Conservatives this week were quick to mock the Obama campaign's "The Life of Julia," an online slideshow highlighting how government investments in education, health care, small business and retirement security help enable the children of working families to climb the ladder of social mobility. Republican critics dismissed that common path to the middle class as the "condescension" of "cradle-to-grave, government-supported existence" supposedly championed by Democrats.
It is only fitting, then, that the Romney campaign offers its alternative vision. So here is "The Life of Mitt," a tale of a winner-take-all America in which government exists to ensure a privileged few stay that way.
Age Minus 9 Months: The son of American Motors magnate and Michigan Governor George Romney, Mitt fondly recalls being with his father for Detroit's Golden Jubilee. That celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the American automobile occurred on June 1, 1946, "fully nine months before Romney was born." Years later, Mitt would similarly "remember" seeing his dad march with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Age 8: Young Mitt Romney is living his American Dream; that is, being born to a father who achieved his own. "Only in America could a man like my dad become governor of the state in which he once sold paint from the trunk of his car." In Michigan, Mitt learned to love cars and trees which were the right height. He also begins to soak up valuable life lessons from his dad, like "Mitt, never get involved in politics if you have to win election to pay a mortgage." As for the millions of Americans unable to pay theirs, Mitt later concluded:
"Don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom, allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up."
Despite his filial devotion, Mitt forgets his father's warning that "rugged individualism" is "nothing but a political banner to cover up greed."
Age 12: After attending a public elementary school, young Mitt is sent to the prestigious Cranbrook School in elegant Bloomfield Hills. This experience leads him to declare he's just "a guy from Detroit," one who happens to support school vouchers and tax breaks for home schooling, while slashing funds for public schools.
While Mitt Romney would certainly never had to worry about "getting a pink slip," he stills gets a chuckle thinking about those who did when his father moved AMC jobs from Michigan to Wisconsin. It's no wonder he chides his former home town in 2008, declaring, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."
Age 16: In 1963, Mitt confronts personal tragedy, as "dear, close family relative" Ann Keenan dies as a result of an illegal abortion. As he later explained during a 1994 Senate debate with Ted Kennedy, it was that searing experience which made him a pro-choice Mormon:
"It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that."
Age 19: In 1966, Stanford student Mitt Romney takes part in his only college protest, one in favor of the Vietnam War. But thanks to the generous 4-D exemption from military service, Mitt like many Mormon young men of his age was able to secure multiple deferments in order to perform his church mission. During that two and half year period when other American men were fighting in the rice fields of Vietnam, Romney faced hardships in the vineyards of France. These apparently included pooping in a bucket during his of roughing it in a palatial church mansion in Paris. As he revealed in a 1994 interview with the Boston Herald, Romney was not exactly racked by guilt as the war raged in Southeast Asia:
"Romney, however, acknowledged he did not have any desire to serve in the military during his college and missionary days, especially after he married and became a father," the newspaper wrote. "'I was not planning on signing up for the military,' he said. 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. If drafted, I would have been happy to serve, and if I didn't get drafted I was happy to be with my wife and new child.'"
Thirteen years later, candidate Mitt Romney explained he passed on that tradition to his five boys:
"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. 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."
Age 24: In 1971, Ann and Mitt Romney head to Cambridge, Massachusetts. There, Mitt starts a "terrific" four year program to get his JD and MBA at Harvard Business School, completing both degrees 37 years before accusing Barack Obama of spending too much time in the Harvard faculty lounge. Even with small children and Mitt in school, Ann avoided the "dignity of work" because "Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time. The stock came from Mitt's father."
That history might explain why Romney offered this advice in March to college students struggling to pay for his education:
"If you can't afford it, scholarships are available, shop around for loans, make sure you go to a place that's reasonably priced, and if you can, think about serving the country 'cause that's a way to get all that education for free."
Pell grants, schmell grants.
In 2012, Mitt tells college students to borrow money from their parents to start a business, advice his son Tagg took to the tune of $10 million.
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