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Data Points

Mitt Romney, CEO or statesman? School's out forever. Reading lists. Plus more.

12.11.07

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INSIDE THE MIND OF MITT
Re: Jeffrey Lord's What Would Mitt Do?:

Excellent point, Mr. Lord. As one of a handful of Massachusetts conservatives, I do admire Mitt what he did and tried to do here in the commonwealth. I admire him as a pragmatic leader -- we do need an adult in charge of our country that leaves fluffy liberal emotion out of policy decisions. Unfortunately, he lacks the passion that should come with one's convictions. And let's face it; if we want to win this election, we need a passionate actor who'll win over the center-left with the enthusiasm and confidence in his positions.

The Dems aren't putting forth the most compelling figures either. I yearn for a composite of Mitt's organization skills, Rudy's street smarts, and Fred's conservatism. Until then, the election will be another nail-biter between the best of American mediocrity.
-- William H. Stewart
Boston, Massachusetts

Mr. Lord, I have objected to many of your articles, but you have, in my opinion, hit a home run with this article. I think you have hit upon a major objection to his nomination. I have watched his career from New Hampshire, and have seen the process that you describe.

I will say that, with Mr. Romney's academic record, this should not be a huge surprise. I also have an MBA, albeit not from Harvard, and have been exposed to what academia has to say about how to run a business or an entire economy. Mr. Romney is simply accepting what he has been taught in his business and economic courses.

I would say that we are currently seeing the same thing with George Bush. On 9/11/2001, he took a leap of faith, of conviction, regarding what to do about the attack on our shores. He stood against the tide through his first term. Now we seem to be seeing the results of the bureaucratic process on him over time. The State Dept. Bureaucracy has captured Condi Rice and subjected her to re-education, it seems. It seems that they have slowly but surely also captured the mind of George Bush. In the last year or so, Bush has accepted the standard processes in foreign policy, at least with the exception of Iraq. (See the current policy regarding North Korea, Iran, China, Israel, Burma) What is the relevance to Romney? Bush also has an MBA from Harvard. He has also been thoroughly indoctrinated by the wizards of academia with the importance and superiority of process over gut level certainty.
-- Ken Shreve

You make the very large assumption that Romney would sacrifice principle for process. On the contrary, if you get the most correct information available, good advice from many sources then you are able to apply your principles to the best solution for a particular problem with the best possible outcome. Will you make mistakes? Yes, but the odds of success are greatly increased. Maybe, if Bush has had better information and better advice, the war in Iraq would have been over much sooner or we would have not invaded in the first place.

If you have other problems with Mitt, that's fine but your argument is as silly as the one I heard the other day that Mitt is too good looking and too smart!

We need a President that uses actual thought process in lieu of listening to polls or gut instinct alone.
-- Pam C.
Missouri

Mitt Romney's political problems with Evangelicals are not largely based upon religious differences but upon the uneasy feeling I get that he would be more than willing to sell out my principles if he thought it would get him one step closer to the White House. You know, kind of like Hillary.
-- Jeff Seyfert

I appreciate the concern that Jeffrey Lord expresses, however I would assume that Mitt Romney is at least as smart as I am and the first thoughts that came to my mind were: 1) Just because Romney says he likes to gather as much data as possible to help make a decision doesn't mean he is not also influenced by principle; and 2) The experiences of Lincoln and Reagan, along with others, are part of what make up "the data" that Romney would look to. Who hasn't read Profiles in Courage?

To carry Mr. Lord's analogy further -- the man who looks at data only would probably decide not to have children, or only one or two. It is debatable that the costs outweigh the benefits. The odds of having one or more children cause you real, long-term grief are considerable, especially as the number of children increases. Yet Mitt Romney had five.
-- Rob Madsen
Orem, Utah

Please thank Mr. Lord for his great article discussing Romney. I would like to see similar articles on the other candidates, but I am not sure that they have given us enough information to do so. It would be useful though to get them to state their guiding philosophies and to ask them how that philosophy affected their pasts as well as their campaign proposals.

I slowly came to the same opinion concerning Romney as has Mr. Lord. At first I wondered why Romney was unable to communicate his conversion to being Pro-Life. I surely think that anybody who took as much heat on his changes as Romney has, and not flinch, would have truly changed, but he couldn't connect to communicate that change. There might be some merit in enumerating all his changes and placing them in the perspective of what his most recent goal is, but it is a rarity to see someone withstand such abuse for something they are not serious about.

But surely he needs to be able to communicate well to be as successful as he has been in politics, the Olympics, and business. So I watched him on C-SPAN. Gradually it appeared that he might be out of touch. That he is just from a much higher class strata than most of us. That might in part explain why so many wonder if he is too slick, but it doesn't explain everything. As a Mormon, I can assure you that it is not because he is using innate Mormon lingo. The only things I have seen with that aspect are the "This is the place" ad that won his contest and his tendency to close chats with emotional stories for impact, as in "Firesides."

Meanwhile I was still wondering why he wasn't able to put down all the charges of flip-flopping. Slowly it dawned on me that there was a deeper conflict. The vaunted experience that he is selling is that he can come in, look at a problem without bias, and use guidance from experts to craft better solutions. He is selling himself as a conservative candidate of the Open Mind. His conversions are examples of how his open mind can come to the right conclusion, and not conversions to the right principles. To be fair, he probably used the right principles in making the decision. But it has become clear to me that this is the part that is missing from his conversion story on all his flip-flops.

His freedom of religion talk was great. These were true principles. If he could outline the other principles that he would use to guide his decisions, then I doubt we would worry so much about his flip-flops. Instead, I get the feeling that his Open Mind leaves him adrift at the mercy of the prevailing winds. This scares me. Presidents can be isolated and controlled. The man that controls access to Romney will control which voices are used in making decisions. He has already shown that he can be swayed by the biased presentations of media and society until he has to make a decision and looks deeper into a subject. And Presidents are very busy. Even with free access he might not have the time to look deeper and just go with the flow.

Reagan was demonized as an ideologue and a simpleton. In reality he had clearly thought things through and decided long before he ran on right and wrong, and what principles should guide his decisions. He had also thought through many of those decisions in advance. This was all internalized and he had developed a great ability to communicate these things. And thus he accomplished great things.

Maybe Romney's advisors can read these things and help him to communicate his principles. If not, let us quote Thomas Sowell, "the purpose of an open mind is to close it." And there is not much time left for us to close our minds for or against Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for President.
-- James Bailey

Romney says he looks for a "new alternative that everybody agrees is the right way to go." Well, just when was it that everybody agrees is the right way to go? There has never been such a time, or will be such a time. If nothing else, the Democrats will oppose what a Republican proposes if for no other reason than a Republican proposed it. This country needs a leader, not an assembler of opinions looking for pseudo-consensus, someone with faith in individual responsibility, in smaller government, in defending freedom.
-- Carl Davis
Atlanta, Georgia

Romney is no conservative. He has no principles. He wants to please everyone. He responded to a question about an attack on us by saying he would first consult the lawyers!!

Fred Barnes likes Romney because he knows Romney will push for amnesty for illegal aliens.

Yes, Romney is a decent and talented man. But he is not fit to be president.
-- Gwen Itskowitz

Trying to place Romney in the Lincoln and Reagan White Houses requires stretches so long as to be meaningless. Why not view Mitt meeting challenges in the real world. Try reading Eli Saslow's "A Mission Accepted" article in Monday's Washington Post, which describes the 21 year old Romney skillfully dealing with his own personal injuries and a valued leader's death in difficult, challenging circumstances. Or study Romney's present take on the war in Iraq. It is the very opposite of a General McClellan approach. Clearly, Jeffrey Lord's take on Romney are two stretches too far.
-- Darrel Hansen
Alamo, Nevada

HOME SCHOOLED
Re: RiShawn Biddle's The Mayors Get Schooled:

RiShawn Biddle's editorial, "When Mayors Get Schooled" applauds the efforts of former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist for championing school vouchers, yet dismisses the importance of New Urbanism in
helping urban areas.

That is a quite odd juxtaposition considering that Mayor Norquist championed both school vouchers and New Urbanism -- successfully.

It isn't an either-or proposition. It needs to be both.
-- Nathan R. Norris

It is amazing. In this day and age, the black political establishment still lets itself be lead around the nose by the education establishment.

The sad fact of the matter is that, until the strangle hold the teachers unions have on the public schools is broken, no reform is possible. Until the unions are house broken, American schools will only continue to get more costly and less responsive to the academic needs of society.
-- Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio

MY BACK PAGES
Re: G. Tracy Mehan III's A Library of Unread Books:

I have that chronic problem, too. I've never bought a book I didn't intend to read, but time (and magazines like The American Spectator) sometimes keep me from getting to them before newer books crowd them out in the reading line. I can't stop. It's a couple-of-hundred-a-month habit. They've long since overflowed my shelves.

My morbid fear is that someday I'll be found crushed to death under a pile of books that fell over on me. Either that or rent a large storage locker…
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

Please pass along my compliments and thanks to Mr. Mehan for a delightful and self-deprecating article that mirrors my own experience and that, I am sure, of thousands of us. Unfortunately my own collection, of something like one thousand or more books (the preponderance of which I actually read), disappeared in Hurricane Katrina.

I am happily at work continuing the exercise but have only accumulated about fifty, only about ten of which are unread. As long as public libraries are selling used books, I am hooked.
-- Les Arbo
Daphne, Alabama

The library of books -- read or unread -- is moribund.

Within a few decades, information will be absorbed not via books, but via full-immersion virtual reality. You will not read a book. You will live the book.

A few decades after that, the human brain will be redesigned so as to interface with the inscrutable, impossibly evolved Web, where the brain will absorb memes in parallel and by the library, not by the book.

By the end of the 21st century, the book will be as foreign to humans as the arrowhead.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Re: Laurie Mylorie's Unintelligence

Ms. Mylroie's article is very well researched and written. Members of the Department State and the CIA have repeatedly attempted to undermine the activities of this administration. This is fact. There are a variety of reasons for this, some of which are not readily apparent.

Some other facts need to be addressed, however. In 2003, the CIA, as well as every other Western intelligence agency, was convinced that the Iraqis did, in fact, have illicit WMD stockpiles in-country. The Iraqis were given six months in which to move, hide or destroy them, prior to the invasion. Since the invasion, information has come to light, from sigint, humint, and documentary sources of Russian activity in Iraq just prior to the invasion. This is believed to have consisted of both diplomatic and military personnel and equipment, some of which may have been related to NBC units. At the time of the invasion, it was known that Iraqi intelligence had contact with representatives of Al Qaeda prior to the 9/11/2001 attacks. There was a lack of hard intelligence concerning the nature of the relationship, other than the information of terrorist training camps in northern Iraq which may have been used to train Al Qaeda operatives. Since the invasion, Iraqi Intelligence service documents have shown that Iraqi Intelligence had a much greater involvement with Al Qaeda than previously thought. No direct evidence has been released that proves direct involvement in the 9/11 attacks, however. But, it can not be totally discounted.

Now we come to the important part of this story. The reasons for the invasion of Iraq. To understand this, it has to be understood that the 1991 Gulf War was fought between Iraq and a Coalition of sovereign nations allied for the purpose of freeing Kuwait from an illegal invasion. It was not fought under the auspices of the United Nations. The only interest the UN had in the war was providing the apparatus for monitoring the destruction of Iraq's WMD and, later, for administering the Oil for Food program.

The second point that needs to be understood is that that war did not end. There was no surrender and no armistice. There was a cease fire, which was to remain in effect as long as the Iraqi government met certain obligations. To put it bluntly, they failed to meet those obligations. They refused inspection teams from the UN for several years and had continually targeted and, in several cases, fired upon Coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone. When the Iraqi government refused to meet their agreed upon obligations under the cease fire agreement, the US and her allies continued prosecution of the Gulf War. What other reasons the current administration may have had for invading Iraq in 2003, is speculation (though some have been written of before).

Now, a series of myths have grown up as to why the US and her allies invaded Iraq in 2003. Some have been bred or fueled by administration miscues, others are fabrications devised by enemies of that administration in an effort to discredit it. But certain things have to be understood when questioning the reasons for the 2003 invasion. Whether WMD existed in Iraq in 2002/2003 is irrelevant. That Iraq would not allow inspections is. Whether Iraq was directly involved in the 9/11 attacks is irrelevant. That they were
targeting US aircraft in the no-fly zone is. Whether Iraq was an immediate threat to the US was irrelevant. That Iran was perceived to be one, was.

As to the NIE, its conclusions have to be taken with a grain of salt. As evidenced by the accuracy of the intelligence concerning Iraq in 2002/2003, it is only reasonable to treat these reports as supposition, rather than fact. But for those looking for any way to discredit the current administration, supposition is
enough.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

SEASONAL STRENGTH
Re: Major Garrett's recommendations in Christmas Books 2007, Part I:

I'm wondering if Major Garrett, in discussing April 1865: The Month that Saved America, didn't mean to use "tensile" strength instead of "tinsel" strength. It would seem to make better sense that way.

We thoroughly enjoy Major's reporting on Fox and my bride thinks that he is just about the best reporter that they have. He makes his subjects very easy to understand.
-- Bill Herrick

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