Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The AP ran this story on Tuesday about Romney's (non) military record faces new scrutiny:
Though an early supporter of the Vietnam War, Romney avoided military service at the height of the fighting after high school by seeking and receiving four draft deferments, according to Selective Service records. They included college deferments and a 31-month stretch as a "minister of religion" in France, a classification for Mormon missionaries that the church at the time feared was being overused. The country was cutting troop levels by the time he became eligible for the draft, and his lottery number was not called.
* * *
[B]ecause Romney, now 65, was of draft age during Vietnam, his military background — or, rather, his lack of one — is facing new scrutiny as he courts veterans and makes his case to the nation to be commander in chief.
* * *
Romney's recollection of his Vietnam-era decisions has evolved in the decades since, particularly as his presidential ambitions became clear.
He said in 2007 — his first White House bid under way — that he had "longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam." But his actions, Selective Service records and previous statements show little interest in joining a conflict that ultimately claimed more than 58,000 American lives.
* * *
Political rivals, military veterans among them, suggest that Romney's own decision not to serve in the military is in conflict with his pro-military rhetoric.
"He didn't have the courage to go. He didn't feel it was important enough to him to serve his country at a time of war," said Jon Soltz, who served two Army tours in Iraq and is the chairman of the left-leaning veterans group VoteVets.org.
Critics note that the candidate is among three generations of Romneys — including his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, and five sons — who were of military age during armed conflicts but did not serve.
As a presidential candidate in 2007, Romney told The Boston Globe he was frustrated, as a Mormon missionary, not to be fighting alongside his countrymen.
"I was supportive of my country," Romney said. "I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there, and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam."
Indeed, Romney strongly supported the war at first. As a freshman at Stanford University, he protested anti-war activists. In one photo, he's shown in a small crowd of students, smiling broadly, wearing a sport jacket and holding up a sign that says, "Speak Out, Don't Sit In." (That's Romney on the right).
But the frustration he recalled in 2007 does not match a sentiment he shared as a Massachusetts Senate candidate in 1994, when 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," Romney told the newspaper.
But that's exactly what Romney did, according Selective Service records. He received his first deferment for "activity" in study" in October 1965 while at Stanford.
As Soltz notes, the younger Romney was under no obligation to seek a college-related deferment.
"Vietnam was a war that the poor and the people who couldn't afford to go to college had to go to," Soltz said.
After his first year at Stanford, Romney qualified for 4-D deferment status as "a minister of religion or divinity student." It was a status he would hold from July 1966 until February 1969, a period he largely spent in France working as a Mormon missionary.
He was granted the deferment even as some young Mormon men elsewhere were denied that same status, which became increasingly controversial in the late 1960s. The Mormon church, a strong supporter of American involvement in Vietnam, ultimately limited the number of church missionaries allowed to defer their military service using the religious exemption.
But as fighting in Vietnam raged, Romney spent two and a half years trying to win Mormon converts in France.
* * *
His 31-month religious deferment expired in early 1969. And Romney received an academic studies deferment for much of the next two years. He became available for military service at the end of 1970 when his deferments ran out and he could have been drafted. But by that time, America was beginning to slice its troop levels, and Romney's relatively high lottery number — 300 out of 365 — was not called.
About that Mormon mission to France. There was a good deal of reporting about it earlier this year, but here is what the Daily Telegraph (UK) reported last December, Mitt Romney's life as a poor Mormon missionary in France questioned:
Mr Romney told supporters he had experienced austerity as a missionary in France, using a bucket for a lavatory and a hose for a shower. “You’re not living high on the hog at that kind of level,” he said.
But the Republican presidential hopeful spent a significant portion of his 30-month mission in a Paris mansion described by fellow American missionaries to The Daily Telegraph as “palace”. It featured stained glass windows, chandeliers, and an extensive art collection. It was staffed by two servants – a Spanish chef and a houseboy.
Although he spent time in other French cities, for most of 1968, Mr Romney lived in the Mission Home, a 19th century neoclassical building in the French capital’s chic 16th arrondissement. “It was a house built by and for rich people,” said Richard Anderson, the son of the mission president at the time of Mr Romney’s stay. “I would describe it as a palace.”
* * *
“They were very big rooms,” said Christian Euvrard, the 72-year-old director of the Mormon-run Institute of Religion in Paris, who knew Mr Romney. “Very comfortable. The building had beautiful gilded interiors, a magnificent staircase in cast iron, and an immense hall.”
* * *
In his remarks this week, Mr Romney said of his French lodgings: “I don’t recall any of them having a refrigerator. We shopped before every meal”. Mr Anderson said that as well as a refrigerator, the mansion had “a Spanish chef called Pardo and a house boy, who prepared lunch and supper five days a week.”
It was “well equipped” with all modern conveniences, including a combination washer-dryer machine, Mr Anderson said. “I never saw anything like it in another private home at that time.”
Mr Romney added in his comments that “most of the apartments I lived in had no shower or bathtub”. He said: “If we were lucky, we actually bought a hose and we stuck it on the sink.” He said he was forced to use a hole in the ground and a bucket for a lavatory.
Jean Caussé, a 72-year-old Mormon who met Mr Romney in Bordeaux, said he “would be astonished” if that had been the case. “I never knew missionaries who had to do that,” he said. “I don’t see why he would have lived in conditions like that for two years when it was far from the general case.”
The mission home in Paris was fully plumbed and central heated. “All of the missionary rooms had something like a bath or a shower attached to it,” said Mr Anderson. “The home had several.”
John Aravosis at Americablog tracked down photos of the Mormon mansion in France. Romney claimed he lived impoverished existence in France, in fact he lived in a "palace" in Paris:
I found a photo of one of the windows, via the Mormon Paris mission's Web site:
Until just recently the building housed the embassy of the United Arab Emirates, a government known for its impoverished lower-middle class lifestyle. Using that info, I was able to track down the address to 3, rue de Lota, Paris 75016. And using Google maps, I was able to locate the building (above) and recreate the entire facade using some panoramic software, below (that entire photo, left to right, is the house):
So let's recap. "Richie Rich" Romney went to the University of Stanford where he protested against anti-war protestors, and claimed "Gee, I long to serve my country, but I'm the son of a governor, and you know how it is." Romney obtained four draft deferments including a 31 month Mormom mission -- actually a Paris vacation -- in a freakin' palace!
Meanwhile, my older family members and neighbors, who were not rich and privileged, either volunteered or were drafted into the military to slog through the jungles of Vietnam for their Uncle Sam. My family members all survived, though some bear physical and emotional wounds, but some of my neighbors were not so lucky. They came home in a flag-draped coffin, and I grieved with their families at their funerals.
The fact that Willard "Mittens" Romney has surrounded himself with the Neoconservative architects war criminals of the Iraq War from George W. Bush's administration who threaten to repeat their military adventurism really pisses me off! This wealthy privileged draft dodger talks like he wants to send other people's children off to a foreign land to fight in yet another Neoconservative wet dream for a Pax Americana Empire. Enough!
UPDATE: Lawrence O'Donnell delivers a devastating "Rewrite" of Willard "Mittens" Romney's Vietnam draft dodging. Mittens could have taken a principled stand like Mohammad Ali, but he took the easy way out available only to the rich and privileged.