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December 21, 2007

The Most Absurd Scandal Of The 2008 Season (So Far!)

Powerline thinks it's stupid. So do I.

So did Mitt Romney "see" his father march with MLK? No, not quite. Rather, he "saw" his father lead an NAACP march in Grosse Point timed to coincide with civil rights marches all over the country.

Is his statement exactly accurate? No, but... from the Detroit Free Press on June 29, 1963, Romney Joins Protest March Of 500 In Grosse Pointe:

With Gov. Romney a surprise arrival and marching in the front row, more than 500 Negroes and whites staged a peaceful antidiscrimination parade up Grosse Pointe’s Kercheval Avenue Saturday. … ‘the elimination of human inequalities and injustices is our urgent and critical domestic problem,’ the governor said. … [Detroit NAACP President Edward M.] Turner told reporters, ‘I think it is very significant that Governor Romney is here. We are very surprised.’ Romney said, ‘If they want me to lead the parade, I’ll be glad to.’

Jonah Goldberg does a Lexis/Nexis search:

I went and checked back issues of the New York Times to see what it said about Romney and MLK etc back then. I'm still going through it — though I may just hand all this off to Jim or one of my colleagues. But I found one NYT headline from March 10, 1965 "Romney Leads a Protest." The story is part of a series of dispatches from coordinated civil rights marches across the country. There's a picture at the top of the page from the famous protest in Selma, showing MLK march.

Anyway, I haven't watched the by all accounts cringeworthy explanation from Mitt, but I can certainly imagine growing up in a house where your Republican dad led a march in racially polarized Detroit timed to coincide with MLK's Selma march and thinking your dad marched with King. Romney was foolish to say what he said and, apparently explain it the way he explained it, but he has every right to take pride in what his father did.

Now, give me a break. His dad is marching multiple times with local NAACP chapters marching "with" -- in the national sense -- MLK. Were they at the same place at the same time? Apparently not. Who cares? He was indeed marching for MLK's cause.

Romney's answer was indeed crinegeworthy -- and unlike Jonah I saw it -- and this exposes a bad flaw of Romney's: He's just not terribly good on his feet. For a smart guy, he sure comes off awfully dumb when hit with something unexpected. He could have just said, "Well, that was what I was told. I did see him march with the NAACP several times and believed he did so with MLK. If I'm wrong, I guess my memory is off."

But so what? Yeah, he flubbed the answer. This matters, how? Except to the extent that it's evidence he'll flub further answers, I fail to see the problem. And that's a problem of artful politicking, not evidence of some deep dark character flaw.

And yeah, after 7 years of Bush, I'd prefer to have a President who was a bit more quick-witted.

But being inartful when hit with a gotcha question is not the worst possible flaw I can think of. At the very least, it proves he does not worship Satan, because a minion of Satan would have silver tongue and the ability to mesmerize humans with his eyes. Like Dracula.

Update: A bit worse: Mitt claimed, in 1978, that he himself marched with his father and MLK. He didn't.

I don't know, same deal: So long as Mitt marched during one of these coordinated nationwide marches, which I'm assuming he did, I think it's an acceptable shorthand. Not exactly accurate, but the point of noting this is to establish one's commitment to civil rights, not if one was fortunate enough to actually get close to a major national celebrity.

Andrew Sullivan is pimping that. A quote from 1978. Meanwhile he excuses Ron Paul posing for pictures with Nazis two months ago on the grounds that it's just "guilt by association."

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posted by Ace at 03:55 PM

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