Is Romney A Decent Guy?

Responding to my post, “Romney: Champion Of Ugly Americans Everywhere!a thoughtful commenter named Treeske wrote:

…one feels almost sorry for this, probably very decent guy’s clumsiness, or is it truly arrogant ignorance (like you mentioned) the elite so often fall victim to?


You know, I hear the description of Romney as a “decent” or “nice” guy all the time—mostly from Democrats who then go on to bash his brains out!—but I’m not so sure what kind of guy he is in terms of being decent or nice.

I mean, is Romney’s decency defined by his willingness to say literally anything to achieve the presidency?

Is Romney being a nice guy when he tells lies constantly about Mr. Obama and suggests he is less than an American, helping to legitimize the weird fantasies of amateur and professional right-wing Obama-haters?

Is his decency indicated by an unseemly eagerness to carve up his belief system so as to make it compatible with the extremists in the Republican Party, extremists who seek to alienate large swaths of society?

Is Romney’s niceness defined by a willingness to custom-make his principles in order to get the approval of creeps like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter?

Does a nice guy do the things that Romney has done, like the the dog incident or the haircutting incident or the haircuts he gave workers and their pensions when Bain took companies over and loaded them with debt in order to make a profit? Do good guys do that stuff?

Was Romney being nice when he brought health care reform to Massachusetts but now is being doubly nice when he opportunistically attacks the same reform when Obama fought to bring it to all Americans? Huh?

Is it decent of a guy to store some of his dough overseas in order to shield it from taxes that help support our country? How many roads weren’t built because Romney’s beer money is resting in Bermuda?

Does a nice guy have offshore companies the financial and moral significance of which are kept secret from potential voters?

Does a decent guy keep his tax returns hidden from the millions of taxpayers he seeks to govern?

Look, obviously I don’t know Mitt Romney personally. And I admit to some prejudice in the matter, being a drinker, a Democrat, and an opponent of fundamentalist religion, especially the kind of freakish fundamentalism at the center of Romney’s life that keeps him clothed in special skivvies and away from alcohol.

I can only know Romney by what comes out of his mouth, like the many lies he has told and keeps telling about Mr. Obama, or by what kind of policies he says he will pursue should, God forbid, Americans make the mistake of putting him in charge.

And while judging his personal decency by his religious aversion to the drink or by what comes out of his mouth might sound like I’m swimming at the shallow end of the pool, I do have some Romney-approved company:

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.



  1. ansonburlingame

     /  July 28, 2012


    You at least ask a reasonable question. But you really seem to have already answered it based on the stream of comments afterwards.

    What really defines the intersection of a man’s (or woman’s) decency and his/her politics? More importantly perhaps, how does one equate decency and leadership?

    Does a decent man say, “Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead” or “Over the top men and take that next hill”? And of course that is an attempt to equate decency with only military leadership, not a higher level of leadership in national governments.

    Strip away, if possible, the “ends” envisioned by both Romney and Obama in terms of their “visions” for America. My guess just about any past Presidents would have very similar “visions”, even the hated Nixon. Jefferson probably captured the essence of such visions and I know of few if any Presidents that dispute that vision laid out in the Declaration of Independence.

    But we all fight over the means to achieve such ends, all the time.

    My own conclusions about Obama’s decency is that he is a decent man. So is Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, etc.

    Now ask why would any decent man ever decide to run for President and face all the accusations over his indeceny which are inevitable in politics. As well perhaps the question is can a truly decent man or woman be an effective President?



    • Anson,

      You’ve actually stumbled onto something here:

      …would any decent man ever decide to run for President…?

      In other words, is there something about the dynamics of 21st-century American politics that ipso facto excludes the decent man or woman from the process, leaving the presidency open only to swindlers or the power-hungry or miscreants?

      I refuse to be so cynical. I prefer to say that decent men or women can still seek the presidency, but their decency is reflected in their governing principles and policies as well as in their personal integrity.  Regarding Romney, I think he has a problem on all those fronts.



  2. ansonburlingame

     /  July 28, 2012

    My “stumbling” is a question long asked by many over a very long period of time. There perhaps are some that have run for that office intent only on the power they can achieve. But I am naive enough to think to most men running for President really feel like they can make America a more decent place to live, a better country and life within it for its citizens, all of its citizens,

    But I note you did not address my issue of the “intersection” of decency and leadership. For example can a decent man or woman as President sent any country into war, back “then” or today? Can a decent man impose economic sanctions on a country knowing that people may actually starve to death under such economic sanctions?

    Can a decent man hold his “cards” very close to his vest in public statements carefully constructed to shield the ultimate truth but still never cross the line of lying?

    What I would like to see over the next four months is both sides accepting the inate decency of both Obama and Romney and focus instead on trying to understand he man’s approach and policies and their ulitmate outcome, including unintended consequences. But the chances of that happening are nil and we both know it.

    so back to the fray.



  3. Had you rather have a Morman or moron !!!!!!!


  4. …would any decent man ever decide to run for President…?

    That is interesting. It makes me think of George W. Bush. I saw a news clip just the other day of him and Laura doing some charity work in Africa, painting some siding in a project associated with his AIDS project. Someone said Bush II had done more than any other president to combat the AIDS epidemic in Africa, and I was taken aback by that. This is the same man who committed his country to two unnecessary wars, wars started in an overreaction to 9/11 that led to over 100,000 human deaths in Iraq alone. Now clearly, Bush did not consciously think about his decisions in terms of such costs. I think he would have recoiled from such thoughts if he had. But the point is, he should have. No, he reacted to the 9/11 crisis like a revenge-seeking Texas hotshot, neglecting to consider the obvious problems of religious ethnicity afflicting that nation. Maybe when they elected Bush, the majority of voters perceived that side of his character and approved of it, but I’d prefer to think otherwise.

    Either way, I think that such dichotomy of character is very important to assessing the right person for the job of President and that the political process needs to be such that it is revealed. But secrecy is a barrier to such revelation. Yes, I know that some dissembling is inevitable to the political process – FDR was a master at it. But there is a line between dissembling and secrecy that should not be crossed. Nixon was one who did cross it, IMO. Think “enemies list” and Watergate. Secrecy pegs my BS meter and Romney is replete with it.


    • Wow, Jim. I like that analysis.

      You prefer to think that a majority of Americans didn’t elect Bush because of his Texas hotshot personality and I wish you were right. But given our culture, think: guns and worship of a bloodthirsty God, I fear that is exactly what made Bush so appealing, especially the second time around up against John Kerry, a war hero who was essentially smeared as a soldier and as a man.

      And, sure, there is a fair amount of dissembling that goes with politics, but you have said it exactly right about the importance of transparency. We may have to live with Romney for four years; is it too much to ask that he show us his tax returns, for instance? If he is so proud of his achievements in business, then why not own up to them and defend them openly? Since he is basing his qualifications for the job on his business and financial savvy, one would think he would put all the evidence out there for close inspection. But of course he can’t do that because it would expose him for what he is: a beneficiary of financial and tax rules that are wildly skewed in favor of folks like him and against the ordinary Joe. And like a political vampire, the light of transparency would rob him of his strength and power, which is why he seems to have such a disdain for the press.



  5. ansonburlingame

     /  July 29, 2012


    I hope you are not attempting to compare Romney to Nixon in terms of decency. But then again, in reading your comments over the last year during the campaign season, you might well feel that way. Fine go ahead, but I of course disagree.

    As well if Bush II was so indecent to get us into two wars after 9/11, as you have implied for years now, then why did Obama not IMMEDIATELY get us out of such indecent wars within a month of assuming the Presidency?

    I believe Bush’s post 9/11 decisions were made by a decent man doing his best to do the next right thing for his country. We did NOT go into Iraq for “oil” as was the clarion accusation from the left. As well I suspect that Obama has grave concerns related to “decency” about leaving the people of Afghanistan “hanging” as a result of a unilateral U.S. withdrawal.

    Thank God that Americans can have strong political disagreements and speak our minds over policy choices. But we degrade our whole system of politcal debate when we get into the gutter politics of “decency” or now as you bring up “secrecy”.

    Both Obama and Romney are decent men in my view but they have radically different ideas about how to move the country out of our current conditions. We should not be debating which man is more decent, in my view. Rather we should be debating the merits of the politices promoted and their potential outcomes, including unintended consequences.

    I don’t think you have ever heard me say that Obama is “indecent” in his attempts to improve HC in America. But for sure you have heard me say for several years that such attempts are WRONG in the manner in which he is trying to proceed, just as an example. Add 50 million or so to the rolls of access to HC insurance, make the poorest and youngest buy that insurance and do nothing to control the cost of delivery of HC to all Americans!!! Yuk, as only an example.



    • You are failing to read my comments carefully, Anson. Nixon’s meanness and paranoia are matter of record. Romney may very well may be as decent as as Fox network says he is but his secrecy prevents me from assessing his character in the light of the questions Duane rightly raises in this post.

      Surely as a military man you know that if Obama had immediately withdrawn from both wars, there would have been rampant political chaos and a surge of bloodshed, exactly the kind of consequences Bush should have foreseen in his time. If he had done that, I submit that you would be among the first to condemn him for doing so. I do not, and I have not, charged that Bush acted with malicious intent, but rather that he lacked proper judgement. With Romney, for all I know he might view the use of the armed forces as simply a tool to accomplish certain political goals without due consideration of, say, applying such stress on Reserve army troops that the suicide rate would exceed the combat casualty rate. That’s an actual consequence of the two Bush wars Obama inherited, by the way.

      Obama’s withdrawal plan for Afghanistan appears to give the Karzai government at least a fighting chance of surviving and for some of the changes we made (like education of girls) surviving, but I give him credit for recognizing that by not withdrawing he would be continuing a hopeless nation-building project.

      I disagree that the issues Duane raises in this post are inappropriate. He rightly cites evidence for questioning Romney’s character and decision-making style, and Romney’s secrecy makes that harder to resolve. Most successful business leaders routinely divorce business goals from whatever effects their decisions might have on a work force. I for one would like some assurance that he wouldn’t view running the government the same way. Of what use is a quickly balanced budget if common decency and basic services are forfeited in the process?


      • Jim,

        You wrote:

        You are failing to read my comments carefully, Anson.

        Nearly every response to Anson should be prefaced with that statement, as nearly every comment he makes involves some element of failing to read what is written carefully.



    • “I hope you are not attempting to compare Romney to Nixon in terms of decency. But then again, in reading your comments over the last year during the campaign season, you might well feel that way. Fine go ahead, but I of course disagree.”

      I agree, Nixon in spite of his acts of dishonesty tried to do the decent thing and institute a health care plan for everyone.

      “Nixon also distinguished himself by these very liberal actions:

      * Saved America’s environment by creating the Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Air Act while approving the most sweeping environmental legislation in history.
      * Simultaneously reformed welfare and brought in serious new civil-rights laws and agencies for minorities, women, the handicapped and children.
      * Proclaimed the first official U.S. Earth Day/Earth Week in 1971.
      * Totally reformed the government’s relationship with Native Americans, bringing new self-determination and civil rights to U.S. tribes while saving such Indian natural wonders as Pyramid Lake — the tribe even renamed its capital “Nixon.”
      * Spent more on social programs than defense!”

      We would be far better off with Nixon in the White House than we would be with Mitt Romney.


      • HLG,

        What you said is true, and it shows, sadly, how far the GOP has devolved. I never thought those of us on our side would pine for characters like Nixon, but then I never thought I would hear right-wingers tell us how wonderful Clinton was either.



  6. ansonburlingame

     /  July 30, 2012


    I don’t know what businesses you may have worked for or with (other than the Navy) in your career, but I can state unequivocally that every corporation that I ever worked for took into very deep and careful consideration the effect on the “work force” in every decision ever made. And of course it was the ENTIRE work force, not just the union ones that were considered as well.

    I at one point had a “work force” of about 7000 men and women with about 2000 being in a union. Do you honestly believe that union concerns were NOT carefully considered in significant (or really some insignificant) decisions made along the way? My job ultimately was to make wise decisions that affected all 7000 of those employees.

    One of those decisions was how to bring down that bloated workforce from 7000 to about 5000 over a year or so period of time. No go figure out how to do that one!!



    • My comment about the work force, Anson, was in the context of motivations for business decisions that affect it. Just as in your example, I assume that any concerns about the work force itself were strictly secondary to operational factors in coming up with the 2,000 reduction figure. I shouldn’t have to point this out, but your comment compels me to do so.

      I’m not even saying that business decisions should be otherwise, so don’t accuse me of that. I was using the point to say that running a government is different from running a business. Maybe you don’t think so, and I suspect that Mitt Romney doesn’t either, but that’s exactly my point. And if I may say so, this shows the kind of misunderstanding that makes arguing politics so damned contentious.


  7. ansonburlingame

     /  July 30, 2012

    First HGL,

    You left out Nixon’s opening to China, one of the great feats of international relations in the post WWII period. What was it, some 10 or 15 years after that opening China itself began to “reform” itself to reenter the modern world.

    As well Nixon’s efforts with the EPA were being driven by “Love Canal”, etc at the time and such things needed to be done for sure.

    Now back to Jim,

    I found your belief that running a business and running a government, both done “well”, are different. That can be debated, and probably should be debated today. Both organizations must have good leadership to be successful however success might be measured.

    I had the opportunity to do both, lead a military organization and a private one. I was about 15 years older in my private experience and thus had learned more along the way. The private effort was also much larger and more complex than the military one. But to me the fundamentals were the same in terms of leadership, making tough decisions, standing firm when needed and flexing when possible, all for the good of the “mission” or the “company”.

    And of course “operational perogatives” drive all sorts of decisions and should do so. If “taking care of the work force” becomes the driving operational perogative, in business or government, well I hope you can see how that can create misguided objectives.

    If the total focus is on “creating jobs”, well we see how that does not work too well. Jobs follow demand for things that people produce. Absent such demand, all you are doing is throwing money at jobs that cannot be sustained, as you have heard me mention before.

    Want a simple reason for why the Obama stimulus did not work as well as anyone hoped that it would? Lack of demand for the things produced as a result of that stimulus, sustainable demand once the stimulus money dried up.



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