July 9, 2012
Obama and Romney: Character ShowsBy Karin McQuillan
Character is consistent. Voters say moral character is one of the most important things they look for in choosing the president. The character of a public figure can be hard to discern amidst a fog of self-advertising, media hype, and the distorting effects of TV. That is why personal stories about Romney and Obama, before they were candidates, are crucial. Voters want to understand what kind of man they are electing.
An unusual personal story gives us insight into Mitt Romney. It is 1996. Mitt Romney is the head of Bain Capital in Boston. One of his employees comes to him, utterly distraught. His 14-year-old daughter snuck out of the house to go to a rave in New York and has been missing for three days. One of her teen friends said he gave her ecstasy and that he last saw her partying under a bridge.
Did Romney offer sympathy and hope? Write a check for a private detective? Wait for the government to solve it? No -- he took responsibility. He took action. He shut down the firm and brought all the employees to New York. For 48 hours, they scoured the streets, going everywhere, asking teenagers if they'd seen the missing girl. Romney called on business associates to send more people to help until they numbered 200. He printed 300,000 fliers and got Duane Reade, one of Bain's success stories, to put fliers in every shopper's bag in their 52 stores. Romney set up a hotline. A broken-off phone call was traced; the girl was discovered in the basement of a house in New Jersey and reunited with her family.
"Mitt's done a lot of things that are nearly impossible, but for me the most important thing he's ever done was to help save my daughter," says the girl's father.
Hear Romney describe what happened in this YouTube video of a town hall meeting.
The words are a bit awkward. The story as he tells it will not move you to tears. But when I tell the story to friends, I am so moved, I do get tears in my eyes. Romney shows the missing girl's photo to a teenage girl on the street. She says to him, "No, I haven't seen her, but you're not the first person who came up and asked if I'd seen her. I wish my parents cared enough about me, to do something like this for me."
"I did what all of you would do," Romney says. Really? It would never have occurred to me in a million years to respond to a friend's missing daughter by organizing everyone I knew and going to look for her myself. I may have cried with my friend, I may have stayed up at night worrying, I would have given sympathy and advice -- but think that I could find her? Say, "Let's all of us find her"? Go and do it?
Few people would have had the initiative, the leadership, the confidence, and the competence to succeed. Romney showed his measure as a man.
"I was responsible." Romney cared enough to move heaven and earth. He didn't leave the job to somebody else.
Romney's sense of responsibility is why he is running for president. According to his wife, Ann Romney asked him if he thought he could fix America's economy. Mitt said, yes. Ann told him, then you have to run.
"Can you fix it?" she asked Mitt. "I need to know. Is it too late?"
Mitt Romney replied, "No. It's getting late, but it's not too late."
Now let's look at how President Obama acts as a man when real people turn to him in need. Surely we can find some stories of his warm relationships helping his poor relatives in Kenya, whom he describes with much sympathy in his fictionalized memoir, Dreams from My Father.
Well, no. Obama visited his African siblings before going to law school and again on an African junket as a state senator. He wrote about them extensively in his memoir, explaining how important the visit was to his personal growth. But he hasn't bothered to maintain a relationship. Obama tells us he was inspired by his absent father's ideals to help fix the world. But help his own actual, living relatives? Not so much.
They asked for help.
Obama encouraged the group -- which included his own uncle -- to form self-help organizations and apply for funding through official channels, such as USAID.
In the words of an African blogger:
Obama's brother George lives in 6x9 wooden shack in a Nairobi shanty town. Obama has met him. George Obama is shamed by Barack's behavior -- his lack of charity towards family members is unthinkable by African standards.
Come to think of it, Obama's lack of fellow feeling towards his brother is unthinkable by American standards, too.
What kind of man is this, who wants government to care for everyone but who ignores his own flesh and blood living a life of near-complete despair?
What kind of man, indeed? Obama's narcissism as a president has often been commented upon -- it is the same character trait at play when it comes to his relatives. It's all about him. Ideas of America's injustice and oppression are very real to Obama. Actual people are not so real to him. He isn't moved by others' suffering -- not his African relatives, not the 20 million unemployed and underemployed Americans whose hopes are being crushed by his destructive economic policies.
Obama has grand ideas of his role in history. He wants to humble America, reduce us to size, take from the wealthy and give to the poor. Outside his own immediate family, Obama is motivated by secret anger, not love, and that is what shows -- with people, with his presidential policies inciting hate and division among us.
Obama sees America as an unfair place where the fortunate live at the expense of the unfortunate. Envy and grievance give his life meaning; they give him a cause. For Obama, the politics of envy is more than a campaign strategy. Envy gnaws at his core. Envy is alive and personal. He dresses envy up in prettier words such as "fairness," but underneath the idealism is a well of darker feelings, stemming from his life with his own mother.
Obama is too caught up in his inner demons and his leftist ideology to have that much interest in real people. That is why he is such an odd politician -- a loner who doesn't like people, who hides out in the White House with his wife and Valerie Jarrett, who hides behind his teleprompter lest he say something that will reveal more about who he is than he wants you to know.
Romney is an entirely different sort of man. He was raised in a stable, loving family. He lives within circles upon circles of warm, committed relationships -- family, church, community, work, public service. His impulse is to help and to rescue -- a friend's missing daughter, our country's bright future.
Which man do you trust with our country?
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