Back then, young men were being drafted to fight a war many of them believed was unjust so they spoke out on college campuses and occupied administration buildings across America in protest.
Except Romney enthusiastically supported the Vietnam War and the draft, so he attended a pro-war, pro-draft counter-protest at Stanford where the photo was taken.
It’s reasonable, then, to assume Romney was ready to do his bit back in the day. If a young patriot and future leader felt as strongly as Mitt did about the Vietnam War, surely he’d lead by example and volunteer to fight Communism.
Now 65, the GOP presidential nominee is a slick package. From his carefully coiffed and dyed hair to his thousand-dollar custom loafers, Mitt conveys charisma, confidence and character, all the things you want in the leader of the free world — and all of it is a sham.
The man who described himself as “resolute” during the GOP primary has reversed his positions on virtually every major issue since leaving the Massachusetts governor’s office just six years ago. Then there were his years as a vampire capitalist, sucking life out of troubled companies while fallaciously claiming he created a hundred thousand jobs.
But there is nothing in Romney’s past as brazenly hypocritical or unrepentantly cynical than his support for a war he refused to fight himself.
Like other privileged young men in the late 1960s, Mitt thought it was just fine for the poor kids to do the fighting and dying in Vietnam. It was tough luck, too, for the middle class guys who exhausted their deferments and were shipped off to the meat grinder as the war escalated in 1967.
But if your name was Romney and your father was an influential industrialist and politician, you could find a way to avoid combat. And Mitt did. At just about the time he would have run out of draft deferments, Romney abruptly left Stanford to spend two years in France proselytizing for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
While less fortunate American boys fought a deadly enemy in pestilential jungles, Romney wandered Paris selling Mormonism door-to-door, dubiously exempted from the draft as a “minister.”
When he returned home in 1970, the Vietnam War was winding down because most Americans were finally sick of it. They’d come to understand the protesters had been right all along. The war was unjust, the draft unfair, and the dominoes never fell in Southeast Asia.
Unscathed, young Mitt finished school, got married and made millions. Now he wants your vote.
His supporters will point the finger at his critics and say “What about you?” It’s the irrelevant argument they always use to deflect attention from inconvenient facts.
The critics aren’t running for president, but Mitt Romney is. The candidate would have us believe he is a man of unshakeable conviction and deeply principled with the fortitude to lead America. Yet, look at his resume and you see nothing but deception and distortions, from his college days right up to the present.
Twenty years ago, the right was quick to slap the “draft dodger” label on Bill Clinton, who opposed the war, because he studied in England as a Rhodes Scholar. Using that popular conservative measuring stick, what else can one call Mitt Romney?
Kevin Foley is a PR executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.