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Buggernut

Romney dodged the draft

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Romney dodged the draft

First he didn't "desire" to serve, but didn’t evade it. Then he "longed" to go. The truth: He got four deferments

By Joan Walsh

Topics: Mitt Romney

romney_vietnam_rect-460x307.jpgMitt Romney looks over at veteran Nick Popaditch during a Memorial Day ceremony in San Diego. (Credit: Reuters/Denis Poroy)

Mitt Romney changed his story on poverty in St. Louis Thursday. Where in February, during the GOP primary, he said “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” today he called rising poverty rates “a moral failure” – and blamed it on President Obama. But Romney supports Paul Ryan’s budget, which would slash food stamps, Head Start, Medicaid, nutrition programs for pregnant women and their children, and his tax plan would raise taxes on the poor and working class while giving himself an extra $5 million or so. Mitt, you got it right the first time: You’re not concerned about the very poor.

But Romney’s shifting stories on his Vietnam status could have real political consequences, as an Associated Press expose revealing that he sought and got four deferments from military service during the Vietnam War gets more play. It’s not the deferments that will hurt – Dick Cheney got five. It’s the fact that over the years, Romney has lied about it.

AP politely says his story has “evolved,” but tracks the puzzling changes. Running for president in 2007, Romney told the Boston Globe, “I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there, and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam.”

But in 1994, running against Ted Kennedy for his Massachusetts Senate seat while in his “I’m not a typical Republican” phase, he admitted “it was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam.” Fair enough: His father, George Romney, turned against the war, and so did a lot of Republicans (even if party hawks would later try to hang the “loss” of Vietnam on the antiwar left and their Democratic enablers). Indeed, in 1970, at 23, Romney told the Globe, ”If it wasn’t a political blunder to move into Vietnam, I don’t know what is.”

But while telling the truth about his lack of “desire to go off and serve” in 1994, Romney lied again, telling the Boston Herald he didn’t “take any actions to remove myself from the pool of young men who were eligible for the draft.” That’s absolutely not true. He got his first deferment while at Stanford University, where in his prep-school prankster phase he counter-protested a Vietnam draft protest. That’s another lie, in a way: While posing as pro-draft and pro-war, he was evading the draft with an “activity in study” deferment. After his freshman year, he got deferment status as “a minister of religion or divinity student,” which he’d keep while working in France as a missionary for his Mormon church.

Yet the AP reveals that other young Mormons were denied that deferment. And since the church itself strongly supported the war, its leaders eventually limited such deferments, but Romney kept his.

After his religious deferment, he got another academic deferment to finish school. By the time he was draft eligible, troop numbers were declining, and his lottery number was never called.

As Rachel Maddow noted last night, this story got eclipsed by post-Wisconsin coverage, but Romney’s dissembling here, all captured in newspapers in real time, should be a real problem for him. Especially since he’s getting the old George W. Bush band back together and backing the Bush-Cheney neocon foreign policy that never saw a war it didn’t like. His campaign refused to comment on the AP story. Let’s see if Romney has to answer for his Vietnam deceit in the days to come.

I talked about the story on MSNBC’s “Bashir Live” today. As a bonus, you can see me tell Bashir I can’t answer a question, when he asks me why veterans are supporting Romney over Obama 66-34 percent. I started to BS, and then decided to keep a promise to myself that I won’t make things up when I really don’t know the truth. A little cringe-making, but better than faking it.

http://www.salon.com/2012/06/07/romney_dodged_the_draft/singleton/

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the guy is such a phony. if he wins, I'm moving back to canada.

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This article explains in more detail.

Romney's (Non) Military Record Faces New Scrutiny

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: June 5, 2012 at 12:54 PM ET

SAN DIEGO (AP) — On a stage crowded with war heroes, Mitt Romney recently praised the sacrifice "of the great men and women of every generation who serve in our armed services."

It is a sacrifice the Republican presidential candidate did not make.

Though an early supporter of the Vietnam War, Romney avoided military service at the height of the fighting after high school by seeking and receiving four draft deferments, according to Selective Service records. They included college deferments and a 31-month stretch as a "minister of religion" in France, a classification for Mormon missionaries that the church at the time feared was being overused. The country was cutting troop levels by the time he became eligible for the draft, and his lottery number was not called.

President Barack Obama, Romney's opponent in this year's campaign, did not serve in the military either. The Democrat, 50, was a child during the Vietnam conflict and did not enlist when he was older.

But because Romney, now 65, was of draft age during Vietnam, his military background — or, rather, his lack of one — is facing new scrutiny as he courts veterans and makes his case to the nation to be commander in chief. He's also intensified his criticism lately of Obama's plans to scale back the nation's military commitments abroad, suggesting that Romney would pursue an aggressive foreign policy as president that could involve U.S. troops.

A look at Romney's relationship with Vietnam offers a window into a 1960s world that allowed him to avoid combat as fighting peaked. His story also demonstrates his commitment to the Mormon Church, which he rarely discusses publicly but which helped shape his life.

Romney's recollection of his Vietnam-era decisions has evolved in the decades since, particularly as his presidential ambitions became clear.

He said in 2007 — his first White House bid under way — that he had "longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam." But his actions, Selective Service records and previous statements show little interest in joining a conflict that ultimately claimed more than 58,000 American lives.

Still, he repeatedly cites his commitment to public service and the nation's military while campaigning for president.

"Greatness in a people, I believe, is measured by the extent to which they will give themselves to something bigger than themselves," Romney said in San Diego last week to a Memorial Day crowd of thousands, flush with military veterans of all ages.

He did not address his own Vietnam history that day. And his campaign has refused to comment publicly on the subject over the past week.

Political rivals, military veterans among them, suggest that Romney's own decision not to serve in the military is in conflict with his pro-military rhetoric.

"He didn't have the courage to go. He didn't feel it was important enough to him to serve his country at a time of war," said Jon Soltz, who served two Army tours in Iraq and is the chairman of the left-leaning veterans group VoteVets.org.

Critics note that the candidate is among three generations of Romneys — including his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, and five sons — who were of military age during armed conflicts but did not serve.

As a presidential candidate in 2007, Romney told The Boston Globe he was frustrated, as a Mormon missionary, not to be fighting alongside his countrymen.

"I was supportive of my country," Romney said. "I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there, and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam."

Indeed, Romney strongly supported the war at first. As a freshman at Stanford University, he protested anti-war activists. In one photo, he's shown in a small crowd of students, smiling broadly, wearing a sport jacket and holding up a sign that says, "Speak Out, Don't Sit In."

But the frustration he recalled in 2007 does not match a sentiment he shared as a Massachusetts Senate candidate in 1994, when he told The Boston Herald, "I was not planning on signing up for the military."

"It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam, but nor did I take any actions to remove myself from the pool of young men who were eligible for the draft," Romney told the newspaper.

But that's exactly what Romney did, according Selective Service records. He received his first deferment for "activity in study" in October 1965 while at Stanford.

As Soltz notes, the younger Romney was under no obligation to seek a college-related deferment.

"Vietnam was a war that the poor and the people who couldn't afford to go to college had to go to," Soltz said.

After his first year at Stanford, Romney qualified for 4-D deferment status as "a minister of religion or divinity student." It was a status he would hold from July 1966 until February 1969, a period he largely spent in France working as a Mormon missionary.

He was granted the deferment even as some young Mormon men elsewhere were denied that same status, which became increasingly controversial in the late 1960s. The Mormon church, a strong supporter of American involvement in Vietnam, ultimately limited the number of church missionaries allowed to defer their military service using the religious exemption.

But as fighting in Vietnam raged, Romney spent two and a half years trying to win Mormon converts in France. About that same time, Romney's father would famously speak out against Vietnam, declaring that he had been "brainwashed" by military officials into supporting the conflict.

Young Romney's comments indicated his support had waned, too.

"If it wasn't a political blunder to move into Vietnam, I don't know what is," a 23-year-old Romney would tell The Boston Globe in 1970 during the fifth year of his deferment.

His 31-month religious deferment expired in early 1969. And Romney received an academic studies deferment for much of the next two years. He became available for military service at the end of 1970 when his deferments ran out and he could have been drafted. But by that time, America was beginning to slice its troop levels, and Romney's relatively high lottery number — 300 out of 365 — was not called.

Romney's past may not be enough to hurt his popularity in this year's election among veterans, who typically lean Republican.

A Gallup survey released last week found that veterans prefer Romney over Obama by 58 percent to 34 percent. That voting bloc, consisting mostly of older men, makes up 13 percent of the adult population. Obama won the presidency four years ago while losing veterans by 10 points to Sen. John McCain, a former Navy pilot.

Still, some veterans say Romney's reluctance to serve irks them.

"I volunteered for the draft. Romney could have, too. Simple as that," said Wade Lieseke, of Nevada, who served as a helicopter gunner in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970.

http://www.nytimes.c...&pagewanted=all

What a weasel. Dodge the war but protest against those who protest against it. Can you get more hypocritical?

I guess hypocrisy is not the biggest crime known to man as far as the Republicans and neocons in general are concerned.

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You're not going to find many leaders of that generation who aren't seriously character deficient, water is wet, sky is blue, Boomers are insanely self centered hypocrits. Unfortunately we still have at least 10 more years to go before we get some fresh blood at that level.

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You're not going to find many leaders of that generation who aren't seriously character deficient, water is wet, sky is blue, Boomers are insanely self centered hypocrits. Unfortunately we still have at least 10 more years to go before we get some fresh blood at that level.

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This is a non issue. Many folks got deferments for college, religious service, and graduate school.

Then again, what about Obama. He has done more to destroy the ethos and esprit de corps of the American military than any President before him.

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You're not going to find many leaders of that generation who aren't seriously character deficient, water is wet, sky is blue, Boomers are insanely self centered hypocrits. Unfortunately we still have at least 10 more years to go before we get some fresh blood at that level.

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This is a non issue. Many folks got deferments for college, religious service, and graduate school.

Then again, what about Obama. He has done more to destroy the ethos and esprit de corps of the American military than any President before him.

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This is a non issue. Many folks got deferments for college, religious service, and graduate school.

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Do they have the right to be war hawks then?

Are leaders supposed to lead by example, or rule on a "Do as I say, not as I do" basis?

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I'd love for you to elaborate.

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A war hawk because of a deferment, what do you think?

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Having served in the US DoD, repealing don't ask don't tell, cutting funds off, and weak military policy pisses many soldiers off. The problem is, because Obama is the apex of the CoC, they are reluctant to say anything lest they jeopardize their careers.

Then there is the stunt that happened at Fort Polk, which has offended a deeply religious community in Vernon Parish. The ministerial association which I belong to, the Governor, and our Congressional delegation are pressing to have this Disciples of Christ chaplain arrested for violating community morality standards and Louisiana state law.

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Ah, he's not a bigot. Gotcha.

You have got to be kidding me.

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Bigot or having a sense of morals are entirely different things, and I do not have to justify myself to you.

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You could probably stick Romney in Gingrich's place and it would be accurate.

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You're not going to find many leaders of that generation who aren't seriously character deficient, water is wet, sky is blue, Boomers are insanely self centered hypocrits. Unfortunately we still have at least 10 more years to go before we get some fresh blood at that level.

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The entire baby boomer culture is based upon screwing over others in every way possible while doing everything in your power to maintain your own status and representation. What were seeing now is merely the most succesful examples of that attitude now running for positions like president.

Thankfully, this clown has no real shot of winning. I'd also agree that we're probably going to have to have to put up with boomers for another 10 years. In the meantime they'll continue to tank the real estate market, job market, enivronment, etc... and leave us with a nice mess to clean up.

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