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August 11, 2007

The Fighting Romneys

Ragbrai In Iowa - Prior To Race, 7-26-07 (2).Jpg

by John Lucaites

A few weeks ago, The BAG suggested I take a look at the Romney campaign.  And I did.  And I struggled.

And then this past week in Bettendorf, Iowa, the “family values” candidate who looks like Ward Cleaver was asked whether any of his five sons had served in the military or were planning on enlisting to fight the “war on terror.”  His response was that his sons had “decided” not to because they had other career priorities (rather like Dick Cheney’s response to why he didn’t serve in Vietnam).

There is a degree of hypocrisy to this position, of course, particularly for a presidential candidate who is relatively supportive of the President’s “surge” strategy.  But then again, calling politicians hypocrites is like shooting fish in a barrel.  Not because they are inherently different than anyone else in this regard – in most cases they aren’t – but because they are constantly in the public eye, scrutinized as if they were supposed to be perfectly consistent in thought and deed.  Who among us would want to be judged to that standard all of the time?

But Romney did not stop there.

He continued: …[O]ne of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected, because they think I’d be a great president.  My son, Josh, bought the family Winnebago and has visited 99 counties [in Iowa], most of them with his three kids and his wife.”

Read that last sentence again, then look at the photograph above, taken from the “Five Brothers’ Website.”  It is of three of the five Romney brothers after having completed an annual bicycle race across the state of Iowa.

Now look at this photograph:

Sullivanbrospic.Gif

It is of five brothers from the town of Waterloo, Iowa.  They were known as the “Fighting Sullivans.”  All five of them died on the same day during WWII when the ship they served on suffered a torpedo attack off of the Solomon Islands.

Choosing not to serve in the military because of career priorities is one thing.  Riding around the countryside in a political “campaign” and “strategizing” photo ops while out of harm’s way would seem to be something different altogether.  Even the allusion that they are similar is an obscenity.

John Louis Lucaites is Professor of Rhetoric and Public Culture in the department of communication and culture at Indiana University. John, along with Robert Hariman, are co-authors of the newly released No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy, and the blog No Caption Needed.

(image 1: fivebrothers.mittromney.com. image 2: castletown.com)

  • Steve

    … after having completed an annual bicycle race across the state of Iowa.
    That race was several days of bike riding, perhaps five days(?). The Romney brothers that ‘completed’ the race only took part (rode a bike) in the last day of the race.
    Republican values.

  • Baba

    I actually think this is entirely consistant with Republican values

  • ummabdulla

    Look how well-equipped they are for that bike ride. The best available bikes, no doubt, helmets, gloves…
    Contrast that with American and British soldiers who ask family members to send them some of their basic needs…
    As John noted, it wouldn’t have been so bad if he just said they had better things to do than to join the military. But trying to compare their campaigning to being in combat in Iraq (or Afghanistan) was insulting.

  • http://www.lettuce.org Lettuce

    It would appear, following Mitt’s bought-and-paid-for yet completely unspectacular win in the Iowa Straw Poll — a poll in which all of Romney’s tier-1 competition avoided and for which attendence was down by 1/3 of 1999’s version — Iowa agrees.
    In 1999, I thought Bush was the “Chutzpah” candidate. A candidate who would say things so seemingly at odds with reality, his own experience and his own abilities that it took political chutzpah to a whole new level.
    But with the rampant flip-flop-hypocracy of Romney, who’s main appeal seems to be his looks and ability to say all things to all people (and why doesn’t he get lambasted for the former like Edwards or the latter like Clinton or Kerry?) and Giuliani (who’s willingness to take credit for others’ work is stunning) and McCain (I’m the establishment maverick! Why isn’t this line selling?) this may well be the Chutzpah primary. Which brand of relentless pandering will the voters choose?
    And this doesn’t even count the race-baiting or Christ-wielding candidates who, thanks to Mitt’s overpriced failure are now blessed with significantly more hope and exposure than they otherwise would have enjoyed.
    Great job, Mitt!
    One last comment: Mitt got out of his own military service by going on a mormon missionary trip overseas… are his son’s campaigning a similar “missionary” experience?

  • Mayfly

    Recent AP Iraq photo shows armed US troops on duty–one is on crutches.
    http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    Romney’s boys “service” to their country makes me ill.
    I think they need to go on a nice mission, all right – to Iraq.

  • Harley

    What a dick; a pea-brain with good hair. The old saying, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree applies here. But isn’t that typical of republicans? They are so self-centered they don’t even know they are HUA. Being rich and all christ-ee only makes it worse. No wonder he “won” in IA, he paid for the buses to bring all his supporters to the poll (or whatever) and handed out personal hand-held fans to them. Kind of puts the finishing touch on buying an election. But then, as we have recently learned, being a sociopath doesn’t bar one from running for president. The photo, incidentally, is very expressive of the cluelessness of these men. All the right equipment to make a good showing for daddy. There at the right time for the glory shot at the race, even though they didn’t actually participate in the race. Matching shirts, pants, helmets and bikes and color coordinated gloves all to show they are united for daddy.
    Incidentally, I’m old enough to remember the Sullivans. Isn’t it odd that the MSM hasn’t made any comparisons to them with the romney mutts?

  • Kitt

    One last comment: Mitt got out of his own military service by going on a mormon missionary trip overseas… are his son’s campaigning a similar “missionary” experience?
    Posted by: Lettuce | Aug 12, 2007 at 06:25 AM
    No….his sons have already served on their missions unless you meant, say, in the metaphysical sense. /snark/

  • http://danielhumphries.livejournal.com Daniel Humphries

    I agree that the contrast between the two photos is striking. And I think Mitt Romney is a dick for trying to conflate bald nepotism with patriotic military service (he’s a dick for other reasons, too).
    But isn’t it a bit of hyperbole to say that even an allusion to military service is an “obscenity?” I have respect for the sacrifice service members have made (those who lost their lives or their limbs, and those who came home in one piece but who gave their time and their sweat and their effort and perhaps their ability to sleep without nightmares). But it seems that liberals are SO intent on proving their loyalty to “THE TROOPS” that they stumble over themselves to out-conservative the conservatives.
    An “obscenity” to even allude to the military? Really? Does that make the Army, the Father; the Navy, the Son; and the Air Force the Holy Spirit?
    Do not look directly into the Purple Heart, for the eyes of mere civilians were not meant to look on such divine military holiness.

  • chimproller

    Race-baiting and christ-wielding is not the provence of republicans only, lettuce. Hillary calls herself the “realistic” choice, making not-so-subtle allusion to Obamas black ancestory. And lets never forget Gores VP pick, Mr. Morality himself, chosen to try and outflank the religious kooks at their own game.
    And I agree with Daniel Humpheries – the Repubs totally OWN “Support The Troops” code; liberals have blown it.

  • http://web.mac.com/jamesrobinson James Robinson

    I see that no-one in the media has yet mentioned that RAGBRAI is basically a rolling Bacchanalia with bicycles.
    One wonders how much the Mitt sprouts got into the, ah, spirit of the event.

  • LanceThruster

    While it’s true that parents generally do not determine what choices their children make as adults, it is telling that though those Republicans that have conflated the GWOT as the most crucial issue facing Western Civilization, none have them have been able to create that sense of urgency with their own progeny. Therefore, as is customary, other people’s kids will die for their adventurism and tough posturing.
    A co-worker buried her only child a couple of weekends ago; killed in Iraq by an IED. Maybe if she had five children her grief would not be as devestating. Glad to know Mitt’s children are somewhere warm and safe; “serving” their father, I mean country in their efforts to get Mitt elected as president. Sigh.

  • LanceThruster

    While it’s true that parents generally do not determine what choices their children make as adults, it is telling that though those Republicans that have conflated the GWOT as the most crucial issue facing Western Civilization, none have them have been able to create that sense of urgency with their own progeny. Therefore, as is customary, other people’s kids will die for their adventurism and tough posturing.
    A co-worker buried her only child a couple of weekends ago; killed in Iraq by an IED. Maybe if she had five children her grief would not be as devestating. Glad to know Mitt’s children are somewhere warm and safe; “serving” their father, I mean country in their efforts to get Mitt elected as president. Sigh.

  • travy

    this is probably a little inappropriate, but doesn’t craig (left) look a little different from his brothers? wouldn’t want to suggest that ol’ mitt has been unfaithful, but given the polygamist history of mormons, young craig seems a little suspect… apologies if anyone is offended…

  • Otter

    I dislike the Romney campaign as much as anyone, but RAGBRAI is no more a “rolling bacchanalia” than it is a race. I rode all 477 miles this year. There were well over 10,000 riders on the last day (by far the shortest of the seven days), and many different approaches–plenty of families, plenty of groups dressed in matching shirts (me and my friends, for instance), plenty riding much better bikes than the Romneys, and plenty of people who rode only one day. I actually saw Craig getting food in the last town before the finish, so he must have gotten started early and gone at a decent clip.
    I resisted the urge to kick him–he was already walking funny from his time in the saddle, and I would’ve lost my place in line for sloppy joes and apple pie.

  • Steven Nelson

    Quote: “My son, Josh, bought the family Winnebago and has visited 99 counties [in Iowa], most of them with his three kids and his wife.”
    Isn’t that a little cheap? Having your son buy something owned by the family and then getting him to campaign for you? Or am I misunderstanding?

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