From Anne-Laurie’s post this morning on George Romney:
Then, most famously, there was the Vietnam War. He supported it after returning from a trip there in 1965. Then, courageously, after a second trip in 1967, he began to criticize it. On September 4, 1967, a TV interviewer asked, “Isn’t your position a bit inconsistent with what it was, and what do you propose we do now?”
The line everyone remembers from his response: “When I came back from Vietnam in 1965, I just had the greatest brainwashing anybody can get when you go over to Vietnam.” But he continued with a devastating, prophetic, and one-thousand-percent-correct assessment: that staying in Vietnam would be a disaster. The public, and certainly the pundits, weren’t ready to hear it. All they heard was the word “brainwashing” – not in the colloquial sense in which Romney obviously intended it, but as something literal… Romney nose-dived sixteen points in the next Harris poll. As I wrote in my book Nixonland, on Vietnam a national brainwashing continued apace.
We’ve seen this over and over again: someone who is right about something — the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, global warming — is derided at the time (and often even in retrospect, after they’ve been proved right) as a weirdo, out-of-touch, not somebody you’d want to have a beer with.
Don’t get he wrong, I’m all for Goring/Frenchifying Mitt (not that he’s right about anything anyway). It’s all in the game, they played it for them, they can play it for us. The stakes are just too high: Romney, weird and out-of-touch or not, will likely be a disaster for the country, because he’ll be nothing more than Eric Cantor’s and Jim DeMint’s poodle.
But it truly degrades our discourse for the media to turn absolutely everything into earth tones, three-button suits, and supermarket scanners. W probably learned the right lesson from his father, that being a self-effacing pragmatist in office was a mistake politically, that it was better to act as a cowboy king. Mitt probably looks at the example of his own father and realizes it’s better politically to be a soul-less weasel who goes along with his party than to say what he actually believes about things.
It’s hard to see how a system like this is likely to produce good results.