In 1967 a Romney was in the same position Mitt is in now. In fact it was Mitt’s own father who was in that position. Meet George Romney.
Americans today do not know just how close George Romney got to the
White House, but it was a Dean-like distance of one gaffe. The 1968
Republican field was actually considered quite weak — Richard Nixon
was washed-up, Nelson Rockefeller was too liberal. Ronald Reagan and
Charles Percy had just been elected to their first statewide offices
the year before.
By 1967 George Romney was in his second term as Governor of Michigan.
His grandparents were Mormon polygamists who had fled to
Mexico, but he did not make his religion an issue, living a secular
Michigan instead. Before entering politics he had built American Motors
into a strong 4th place among U.S. automakers around a compact car
called the Rambler. It was an American VW, a great success story of the
Politically, George Romney represented the Eisenhower AntiThesis to the Roosevelt Thesis, moderating the New Deal but accepted its premises. In 2008 his son is running as an extension of the Nixon Thesis, emphasizing its social exclusiveness, power available only to "people of faith" who presumably can handle it because they’re closer to God than the rest of us.
Anyway, back to the father.
What happened was that George Romney opened his mouth. He was actually the front-runner when, in
August, he taped an interview in which he admitted he had been
"brainwashed" into supporting the War in Vietnam. He spoke at a key
moment. Vietnam was then seen as a failure just as Iraq is now, and
those who had supported it early, like George Romney, were being asked hard
questions. By using the word "brainwashed," before a Republican
electorate that had not yet soured on the War, Romney shot his
political fortunes in the head.
Mitt Romney has done everything possible to be like his father yet not
be like his father. He cultivates image over substance. He is an outspoken Mormon whose business career at
Bain Capital was mostly in behind-the-scenes work, not operations. Bain
is in Boston, and while he agreed to be called back to Salt Lake City
and run its Olympics for 2002 (after a scandal), he went right back
home afterward, and was rewarded with a term as Governor.
As a candidate Mitt is everything his father wasn’t. He’s buttoned-down
where his father was relaxed, overtly religious where his father was
quiet, loudly conservative where his father was moderate. He’s calculating where his father was glib. And when
faced with contradictions between his present stands and those he held
before, Mitt never admits to having been brainwashed — he just changed
his mind. On the key issue of Iraq, he’s for staying the course, and never mind the cost.
But he has changed his mind about so many things, and tried to do it
multiple times. It’s made him plastic. And under that thick black
hairline is more than a touch of gray — he’s going to be 60 this year, the same age as George W.
Bush is now.
So look at the life of George Romney, look at how his son has played
off it, and then dismiss him to his own trips and dramas. You don’t
want to go there.