So, father George Romney is the reason Mitt is running for president?
Well, not in the way Mitt, this NYT bio piece or the photo would have you think. What do you see here? Meeting of the minds? Learning from the elder? Chip off the old block?
The article does lay out the differences between a former Governor and Presidential-candidate — a true liberal Republican (when such a thing existed) who was set in his ideology — and his finger-to-the-wind offspring who has lately swung wide to the right. The problem is, the piece lays out the data, then flees the conclusion.
Elaborating George in detail, then describing how George and Mitt differ, the article finishes out with the thoughts of a family friend and former aide to the senior Romney, Richard Eyre. According to Eyre, once expedience is served and Mitt is elected, we can expect the corporate raider to shift “more naturally” toward his father’s liberal values.
Character-wise, however, the key to the article occurs about mid-way. It involves a recollection about father and son from former Massachusetts governor, William Weld.
George Romney talked about volunteerism — a personal passion — for an hour, but his son’s reaction is all Mr. Weld remembers. “He sat there hunched forward a bit with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands just beaming at his father from a distance of two or maybe three feet,” Mr. Weld recalled. “It was undiluted hero worship.”
You see, Mitt never absorbed his father’s ideology or his conviction. (If you notice in the picture, it’s the father doing the absorbing.) Apparently, all Mitt saw was the hero part, which — as the photo (and history) reflects — caused him to want to bask in his own light.
Also telling is this additional comment by Mitt:
“Like a baton has passed, like a relay team where the baton passed from generation to generation … I am a shadow of the real deal.”
It is interesting the metaphor also involves light, and how “shadow,” as much as it implies a duplicate, speaks (in Mitt’s own words) of someone that isn’t really there.
(image: Romney family, via AP. Detroit. 1957. via nytimes.com)