Paris. Like Vietnam, But Different.
Mrs. Romney went on the The View yesterday, and among other things was asked why neither her husband Mitt, nor any of her five sons, had ever served in the US military.
Mrs. Romney replied that her husband and sons served Mormon missions abroad (trying to convert infidel Catholics and others to the one true God of Mormonism, btw). She went on to explain that doing a Mormon mission in a place like Paris – where Mitt lived in a mansion (with his own own butler and houseboy who prepared all the meals); a mansion so posh that it went on to become a foreign embassy – is a similar “service to our country” as those who fought and risked their lives, and died, in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before we go on with the transcript and video of Mrs. Romney’s appearance, here’s a photo of Mitt Romney during his Vietnam-like service to our country in Paris in the late 60s, via Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski and @NYCSouthPaw:
Mormon Missions Are Like Serving in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan
Here is what Mrs. Romney said verbatim on The View:
MRS. ROMNEY: We have many many members of our faith that are serving in armed services.
WHOOPI: Okay, well, I say that because when I read about your husband, what I had read, and maybe you can correct this, is that the reason he didn’t serve in Vietnam was because it was against the religion. That’s what I read.
MRS. ROMNEY: That’s not correct. He was on, he was serving his mission. And you know, my five sons have also served missions. None served in the military, but I do have one son that feels that he’s giving back to his country in a significant way where he is now a doctor and he is taking care of veterans. So you know, we find different ways of serving, and my five boys and husband did serve missions, did not serve in the military.
But the thing that I love, and I will tell you this, when I have these boys. You all know as mothers that when you’re raising children, that one of the most selfish periods in their life is about 18, 19, 20. But they’re pretty selfish during that time. And my boys all did serve missions. And I sent them away boys, and they came back men.
And what the difference was, and I think this is where military service is so extraordinary too, is where you literally do something where you’re helping someone else, you’re going outside of yourself and you’re working and helping others – and that changes you, it changes you. Are we so grateful for those people in this country, men and women, they’re volunteering, they’re sacrificing their life for us. And we cannot forget that, or we have to acknowledge that, I think, always.
WHOOPI: So, when you are facing these mothers whose children have not come back, how will you explain to them that your sons haven’t gone? Will you talk about the missions that they’ve gone on?
I don’t know what it’s like to fight in Afghanistan. But I do know what it’s like fighting in line at the local boulangerie for that last pain au chocolat.
And it’s different.
Mitt Romney Protested in Favor of Vietnam, But Got Deferments To Go To Paris
Keep in mind that Mitt Romney himself, who protested in favor of the war in Vietnam, got deferments so he wouldn’t have to go.
While hundreds of thousands of American men were drafted to serve in Vietnam, Romney received a deferment because he was working as a missionary, which the government classified as a “minister of religion.” His mission lasted 30 months from July 1966 to February 1969, but Romney also was given almost three years of deferment before and after the mission because he was a student.
Not surprisingly, Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on his story about getting those deferments. Again from HuffPo:
In 2007, during his previous run for president, Romney told the Boston Globe that did not recall “thinking about political positions when I was knocking at the door in France.” “I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there and in some ways it was frustrating,” he said.
But as a Massachusetts Senate candidate in 1994, Romney struck a different tone. “I was not planning on signing up for the military,” he told the Boston Herald. “It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam, but nor did I take any actions to remove myself from the pool of young men who were eligible for the draft.”
Saigon on the Seine
Now let me walk you through Mitt Romney’s “Saigon on the Seine” when he was “serving his country” while living in a mansion in Paris during the Vietnam war. From my previous post on the subject:
Although he spent time in other French cities, for most of 1968, Mr Romney lived in the Mission Home, a 19th century neoclassical building in the French capital’s chic 16th arrondissement. “It was a house built by and for rich people,” said Richard Anderson, the son of the mission president at the time of Mr Romney’s stay. “I would describe it as a palace”.
It had chandeliers, stained glass windows, its own art collection and servants. I found a photo of one of the windows, via the Mormon Paris mission’s Web site:
The stained glass stairway at Mitt Romney’s
“lower-middle class” Paris group home.
Until just recently the building housed the embassy of the United Arab Emirates, a government known for its impoverished lower-middle class lifestyle. Using that info, I was able to track down the address to 3, rue de Lota, Paris 75116. And using Google maps, I was able to locate the building (above) and recreate the entire facade using some panoramic software, below (that entire photo, left to right, is the house):
Click photo to see a much larger version.
How Do You Say “Chickenhawk” in French?
Here’s a bit more on how much Mitt suffered while being drafted to a mansion in Paris, from the Telegraph:
In his remarks this week, Mr Romney said of his French lodgings: “I don’t recall any of them having a refrigerator. We shopped before every meal”. Mr Anderson said that as well as a refrigerator, the mansion had “a Spanish chef called Pardo and a house boy, who prepared lunch and supper five days a week”.
Here is the video of Mrs. Romney on the The View.