Bob Franken

King Features Column

      (Usual disclaimer: This is delayed here till a week after its newspaper release thanks to the deal with the syndicator)

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       FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2012
       There was one favorable result of the youthful thuggish-assaults story about Mitt Romney and the Bullyboy gang: It drew attention away from the time he strapped his dog on the car roof for a tortuous vacation trip. Now we know that his cruelty is interspecies. He must have thought he’d feel cozy at Liberty University, that academy of gay hatred, where students are not allowed to be openly homosexual.
       So, of course, Romney made it a point to slip into his commencement address that “Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.” In a week where Barack Obama had expressed his personal support for same-sex marriage, Romney’s restatement of opposition unsurprisingly received a standing ovation.
       But perhaps there was more to that sentence than homophobia. The words “one man and one woman” obviously rules out polygamy. Even though that is no longer accepted in Romney’s Mormon religion, it still comes up in the rantings of those whose intolerance includes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the ones who dismiss it as a “cult.” In fact, there was an active debate at Liberty whether his membership disqualified him from speaking.
       There were no incidents, thankfully. Such prejudice has no place in our society. Obviously. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism is not worthy of notice. Period.
       His Mammonism is. The sin of wages that he and the other corporate rulers get for their greedy pursuits at the expense of so many others, and the policies he champions, are the most valid issues of this campaign. The sociopathic insensitivity that he showed others in school is matched by what he demonstrated as an adult to those whose jobs were lost while he and his other soulless-mates were making their millions and billions.

       While the various social issues are really secondary, Romney feels that he must constantly prove to the hard-liners who control his party that he really is the “severe conservative” he says he is. Or they will turn on him. Just ask Richard Lugar.
       Lugar, a Republican senator for 35 years, has been sent to the political netherworld because he personified the spirit of compromise with the dark forces of the Democratic Party. State Treasurer Richard Mourdock wiped him out in the Indiana GOP primary, although he was really done in by the tea-party, holier-than-thou zealots.
       After all, Lugar had betrayed the crusade by cooperating with the other side. He had voted for TARP, and engaged in such damnable behavior as bipartisan cooperation on nuclear disarmament. Such Faustian deal-making included legislation he co-sponsored with then-Sen. Barack Obama. Lugar was known as “Obama’s favorite Republican.” Mr. Obama, of course, is the GOP’s greatest Satan. The success of the Lugar inquisition was preordained.
       Lugar, whose other failing is that he can be bland to the point of boring, was uncharacteristically blunt is his concession, warning Mourdock about “his unrelenting partisan mindset.”
      How passe. Even after it did him in, he clung to the belief that rigid orthodoxy still could be trumped by a need to find bipartisan solutions to economic problems that threaten the existence of the United States or, in the case of nuclear arms, the existence of the planet. No wonder he got booted.
       Flexibility is frightening for those who prefer the security of intransigence. So they gravitate to the ones who preach to their own choirs and exploit cultural panic. Never mind that they destroy the harmony statesmen like Richard Lugar represented.
       Mitt Romney is doing everything to make sure that he doesn’t get consumed by his past record of accommodation and moderation. In much the same way he handled the bullying reports, he is hoping that if he forgets his past, the supporters he needs will forgive it. That’s good, because now we can debate what he stands for these days.
       © 2012 Bob Franken
       Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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