Sunday, September 9, 2012

Romney: Troops? What troops?

OK, so he never served in the military himself. Instead he spent the Vietnam years being a missionary in France, which he lied about (not exactly a new thing for Romney). Conveniently, although most Mormon missions are for one year or two, Romney spent almost three years in France missionarying which of course kept him from getting drafted.

He was totally gung ho for the Iraq war, but none of his five sons served, memorably explaining that “It’s remarkable how we can show our support for our nation, and one 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." Because working on your dad's political campaign is totally the same sacrifice as serving in Afghanistan.

Our veterans and those who serve are just . . . well, "those people." I'm reminded of a story I read two or three years after the war in Iraq started that was written by an Army recruiter. They went to a high school, as they often did, and kids who were interested could sign up for the recruiters to come by their house, talk to the parents, etc. When they went to one house they were sure there was some mistake. It was a very wealthy neighborhood, and they'd never gotten a request from anyone in a neighborhood like that. A middle aged woman answered they door wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with an American flag. When they explained why they were there, she appeared shocked. "No, no, there must be some misunderstanding. We . . . don't do things like that. The military? No, no. Our son would never . . ." All the while, they could see the boy who'd signed up for a visit (they remembered him from the school) standing behind her.

So Romney is itching for war with Iran, but of course, no one in his family or even anyone he knows will end up fighting it if he gets his way. Which must be why the troops still fighting completely slipped his mind when he accepted his party's nomination in Tampa.

Conservative columnist Bill Kristol asks, What War?
The United States has some 68,000 troops fighting in Afghanistan. Over two thousand Americans have died in the more than ten years of that war, a war Mitt Romney has supported. Yet in his speech accepting his party's nomination to be commander in chief, Mitt Romney said not a word about the war in Afghanistan. Nor did he utter a word of appreciation to the troops fighting there, or to those who have fought there. Nor for that matter were there thanks for those who fought in Iraq, another conflict that went unmentioned.

Leave aside the question of the political wisdom of Romney's silence, and the opportunities it opens up for President Obama next week. What about the civic propriety of a presidential nominee failing even to mention, in his acceptance speech, a war we're fighting and our young men and women who are fighting it? Has it ever happened that we've been at war and a presidential nominee has ignored, in this kind of major and formal speech, the war and our warriors?

A more personal question about why Romney apparently forgot the troops serving in Afghanistan from Mormon mom Joanna Brooks at Religion Dispatches:
I spent my Labor Day on the beach at Coronado—home to the North Island Naval Station—with two military families we count among our closest friends.

As we watched our kids play jump rope with kelp strands, a friend recalled something Mitt Romney left out of his keynote address to last week’s Republican National Convention.

“No mention of the men and women deployed in Afghanistan,” she said, echoing a concern voiced by conservative commentators like Bill Kristol. “If it’s not worth mentioning us in a national political convention, maybe we shouldn’t even be in Afghanistan.”

Her husband faces possible deployment to Kandahar in February.

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