Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Special Christmas DWT News Quiz: Is it possible that, without knowing it, Mitt Romney didn't actually entirely lie?

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"I saw the Patriots win the World Series--excuse me, the Super Bowl."
--former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, ripped out of context (it's actually even sillier in context, as you'll see)

Now it appears that then-Michigan Gov. George Romney actually did make what is described as a "surprise" appearance at a civil rights march with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Grosse Pointe. The Politico has reported finding two witnesses to such an event, in 1963.

Fortunately for Willard "Mitt" Romney's reputation as someone who wouldn't tell the truth if his life depended on it, this doesn't really undiscredit his lie about seeing his father march with Dr. King in his Richie Rich hometown.

I admit it strikes me as intriguing that Mitt has chosen to resurrect a fable that made sense when he was peddling himself in liberal Massachusetts. But now, when he's pandering his butt off to the right-wing GOP base as the man who put the "big" in "bigot"?

The party I feel bad for here is Mitt's dad. George Romney was a pretty decent guy--an authentically moderate Republican who indeed had a commitment to civil rights, of a sort that would get him drummed out of the party today.

You'd think that Mitt has enough experience by now being caught in lies that he would hve developed better skills at covering over it. Maybe the fault lies with the docile press that up to now really hasn't held him to account for his nonstop whoppers. Meanwhile, what exactly has Mitt been saying about his peculiar story? Better to ask: What hasn't he been saying?

And that in fact is the question for our special Christmas Day DWT News Quiz:

Which of the following things did Mitt Romney NOT say about seeing his father march with Martin Luther King Jr.? (Thanks to Sam Stein and his timeline on Huffington Post the other day.)

(a) "My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit."

(b) "Actually, I have two dads, in the sense of 'having,' and they used to play pinochle together, Martin Luther King Jr. and, you know, my other dad George, at our house in Grosse Pointe, and they both liked Sousa marches, my two dads, and sometimes when Dr. King was at the house they would go out in the streets and march around while humming 'The Stars and Stripes Forever,' and they let me watch. Many's the time that me and David Broder and Stephen Hess would just stand out on the porch with binoculars watching them."

(c) "I speak in the sense of I saw my dad become president of American Motors. I wasn't actually there when he became president of American Motors, but I saw him in the figurative sense of he marched with Martin Luther King."

(d) "My brother also remembers him marching with Martin Luther King, and so in that sense I saw him march with Martin Luther King."

(e) "You know, I'm an English literature major as well. When we say, 'I saw the Patriots win the World Series,' it doesn't necessarily mean you were there--excuse me, the Super Bowl. I saw my dad become president of American Motors. Did that mean you were there for the ceremony? No, it's a figure of speech."

(f) "If you look at the literature, if you look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of in the sense I've described. It's a figure of speech and very familiar, and it's very common. And I saw my dad march with Martin Luther King. I did not see it with my own eyes, but I saw him in the sense of being aware of his participation in that great effort."

(g) "The point we were making was that the issue of Mormonism had to do with its civil rights record. Did he walk with Martin Luther King? Today, I have no idea."


THE ANSWERS

Yes indeed, our Mitt said nearly all of these things--all, in fact, but (b) and (g), and (b) is just silly, unworthy of appearing in a serious News Quiz.

Come to think of it, (g) is kind of silly too but is relevant because it was said by an actual person, Stephen Hess, now Senior Fellow Emeritus, Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He was explaining recently what he and now-legendary pundit David S. Broder might have meant when they wrote, in their 1967 book The Republican Establishment: The Present and Future of the GOP that George Romney "has marched with Martin Luther King through the exclusive Grosse Pointe suburb of Detroit." It doesn't appear that either of them could, or can, source the story. Very likely it was just some story they heard--and repeated.

And on that note, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.

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5 Comments:

At 11:34 PM, Blogger poe said...

George Romney was a decent guy, and the only Republican my parents voted for, ever. In 1958 my Dad had was left paralyzed by a work accident, and though my Mom worked, her salary couldn't sustain a household, a 10 month old baby (me), and a disabled husband. She wrote of her plight to Governor Romney, who hooked my parents up with an obscure state program that qualified them for a monthly stipend. That probably saved us, or at least my Mom's sanity at the time, and Dad still receives that check like cloclwork to this day.

I think Mitt is hoping to ride the goodwill coattails of his father here in MI, and I've seen a lot of Mitt signs around town (ugh), so it might work. But as Mom would say, "I knew George Romney, and you sir are no George Romney."

 
At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

OOPS, Did I say that I saw I was having John Edwards baby again?

Sorry...

I meant to say that I saw I was holding hands with Martin, and I don't know who else he was holding hands with, but I was the only blonde cracker anyway...

Be strong, be proud, love your momma. vote.

 
At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Grosse Pointe, living there from birth in 1953 until I left to attend the University of Michigan in 1971. My father was the minister at the Grosse Pointe Unitarian church during most of that time, and he was an extremely strong supporter of the civil rights movement in general and of Dr. King's efforts in particular. As such, I grew up in a household in which discussion of and attention to issues like civil rights were front and center. I can attest that Dr. King did not once enter Grosse Pointe in 1963; the event would have caused a sensation in that small, insular, and solidly Republican town, and the historical record would be full of reporting about that event. The Grosse Pointe Historical Society has confirmed that King never set foot in Grosse Pointe in 1963, and neither can you find any contemporaneous account in the Detroit News or the Detroit Free Press of such a visit, either. It's simply hogwash.

Why the two residents claim to have seen King marching outside their house I have no clue, but perhaps they're confusing Romney's claim with the actual visit King did make to Grosse Pointe five years later in March of 1968. King spoke at Grosse Pointe High School, and I attended the event. The speech was accompanied by active protests and demonstrations outside and inside the event conducted by Breakthrough, a Detroit-area right-wing organization angered by King's opposition to the war in Vietnam. At no time did King march through the streets of Grosse Pointe during his visit, as security was extremely tight.

Some of the reporting on this fraudulent tale gives the impression that Governor George Romney and presumably Mitt lived in Grosse Pointe. While Grosse Pointe at the time was indeed home to many auto industry executives from the big 3 of GM, Ford, and Chrysler, George Romney and family lived in Bloomfield Hills, a wealthy suburb north of Detroit.

And yes, regardless what one thinks about the Mormon faith, George Romney was a good man. The absurdity of the tale of 1963 march with King in G.P. should not obscure that Romney was a strong and forthright supporter of the civil rights movement, and his conversion to opposition of the Vietnam war in 1967 doomed his bid to obtain the GOP nomination. Needless to say, George Romney would be a pariah in today's Republican party, and Mitt has thoroughly dishonored his father's memory, in my opinion.

Don Hammond

 
At 4:03 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

I caught a lot of flak from some anonymous wingnuts for sticking to my guns on this Romney/King issue.

As then, I say now, there was never a fucking march in Grosse Point, in 1963 or any other fucking year.

You think the press wouldn't be there, taking pictures of the historic event? Hell, two people from the Grosse Point historical society affirmed that there was never a march.

What Don said.

 
At 9:32 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

Right on Don, and jurassicpork.

I get this whiff of bad incense, night of the living dead, empty suits and Pods around Willard. (not working for me).

I hope the Republicans get a good, healthy candidate. Hat tip to Bush2 (you won't see this often) for staying in good shape, and here's to Cheney's Alchemist (Satan?) and Laura's Plastic Surgeon; A deer in the headlight never looked so good if you are over 65...
(I know they don't move...stop, don't, don't stop).

Two BAD parties are better than one...

Nancy and Harry I am SO disappointed.

Can we get the Neocon's doctors to pump up Gulliani? Call Satan NOW, I think you have to turn slowly counter-clockwise on a 5 pointed star on the floor of Bush2's office, and call out "Cheney, Addington, Rice, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld". Oh yeah, BURN something, any 3rd World Country will do...too bad Cuba is so far ahead of us now on health care and general quality of life, and life expectancy.

 

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