Geraghty suggests Romney’s father as cause of Romney’s gaffs and pratfalls

Is Mitt Romney’s caution about describing the success of the surge stem from watching his father get crucified over his inital support, and subsequent backtracking, on Vietnam?—writes the sad and tired Romney sychophant Jim Geraghty in an NRO campaign spot post titled Does Romney’s verbal caution about the surge have deep roots?—note the subjunctive mood—Geraghty poses his claims as questions and hypotheticals as he purports to probe the soul of the hapless candidate’s second most primary relationship, that of Romney to his troubled father, George Romney.

Romney’s “if the surge is working” and “the surge is apparently working” brought him a great deal of grief from Senator McCain during the debate.

Why might a man like Mitt Romney – who once reviewed receipts to determine if businesses spent more or less on office supplies than they claimed before investing in that sector — prefer to see the Iraq data for himself? Why might he be a bit cautious about confident assertions of success in war? Why might he want a bit more than a general’s assurance that efforts are proceeding apace?more.

Again: more questions and hypotheticals—when discussing Romney’s caution Geraghty himself grows cautious. Here is where we agree with Geraghty: Romney’s seemingly baffling qualifications and equivocations are—we would argue—an artifact of his professional temper and apolitical habits of mind. The man is an equity sector manager of funds. What you do when you manage funds is you hedge against uncertainty or against any sense of being overexposed on any one position or in any one direction.

So: Romney hedges, equivocates, and qualifies, but what Romney doesn’t seem to understand—what simply baffles the strangely singular little man, and what no handler nor hireling has been able to convince the hapless candidate—is that staking out a position with respect to an investment opportunity, and taking a position on an issue of public concern, are not the same—audiences in political fora and deliberative assemblies experience hedging and equivocating as lying and evasion, because issues and positions in political fora are people, people who expect you to actually believe in, and hold to, the positions that you affect to support.

Hence: Romney’s wretched reputation among many who you would otherwise expect to support him—e.g. us, because we would no more trust Romney than we would eat a cheese burger on Shabbat in our kippah, tzitzit, and wrapped in our tallit.

But Geraghty is not satisfied with this explanation for Romney’s bizarre public displays.

He offers us another one.

Perhaps—says Geraghty—we can find the answer in Time magazine, Sep. 15, 1967:

Last week, during a Labor Day interview on Detroit’s WKBD-TV, Commentator Lou Gordon wanted to know how [Michigan’s Governor George] Romney squared his current conviction that the U.S. should never have got involved in Asia with the comment he made after a tour of the war zone in November 1965 that “involvement was morally right and necessary.”

Replied Romney: “When I came back from Viet Nam, I had just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get when you go over to Viet Nam.”

Gordon: By the generals?

Romney: Not only by the generals but also by the diplomatic corps over there, and they do a very thorough job, and, since returning from Viet Nam, I’ve gone into the history of Viet Nam, all the way back into World War II and before that. And, as a result, I have changed my mind…

Two days after making his comment, Romney appeared in Washington, where newsmen gave him a chance to get off the hook by asking whether he might have been misunderstood. “I was not misunderstood,” he snapped. “If you want to get into a discussion of who’s been brainwashing who, I suggest you take a look at what the Administration has been telling the American people.”

With that, he whipped out a newspaper clipping in which Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara was quoted as saying, just before the 1966 election, that draft calls might be cut the following year. “The information was not accurate,” said Romney. The Pentagon quickly replied that “it is the Governor who is giving inaccurate information,” noting that draft calls for the first ten months of 1967 are down 136,840 from the 1966 total. Said McNamara: “I don’t think Governor Romney can recognize the truth when he sees or hears it.”

Perhaps the unkindest cut of all, because of its unintentional but magnificent ambiguity, came from Leonard Hall, chairman of the Romney for President committee. “I think it finally comes down to an issue of credibility between Governor Romney and Secretary McNamara,” he said. “And given that choice, I have no doubt whom the American people will support.”

Back to Geraghty: We are all products of our upbringing. One can’t help but wonder whether a young Mitt Romney, watching his father become widely mocked over a poor word choice — but seeing many Americans come around to the perspective that, on balance, the United States probably should not have gotten ground troops involved in Vietnam — learned to verify what he is told by a Defense Secretary and generals … more

Various responsa: Poor word choice!?—please, Geraghty, read the article that you yourself quote more carefully and allow the elder Romney (may his name be for a blessing) the dignity of his own testimony!—he, himself, when confronted by sympathetic reporters who offered him the opportunity to retract or redact, refused the gesture and insisted, again, on precisely that term: brainwashing.

Also, Geraghty, you seem to miss what is most painfully obvious—and our method here is to look for the obvious—about this father and son drama getting played out at the expense of the GOP. Romney in his hedging and equivocating is not reacting against what happened to his father—per contra!—Romney has appropriated the hedging, equivocating, and vacillating of his father. This is a theme we developed weeks ago when we noted how Romney himself lashed out at his father even as he appropriated his father’s behaviors:

Romney lashes out at his father for indecision even as Romney himself vacillates wildly

Here is where Geraghty—in our humble estimation—is correct: Romney’s campaign is not about Romney reaching out to the American people; Romney’s campaign is about Romney reaching out to Romney, and a part of that story is Romney reaching out to Romney through the person of his father (may his name be for a blessing). This is the story of a fabulously wealthy narcissist in search of himself. We—the rest of us—the GOP, the rival campaigns, the party primary system, the broken conservative movement, the American people—are less than stage props in a twisted narrative that will soon, if history is any guide, transition from low comedy to high tragedy.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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  1. 1 Romney: soul of a department of motor vehicles clerk; also: side switching a family trait that goes back 150 years « who is willard milton romney?

    […] also recounts how Romney audited the receipts of an enterprise to determine if they were spending too much on office supplies—this is our visionary […]




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