Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mitt Wit

[posted by Callimachus]

Mitt Romney's singularly inept answer to a chickenhawk trap question shows he doesn't appreciate the pitfalls in that bad meme.

BETTENDORF, Iowa - Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Wednesday defended his five sons' decision not to enlist in the military, saying they're showing their support for the country by "helping me get elected."

Here is a better answer he might have made:

My sons are grown men now and they don't take orders from me, and I hope you don't expect they would. When they were younger I talked to them about the military as an honorable profession and a chance to serve their country. Not the only chance, but certainly a great one. However I -- and they -- also understand that the modern American armed forces are a professional institution, and the finest of their kind in the world. It's not the kind of army where you simply shovel warm bodies into uniforms. The men and women who enlist make a deliberate commitment to the job, and they have skills to do it and desires to do it well. And while I would have been proud to have seen all my sons serve, I would rather they did not do it simply for the sake of their father's political career.

It also shows he doesn't listen very well, because he fell into the most basic rhetorical trap. Here is the question:

Hi, my name’s Rachel Griffiths, thank you so much for being here and asking for our comments. And I appreciate your recognizing the Iraq War veteran. My question is how many of your five sons are currently serving in the U.S. military and if none of them are, how do they plan to support this War on Terrorism by enlisting in our U.S. military?”

He might have questioned her presumption that one's children "enlisting" (and, presumably "fighting in") is the only form of "supporting." The essence of it is, “People who support X must send their children to endure the direct physical burden of doing X.” Therefore, if you support more freedom of speech you should tell your daughter to go out and become a porn star; don't call a cop unless your son is one; and only the kin of firefighters can pull fire alarms.