Here's one that baffles me: Willard Mitt Romney.
The guy is bright, confident, and by all accounts he's a faithful Latter Day Saint. He's got this great sense of humor, a beautiful and charming wife, five successful boys and perfectly coiffed hair. The guy looks like he is already President. The kind of President America needs.
I wanted to vote for him. I heard how as a fiscally-conservative-genius-leader-superman he turned around both the ailing 2002 Olympics and the Massachusetts state budget. I heard how as a 'compassionate conservative' leader he had made Massachusetts the first state with universal health care. I started thinking he was like some kind of zionistic ("and there was no poor among them" LINK) wunderkind. I started thinking that he was, perhaps, the kind of Mormon every Mormon should be.
And yet he's not just soft on peace, he's the warhawk's hawk. He wants everyone to know he REALLY supports our military action in Iraq. He doesn't just support our troops (most good people would) but everything military we are doing there – regardless of consequence. And he wants to do more of it.
Romney was in Israel just yesterday promoting his nascent presidential campaign with promises of being a hardliner on Iran. He made a special point to focus on some Iranian fighters that the Bush administration claims have been discovered in Iraq. He wanted to distinguish that – unlike the "folly" of certain members of the U.S. congress – he has no qualms about engaging Iran militarily. LINK
Mitt isn't just a warhawk in the Middle East, either. He supports militant actions here at home. In the debate on how far we curtail American freedoms 'in this time of war', Romney has let it be known loud and clear where he stands on the issue. He wants more federal funding of domestic wiretapping, secret surveillance, and investigations. He wants more equipment and personnel watching our own.
I don't understand the guy at all. Demonizing people abroad ("Iranians in Iraq" . . . where do you think hatemongering about Iranians is leading us?), demonizing people at home (he was pleading for more wiretapping funds for Massachusetts – not during the 9/11 hysteria, but four years later – seemingly out of the blue – at the end of his governorship LINK) . . . really, who is this guy and why does he think he is presidential timber? And how can he call himself a "Latter-Day Saint"?
As a conservative Republican Mormon, I thought Romney's electable weakness might have been his very liberal public stances on abortion and homosexual rights. But that was 13 years ago in a campaign against Ted Kennedy (Kennedy's closest race ever). I figured his recently reformed and more conservative tilts on these issues might suffice. But this bloodthirsty scaremongering? . . . Where is he going with this and what strategist is advising him that it's the way to go?
The conventional wisdom might indicate that the religious right has been more readily accepting of national causes for war, but I think even the Bible belt is starting to question what we are accomplishing in Iraq – and perhaps even why we went there in the first place. Romney is anxious to overcome his 'strange cult member' status there, but pandering to their base, warlike passions doesn't seem like the most Christian decison. It may not even be the shrewdest. I was particularly impressed with Senator Webb's speech after the state of the Union last night. He is a southerner with a miltary background and a kid in Iraq . . . he wasn't pushing the kind of bloodthirsty, blindsided agenda Romney is pushing and just months ago he managed to get himself elected in a very close campaign against the 'more hardline' incumbent. LINK
Finally, I have to say that I am hugely disappointed in Mitt's Machiavellian strategies because of what he could and should have learned from his father's campaign. George Romney's mounting presidential campaign imploded when he innocently, honestly, and admirably admitted that he was upset by the 'brainwashing' he had received from Generals taking him on a VIP tour of Vietnam. It had caused him to be unduly supportive and unquestioning of our military actions in that country and when he admitted his mistake in buying into it too far his opponents squashed his campaign (what kind of leader is weak enough to be brainwashed? they taunted). Here's what Mitt himself had to say about it last year in an AP news interview:
Romney speaks heavily of his father during national TV interview
By GLEN JOHNSON , Associated Press writer
BOSTON — As he contemplates his own run for the presidency, Gov. Mitt Romney agrees his father's 1968 campaign may have been doomed when he said he had been subjected to a "brainwashing" by Vietnam War supporters.
Time later proved George Romney right.
"His point was that (Defense Secretary Robert) McNamara and (President Lyndon) Johnson had been lying to the American people, and ... in the past he had swallowed hook, line and sinker,
what he had been told by military generals," the Massachusetts governor said in an interview with C-SPAN that will air Sunday night.
"I remember that when McNamara came out with his book about 'The Fog of War,' and admitted that he had lied to the American people, my dad took a certain degree of satisfaction in the fact that the people now knew that what he said was true," Romney added. "And he used to say that in politics being right too early is not a good thing. But he was right, and it was too early."
So there it is: Mitt Romney has a father who is duped by his own Republican party, his own Presidential administration, and his own military leaders into believing lies so that he will help people keep supporting a war effort. Mitt's father finds out the truth and bravely speaks out about it. Mitt's father loses his chance to be President. So what does Mitt do? He goes out and proclaims to the American people that this kind of thing never happens. He claims that the warmakers never lie. He admonishes that if we are at war we gotta back it 100% and ask no questions.
Mitt promises to be extra warmongery when faced with 'the fog of war'. None of this pansy thoughtfulness and question asking. What on earth are we supposed to conclude from this?
I fear that, in Mitt's zeal to not be perceived as "being right too early", he is willing to let the 'collateral damage' fall where it may. He seems willing to sacrifice what is right entirely – as long as his presidential ambition isn't among the casualties.