Let’s forget the fact that the GOP was making efforts to restrict military voters in Ohio, a swing state that’s slowly flipping from an Obama lead to a Romney lead, and toss out the fact that Romney felt he had a “higher purpose” during Vietnam so he left the country while everyone else was being drafted. The Republican Party really hit a new low when they tried to pander to veterans and servicepersons during the convention.
You see, not once during Romney’s RNC speech did he mention Afghanistan. The peddling remnants of the longest combat operation in our nation’s history that will have cost us $2.4 trillion by 2014 – and has cost us $571 billion so far (and that’s just this time around!) — was only vaguely hinted at when Romney mentioned the military all of two times, despite the convention toting military-related guests, verbiage, and videos, and our current withdrawal strategy leaving 68,000 troops still deployed next month.
And he barely mentioned the military when he did. The first time he said:
“[Obama's] trillion dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs and also put our security at greater risk.”
But that’s false. Our security is not going to be at risk, and no, “hundreds of thousands of jobs” are not going to be at risk because of a $500 billion reduction in defense spending over the next ten years. Yes, defense cuts as mandated by the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011 will reduce the amount of money that the government can pay to defense contractors, but the Obama Administration has exempted critical programs and serviceperson’s from these cuts. The image of uniformed women and men not being allowed to reenlist is just rhetorical buffoonery, and companies who have built their fortunes on war did so knowing that war has to come to an end (at least, that’s what’s supposed to happen).
The second and only other mention of the military was when he mentioned his military policy:
“That America, that united America will preserve a military that’s so strong no nation will ever dare to test it.”
It’s no secret that the Republican Party is very adamant about having a strong, capable military at all times, and Romney isn’t saying anything new here. In fact, that’s just the problem: the only time he has said anything about defense it has been vague and misleading. During the convention he said, “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus,” likely referring to Israel’s desire to bomb Iran but the Obama Administration actively pursuing a complete Middle Eastern withdrawal by 2014 and thus a solid nonsupport of Israeli military actions (or future actions they may commit to).
But put aside the politics of foreign policy and what are you left with? A hollowed-out Republican businessman who wants to appeal to the military community by saying we need a strong fighting force. This is a guy who is regurgitating the Bush-era Republican wartime policy of being the biggest kid in the playground regardless of whether you’re the bully or not. And much is to be said for national security and peace of mind, sure, but Mitt Romney is not the person to be speaking on this.
I understand that as a presidential candidate it’s impossible to really have any experience with military affairs and policy unless you yourself served, and while I don’t care that Romney didn’t serve, what bothers me about him is the fairytale world he builds around himself.
He is running for commander-in-chief while believing that he was better than everyone else during Vietnam because he felt he had a higher purpose.
He promised veterans in Indiana that he wouldn’t let defense budgets affect the women and men in uniform — something that Obama already included in the mandatory cuts — and that no matter what, he wouldn’t let programs like TRICARE raise fees on the military community. These are not the words of a person who understands the complexities of a defense budget; this is a person who will make promises that he can’t keep to a very strong and traditional voting bloc.
The defense cuts that he’s criticizing Obama for are the same ones Paul Ryan (you know, his running mate) voted for.
Thankfully, there does exist Vietnam veterans who understand that Romney is saying the same-ol’-same-ol’ when it comes to opportunities for returning soldiers, but these are the same veterans who are equally frustrated with the Obama Administration for not taking a more active role in the veteran community. On that matter, I’ve already told you that I don’t appreciate President Obama’s endorsement of Bush-style foreign policy.
Romney is much worse, though. Not only do we have a candidate who can’t relate to normal people, we have someone who willfully distanced himself from the military community during a time when his nation needed him the most, then doubled-down on that gap when he told everyone that he was better than everyone who fought and died and tripled-down when he told the Boston Globe in 2007, “I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there and in some ways it was frustrating.” But it’s lie after lie with this guy, because in his 1994 bid for MA Senate, 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.”
Here’s what I’m most upset about: First he paints this picture in 1994 that he wants nothing to do with the military at all but didn’t actively take measures to not be involved, then in 2007, he says that he longed to be in Vietnam but didn’t mention the deferments that he took. It’s like depending on the day and election he’s trying to win, Romney caters his beliefs to the voters he things he’ll get.
I hate to play the role of Grumpy Flag-Toting Veteran, but the flip-flopper’s words are not those of someone who loves his country.
These are the words of a shallow coward who did everything he could to hide from responsibility when his nation called on him and now wants to hold the nation’s highest office.
I understand that military service isn’t for everyone — hell, I probably would have been right alongside those protesting the war myself — but to sit on your mound of wealth that your father gave you, have a wife who talks about how much you struggled because you ate on an ironing board once, and then lie about wanting to serve your country because you know it’s what the voters want to hear is beyond pompous and egotistical; it’s a slap in the face to the servicepersons you featured during the convention, it’s a slap in the face to currently serving and veteran women and men, and it’s a slap in the face to all the parents watching this election whose children were killed overseas.