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The Romney Family Chicken Hawks

Mitt Romney is one of a very long and not-so-distinguished list of Republicans who cheers and supports every war we’ve ever been in while refusing to put his ass, or the asses of his sons, on the line in those wars. Ann Romney went on The View and tried to answer questions about that:

Whoopi Goldberg: What I read about your husband, what I read, and maybe you can correct this, is that the reason that he didn’t serve in Vietnam was because it was against the religion.

Ann Romney: He was serving his mission. (Explaining that none of her sons have served in the military) My five sons have also served (on) missions. We find different ways of serving… I sent them away boys and they came back men.

Whoopi Goldberg: So when you’re facing these mothers whose children have not come back, how will you explain to them that your sons haven’t gone?

Ann Romney: I think it’s the hardest thing that a president will probably do.

Goldberg is wrong about going to war being against the Mormon religion; Mormons can and do serve in the military and are anything but pacifist. But Mitt Romney did use the excuse of going on his Mormon mission to get deferrals in order to get out of serving in Vietnam, a war that he actually marched in favor of while in college. And this argument that is just a “different way of serving” is absurd. One simply has nothing to do with the other.

It’s easy to send your boys on a mission where the most terrible thing they’ll face is a barking dog or an impolite comment, all while cheering on a war that puts other people’s children into a war that killed millions of people. And remember a few years ago when Mitt was asked about why none of his sons had ever served in the military and he said “one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected.” How patriotic of them. And apparently they were just too busy to serve in both gulf wars when they were of the proper age to join the military; I guess they were showing their support for the nation then by getting ready to help him get elected.

Ann Romney also claimed, falsely, that as governor of Massachusetts Mitt had attended every funeral of a servicemember from that state who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well isn’t that convenient. But what he refused to do was put himself or his children at any risk of being in one of those funerals because they’re rich white people and rich white people don’t serve in wars, even when they think those wars are necessary and justified. They only send other people’s children to die, not their own.

Comments

  1. Brownian says

    Well, Mormons serve on ‘missions’, and the military does ‘missions’ too. Same-same.

    Ann Romney also claimed, falsely, that as governor of Massachusetts Mitt had attended every funeral of a servicemember from that state who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Doesn’t he know that you don’t have to actually have the deceased person in sight to posthumously baptise them as a Mormon?

  2. says

    “one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected.”

    This is one of the most egocentric things I have ever heard. I had previously blocked it from my mind, thanks so much. Romney is truly despicable.

  3. rork says

    I can’t fault him for sons not serving in wars when there was no requirement. I know I wouldn’t have served in the recent ones. Maybe Dad should have coerced them, to improve his ratings.

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    My five sons have also served (on) missions. We find different ways of serving…

    Absurd, indeed. Serving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not the same as serving Uncle Sam.

    It’s easy to send your boys on a mission where the most terrible thing they’ll face is a barking dog or an impolite comment…

    The Mormon Church has had controversy about mission assignments before. Apparently the rich Romney types get sent to safe, civilized places in Europe while poorer Mormons get sent to developing countries.

  5. slc1 says

    Just as a matter of information, 3 of the 4 candidates in 2008 had sons serving in the military in Iraq (McCain, Palin, and Biden). Obama’s kids, both girls, were not even teenagers.

  6. lofgren says

    The response to a question about why the sons don’t serve should be, “I raised my sons to make their own choices, and I’m not going to put words in their mouths. You’ll have to ask them.” Romney’s defense of his own failure to serve in a war he supported is pathetic enough even to this person who doesn’t believe that a future president necessarily has an obligation to serve in every war he supports. There’s no need to bring his sons into it.

  7. Michael Heath says

    The best indictment of chicken hawks I’ve ever encountered is the Creedence Clearwater Revival Song, Fortunate Son. I also greatly enjoy Bob Seger’s live cover version.

  8. says

    I think a lot of folks here aren’t familiar with how fucked up a mormon mission can be. Its not war and is rarely fatal (mostly due to the church banning missions in places where missionaries keep getting assaulted or killed), but this is ridiculous:

    It’s easy to send your boys on a mission where the most terrible thing they’ll face is a barking dog or an impolite comment…

    This is true for sons of mormon royalty like the romneys (who get sent to places like france), but not for rank and file members. I know people who have contracted parasites and decades-long health problems because of the area of the world their mission was in. People get sent to areas with high rates of violent crime with no training in how to protect themselves, most of them just trust the spirit to take care of them and it doesn’t always work out. I also know people who lived for the two years without basic amenities because the church provides little financial support for missionaries. Meanwhile the Mission President lives in luxury. Many missionaries lived in places with infestations of various sorts (bugs, rats, etc). This says nothing of the psychological abuse that goes on in the Missionary Training Center.

    The horrible bit of it is that the church could easily avoid all the major problems with their mission program but refuses not to. It would cost them too much money to take care of the missionaries. The missionary program doesn’t really do a lot to recruit new members either, its main purpose seems to be to solidify the membership of young men so that they come back brainwashed and ready to breed. The retention rate for those born in the church is much higher than for converts.

  9. tbp1 says

    @7: I kind of agree with you, but Romney has made his sons a big part of his public image, and they are all actively campaigning for him (even full-time, I think). And Romney is the one who made the ludicrous pronouncement in the last election cycle that they were serving their country by going around the country working for his election, when asked why none of them was serving in the military. So…I think to a limited extent, they are fair game. I don’t think a huge deal should be made out of it, but I also don’t think the questions are out of line.

  10. dingojack says

    Michael Heath said: “The best indictment of chicken hawks I’ve ever encountered is the Creedence Clearwater Revival Song, Fortunate Son. I also greatly enjoy Bob Seger’s live cover version”.

    This one’s for you.

    Dingo

  11. says

    Mittmoroni and his five clones are gutless fucks and parasites. Different priorities, my ass. They’re too fucking scared that they might lose their place at the trough or, Joesmith forbid, actually get inconvenienced by being injured or killed.

    ANY man who supports ANY war and is capable of serving should be doing so–otherwise they’re no better than Romney, Cheney, Bush and the dozens to hundreds of others who are publicly pro-war amd unwilling to serve in the war zone.

  12. whheydt says

    Paying ones way out of serving in the military during a war is a *long* US tradition. It was a straightforward cash transaction during the Civil War. The Viet Nam Era method is only different in detail, not in substance.

  13. jba55 says

    lofgren @7: “The response… should be, “I raised my sons to make their own choices, and I’m not going to put words in their mouths. You’ll have to ask them.”

    I would love it if some politician actually said this when asked someone else’s opinion instead of saying, essentially, “well, I’m sure they agree with me”. The problem with saying that, of course, is that they very well might not have raised their kids to think for themselves and might not think it odd/bad. I’ve met plenty of people, religious and not, that think parenting = teaching your kids to think what you think.

  14. naturalcynic says

    Hmmmm, isn’t this part of the plot of The Book of Mormon where the poorer shlubs get sent to places like Uganda?
    The LDS doesn’t pay for the mission, it’s the family that does.

  15. tbp1 says

    @9: I lived in Latin America for a number of years and had occasional contact with Mormon missionaries and agree with you. The ones I met, at least, were utterly unprepared for what they experienced (especially in El Salvador). Their Spanish was often very poor, and if they had had any training in what the local cultures were like, it didn’t show. They had the most bizarre attitude: complete bewilderment about their surroundings, coupled with an absolute certainty that they had all the answers. I actually kinda felt sorry for them, even though I detested the cultural imperialism that they promulgated (or tried to, I don’t think they were very successful—mostly the locals just made fun of them when they weren’t ignoring them completely).

  16. frog says

    Farging hell, if the British royal family can have a royal prince in the military, there’s no excuse for the Romney clan to not have at least one of the quartet stepping up to set an example for their family’s supposed support of the military.

    AFAICT, Romney supports the military as a means to extract tax money from the US coffers to those of military contractors, and nothing more.

  17. says

    if the British royal family can have a royal prince in the military

    They’re as sheltered as generals, don’t you worry. Admittedly, a fuck-up like a helicopter crash or a random enemy attack might get to one of the royals, but I wonder if they’re in much more danger than if they were at home drinking champagne and eating canapes. Another aspect of “royals gone to war” is that they seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in training. That way they can get a bunch of badges for their uniforms and be stationed safely at a base surrounded by an army. Romney’s military service was probably not as rough; he didn’t have to carry a pack and was absolved from the champagne consumption requirement.

  18. says

    I have to agree with Michael Heath re. Fortunate Son. I have to agree, as well, with those who argue that chicken hawks are among the most unsavory politicians in the land.

  19. tfkreference says

    But think about how hard it would be to be a Mormon in France. Wine, women, and coffee everywhere.

    The guilt must have followed him for years–wait, I forgot who we’re talking about.

  20. fastlane says

    skeptifem, as bad as it can be for mor(m)on missionaries, I have several friends who have also contracted diseases, both temporary and some lifelong, who have done mission in out of the way places. The difference being that these were missions of a humanitarian sort, with no strings attached in trying to convert anyone to believe in myths. :)

    Big difference.

  21. katie says

    Marcus Ranum @18:

    They’re as sheltered as generals, don’t you worry. Admittedly, a fuck-up like a helicopter crash or a random enemy attack might get to one of the royals, but I wonder if they’re in much more danger than if they were at home drinking champagne and eating canapes.

    Not so much these days, really. Harry was pulled out of Afghanistan but re-deployed to Iraq (as a Captain, which is respectable but not outlandish for a 28-year old) to a base that has been attacked at least once while he was there. Of course, he’s the spare and not the heir, his brother didn’t get to active service despite his wishes. I don’t think, though, that either of them were exactly sitting on their duffs and collecting stars for completing colouring papers.

  22. yoav says

    My biggest issue with Mittens is that he didn’t just demonstrated in favor of the war but more specifically in favor of the draft in which other people were forced to go to Vietnam. His complete lack of self awareness was obvious when he was talking to the Vietnam vet who asked him about gay marriage during the primaries where he casually pointed out how they’re about the same age and how he was serving his church while the man he was talking to was forced to go to war, the fact the guy was also gay and mittens, not knowing that, just told him that he doesn’t think the man’s partner deserve the benefits families of other vets receive just made it even worse.

  23. Tyrant al-Kalām says

    Sorry, no, Romney’s Sons are persons in their own right, and making their career choices a political issue is disgraceful. Are we counting down for Obama’ s daughters to make their first kill, yet?

  24. footface says

    Absurd, indeed. Serving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not the same as serving Uncle Sam.

    I’ll do you one better:

    Going around the world to try to win converts to your religion is not the same thing as serving other people or accomplishing anything important.

  25. josephmccauley says

    My dad was a Marine on Okinawa and then in the occupation of Japan. I was 1A near the end of Vietnam when my dad said “If you go there you’re a fucking idiot!”
    This was the same guy who gave me shit for longish hair and sideburns.

  26. martinc says

    Not all politicians are able to get their kids to toe the party line. Here in Australia, the leader of the conservative opposition party has an 18yo daughter who described him to the press as a “lame, gay churchy loser”.

    (‘Gay’ was presumably used in the sense of ‘bad’, not ‘homosexual’ … these durned kids and their new-fangled talkin’ ways).

    Having said that, I agree with lofgren @ 7 and Tyrant al-Kalam @ 24: Romney’s sons’ decisions are not Romney’s to make. Nor should Palin/Biden/McCain be given brownie points for ‘sending’ their children to war: those children should be given the credit they are due, not the politician.

    Romney’s actions in his own case however (demonstrating for the draft and then exempting himself from it for religious reasons) seem hard to explain for someone who wants to be Commander-in-Chief.

  27. talisker says

    I agree with martinc @28 and others.

    Also, to tbp1 @10: I’m sure there are plenty of staff on the Romney campaign aged under (say) 40 who supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, could have volunteered to serve in them, and chose not to. Sure, these people deserve criticism. But whether any of them are biologically related to Romney is irrelevant.

    When Michael Moore in “Fahrenheit 911″ asked various Congresspersons why their children weren’t serving in Iraq, I thought it was a cheap and pointless stunt and I badly wanted one of them to turn around and say, “My children make their own decisions, you’ll have to ask them.” (Maybe one did, and was edited out.)

    I mean, consider the alternative: “Son, you need to join the Marines and risk your life in the war, in order to advance Daddy’s political career. I don’t care if you don’t want to. Do this now, or you are dead to me.” Romney is a wretched excuse for a human being, but would anyone here really think more of him if he had said those words at some point in his life?

  28. says

    To those who think Romney’s sons are off limits:

    You’re sort of missing the point. Of course Romney’s sons should make their own decisions. One of those would be to say that THEY do not support the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else, instead of remaining silent and allowing their father to reap the rewards of their acquiesence. Either that, or they should, if they support that sort of foreign policy exercise, join the effort.

    Service to one’s church, btw, instead of service to one’s country is precisely the sort of thing that Romney should be pilloried for. If his faith takes precedence over his country he should then want to become a priest, not PotUS.

  29. talisker says

    @democommie 30: I don’t think anyone is arguing Romney’s sons are “off limits.” They’re adults who are actively working for a political campaign, they can look after themselves. And yes, you can make a good argument that they are being hypocritical by supporting wars without volunteering to fight in them, when they were in a position to do so.

    But there is *nothing* special about this hypocrisy. Probably more than 90% of the Romney campaign’s employees in the relevant age bracket are guilty of exactly the same offence.

    Is the hypocrisy of the Romney offspring somehow more significant because of who their father is? If so, why?

  30. lofgren says

    Personally, I wasn’t saying that Romney’s sons are off limits. I was trying to say that 1. Romney should have raised his sons to make their own decisions, and 2. having raised them to make their own decisions, Romney shouldn’t try to make excuses for them.

  31. stace says

    Hey, come on why so hard on Mitt? He almost died in that car crash for crying out loud. And how brave must he have been to try to convert Frogs to Mormonism and give up their wine?

    “Out of my way, stupid smelly American. Your father was a hamster and your mother smelt of elderberries!”

  32. tbp1 says

    @31 (and others):

    The hypocrisy matters—perhaps—more than that of Romney’s other campaign workers because Romney has made a big deal out of injecting family into his campaign, indeed into this whole political life, and they go along with it, presumably willingly.

    I don’t think it’s the most important issue in the world, by a long a shot, and I don’t think they should be crucified for it, either. Certainly I don’t think Romney would have any right to demand that they enlist to further his presidential ambitions.

    I like the way they put such things at Operation Yellow Elephant, usually along the lines of: “Have you though about asking your children if they would consider military service, if they support the war?”

  33. says

    @21

    skeptifem, as bad as it can be for mor(m)on missionaries, I have several friends who have also contracted diseases, both temporary and some lifelong, who have done mission in out of the way places. The difference being that these were missions of a humanitarian sort, with no strings attached in trying to convert anyone to believe in myths. :)

    Big difference.

    See, I am not trying to defend missionaries exactly. They are assholes, no doubt about it, and there is virtually nothing virtuous or praiseworthy about selling mormonism around the world. But they are also victims of a cult that makes abstaining from a mission cause to be shunned by the rest of the church. Anyone who pushes a 19 year old (18 now, they lowered the age) to accept that kind of risk before they really get to figure out who they are is abusing them. The risk is not explained well beforehand either, and as another poster pointed out they are sent to countries without any real explanation of what the culture is like. The missionary training center does straight up psychological abuse in order to get conformity from members, several books are available that explain experiences inside the MTC. It is hardly a free choice.

    @16

    The missionary training center doesn’t even teach them conversational foreign language, just how to sell the book of mormon in a foreign language. It is the weirdest thing, trying to send someone to a totally different land and ensure that they come back as sheltered from other perspectives as possible.

    I forgot to mention that you aren’t allowed to talk to your mission companion about things that aren’t church related and that you are supposed to tell on each other for doing anything sinful.

  34. says

    “But there is *nothing* special about this hypocrisy. Probably more than 90% of the Romney campaign’s employees in the relevant age bracket are guilty of exactly the same offence.”

    That makes the other 90% scum. It in no way mitigates Romney’s or his sons’ hypocrisy.

    “Is the hypocrisy of the Romney offspring somehow more significant because of who their father is? If so, why?”

    No, they are all equally hypocritical and they need to be called out for it.

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