Ok, really? Nobody else is going to do this? (sigh) Fine, here we go. To ascend to the meta-observational level just for a moment, the fact that Everything2
has to this point had no substantive node on eternal candidate and presumptive 2012 Republican presidential nominee
Mitt Romney -- even mere days before his own nominating convention -- is absolutely symbolic of the fact that the man inspires in people an absolutely passionate
sense of apathy
. But even dull history bears recording, so, onward.
The essential biography:
Willard "Mitt" Romney was born March 12, 1947, and reportedly immediately began his campaign for the presidency of the United States. And yes, his real name is "Willard
," which he quite reasonably changed to "Mitt," possibly following the release of that movie portraying a holder of his given name as a crazy rat-taming killer. Romney's biography is itself sort of a mixed review. He was raised in Michigan where his father, George Romney
, was the governor (George Romney took several stabs at the presidency as well). From his youth, tales escape of Romney being a bully
, of the sort which was in that day most often brushed off as a 'boys-will-be-boys' characteristic. Mostly the reports, filtered as they must be through decades of memory, are of Romney directing gender-bending insults towards effeminate
(or possibly homosexual
) classmates, and in one instance leading a group to tackle, pin, and shear hair from one such classmate. I would balance this negative report with some positive aspect of Romney's youth, but nothing comes up.
In any event, being a Mormon
, Romney was not long thereafter sent off to do a mission in an underprivileged third world country: France
. Critics note that by so doing, Romney avoided the draft
(the Vietnam War
then running hot), and managed to sit it out in style by living in a mansion
. But, had Romney stayed stateside, it is unlikely that he, as a governor's son, would ever have seen action in Vietnam unless he'd gone looking for it, and frankly one need not be condemned for deciding not to go looking for an unending morass of combat in a foreign jungle. (There is some oddity to the consideration that Romney, in his "missionary work" in then already-Christian France, would have had the always-difficult task of convincing Christians that his Book of Mormon
trumped their Bible
In 1969, Romney married his high school sweetheart
Ann (they've raised five children together), and entered Brigham Young University
, from which he graduated in 1971, before heading to Harvard Law School
(where he was a decade ahead of Barack Obama
), from which he garnered both a law degree and an MBA in 1975. From there he went into consulting, ending up with a Massachusetts
company called Bain (not to be confused with Batman villain Bane
, whose similar name led Rush Limbaugh
to cluelessly accuse the makers of The Dark Knight Rises
of choosing that name as a swipe at Romney). Romney's time at Bain was quite successful on a personal level, elevating his personal wealth to a quarter billion dollars. While it is often harshly pointed out that Romney directed the shipping of a lot of jobs overseas, the larger reality is that it would have taken an absolutely heroic effort, and fairly severe corporate sacrifices, to keep those jobs in America, no matter who was doing the restructuring of those firms. During this time Romney was especially active in Mormonism, becoming a bishop
in his region and then stake president.
The Political Years:
Having backed Paul Tsongas
in the 1992 presidential cycle, Romney made his first personal foray into politics in the Republican Revolution of 1994 running for US Senator against Ted Kennedy
. Romney tacked far to the left for this effort, even getting to the left of Kennedy on some issues, staunchly defending abortion
while criticizing gun
rights and refusing to sign on to the Contract With America
; and so Romney ended up mounting respectable numbers in his loss to Kennedy. Romney returned to the public eye in 1999, hired by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee to run the 2002 Winter Olympic Games
. Finding the Games to have run deeply into debt, he did what any sensible public servant in his position would do, which was to go hat-in-hand to the federal government and ask for a bailout
to be tacked on to the national debt
. But naturally, securing the needed funds alone has never sufficed to turn failure into success, and it is roundly recognized that Romney did an excellent job of delivering a highly entertainingly packaged event.
Fresh off this success, Romney turned back to political pursuits, running for Governor of Massachusetts on much the same ideological positions as he took in the '94 Senate race. And elected he was, this time. Like the Olympic Games, Massachusetts was in debt, which Romney addressed by cutting spending
, reducing support for municipalities, and artfully raising taxes
-- though he came away being able to claim that he didn't raise tax rates per se, he closed loopholes and eliminated deductions such that under Romney's governorship the tax burden on Massachusetts businesses rose quite significantly. Perhaps the most far-reaching initiative of Romney's administration was the state government takeover of the health care industry, commonly called RomneyCare (and effectively nationalized under the name ObamaCare)-- the centerpiece being, naturally, the mandatory requirement that all citizens buy health insurance.
Despite his one electoral victory, Romney was never an especially popular governor, and so in 2006 he opted not to run for a reelection which would most likely elude him. But Romney remained an active face in politics, almost immediately setting out on his bid for the 2008 presidential nomination. Romney won a handful of primaries and caucuses, and was generally seen as the second-runner behind eventual winner John McCain
, who engendered some bad blood when he passed Romney over in selecting Sarah Palin
for the vice-presidential slot on the GOP's ultimately doomed 2008 ticket. But Romney never stopped running; he persevered right up to the 2012 GOP nominating contest. He had some stumbles along the way, from insisting that "corporation
s are people
" (by which he probably meant that corporations are run by
people as opposed to the more unpopular legalistic notion of corporate personhood
), commenting that he was "not concerned about the very poor" (because, as he explained, enough programs already exist to take care of them), and so forth.
But despite his lackluster debate
performances and occasional gaffes
, he was still able to unleash a tidal wave of campaign ads effectively tearing down his opponents (tearing down Newt Gingrich
and Ron Paul
and painting even ultraconservative Rick Santorum
as a big spending big government type). In some states, Romney outspent his next highest-spending opponent ten times over. And thanks to this ability (and a few gaffes in Romney's favor by the GOP itself, such as "mistakenly" initially calling the critical first state of Iowa
as a Romney win), Romney managed to eke out enough wins in enough states to paint the picture of himself as the inevitable GOP nominee, and so to knock out all his up-and-down-again opponents. And so, as of this writing stands at the door to becoming his party's nominee (barring only a last-minute revelation knocking him from that perch, unlikely though not inconceivable).
Wheretofore, Mitt Romney?
On the issues, Romney has run from the left, from the right, from the middle, bottom, top, and from some directions known only to string theorists (indeed, one of the most effective critiques of the man's politics is the New York Times
piece, A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney
, describing Romney as suspiciously "a) utterly devoid of any ideological convictions and b) filled with aluminum powder"). Romney has embraced the legalization of same-sex marriage
(and even issued same-sex marriage certificates), declared that marriage must only be between a man and a woman, called himself a protector of abortion rights, called for the overturning of Roe v. Wade
, derided government regulations, imposed anti-business carbon-emission limits and a host of other such regulations, increased the taxes and fees on citizens of his state, called for lower taxes, championed the curtailment of Second Amendment rights, joined the NRA and mumbled some conciliatory comments on gun rights in the wake of various gun-related headlines, set up a mandatory comprehensive health coverage system which penalizes those who do not buy health insurance, condemned a mandatory comprehensive health coverage system which penalizes those who do not buy health insurance, and engaged in a litany of like contradictions.
With this record, and with the handicap of his nonconnective personality, the possibility that Romney will be elected President of the United States in 2012 objectively seemed slim -- polling was surprisingly consistent in having Romney forever four points down overall, and more in the must-win states -- but anything is possible, and that was proved when Romney enjoyed a surge of sorts following the first presidential debate, wherein he defied Obama's characterizations by steering hard to the center in his positions. But this advantage did not hold, and at the end of the campaign, Romney was defeated, by Obama's 332 electoral votes to Romney's 206.