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Mitt Romney: A Question of Depth | Martin Dyckman

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Mitt Romney: A Question of Depth | Martin Dyckman

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Mitt Romney: A Question of Depth
Monday, June 11, 2012 — Martin Dyckman

Think of Dwight Eisenhower and leadership comes to mind. Barry Goldwater was unflinching in his principles. Ronald Reagan had good humor. Gerald Ford was down-to-earth decent. George H.W. Bush personified competence. John McCain's name stands for valor.

Mindful that Mitt Romney might become our president, I have been trying to find some such admirable trait in him.

But it's mission impossible. He's the shallowest contender since Warren G. Harding.

Fidelity to principle is not for him. Neither is courage under fire.

Consider Romney's flip-flops on health care and Planned Parenthood, his selection of foreign policy advisers so tilted to the far right that they alarm Colin Powell, and the extremist Robert Bork becoming co-chair of his judicial advisory committee.

Romney's only apparent commitment is to saying whatever it will take to keep the tea party in line and win the election.

Or, in some cases, to not saying.

Former schoolmates described Romney having led them in assault and battery on a boy they thought to be gay, forcibly restraining him and cutting his hair, but the man who would be president claimed to not remember the incident. Somehow, everyone else could. Grown men can be forgiven for having been childhood bullies, but only if confession comes first. It's about character.

When in 2008 a woman at a rally questioned Barack Obama's patriotism, John McCain rebuked her on the spot. But this year, when one of Romney's fans called Obama a traitor, Romney's lip stayed zipped until the press confronted him later. The teaching moment was lost. That was about character too.

Although he's conceded that Obama is a native-born citizen, Romney's silence spoke volumes when Donald Trump was peddling the birther fantasy at a fund-raiser in Las Vegas.

For utter absurdity, nothing could surpass Romney's recent declaration--also at Las Vegas--that the Constitution should be amended "to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business" to qualify for election.

If he really means to put such self-serving trivia into the Constitution, he is not to be trusted with protecting and defending it.

More likely, though, he simply said what popped into his head without thinking about it. Business is his experience, apart from the moderate governorship he seems to want everyone to forget.

But what he said was absurd.

Before going into politics, Teddy Roosevelt made his living by writing. He was never in business. Ford and Abraham Lincoln, like Obama, practiced law.

Lincoln's two business ventures failed after a total of two years. Harry Truman's haberdashery went bankrupt.

Eisenhower and Franklin D. Roosevelt won World War II. They were never in business either.

Reagan was an actor. 

On the other hand, Harding and Herbert Hoover were businessmen. Their presidencies are considered colossal failures.

George W. Bush owed his business success to the taxpayers of Arlington, Texas, who built him a baseball stadium. As president, his wars and other policies cost the country $5 trillion that remain to successors to pay for. Some example.

It's obvious from history that business experience is not essential to a successful presidency. By no means does it guarantee one.  

In Romney's case, there's no doubt that he was successful in business, but for what purpose? It was solely to make money for Bain Capital and its investors. Any jobs that were created were in furtherance of that, but so were the layoffs that resulted. Romney can't take credit for some without accepting responsibility for all.

And that's what distinguishes business, so importantly, from government.

The purpose of business is to make a profit. The purpose of government is to protect and serve the people. There is no place for profit in it. And there is no place for people who can't tell one from the other.

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the newspaper formerly known as the St. Petersburg Times. 

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As always, you get to the heart of the matter!

As always, you get to the heart of the matter!

by Dr. Radut.