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August 08, 2007

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I've never really bought in to the idea that a parent has to 'explain' the decisions of their adult children. Especially if they are Mormon--which has a fairly notable pacifist strand.

Stephen Bainbridge (guestblogging @ The Daily Dish) didn't think much of Romney's asinine comments, either (to say nothing of Mitt's favourite novel.)

SH: I've never really bought in to the idea that a parent has to 'explain' the decisions of their adult children. Especially if they are Mormon--which has a fairly notable pacifist strand.

Steve Benen thinks the question itself was out of line:

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the question was entirely fair. A voter in Iowa specifically asked Romney, “[H]ow 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?”

I’ve long believed candidates’ kids should be largely off-limits. If Romney’s sons don’t want to serve in the military, that’s up to them. They’re not candidates for public office, and their career choices aren’t relevant to their father’s presidential race. Some candidates (McCain, Hunter) have kids in uniform, most don’t. None of that matters.

At this point arguing over whether the question was appropriate or not is irrelevant. Romney is picking his teeth with his toes after offering such an ill-thought response.

Stupid thing to say. I’m guessing he didn’t have a prepared answer for the question. But I think that the default answer from any candidate when asked anything at all about there children should be something like: “My children are not running for office. Leave them out of this.”

there = their

durned spellcheck.

I agree. Stupid question. Stupider response.

I would generally say minor children are off limits, no matter what they're doing,* and adult children are off limits if they're not actively campaigning for their father/mother, but if they're adult children actively campaigning I think they are somewhat fair game. Though I think attacking the candidate for his/her children's occupation choices is out of bounds (though perhaps asking the candidate if he/she encouraged them to join the military might not be - especially in this war to save civilization!!!1!1!1!)

*note the right-wing didn't follow this rule with respect to chelsea, who I believe Rush Limbaugh said looked like a "dog" and some other right-wing pundit said worse.

Ugh: the right-wing didn't follow this rule with respect to Chelsea

Very true, and that’s exactly where I formed the opinion that kids should be off limits. I thought it was vile and disgusting. As much as Bill and HRC presented a nice juicy target for just about anything, I always thought that the kid should be way off limits.

Your point about adult children actively campaigning does have some merit I think.

But for the record, I would be just as against it if someone asked HRC, given her vote for the resolution to authorize the use force in Iraq, why Chelsea isn’t in uniform instead of making lots of money working for consulting firms and hedge funds.

“My children are not running for office. Leave them out of this.”

OK, we can leave them out of the campaign...right after they stop being an integral part of the campaign, right after they stop appearing at campaign events, right after they stop featuring in campaign videos on the website, right after they stop writing blogs on the campaign website, etc.

We really should respect their privacy if they want to lead lives independent of their father's election, but since they clearly don't, I unclear on why we cannot scrutinize them? They're adults for crying out loud...


Publius, are you suggesting that the Mitt and Matt Romney drink coffee?

Sebastian, are we at liberty to assume that this "notable pacificist strand" does not, in fact, include Mitt "Double Gitmo" Romney?

Turbulence: We really should respect their privacy if they want to lead lives independent of their father's election, but since they clearly don't, I unclear on why we cannot scrutinize them? They're adults for crying out loud...

Probably cross posted, but as I noted in response to Ugh: “Your point about adult children actively campaigning does have some merit I think.”

But scrutinize them as any other adult working on the campaign, that is, on the merits of the campaign.

It just seems ludicrous that any parent would somehow force their child into a career that bolsters a political position. Let’s say two of the five were currently serving. Then it came out that their Dad really pressured them to join the military because he supported the war and as a political issue it would look better for him if they joined up. Wow.

Anyway this is old ground covered by none other than Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes months go. Which actually makes it odder that he made such a dumb remark off the cuff. He’s discussed it before so he should have had a solid answer ready.

publius, LOL. Thanks, I needed that.

It really was a pretty mean question, one of those "have you stopped beating your wife yet" questions that there's no good answer to (except those like Jim Webb who actually have kids in the service, but then, they don't get asked these questions).

KC, good point! Hey, do we really WANT a Prez who won't latte up when the crises of the free world demand it? Can't you imagine, a President who in the middle of a war just knocks off early to sleep while everyone else is clustered in the Situation Room popping Vivrin? That would be as crazy as having a Preznit who takes long vacations during a war to clear brush at his mansion--nevermind.

But scrutinize them as any other adult working on the campaign, that is, on the merits of the campaign.

Question: does Romney get any benefit from having his children play a very public role in his campaign, compared with having "any other adult" play that same role? If you and I took over his children's duties at the campaign, do you think that would help or hurt his campaign?


These people are not toiling away in some basement mail room, invisible to all the world but performing a necessary service; they are out there to be seen by the voting public. Romney and his children have already decided that it is important that they be part of the campaign. Once they've made that decision, why is asking questions suddenly forbidden?


It just seems ludicrous that any parent would somehow force their child into a career that bolsters a political position. Let’s say two of the five were currently serving.

Indeed it does. Which is why I'm confused as to why you'd bring up such a possibility. Surely you realize that there are many, many options between "I will never discuss careers or foreign policy or how those two intersect with my children, ever" and "My sons will sign those elistment papers or I'll shoot them dead".

I mean, do you really think that the guy who said "the jihadist threat is the defining challenge of our generation" and "we need to increase our investment in national defense. This means adding at least 100,000 troops" never asked his kids what kind of job they wanted in life? That he never talked about the notion of service to the nation? Of course he did! Given the ferocity of military recruiters, he would have had no choice.

So yes, I don't think its right to ask him to justify his children's choices, but it is certainly OK to ask him about conversations he's had with them, to ask him if his "values" were ever real enough to compel him to encourage military service when speaking with his sons.

Romney quotes were taken from his article in Foreign Affairs.

"We really should respect their privacy if they want to lead lives independent of their father's election, but since they clearly don't, I unclear on why we cannot scrutinize them? They're adults for crying out loud."

Do you think all campaign workers should be subject to that question? Seems odd.

"Sebastian, are we at liberty to assume that this "notable pacificist strand" does not, in fact, include Mitt "Double Gitmo" Romney?"

Probably not, but I don't see what that has to do with his adult children. It seems very possible that adult children and their parents might not have 100% identical visions of their religion. It isn't exactly an unheard of phenomenon.

while i agree his kids aren't really the best targets, the question is important. we're being asked* to give up some pretty important rights in order to fight this war of the century by the authoritarian wing of society. if those who are demanding that we stay the course of surveillance, torture, pre-emptive war, and constant fear are content that their own kids** stay home while others do the real fighting, we should feel free to question the depth of their commitment to the whole escapade. if those running for Surveiller In -Chief can't at least tell us that they argued long and hard with their own kids, the people they presumably have the most influence with in the whole world, about the importance of this epic struggle of civilizations, well, then i call shenanigans.

if your commitment doesn't include asking your kids to fight your war, there's no way i'm going to sit by quietly while my privacy, right to a fair trial, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, right to confront my accuser, etc. are ground away in the name of your war.

* not really asked, more like expected

** of prime enlistment age

Seb,

Could you tell us more about this fascinating pacifist strand that runs through Mormonism? I'm particularly interested if you think the fraction of Mormons that are pacifists is greater than say 5%.


I ask because in light of this:

As a group, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been staunch supporters of President Bush and his
management of Iraq since the war began four years ago.
So Jeffrey Jones wasn't surprised to see that a two-year compilation of Gallup polls showed American Mormons, more than any other
religious group over that period, believed the United States was right to invade Iraq.
"It seemed to make sense," said Jones, a political analyst with Gallup, a New Jersey-based national polling firm. "Mormons are
overwhelmingly Republican, and party affiliation is a powerful predictor of people's view on the war."

I'm genuinely curious what you're talking about. Because I really really don't understand you.

I'm with Turbulence here. The point is that the kids are not just campaign workers. If they are used by the candidate - as they are by Romney and many other politicians - as evidence of wholesome family life, as an example of wonderful values, etc., then their behavior is fair game, assuming they are adults.

I see no reason why politicians ought to be allowed to use their children ascampaign props and at the same time be immune from questions about their activities. If the kids are irrelevant, leave them out of the speeches and videos, etc.

With this:

if those who are demanding that we stay the course of surveillance, torture, pre-emptive war, and constant fear are content that their own kids** stay home while others do the real fighting....well, then i call shenanigans.

cleek gets it exactly right.

The way to attack Republican candidates who claim to think we're fighting WWXL for the survival western civilization, is to ask them all sorts of questions on how important, serious, nation-threatening they think this "war" is, which of course they'll likely eat up and claim we're like the Russians at Stalingrad, and then ask them what they have, specifically, done to help win the war, either via personal sacrifice or encouraging others to do the same. When they almost inevitably respond with lame Romney-esque platitudes, hit them with the contradiction between the dire situation they claim the nation is in and their comparative lack of action.

To wit, call them on their shenanigans.

oops, there should be a "fncking" between "their" and "shenanigans" in my 8:55.

"The good news is that we have a volunteer Army and that's the way we're going to keep it," Romney told some 200 people gathered in an abbey near the Mississippi River that had been converted into a hotel. "My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard."

Hey, you know, so far so good. It's their decision to make.

"One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."

Oops, a step too far. Now we have a problem.

Mitt's candidacy is so vital to our national interest that campaigning for him is equivalent to serving in the armed forces during a time of war?

Fact 1 -- By all appearances, Mitt is no pacifist.

Fact 2 -- If you want to leave your kids out of the political limelight, you don't advertise their involvement in your campaign.

As much as anyone else in the race, Romney is running on the urgency of the threat of Islamic radicalism to this nation, and has consistently supported our involvement in Iraq as a vital part of that.

The woman who asked the question has a brother who served in Iraq. It's fine to say that, as a matter of principle, the decisions of family members should be off limits. I agree. But, in context, it's not suprising that someone who has had family at risk to ask why advocates of the war have not.

The same question is going to occur to a lot of people, whether it's in the news or not. Romney better get used to it.

Thanks -

OK, here is the Publius inspired link I screwed up before ranting...

This is the end, my friend...

But scrutinize them as any other adult working on the campaign, that is, on the merits of the campaign.

They are -- the merits of the campaign include war supporters who will not serve. Everyone who advocates a war lasting for years and is otherwise eligible to serve better have a good reason why they are not. And there are many legitimate reasons for not serving, but deciding its a bad career move is not one of them.

Yeah, I'm curious about this Mormon pacifism, too. Utah was the reddest of red states in both 2000 and 2004, with support for Bush running higher than anywhere else in the US. (It was considered notable when some Utah Republicans went off the reservation in re Bush . . . over the No Child Left Behind Act.) If we take Mr. Double Gitmo and the newly insane Orson Scott Card as data points, where does that get us, exactly?

Wait, "newly insane"? I thought OSC had always been insane, which doesn't necessarily say anything about his books.

"those who are demanding that we stay the course of surveillance, torture, pre-emptive war, and constant fear are content that their own kids** stay home while others do the real fighting, we should feel free to question the depth of their commitment to the whole escapade."

I don't really believe you on this point. I see you've been super careful in your formulation to make sure that you don't give anyone additional weight if they do have their son or daughter in the military. You don't for example take Michael Leeden more seriously because his son (sons?) were in the Marines in Iraq.

This is a one-way rhetorical door--for criticism only.

And on examination the criticism isn't very good--adults aren't forced into a volunteer army and there isn't any reason for a draft--at any time we could have had MANY more soldiers if we had just authorized an increase in pay and overall numbers in 2002, 2003, 2004 or 2005.

There are hundreds of legitimate criticisms of the war without invoking people's children, and if this comment's thread is an indication, none that require it.

No, Sebastian--it's just that a candidate's bellowing about how this "war" is the Greatest Threat To Civilization since Genghis Khan somehow doesn't hold up when you discover he hasn't done any of the standard actions one would expect him to do in such circumstances. Such as getting his offspring to actually DO something.

Does Mitt really think that if the US were invaded and we were fighting for our total survival that having his kids run around in SUVs during a presidential campaign would honestly be equivalent to picking up a gun and shooting at the enemy?

Because if that's what he sincerely thinks, I'd like to know about it before I place my vote, thankyouverymuch.

there isn't any reason for a draft

Seb,

Just out of curiosity, have you read any books about the Iraq War? Because one thing that comes out very heavily in books like Cobra II or Fiasco is that the military was begging and pleading every chance they get for more soldiers...and for the most part, they never got them.


at any time we could have had MANY more soldiers if we had just authorized an increase in pay and overall numbers in 2002, 2003, 2004 or 2005.

Can you provide a cite for this please? I don't believe it is correct, or indeed, even close to correct.

Even in 04 or 05, the public was starting to believe that going to Iraq was an enormously dangerous thing to do. Given that, I'm skeptical of the notion that higher pay would have increased recruitment significantly: once you believe that Iraq is a death sentence, increasing the enlistment bonus from $10K to $20K won't really do much. Do you really believe this country wants or will tolerate an Army primarily motivated by money?

A more significant problem is that the Army cannot grow instantaneously. It takes a long time to train soldiers, so new soldiers recruited in 2004 wouldn't likely have been effective until well into 2005. Moreover, if you want to integrate new recruits into existing units without destroying morale, you can only grow the army slowly: add too many new troops to existing units too fast and unit cohesion is shot. Finally, there are a limited number of training professionals and facilities available today. As we've seen with the Iraqi Army, training a professional military force really isn't something you can leave to amateur contractors.


Oh, and would you mind explaining your Mormon pacifism idea? It still doesn't make any sense to me. Thanks.

"Because one thing that comes out very heavily in books like Cobra II or Fiasco is that the military was begging and pleading every chance they get for more soldiers...and for the most part, they never got them."

What that has to do with a draft is not immediately apparent. And if you look at my postings on the subject right here on obsidianwings, you'll find I'm well aware of the problem of training, and I wish that Bush had taken the Iraq war more seriously by bumping up the armed forces to pre-Clinton levels in 2002.

I'm not Mormon, but I know lots of them, and they tell me that there is in fact a pretty well known pacifistic strain of Mormonism. I don't know much more than that, I'm not an expert on Mormonism. And frankly, it doesn't impact my analysis on the unsuitability of dragging his kids in--they aren't his slaves, they can have their own religious and moral ideas, etc--so I'm not particularly interested in worrying about it much. I choose to believe my Mormon friends, and you can feel free to investigate it all you want and report back to us if they're wrong.

There are hundreds of legitimate criticisms of the war without invoking people's children, and if this comment's thread is an indication, none that require it.

Fair enough.

The funny thing is that, pandering, red-meat, "Dems are wimps" rhetoric aside, Romney has one of the more reasonable positions regarding Islamic political terrorism among the Republican candidates.

Had he stopped after making the first comment I quoted upthread, I'd be inclined to agree with you here, in full. He did not do so. His final comment, to a woman who does not support our involvement in Iraq, and whose own brother had served there, was bone stupid. Not just in terms of political calculus, but in terms of respecting the actual sacrifice many folks have made over the last six years.

Many people have paid for our involvement in Iraq in real coin, and I do not mean money. Either they themselves or their loved ones have been required to be away from home for months or years, in some cases against their own preference. Many thousands have been hideously injured or killed. Some have lost businesses or livelihoods due to their absence. Some have children they've never seen, and may never see. The woman in question may well have spent months or years experiencing, personally and vividly, the anxiety of wondering if she would ever -- ever -- see her own flesh and blood again.

That is what war is.

For Romney to compare his sons' participation in his Presidential campaign to the sacrifice of those folks indicates a complete lack of understanding of the gravity of the sacrifice many folks have been required to make.

The plain fact is that many, many folks will find his statement fatuous, self-serving, and offensive, and not just for partisan reasons.

Thanks -

Paging Jackmormon...

;-)

While I can't remember if anyone here has commented on this here, so this isn't a slam on anyone specific, I am struck by the fact that there can be a thread of commentary slamming Edwards for his political naivete in using campaign money in paying for a haircut, that coexists with a notion that because this is about Romney's children, we should refrain from discussing the naivete of Romney in answering a question posed in this manner. I agree there is something disturbing about making a candidate's children open to the same level of scrutiny that the candidate is, but it seems that when we are willing to discuss something like Edward's haircut, the distinction seems rather artificial.

And frankly, it doesn't impact my analysis on the unsuitability of dragging his kids in

So, if it has no bearing on your analysis, why did you include it? You don't seem in the habit of including random unrelated "facts" that have no bearing on your argument whatsoever...perhaps it was merely the vestige of an unfinished thought.


they aren't his slaves, they can have their own religious and moral ideas, etc--so I'm not particularly interested in worrying about it much.

Sigh. You continue with this strawman. No one has claimed that Romney's sons are anyone's slaves. I have specifically said that it is wrong to hold him responsible for the career choices of his children for precisely that reason. I have also said that it is perfectly alright to ask him whether he has encouraged them to join the service. Do you disagree with that statement?


I choose to believe my Mormon friends, and you can feel free to investigate it all you want and report back to us if they're wrong.

Um, there appears to be some confusion here. It is not my job to fact check you. You're an adult. If you make a statement here, you are responsible, not your "friends", imaginary or otherwise, and certainly not me.

I think the consensus statement that we can all agree to is that no evidence has been provided to justify your assertion for a significant strain of pacifism in Mormonism, and furthermore, you are have no interest in providing any such evidence. Is that about right?

Turbulence, you might want to dial it back a bit. You seem to be straying from the ObWi Way.

KCinDC,

You're probably right; my apologies.

It is getting rather frustrating to figure out what points Sebastian is actually making. So far, all I can reliably understand him saying is that he doesn't think slavery is involved.

Which, I have to say, is a relief to me, because any day now, I expect to wake up and read a Bill Kristol editorial explaining how the Emancipation Proclamation never happened and that even if it did, it was not constitutional ;-)

It seems like he's trying to make some other points, but I'm clearly not getting them, so I'll back out for a while and leave this to others to sort out.

Sebastian Holsclaw: "I'm not Mormon, but I know lots of them, and they tell me that there is in fact a pretty well known pacifistic strain of Mormonism."

Mormons, about 1.2% of the U.S. population, are about 1.3% of the U.S. Military -- in other words, they're not any more or any less pacifistic than most other Americans.

However, Mormons don't as a genearal rule end up in combat units; a high concentration end up as officers in Military Intelligence units -- this because they have a religious duty to spend two years as missionaries, often in foreign countries, where they have to know foreign languages and foreign customs (there's a concentration of Military Intelligence units located in Utah, including thr 300th Military Intelligence Brigade, in Draper).

"Um, there appears to be some confusion here. It is not my job to fact check you. You're an adult. If you make a statement here, you are responsible, not your "friends", imaginary or otherwise, and certainly not me.

I think the consensus statement that we can all agree to is that no evidence has been provided to justify your assertion for a significant strain of pacifism in Mormonism, and furthermore, you are have no interest in providing any such evidence."

Oh good. I was right on the edge of thinking you weren't worth talking to and now I know for sure.

Nope, not interested in researching the issue independently and I'm not inclined to think my friends "imaginary or not", thank you very much, were lying to me when they told me about it 10 years ago.

This is a discussion, not a thesis examination. It isn't a COMPLETELY unrelated fact, nor is it worth reading books on either way. I strongly suspect it wouldn't change YOUR thought either way, which make your insistence on it seem like fact trolling.

Sebastian: Nope, not interested in researching the issue independently and I'm not inclined to think my friends "imaginary or not", thank you very much, were lying to me when they told me about it 10 years ago.

FWIW, I've never heard that Mormonism is an especially pacifist religion, though from what little I know of its tenets, I should think it would be very easy for a pacifist to justify their beliefs with reference to Mormonism. But then, any Christian can do that: the Quaker Peace Testimony didn't come out of nowhere. Orson Scott Card, who is an active Mormon, wrote at length to explain that only people who were willing to fight for their country could be considered real American citizens (he seemed to think - this was an argument against the right to same-sex marriage - that this excluded "liberals" and "gays who want to get married"). That doesn't sound like something the adherent of a pacifist religion would claim.

On the larger question, whether it was right to ask Milt Romney about none of his five sons serving in the US military: I'm slightly torn. On the one hand: while I think it perfectly reasonable to ask Romney if he ever served in the military (though I ordinarily consider this kind of question off limits) given that he is a pro-war candidate who evaded military service in the the previous major war the US was involved in: still, as others have said, Romney's sons aren't running for office.

On the other hand: if Romney's sons are not heading into the military because they are pacifists, this is rather like Mary Cheney working to get Bush/Cheney elected as they campaigned on their anti-gay constitutional amendment. And more people should have asked about that, too. Romney wants the war in Iraq to continue: that will mean - if he's serious about it - a draft. Will his sons serve, or will they - as he did - evade service? That's the kind of question I think it's fair to ask...

I would also agree that the problem with Romney's answer is the last part, to equate political and military campaign work.
A simple "It's their choice, not mine" or a "Leave my family out of it" would have been completely sufficient.

Further to Jes's point, would people have a problem if the question had been posed, "Mr. Romney, you have often characterized this war as part of a response to an existential threat against America and the West as we know it. Did you at any time have a conversation with your sons about this threat, and tell them, 'Boys, I really hope you'll consider joining up and defending America?' How do you recommend others encourage their own sons and daughters to defend our country and way of life?"

Oh, and this, Sebastian -- "Oh good. I was right on the edge of thinking you weren't worth talking to and now I know for sure." -- is nonsense. If you're going to start the comments -- not just comment, but start the whole discussion -- with the statement, "Especially if they are Mormon--which has a fairly notable pacifist strand," you should be prepared to defend it, not fall back on surly, petulant, "Some Mormons said so to me 10 years ago and anyway I'm not doing research for you so there."

You clearly thought it was important enough that it was the very first thing you thought of to say. Given the data points against, don't expect everyone to take some unknown person's apparent decade-old statement to you at face value and then get pissy with us when we dont.

should Romney have talked his kids into joining the army for the sake of coherence?

jesus, it's not Romney's kids' fault that the volunteer army concept is unjust, if you want justice, reinstate the draft and this time without college deferments

LJ: I am struck by the fact that there can be a thread of commentary slamming Edwards for his political naivete in using campaign money in paying for a haircut, that coexists with a notion that because this is about Romney's children, we should refrain from discussing the naivete of Romney in answering a question posed in this manner.

FWIW I don’t think anyone here thinks we should refrain from discussing what a dumb response he gave. The collective response I saw in the right-o-sphere was pretty much “Huh?!? WTF!?!” As I noted it is a particularly bad gaff as 60 Minutes already hit him with this several months ago. So in the best case this is a question the campaign should have expected and they should have had a better prepared response, and if they did think about it and this is their prepared response, then Wow. In any case I don’t think we’ll see many arguing that once the question was asked, the response was anything but bad.

I think the only disagreement is in the appropriateness of the question to begin with, and whether having one’s children serve grants some kind of additional moral authority, especially if that is consistent with one’s political position. If so, then Republicans can save a bundle of money by just cancelling their primary right now. John McCain is their candidate. I mean one son in Iraq, and another in the Naval Academy. A combat veteran (bonus points) and a POW (double bonus points) - who can compete with that?

Yes, but is it fair to confront Mike Wallace about whether he ever talked to his son about not becoming a right-wing hack?

I hate to pile on with Sebastian but.. WTF?

There isn't any need for a draft? If we'd only increased pay years ago?

Look, if your an 18 year old high school drop out with gang affiliations the Army will happily pay you $20,000.00 as an enlistment bonus.

Not a re-enlistment bonus for a well qualified NCO in a critical rating. A freaking initial enlistment bonus for a person who 5 years ago stood zero chance of being accepted into the military.

Infreakincredible is what I call that. We aren't talking about a Navy candidate for Nuclear training here.

I've never really bought in to the idea that a parent has to 'explain' the decisions of their adult children.

The candidate should have had the sense to respond in the same way.

Especially if they are Mormon--which has a fairly notable pacifist strand.

The candidate was wise not to respond that way!

BTW, if you're in the middle of fighting WW IV, and have somehow managed to DOUBLE the national debt in a mear 6 years, what's a president to do?

Enact Corporate Tax Cuts of course.

I think the only disagreement is in the appropriateness of the question to begin with, and whether having one’s children serve grants some kind of additional moral authority, especially if that is consistent with one’s political position.

OCSteve,

I don't think having one's children serve grants extra moral authority. I think using one's children as campaign material - not just workers - brings them into the discussion. That choice was made by Romney, not the press. I don't think he can have it both ways.

Romney made a video of his family sitting around discussing whether he should run for President. After much tense and drama-filled discussion they decided he should, because he would be so good at it.

Now, Romney seems to believe the US is facing a threat to its existence.

If he thinks that, and his children think he's such a wonderful, insightful leader, it seems fair to ask why are they not serving. Do they not share his opinion? Do they have "better things to do?" Did the subject ever even come up, as the Romney family sat around that giant red thing?

I just don't see the unfairness of raising these questions, once Romney brings his family onstage.

I want to clarify that I wasn't at all objecting to Turbulence's questioning, only the tone.

"Given the data points against, don't expect everyone to take some unknown person's apparent decade-old statement to you at face value and then get pissy with us when we dont."

I'm not asking you to do anything other than fail to call me a liar. Which is EXACTLY what Turbulence did.

And since I realized immediately that no one's mind was likely to be changed by the fact, I did cursory research in the area when challenged, was unable to reach a good conclusion and decided to move on from it.

Would anyone here like to claim that their minds on this issue would be changed if someone found proof of a pacifistic strain of Mormonism? Anyone? I was engaging in a discussion, threw out something I'd heard, told you why I thought it was true, and am getting grief ON A POINT NO ONE ACTUALLY CARES ABOUT. Why? Why exactly is that happening? No one here has even gone to the lengths to show that it is UNTRUE, so for all we know, my Mormon friends are correct. It looks to me like you want me to go into a research project THAT WILL CHANGE NO ONE'S MIND. Why would I do that? Why are you asking me to do that?

Seb,

If you could prove that at least one of Romney's kids was a practicing Mormon (I don't know if they are) and that there was statistically significant strain of pacifism in Mormonism, that would change my mind on the issue of dealing with Romney's kids in particular. Or, to put it another way, if Romney and his family were quakers, this would be a very different conversation for me. I cannot speak for anyone else here.


Note carefully my use of the phrase "statistically significant". Every major religion on Earth has a pacifist strand. There's always some tiny group of people somewhere claiming to be pacifists, so merely having A pacifist strain is pretty useless. What matters is whether enough members of the religion have pacifist views so that the group differs significantly from the US population as a whole. Judging by recent election results and opinion polls in Utah, that's just not true for Mormonism; indeed, its not even close to true.

And FTR, I recently read a book on the history of Mormonism. In light of that, your assertion of a significant pacifist strain was particularly problematic.

Also, FWIW, I don't think you're a liar. I do think that anyone who makes statements in a discussion that they have no evidence for demonstrates disrespect for the conversation and the other people in it.

Your friends are imaginary, for the purposes of this discussion. They're not here after all. They can't defend themselves. Maybe you misunderstood them or misremembered, but in any event, there's no point discussing them because they are not here and thus have nothing to contribute. Certainly, you would justifiably laugh if I told you that my republican friends explained to me that there is a significant strand of Nazism in the Republican party.

Publius,

I took the liberty of posting excerpts of your old post about the howling hyenas over at hugh hewitt's web site.

I hope you will not be saddened to learn that Hugh's howlers were not impressed.

:)

Bernard Yomtov: I just don't see the unfairness of raising these questions, once Romney brings his family onstage

Look I’m actually torn on this because my natural inclination is to want presidential candidates who have served. It’s only natural that I would believe that anyone who is going to command our military forces actually have some experience with the military. And I can easily extent that to cover their children (of age) in a time of war.

But that is not how our government is structured and I understand why. I fully believe in civilian control of the military. At its heart that means that there can never be a requirement that our civilian leadership has any experience of or even knowledge of our military.

So my head has to fight my heart on this question, and it extends directly to fully believing that any politician can support a foreign policy decision without joining the military or convincing their children to join the military in support of that policy.

I’m not going back to check, but is there any presidential candidate on either side who did not support the toppling of the Taliban, who does not still support our continued involvement in Afghanistan? Is anyone asking them why their children are not serving in Afghanistan?

Mormonism, Pentecostalism, 7th Day Adventists, and many other American Protestant Sects originating and/or gaining influence at the turn of the 20th Century, seemed to have been much more pacifistic when there was a general draft for American Imperial Wars. However, since the rise of the all-volunteer services, they have become incredible warmongering cheerleaders.

I love it. He says he doesn't think I'm a liar, and then calls me a liar AGAIN.

By the way Jehovah Witnesses have remained strong pacifist throughout their history. From WW2 to all the Gulf Wars.

Then again they are essentially a-political.

OCSteve, I'm not a big fan of the chickenhawk accusation, but I think there's a difference between supporting a war and (supposedly) believing that we're involved in a worldwide struggle that threatens our very existence and is bigger than World War II.

I lived in Phoenix for a few years when I was a kid. Utah's a state away, and there's a pretty large Mormon population. In fact, there was a big Mormon church right next to our elementary school.

The Mormons I knew seemed to have a problem with the consumption of caffeine. They wouldn't drink tea or coffee. Where's Publius getting this Starbuck's stuff from? The tenets of Mormonism are, after all, the key to this discussion.

hairshirthedonist,

Adultery is a sin as well, yet many Christians indulge.

My point is that, caffeine is a big no-no. It may not rise to the level of murder or adultery, however there are sanctions. The extent of the sanctions seem to vary.

I forgot to put the tags and around my comment.

My last comment was supposed to show "being silly, as usual" and "/being silly, as usual" as tags. I guess when you use the actual html tag symbols and the thing inside is not a valid tag it ignores them and they don't show up. Doyee.

This is well against my better judgment: but here we go. Some discussions on pacifism, anti-war teachings and Mormonism:

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/excerpts/37-1a.asp”>One
http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/dialogues/chapter13.htm”>Two
http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/basic/doctrines/military/war_peace_eom.htm”>Three

I have very little independent knowledge of Mormonism, so I can't independently attest to the prevalance of the anti-war/pacifist arguments.

Also I found a number of references to one of Mormonism’s First Presidents (it is one of the highest titles available in the Mormon hierarchy, not saying that he was the first I a long line of Presidents) J. Reuben Clark. He allegedly had extremely strong anti-war views bordering on pacifistic at the time of World War II, which became even stronger in response to the nuclear bombing of Japan. His significance in the church is downplayed in modern times because of his rather public and very racist views.

I’m not going to attempt to discover if these are ‘statistically significant’ claims. There were clearly important anti-war voices incredibly high up in the Mormon church leadership who were very vocal even at times like World War II. There appears to be very live doctrinal disputes which encourage pacifism or fairly extreme anti-war sentiment. Therefore I’m willing to trust my very much existing friends’ statements that Mormonism has significant pacifistic strain.

I’ve made no claim about whether or not Romney’s children are currently practicing Mormons. I suspect they are, but that information should be available somewhere if you are truly interested, so I encourage you to report back if you actually care to look. For my purposes it is enough to note that they were raised in a Mormon household and are likely to have been influenced by Mormon teachings on things like war even if they aren’t currently practicing. (Again, it is very common for people to be influenced by the religion of their childhood even if they aren’t active practitioners in adulthood). These teachings appear to have a very problematized view of war.

I certainly can’t testify to which strains of Mormonism they actually came into contact with, nor which ones they believed when they were growing up. (Again it isn’t uncommon for children to be exposed to religious strands which are consonant but not identical to their parents’).

But all of these questions are amazingly irrelevant.

Now Romney’s response was even more stupid than the question, I’m perfectly ok with noting that the response was politically dumb. In my view the proper response to nearly all questions about a person’s adult children is “They are adults who make their own choices. They aren’t running for office.” Comparing what they were doing to soldiers in Iraq was very trivializing to the job soldiers are actually doing.

If anyone would like me to research my claim regarding the distain of Mormons toward caffeine and provide links, just let me know. (Damn, I forgot the tags again.)

Mormons & Caffeine

Oh, and me calling Mormonism a Protestant sect is highly controversial.

Again, I suspect many American Christian sects’ views concerning War and pacifisms are relative to their having to fight them.

European Christian churches tended to be more willing to jump into the warmongering game, when the Church and State were closer and competition for customers were non-existent.

Sebastian, Mormons have a "just war" doctrine essentially identical with "mainstream" Christianity. Mormon himself was a general as well as a prophet, and there is plenty of warfare by the "good guys" in Mormon scripture. Historically, there is plenty of church-sanctioned participation in warfare by Mormons.

Mormons, in short, aren't any more pacifistic that Catholics, or Baptists.

http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/basic/doctrines/military/war_peace_eom.htm

Sebastian: you links aren't linking...
But here's another interesting site about LDS views on war and pacifism, one that shows how contradictory their beliefs are in theory and practice.

Although there are pacifistic views expressed in LDS scripture about turning the other cheek, and loving one's enemies, and renouncing war and proclaiming peace (citations provided at the link), Mormons follow those admonitions about as faithfully as Christians, which means erratically, if at all.

In WWII, for instance, contrary to any 'vocal anti-war voices in the Mormon church leadership,' Mormons served and fought in the same statistical percentages as other religious groups... and they fought both on the side of the U.S. and for the Germans and Axis nations as well: in 1945 Germany had the third highest number of Mormons in the world -- following the U.S. and Canada; and German Mormon citizens fought against U.S. troops in that conflict. For many Mormons that was problematic and troublesome (and still is). LDS doctrine states that the United States of America is a nation with a divine destiny and a "mission to lead the way in establishing international peace and individual freedom on earth." But that didn't prevent German Mormons from shooting at Americans during the war.

The fact that German Mormons fought for Adolph Hitler shouldn't surprise anyone. In times of war, 'religious' people almost always twist their religious beliefs to fit their national identities (in WWII American Catholic soldiers would have been perfectly happy to bomb the Vatican, if they were ordered to do so).

like hollywood stars, politicians choose their road and drag their family along. all adults in the family are fair game.

I wonder what kind of toothpaste Mitt Romney uses. If someone could find out, we could spend time discussing the tendencies of people who use that kind of toothpaste and how it reflects on the appropriateness of the question regarding his kids' military service.

Hmmm, I have no idea why the links added the obsidianwings stuff that is screwing them up. I'll try again.

Two

Three

And yes rea, I think the Mormon just war doctrine is similar in theory to most Christian sects, but in practice it appears to be applied a bit more strictly, especially since WWI. This can be seen in the fairly serious hand-wringing about WWII. From my cursory look at the topic, if you were to rate Christian churches historically on a scale of 1-10 in terms of their anti-war sentiment with 9 being a Quaker and 5 being the general median of US Christians, Mormons are certainly NOT an 8 or 9, but probably could be a 7 and certainly more anti-war than the median.

Now, has this dramatically changed in the last 10 years? I don't know. My guess would be that Mormons tend to vote Republican on domestic moral values issues rather than foreign policy so the fact that they have voted strongly Republican in 1996, 2000 and 2004 shouldn't be seen as a religious endorsement of any particular war theory.

Ok I seriously need to preview.
Three works above. This is one and two. I'm clearly being an idiot on the links so I'm just going to paste the working url in.


http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/dialogues/chapter13.htm

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/excerpts/37-1a.asp

Note that the third url speaks to Christian cases for pacifism but draws in specifically Mormon texts.

"I wonder what kind of toothpaste Mitt Romney uses. If someone could find out, we could spend time discussing the tendencies of people who use that kind of toothpaste and how it reflects on the appropriateness of the question regarding his kids' military service."

I actually heard that one of his sons eats rice from China! What are the trade implications of that?

There goes the Deep South rice-grower vote.

Seb,

I'm slightly confused: I would think that to the extent that Mormon pacifism matters to this discussion, the views of Mormons in 2001-2007 are important and the views of Mormons from 60 years ago are not. Sure, it is of passing interest, but Romney and his family are making decisions now, not during WWII.

I've already pointed you to polling indicating that now, in the current time period, Mormons favor the war in Iraq more than average American. Note, the poll in question is not asking people if they favor the republican party, it is asking them if they favor the war in Iraq. Given that, we know that compared to the average American, Mormons today, as a group, are not pacifists. Right? Am I missing something?

Mormons from a half century ago may or may not have been pacifists, but that surely has no bearing on Romney's 20 year old sons since they didn't exist then.

The only way I can see to call modern Mormons pacifist in light of the polling data is to expand the definition of pacifism so that it includes reckless invasions of countries that have not attacked us. While the definition of pacifism is rather flexible, I have trouble stretching it that far. In fact, I have trouble stretching most Just War theories that far. Nor am I alone in that regard; the Pope also had similar difficulties.

It would be interesting to see why fighting Germans (‘cough’ fellow white Christians ‘cough’) was so problematic for many American Christians. Yet the mass death of Asians, Latin Americans and Middle Easterners seemed to have been justified with a more “liberal” interpretation of their Just War rationalizations.

Aside from the racist way Just War is applied, the other issue is the way many members of these churches profit from war and conflict. Many of the mercenary shops are owned by “Bible-Believing” peoples. The privatization of the military has guaranteed more profits for industrious Christians lucky to get contracts.

War is great buisnes for many in the elite.

"I'm slightly confused: I would think that to the extent that Mormon pacifism matters to this discussion, the views of Mormons in 2001-2007 are important and the views of Mormons from 60 years ago are not. Sure, it is of passing interest, but Romney and his family are making decisions now, not during WWII."

Because the doctrine learned by his children probably wasn't picked up in 2001. And in any case, your formulation didn't require "majority of Mormons" it wanted "statistically significant" numbers of Mormons. I don't know how you personally set that threshold, but I think there is pretty good evidence that anti-war sentiment and near if not total pacifism has strong roots in Mormonism.

Someotherdude, "Yet the mass death of Asians, Latin Americans and Middle Easterners seemed to have been justified with a more “liberal” interpretation of their Just War rationalizations."

If you had looked at J. Reuben Clark, you would have seen that much of his most serious anti-war teachings came in response to the nuking of Japan (not noticeably white).

As for the scriptural differences and 'just like Christianity', the Mormon scriptures have more extreme teachings than you find in Christianity. The Lamanites were willing to put up with attempted genocide committed against them rather than fight.

im in ur commentz, whantin uh 0p3n thredz

Good point, Sebastion...however we need not get into Mormon racial theories of the time.

It would still be interesting to find out where white Christians of all denominations stood on Vietnam. American conflicts, (with the exception of WW2) were vary unpopular among Christians of color.

Mainline Protestant churches started to pay attention to the racist aspects of warmongering, (in other words they started to listen to darker members) thus the official break with the President on the Iraq conflict.

But the Mainline churches are packed with liberals.

Seb,

As far as I can tell, pacifist beliefs in Mormonism 60 years ago are relevant to the issues today ONLY insofar as they shape pacifist beliefs today. Even if every single Mormon in 1940 was an extreme pacifist, if Mormons today support the war more than the average American, the 1940s Mormon beliefs are useless to us, because they don't give us insight into how modern Mormons will behave. A century ago, Mormons really liked polygamy, but knowing that doesn't help you understand modern Mormons at all. And yet polygamy certainly has "strong roots" in Mormonism.

What matters is what people now believe, and while those beliefs may be influenced by what people in the distant past believed, the modern beliefs are the only thing that can affect the modern world.

As far as I can tell, pacifist beliefs in Mormonism 60 years ago are relevant to the issues today ONLY insofar as they shape pacifist beliefs today.

As far as I can tell, none of this is relevant to any possible objective other than nitpicking Sebastian for daring to suggest that there is a "notable" strain of Mormon pacificism that might explain his children's lack of military service. And given that it was clearly speculation on his part, this is clearly antagonism for antagonism's sake.

And given that it was clearly speculation on his part, this is clearly antagonism for antagonism's sake.

Yeah, but its still fun to see a dude take on a gang.

I'm not an anti-argument absolutist, but in "just argument" theory, an argument is supposed to adhere to the principle of proportionality.

"Even if every single Mormon in 1940 was an extreme pacifist, if Mormons today support the war more than the average American, the 1940s Mormon beliefs are useless to us, because they don't give us insight into how modern Mormons will behave."

Do you believe that the phrase "Mormons today support the war more than the average American" contradicts the idea that a notable strain of Mormon pacifism exists? Last I saw, depending on the question, support for the war was in the 35-40% range. If Mormons as a group were a percentage point above that (which seems to be what you suggested from your quoted stats) does that mean that in the remaining 60-65% of Mormons there cannot exist a notable pacifist strain?

It seems that unless we are having an enormous disagreement about the term 'notable', the existance of a couple of percentage points of war supporters more than the general population of the US doesn't forclose the possibility at all.

Jonas,

Can you tell me where I can get my own Karnak Certified Mind Reading hat? I wish I had such a device so I could know which of Seb's statements are "clearly speculation". I usually assume that unless clearly stated, everything Seb writes is what he believes to be true. Do let me know if you feel that's the wrong policy.

Indeed, with such a magical device, I might even be able to divine my own intentions as well as you can. Apparently, I am antagonistic and the sole motivation is antagonism. Alas, lacking such wondrous technology I must scratch my head in confusion, trying to figure out what "antagonism for antagonism" even means. No doubt that's due to my antagonism though.

i can haz op3n thredz?

"I want to clarify that I wasn't at all objecting to Turbulence's questioning, only the tone."

The tone was perfect.

Do you believe that the phrase "Mormons today support the war more than the average American" contradicts the idea that a notable strain of Mormon pacifism exists?

Seb,

You raise a very interesting point here. I do. In part, because the LDS is a good deal more centralized than other churches.

More specifically, I'm certain there is some pacifism in the LDS. That's not even a question. The real question is: does the LDS have more pacifism than other comparable religious groups? More than say mainline protestantism? Or Roman Catholicism?

Last I saw, depending on the question, support for the war was in the 35-40% range. If Mormons as a group were a percentage point above that (which seems to be what you suggested from your quoted stats) does that mean that in the remaining 60-65% of Mormons there cannot exist a notable pacifist strain?

This may be the heart of our disagreement; I don't think the number is 35-40%. According to this the number is closer to 73% in early January, 2006. I suspect that if you go back further to 2004, the number would be higher still.

wow... nearly 24 hours later and you guys are still talking about the pacifism of Mormons ?

that's dedication!

Cleek,

You know what they about disagreements in academia...

Turbulence,

Can you tell me where I can get my own Karnak Certified Mind Reading hat?

Check the back of comic books, that's where I got mine.

I wish I had such a device so I could know which of Seb's statements are "clearly speculation". I usually assume that unless clearly stated, everything Seb writes is what he believes to be true. Do let me know if you feel that's the wrong policy.

I didn't even have to use my karnak hat in this case, I used my english-parsing hat instead. Here's what he wrote:

I've never really bought in to the idea that a parent has to 'explain' the decisions of their adult children. Especially if they are Mormon--which has a fairly notable pacifist strand.

Emphasis mine. He's stating he doesn't even know if they are actually practicing Mormons. But Sebastian can feel free to correct me if he instead meant to make an assertive statement that they are very probably Mormons and therefore very probably pacifists, which seems to be what everyone is arguing against.

Indeed, with such a magical device, I might even be able to divine my own intentions as well as you can. Apparently, I am antagonistic and the sole motivation is antagonism.

Hey, I was guessing. Because I'm at a loss to explain why you or anyone else would jump on someone for making such a brief and conditional statement.

Alas, lacking such wondrous technology I must scratch my head in confusion, trying to figure out what "antagonism for antagonism" even means.

Surely you've heard the phrase "just doing x for x's sake" before.

cleek,

wow... nearly 24 hours later and you guys are still talking about the pacifism of Mormons ?

Absolutely not! I'm having an argument about whether it makes any sense to have an argument about the pacifism of Mormons! An argument that is vital to the survival of our Nation...

"Absolutely not! I'm having an argument about whether it makes any sense to have an argument about the pacifism of Mormons! An argument that is vital to the survival of our Nation..."

Because if we don't resolve the issue of whether we can determine whether Mormons are more or less inclined to pacifism than the average American, the terrorists will have won? Either them or high school grammar teachers.

But all of these questions are amazingly irrelevant.

Sebastian, yes! Let's all pretend you never made the original stupid-but-irrelevant claim, and discuss something more important.

Please stop responding to people who keep calling you on this mistake. It compounds the mistake when you keep defending it. Since I've never heard of anybody but you making the claim in this context, the people who keep responding to you are only arguing about you, and not about Romney or his campaign. Please stop trolling them.

wow... nearly 24 hours later and you guys are still talking about the pacifism of Mormons ?

I'm thinking it's the lack of anything else to argue about. Here, let me help.

Resolved: The following is the greatest kiss off letter ever written, excerpted from the greatest flamewar ever:


"If a single day goes by without my having done you some disservice I shall account it a day wasted. Good breeding and an innate compassion for the sickly and malformed prevent me expressing all that I think of you, so I shall just content myself with saying that it is my dearest dream that you may one day be brought to see yourself as others see you - a shambling, misshapen wretch who would be pitied rather than despised if he only had the sense to keep his loathsome gob shut for two seconds at a time instead of continually bombarding the town with failed epigrams and onion breath, a ridiculous kobold who giggles like a demented schoolgirl and apparently lets his blind, palsied mother cut his hair for him, a capering buffoon who glides about a dancefloor with the tranquil grace of an epileptic being devoured by termites, a squat, slobbering troglodyte with sausage fingers whom any woman would rather die of pleurisy than suffer herself to be touched by, a coarse, blunt-thumbed hobbledehoy who lights up a room like a rumour of smallpox, a dank-souled misanthrope with mouldering feet whose appearance at any social gathering is as welcome as the first signs of canker in the fur of a much-loved pet, a malign excrescence in ill-judged apparel whose very elbows cause infirm persons to weep with revulsion, a festering goblin with a soul of pus and the skin-tone of a scrotal sac, an animated pile of goat-puke in a badly-fitting frock-coat whom people fling themselves into middens to avoid, a waddling little arse-burp with the spirit of a slug-breeder and alarmingly hairy ears, a forlorn, twisted, Rumpelstiltskin figure with the social polish of a puddle of monkey-jism and eyebrows like deranged voles. Really, why do you not make an end to yourself? Your life must be as much a burden to you as it is to others.

"More in sorrow than in anger,
"Clarissa"

"Please stop responding to people who keep calling you on this mistake."

The sad thing is, the more I look into it, the less it looks like a mistake.

The sad thing is, the more I look into it, the less it looks like a mistake.

Well, then, you've obviously found more material than you could link to here, since none of the webpages you've linked to here prove anything but that some Mormons justify their pacifism with reference to their Christian faith. Christians of all sects do this, not just Mormons: and, across most sects of Christianity, there exist pacifists, advocates of 'just war', crusaders, and, most commonly I think, people who identify as Christian but see no reason why that should have any influence on decisions like joining the army.

If you have discovered actual evidence for Mormons being more likely to be pacifists than not, why not write it up in a separate post and let people argue about it there? However, if your intent was to derail the discussion from Milt Romney's hypocrisy, you've succeeded admirably and there is no need for you to do anything more.

As a rule of thumb I'd say anything >= 10% can be considered as at least "notable", i.e. if in a (however defined) group 9 out of 10 shout war and at least 1 in 10 shouts peace, that's a notable pacifist strain.
The question is, how far that minority position can be used in an argument about the group in question. The Pope is these days often in the minority in his own church but he can't be easily ignored as far as offical RCC dogma is concerned. On the other hand few would claim that the US in the 19th/early 20th century were not imperialist or racist because there were prominent people speaking against racism or imperialism.

I don't know, whether Romney ever justified his position on the Iraq war with his faith. If he did not, the whole discussion is indeed irrelevant and he could be as well a cultist of Cthulhu (who did not make a specific statement concerning the Iraq war to my knowledge)

Interesting notion, Hartmut, but I think there should be a distinction drawn between a group of people and an organization. The question is whether Mormons are more like a group or like an organization.

My sister-in-law was raised Mormon here in Mississippi, which is where almost all of the people I have known who are Mormons live. Perhaps it is a facet of the South, but they generally have been rather reticent about discussing their religious beliefs, so I can't really speak to any strain of pacifism in the church but I think the belief in the destiny of the US as the chosen nation of god might rank a bit higher than any leanings towards being pacifists. I'd really echo the call for Jackmormon to weigh in.

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Whatnot


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