draft dodger. Bush was a draft dodger even though he was technically enlisted in the champagne division of the chicken hawk brigade. At least that's the us vets see it. And oh, I do have more respect for the CO's than the rest.
 
"That's kind of Mitt's whole act, isn't it? Always trying to have it more than one way..."

Yep, having it both ways is Mitt's thing.

And apparently I did miss your point Joe, sorry bout that, must be the old setting in. Or maybe it was the word "Groovy" and the idea that anyone of my generation would apply that word to Mitt.
 
@Susan,

Putting aside Willard's willingness (hehe) to take advantage of copping out of military service and avoiding persecuting him as a draft-dodger, it still leaves the mountainous issue of him supporting the Vietnam War. Richard Santorum once called Barack a 'anti-war government nigga'. Despite the fact that it isn't true (that Barack is anti-war) in this universe or any universe that Barack is anti-war (protip: he isn't), supporting the Vietnam War combined with calls in contemporary times for a new war in the mid-east, it makes it clear that Willard Romney is pro-war and is a war-monger. Because war is profitable and the American economy is at its best when two things occur, 1) it has a wartime economy that is activated in the support of a war that 2) all the people can get behind and support as theirs a new Adolf Hitler in town.
 
I don't care if you "agree" with me or not, Bob. It is a FACT of who draft dodgers were. By the way, the student deferments were changed because of the rich being able to take them and the poor not. You are making up shit about the term, and I don't appreciate it. You are insulting people who full well remember the Vietnam era.
 
If you all want to complain about Mitt, do so, but stop with the "draft dodger" terminology, because that term was NOT used for people who used perfectly legal deferments. I will argue until I am blue in the face about this because I remember and lived through the era and KNOW how the term was used. Those of you who use it incorrectly were either too young to remember Vietnam--a real possibility--or you prefer to distort terms to suit your own biases.
 
@Susan,

Once again, you've completely ignored what I said. I stopped with the whole draft dodging thing and brought up the real problem, that's what I focused on, Willard supporting the Vietnam War. Yet you've chosen to not read what I wrote and still criticize what I wrote by telling me to quit with the draft dodging thing when that isn't even what I wrote about. Therefore you have tried to make it look like I wrote about something else to dupe people into not reading my comments and basing their judgement of my comments upon your response so it seems like I'm continuing a the draft dodging thing when I'm not. Quite a disturbing tactic you have to misrepresent what others are saying and completely ignore the real substance of it.
 
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