Mitt and Me: Mormon children of the 1960's

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Mitt Romney and I are the same age (60), grew up in the same church, served as Mormon Missionaries in the same years, and were given  draft deferrals as "ministers and/or divinity students" through Mormon Church political agreement with the feds and selective service. 

But our "stuff in common" seems to kind of stop there.

"When Mitt's deferments ended and he became eligible for military service in 1970, he drew a high number in the annual lottery that determined which young men were drafted. His high number ensured he was not drafted into the military."

My deferments ended in December, 1968, when I enlisted in the USAF. That first lottery - had I not signed up - would have delivered a number in the 340's to me which probably meant Mitt would have been called up before me. But by then it was too late.

My grades were too damned low at Texas A & I Univ. (now Texas A & M Kingsville) and I knew I was squandering my college time. However, in 1968 while most of the smart kids my age were desperately trying to end Kenny Rogers' "Crazy Asian War,"  I was oblivious to all that liberal crap and still a devout and conservative Rocky Mountain Mormon.

So, guilty about poor grades and raised by member of the American Legion, I enlisted in the Air Force.

In 1969 Uncle Sam's Flying Service sent me to Syracuse University to study Russian.

1969 ... you remember ... Woodstock took place only 70 miles from Syracuse.


Me ... the True Blue Rocky Mountain Mormon who was mad at Jane Fonda - not because of Hanoi - but because of Barbarella?

I refused to go to Woodstock, counting it a patriotic virtue worthy of the highest righteousness to which a returned Mormon missionary could aspire.


Which did not satisfy my hep kids - now my adult adult children - who are still astonished at my youthful closed mind.

Dad, it was only 70 miles and you didn't go?

The silence and lack of an answer from me was always heavy.


Okay okay, back to Mitt and Me.   According to AP and Yahoo News,

"Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Wednesday defended his five sons' decision not to enlist in the military, saying they're showing their support for the country by "helping me get elected."

... "The good news is that we have a volunteer Army and that's the way we're going to keep it," Romney told some 200 people gathered in an abbey near the Mississippi River that had been converted into a hotel. "My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard."

He added: "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."

Romney's five sons range in age from 37 to 26 and have worked as real estate developers, sports marketers and advertising executives. They are now actively campaigning for their father and have a "Five Brothers" blog on Romney's campaign Web site.

Romney noted that his middle son, 36-year-old Josh, was completing a recreational vehicle tour of all 99 Iowa counties on Wednesday and said, "I respect that and respect all those and the way they serve this great country."

Now what kind of cheap and shallow answer is that?

As a chickenhawk, Mitt needs more Republican/Cheney/Rove posture training.

You see, chickenhawks are never going to get much mileage as brave, courageous and bold Republicans in the tradition of Ike or even Bob Dole. The best thing for them to do is keep as quiet and low-key as possible so their absence of traditional male virtues doesn't get broadcast too extensively.

And certainly you do not make public speeches justifying not only your own lack of military service, but somehow glossing over the absence of traditional male virtues in your sons and other Republican allies who - in the grandest tradition of Yellow Elephants - cruise around campaigning to be the leader of a country that for the most part was forged by war.

The Mormon Church and I parted ways eventually. For my part it was an ugly divorce full of my multitudinous  recriminations against literal fundamental religion.

The Church, however,  had no need to defend itself from the likes of me so they just ignored me.

Eventually I cooled down and now the Church and I are amiable; almost friends. My dentist is the local Bishop. Most of the rest of my family in Utah and Idaho talk to me.

The young LDS missionaries even come to my house when ward members forget to tell them about the apostate living in that corner house. When they come knocking at the door, my wife usually lets them in, brings them to me and then goes somewhere else.

I usually josh around with them until it becomes obvious that I know the music and the words to the recruiting song they want to sing.

Most recently, after I listened to them praise our Christian in the White House and joke about Adam and Eve - not Adam and Steve, I gave them a dose of my liberal stuff about electing cheats and liars. One of them young guys asked,

"So, brother Ruger, what do you think of Hillary?"


I told him I hadn't yet made up my mind.

"I'm against her!", his voice sounding like a chant.

I told him that as a Bush supporter, he hadn't struck me as one who'd ever vote for Hillary anyway. When I asked him why he was against her, he again seemed to chant,

" Because she wants to bring back the draft!" he said. ;

I asked him what would be wrong with that if he supported Bush and Bush's war.

"Yeah, but I don't want to go over to Iraq and fight!"

Well, neither do the sons of Mitt Romney, the man who as commander in chief would "triple Guantanamo" which means more of the Abu Ghraib stuff that has endeared Alberto, Dick and George to most Americans.  . 

So now I've seen and listened to Candidate Romney several times.

Earlier this year I even posted a blog asking "Would you vote for a Mormon for President?  As compared to what?"

As someone bitterly disappointed by the last two presidential elections and who has doubts about ever again voting even for a Republican candidate in my own county, I nevertheless thought I might be tempted by my background and heritage-based assumptions to support Mitt as the most morally predictable of all candidates of both parties. 

But now I've seen and heard enough.

Back in the day (oh ... say 15 years or more) I would have uncritically campaigned and voted for Ole Mitt without hesitation. As many Mormons I'm sure today believe that Mitt as an active Mormon, a former Mormon Bishop and Stake President is several cuts above the rest of the morally challenged candidates in both parties, I would have voted for him then.

- but not now. 

He not only comes across as shallow and slick - possessing the substance and ethical sense of a highly skilled ladies shoe salesman in Macy's - but has compromised himself and his own image of integrity by the same shallow obeisance to Dobson-the-Hut and company that McCain proferred.

Recent performances reveal that Mitt IS ultra-sensitive and self-conscious about his religion. His simultaneous distancing from and defending Mormonism reveals him as someone afraid to acknowledge the fundamental Christianity of his beliefs which is a virtue and attribute quite laudable.

But then his church is likewise ultra sensitive, self-conscious to a fault and way too obsessed with image to appreciate the essential spiritual indifference of most Americans who really do not care which church is your church.

Politically, Mitt seems to be trying to paint himself and his sons as all-American Civic-Minded Patriots who admittedly are chickenhawks; but that chickenhawks are the reason why America enjoys the global reputation it has today.

Well, the Romneys have it right on at least that count.  

Arthur Ruger 2007

Arthur & Lietta Ruger 2002-2008. The American Choice is a  political internet journal based in Bay Center, Washington. The views expressed not authored by Arthur or Lietta Ruger are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of The American Choice or SwanDeer Productions. Permission of author required for reprinting original material, and only requests for reprinting a specific item are considered.