December 28, 2007

Unfit Mitt Romney, Grosse Pointe-MLK, and the Push Poll

Filed under: Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:10 pm

This post has been moved to the top for the rest of the day.

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“Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our First Lady — a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation — is a congenital liar.”

– New York Times columnist and former Nixon
speechwriter William Safire; January 8, 1996

With appropriate paraphrasing, how can we not now be at about the same place with Unfit Mitt Romney as Safire was with Hillary Clinton almost 12 years ago? (Side question: What has happened in the intervening time period that would contradict Mr. Safire’s assessment of Mrs. Clinton?)

Grosse Pointe, George Romney, and MLK

Oh how I wanted to give Romney the benefit of the doubt on the “I saw my father march with Martin Luther King” episode. I thought it had all the appearances of a kerfuffle when it first appeared, as the comment that I made at the Boston Phoenix on December 19 shows (excerpted; paragraphing added):

I’m no Romney fan, ….. but I think he’s probably accurate enough given the likely full history, if not precise.

….. I think this might get Mitt off the hook, given that he would have been about 15 years old at the time. There WAS a big MLK March down Woodward Avenue (in Detroit) on June 25, 1963, and I would not be at all surprised if his dad marched in that — Except that as gov, security may have been a problem. Recall that MLK was a Republican. Go to Page 28 at this link.

Ah, but the plot thickens: George Romney’s PREDECESSOR as governor marched down Woodward Avenue. The Wiki entry for George Romney says he was strong on civil rights, but makes no mention of the march. It would be interesting to see if George Romney issued a proclamation of any kind or made a speech on the day of the 1963 march, if he didn’t himself march.

Again giving Mitt the benefit of the doubt, it’s not unlikely, since he was 15 or so during the time period, that he would over the years have juxtaposed the events and even given his father a little more credit than he deserved. …..

I wrote this because it appeared, based on the research I was able to do, that nothing relating collectively to Grosse Pointe, George Romney, and MLK happened in 1963 or 1967. So I said, “OK, they must have been at the 100,000-strong Woodward Avenue march.”

It turns out that I was much too generous.

Not to George Romney. Unfit Mitt’s civil rights-supporting father wasn’t at the Woodward Avenue march, but, as found in a Phoenix follow-up, he actually did issue a proclamation the next day. It was well-received by King (who “refused to criticize Romney for not attending the demonstration”), but not by many of his rank-and-file supporters.

But I was much too generous to Unfit Mitt and his campaign. They cravenly upped the ante, in the process revealing a part of the candidate they would probably rather not let us see.

Unfit Mitt first embellished:

Peppered with questions while campaigning in Iowa yesterday, Romney defended his account that his father marched with King, saying it had become part of the family’s history.

….. “My brother also remembers my dad having spoken about the fact he did not do political events on Sunday but that he decided at the last minute that he was going to break that self-imposed rule and participate (in Grosse Pointe)”

Then last Friday, two “eyewitnesses” came forward to say they saw George Romney march with King in Grosse Pointe in June 1963.

Based on what I had found, or actually not found, I was fairly certain that the “eyewitnesses” would be debunked.

And they have been. Those “witnesses,” God bless their faulty memories, were only “half right” (i.e., George Romney was there, but not MLK), making Unfit Mitt Romney all wrong, (per the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog; HT The Phoenix), and cynically so:

By getting this story (of the two “eyewitnesses” — Ed.) out late on Friday afternoon, heading into the holiday weekend — good luck getting a King historian on the phone before Wednesday — the campaign was pretty well assured that it could keep alive through Christmas their claim that Mitt Romney was mistaken only about “seeing” it, not about it taking place.

Then-governor George Romney did indeed march in Grosse Pointe, on Saturday, June 29, 1963, but Martin Luther King Jr. was not there; he was in New Brunswick, New Jersey, addressing the closing session of the annual New Jersey AFL-CIO labor institute at Rutgers University.

Those facts are indisputable, and quite frankly, the campaign must have known the women’s story would eventually be debunked — few people’s every daily movement has been as closely tracked and documented as King’s. As I write this, I am looking at an article from page E8 of the June 30, 1963 Chicago Tribune, which discusses both events (among other civil-rights actions of the previous day), clearly placing the two men hundreds of miles apart. I also have here the June 30, 1963 San Antonio News, which carries a photo and article about Romney at the Grosse Pointe march; and an AP story about King’s speech in New Jersey.

A King researcher editing his letters from that time has stated definitively that the two men never marched together; Michigan and Grosse Pointe historians have stated definitively that King was not at the 1963 Grosse Pointe march; Michigan civil-rights participants of the time have concurred; so have those who worked for George Romney at the time.

All of this evidence is important to present to the general public, but it is unnecessary for the Romney campaign — it has been clear for some time that they know perfectly well that the two men never marched together.

Believe me, they know the two men never marched together. This is an attempt to rewrite history. And even if it is a small rewriting, it is offensive.

And, sad to realize, likely habitual.

Those Anti-(Insert Romney’s Religion Here) Calls

The tactics on display in the “I saw” story ought to bring a new level of scrutiny to what is now known about the anti-(insert Romney’s religion here) calls that took place in New Hampshire and Iowa (and, according to a now-unavailable Salt Lake City Tribune article, South Carolina) on or about Wednesday, November 14. These labor-intensive 20-minute calls were said to be among the drivers behind the sudden need for the “The Speech” in early December.

EyeOn08 hears an echo from the past in the “I saw” story, citing a TPM Election Central post from November 21:

….. the Romney campaign is confirming that it referred reporters to two recipients of the calls without disclosing that the two were also on the Romney campaign payroll, TPM Election Central has learned.

In response to questions from TPM Election Central, Romney spokesman Kevin Madden confirmed that the campaign had failed to disclose this info to reporters. Madden suggested that the campaign had identified them as “supporters,” which is a far cry from being directly paid by the campaign, as the two call recipients were.

No kidding.

(Note: Please spare me the objection that TPM is liberal. These people either were being paid by Romney, or they weren’t. If you have evidence that they weren’t, e-mail me.)

Am I supposed to believe that Team Romney couldn’t find anyone not being paid to come forward and talk about the calls, after The Associated Press was able to was able to find seven others?

Something is still not adding up in all of this.

In the top GOP tier, only Giuliani’s campaign has the money to even think about doing this, and their denial is convincing (see Update V here).

That leaves some “mystery 527,” some other totally independent person or entity, Ron Paul (who has some money), one of the Dem campaigns, or the Romney campaign itself (take your motivational pick between determining the extent of the religion problem, generating sympathy as a distraction from more serious matters, or setting the stage for “The Speech”) as the possibilities. I don’t see how you can take any of them off the table yet.

The Significance

Is the “I saw” story a 45 year-old ado about nothing? Is bringing out “supporters” who were really paid campaign members just a disclosure oversight?

I doubt it very much. Throw the two items described above in with at least these three items:

  • Romney’s patently false, unconstitutional, and oath-of-office breaking assertion about how he HAD to follow the (non-existent) court “order” in the Goodridge same-sex marriage case (made, by the way, to keep a campaign promise not to get in the way of the expected ruling).
  • His false claims that Ronald Reagan and Henry Hyde were ever “effectively pro-choice,” and in Reagan’s case, “adamantly pro-choice.”
  • His reassertion of a debunked claim that his mother was pro-choice in 1970 when she ran for the US Senate in Michigan — “Two longtime Romney family friends and political supporters — former governor William Milliken and former Republican National Committee co-chairwoman Elly Peterson — told (Boston Globe reporter Eileen) McNamara (in 2005) they could not recall Lenore Romney speaking out publicly for abortion. If she had, it would have represented a dramatic change of heart and break with the Mormon Church. Peterson, who worked on Lenore Romney’s campaign, said, ‘If it happened, I’d remember it. It didn’t and I don’t.’”

How many of these things does it take before they constitute a pattern?

And speaking of possible patterns, the original “I saw” part of the four-Pinocchio George Romney-MLK whopper (the Fact Checker blog’s evaluation) reminds me of two other people, who fed us horse manure like this throughout the 1990s, on matters large (collection here; also add “the worst economy in 50 years“) and small (e.g., his “vivid and painful” memories of Arkansas church burnings that never occurred; her claim to have been named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who conquered Everest six years after she was born).

Instapundit, in a pre-witness debunk post, noted an annoying tendency Unfit Mitt has. He calls it the politician’s disease, but I think it’s better described as the Clinton Disease (try to name a politician who engaged in this behavior before the Clintons did):

…. it’s not enough to report that something happened, you have to report it in a way that puts you in the story.

Exactly.

I am so not up for even the possibility of 4-8 more years of the large or small stuff. I would hope that GOP voters aren’t either, especially with someone in their own party.

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UPDATE: In New Hampshire, Romney has a negative credibility evaluation coming from the left, but more importantly, a sharp jab from the Manchester Union Leader, a biggie on the right:

Last week Romney was reduced to debating what the meaning of “saw” is. It was only the latest in a string of demonstrably false claims — he’d been a hunter “pretty much” all his life, he’d had the NRA’s endorsement, he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. — that call into question the veracity of his justifications for switching sides on immigration, abortion, taxes and his affection for Ronald Reagan.

In this primary, the more Mitt Romney speaks, the less believable he becomes.

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1 Comment

  1. GodVoter.org Disdorses Romney: http://www.godvoter.org/news-romney-disdorsement.html

    Comment by voter — December 28, 2007 @ 8:02 pm

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