Military experience was once a widely held value in presidential politics. Of our country’s 44 presidents, 32 have served in uniform. But now for the first time since 1928, neither presidential candidate holds that same accomplishment.
Okay, so Barack Obama was too young to serve in Vietnam. That’s a legitimate excuse. But Mitt Romney, on the other hand, was not only old enough, but was also drafted four times. Yet each time, he managed to avoid enlistment.
The theme of dishonesty is one we associate with Romney all too well. Here’s a clip from a story the Associated Press ran in June about his deferments:
Though an early supporter of the Vietnam War, Romney avoided military service at the height of the fighting after high school by seeking and receiving four draft deferments, according to Selective Service records. They included college deferments and a 31-month stretch as a “minister of religion” in France, a classification for Mormon missionaries that the church at the time feared was being overused. The country was cutting troop levels by the time he became eligible for the draft, and his lottery number was not called.
Romney also participated in war demonstrations during his time at Stanford. He spoke in support of international nation-building, but was not willing to risk his life for the cause. And yet at the beginning of his 2008 presidential run, Romney argued:
I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there, and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam.
That very statement is what stands out the most. Perhaps this would not be as big of a deal if Romney had a moral opposition to combat, a la Muhammad Ali. The only reason he dodged the war is because he was too afraid to act on his word. That revelation is just one more reason why this man can never become Commander-in-Chief.