Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Some may be surprised to hear that I really liked Mitt Romney.  I honestly did… and my skepticism now represents a major turning point for me and the realization how superficial and naïve I really was.  Let’s take a closer look at two of his “golden moments,” the so-called high points of his career and some of his recent gaffes.  His actions and rhetoric once inexplicable for me all make sense now.

I liked the extraordinary recovery job he pulled off at the eleventh hour for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics in his role as President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC).  He was the brave knight riding in on a white horse to save the day - a characterization we suspect would please Mitt and some Mormons.  He was a good cheerleader and as a new fresh face steered folks away from the scandals that had plagued the SLOC.

His lobbying skills were without peer though we know now he also threw a couple of folks under the bus and the Salt Lake Torchbearer uniforms were outsourced (yes, outsourced) and manufactured in Burma (aka Myanmar) then ruled by a brutal military junta. Protests poured in from all over the world with the SLOC embarrassingly insisting that, "The torch relay clothes were NOT made in Burma. They were manufactured in Myanmar." The SLOC apologized (we hope red-faced) after it was pointed out that Burma and Myanmar are the same country. Now as Mitt would remind us the buck stops at the top and the reason why Mitt stayed mum on the controversy surrounding 2012 Team USA's made-in-China Olympic uniforms.

What we really didn’t know at the time was that with eyes intent on the presidency, Romney’s real motivation was finding a high profile job that could catapult him into the national spotlight. Bain Capital wouldn’t do it and that, of course, opens up yet more controversy that still hasn’t been resolved.  

With the help of a few influential folks which included then Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, Romney was recruited then anointed SLOC President and CEO.  We and others ask why Romney (?) when there were other well-qualified candidates from both the US Olympics candidate pool (Atlanta and Salt Lake) and locals you didn’t have to bus cross country. We note now that Governor Leavitt who later served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Secretary of Health and Human Services - both under George W. Bush - is now involved along with others from the SLOC in the Romney for President campaign.  He is head of Romney’s newly chosen transition team and rumored to be in line for White House Chief of Staff or Treasury Secretary should Romney win. 

Once again pondering the ins and outs of politics we wonder however great Romney’s job with the SLOC, what was his real motivation?  We are also curious about the real connection between these Romney and Leavitt, save they are both Mormon and they and their wives run in the same circles. That’s pretty tight all by itself in Salt Lake City where all blessings flow from The Temple.  We think that Leavitt may be the best that Romney has to offer and wonder if the wrong man is running for President.  We still give kudos and high marks to Romney for his SLOC performance though no citizen-soldier he.

While Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Romney was instrumental in establishing the innovative and successful Massachusetts health care reform law which now commonly called Romneycare, was the model for what is now called Obamacare.  This one great success for which he is most admired and emulated – he now rejects. 

In 2002 Governor Romney described himself as a moderate, progressive, and nonpartisan Republican. He did appear to initially embrace a bi-partisan approach to politics.  Despite his declaration and what we have seen and read in his press releases, Romney’s tenure as Massachusetts Governor is framed not by his bipartisanship, rather by an overall arrogant and confrontational demeanor that ultimately isolated him from not only Massachusetts Democrats but Republicans as well.  In November of 2006 his overall disapproval rating hit a staggering 65% probably attributable to his considerable (excessive) out of state travel and his stumping for president political activities.  One of Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign ads shows Romney bragging about taking on his Massachusetts Legislature.   He crowed like a Rhode Island Red rooster, "I like vetoes; I vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor." 

What Romney didn’t tell us was that of the 844 vetoes he issued, the Massachusetts Legislature overrode nearly all of them, sometimes unanimously.  When the House decided to challenge him, Romney was overridden 99.6 percent of the time.  In the Senate, Romney was overridden every single time, often unanimously – yes, ta-da even by his own party. This certainly appears to be the start of his, my way or the highway… As governor he was not accessible and never really demonstrated any positive interactive skills except when it was in his best interests.

Romney’s “bi-partisanship” was all an illusion especially when we realize that Romney vetoed seven critical (and honestly, earnestly negotiated) components of the final Massachusetts health care bill before he signed it.  Those vetoes were simply overridden in both the Massachusetts House and Senate. So, Romney ultimately played politics even with his signature health care bill then as now and managed to alienate himself from not only the aforementioned politicians but also the Citizens of Massachusetts.  Then, as history reflects, the health care program has worked admirably.

Though he was already well on his way halfway through his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts, he is now a poster boy for the ultra-conservative right wing of the Republican party.  Many on the right wing remain skeptical though it certainly does appear there is nothing moderate, progressive or nonpartisan about this man.  There probably never was.  What a relief this must be to the Tea Party who only now need debate whether Romney is Christian or not… and that Missouri location for the Garden of Eden?  No, that doesn’t work for me either… though religion for us has absolutely no place or standing in this presidential (or any) election unless the candidate’s motivation is the fulfillment of some “holy prophesy”.    

Were that Ted Kennedy still alive to see this incredible transformation – OK revelation.  While I wasn’t a Teddy fan I admired many of his accomplishments and would have loved to see his take and articulation on the shape-shifting of his old Massachusetts health care reform partner.  While Teddy would have understood that it’s all about politics in the US today, we can still mourn the loss of a potential somebody who could have made a difference by standing on bipartisan principle.

Romney has seemingly flip-flopped on so many fundamental issues that we have to question his honesty and sincerity on any topic. Today is today and God knows what tomorrow will bring.  As so many have pointed out including all the credible fact checkers, Romney continues to spin, distort and lie despite all the debunking.  He just doesn’t care because he thinks it plays well. 

With our very high regard for Mike Leavitt we wonder where he is on this.  He needs to take charge now since Romney has seemingly lost control of his campaign and his message.  Recent surveys show Romney dropping in the polls and even before his most recent “47 Percent” remarks are factored in.  Even the insinuation that Obama's supporters represent 47 percent of the country who "believe that they are victims" and "entitled" to government assistance” represents political suicide. No, I am not part of the “47%.”

Then you have Romney taking credit for the recovery of the American auto industry despite opposing the bailout via a New York Times op-ed in 2008 titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," where Romney opined if GM, Ford and Chrysler received a government bailout, "You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye."  Romney then with preposterous bombast categorically stated in May of this year that "I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry's come back." despite doing absolutely nothing to enhance or improve their position.  Now he’spinning, “Well, I meant…”
And though we could include so many more such gaffes, his recent clarification of the definition of the middle income/class as, "No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less." While that upper figure puts folks in the 4% and upper income bracket we feel it demonstrates just out of touch Mitt really is.

OK, just one more that we feel demonstrates Romney’s incredible detachment and lack of sensitivity to minorities.  We could relate the Who let the dogs out? Incident at a Jacksonville, Florida Martin Luther King Day parade in January, 2008, but we think his recent statement that he would, “…probably would get more support if his parents were Mexican” is illustrative enough.  And, no, that wouldn’t help either…  

Couple all the above and more with his most recent European-Middle Eastern visit where his inappropriate and dead=wrong slam of London and the UK and his incredible statements about Palestine and the Middle East demonstrate (despite intentions to the contrary) his total lack of understanding of and sensitivity to international politics – not to mention the ridicule he brought on himself.  We and many others wonder if Romney could be the catalyst that starts World War III.  If he has misinterpreted so much to date – if he really believes what he is saying and it’s not political spin – then there’s the rub.  Then, of course, if we assume this is all spin, then he is lying.  Not a pretty picture

Mitt Romney is a work in progress and God knows (his or mine) where that journey will take him. Hopefully, the voters in the United States will keep him as nothing more than a bumper sticker and sound byte.  Romney’s shoot from the hip, in the moment, rationale doesn’t play well – anywhere in a world that needs stability and mature, long range thinking.

OK, OK I think that I could still like him.  Probably just a personality flaw though I still don’t trust him…


Ned Buxton

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