While millions of young American men were slogging it out in the jungles of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos–doing their duty for their country–Mitt Romney was biking around France on a religious deferment, preaching the 'virtues of Mormonism' to French Catholics. While young, able-bodied men and women of Mitt's age were risking their lives in an unpopular war, Mitt was lounging on a beach, proclaiming his undying love for Ann, as memorialized in this photo:
In a rather cynical attempt to 'humanize' Mitt, the Republicans are promoting his love for Ann through 1968 beach photos taken in France, right about the time of the brutal Tet Offensive in Vietnam (photo seen above), as his countrymen were fighting and dying by the thousands. In promoting this story of a loving, passionate Mitt Romney, all they have done–in my mind–is merely tear off a festering scab, revealing a hypocritical young man of privilege. Yes, there are those on the right who will draw a comparison between President Bill Clinton and Mitt Romney, both of similar age during the Vietnam War, but neither of whom served.
The big distinction for me, however–as a Vietnam Veteran–is that Bill Clinton was openly opposed to the war, while Mitt was not! That's where the hypocrisy comes in. There were tens of thousands of draft-age men who avoided the draft for reasons of conscience, some who risked ridicule and even prison. Many left the country in protest.
Mitt was not among them. Instead, Romney demonstrated in support of the draft and the war! And yes, there are those on the right who will also question Barack Obama's lack of military service. Of course, we cannot know what he might have done because he was a young child during Vietnam and when last there was a military draft. I would note, however, that he did publicly oppose the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld misadventure in Iraq, so I must give him some credit for that.
Like other military hawks and Neo-conservatives in the Republican Party—Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, etc.—who should have served and didn't, Mitt Romney has embarked on the same cowardly path of advocating sending other people's children to war, while his own five, able-bodied sons get to enjoy their wealth and status. I am likewise appalled that Republican veterans and soldiers like George H.W. Bush and John McCain can even endorse such a man.
For me there are many, many reasons to oppose Mitt Romney. His contempt for the 47%, as revealed in the now infamous 'secret video.' His 'vulture capitalist' business background, leveraging companies with debt in order to reap enormous profits while throwing the employees to the wolves. His refusal to show America his tax returns while hiding his wealth in foreign tax-shelters. His insistence that lower taxes on investment income (and hereditary wealth) and higher rates on worker wages are actually fair! His plans to 'voucherize' Medicare and cut programs for the poor and middle-class, while growing the military-industrial complex. I'm sure I missed a few here, but you get the point.
Yet, as I stated originally, my distaste for Mitt Romney starts with the hypocrisy and lack of character he displayed as a young man. I am Romney's age (65). I enlisted in the Air force and volunteered to serve in Vietnam. I come from a family where service in time of war is seen as a duty and a badge of honor. Maybe I'm a bit old-fashioned in that regard; less than one percent of Americans now serve for the rest. Nevertheless, I see neither duty nor honor in Willard Mitt Romney. I see only craven self-interest and unashamed hypocrisy.