September 1, 2012
In a Kindness Competition, Romney Wins over Obama by a LandslideBy Karin McQuillan
The highlights of the last day of the convention, for me, were the ordinary people who spoke of the impact of Mitt Romney in their lives. I wish these speeches had been prime-time, and that every wavering voter could see them. This is what kindness looks like. This is the supposedly uncaring, greedy, rich bastard in action.
Grant Bennett, a fellow volunteer pastor at the Romney's Massachusetts church, explained that while building his business and earning his millions and raising five boys, Romney volunteered two evenings a week and every weekend -- ten, fifteen, twenty hours a week -- in acts of personal service and pastoral counseling.
Typical of Mitt Romney, he let others give the sermons. He did the work. He did not delegate kindness: Mitt shoveled snow for the elderly, brought meals to the sick. He led by example. "Mitt's response to all who came was compassion in all its beautiful varieties. He had a listening ear and a helping hand."
"I treasure every minute we served together," sums up Bennett.
I can hear Democrats scoffing. Bennett obviously loves Romney as his mentor and friend. That is just the point. Bennett worked with Romney for "thousands of hours over many years" and took over the job when Romney left. Romney earned Bennett's love and respect and loyalty by his empathic, compassionate love of and service for his fellows.
Then we heard from Pat and Ted Oparowski. "Evening ,folks. My wife and I are people of modest means. I made my living as a professional firefighter for 27 years." There followed rip-your-heart-out testimony about the many tender kindnesses of Mitt Romney to their 14-year-old son, David, dying of cancer, thirty years ago. The cameras panned over an entire convention hall in tears.
I felt keenly that these bereaved parents were on stage because they want the country to benefit from the blessings a deeply good and kind President Romney will bring to us all. Love of family, gratitude to Mitt, and love of country brought them to that stage.
"The memories are still painful, but we wanted to share them with you, because David's story is part of Mitt's story, and America deserves to hear it. ...the true measure of a man is revealed in the ...quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters. This is the time to make that assessment."
Romney arranged a fireworks party on the beach to bring David a time of joy; he gave him solace and respect by helping David write a will, to leave his prized possessions to his best friend and brother. "How many men do you know who take time out of their busy life to visit a terminally ill fourteen-year-old?" asked Pat, the boy's mother. "We will ever be grateful to Mitt for his love and concern."
Next, we hear from another congregant who became a personal friend of the Romneys, Pam Finlayson. She started with a simple but telling anecdote. Mitt Romney, captain of industry, folding laundry in a spontaneous act of helpfulness. If only people would hear Pam talk, Democrat caricatures of Romney as a cold-hearted man, out of touch with ordinary people, would be seen as the shameful lies they are.
Pam and her husband had a very ill premature baby.
Mitt Romney is known in his personal circles for his lifelong acts of reaching out a helping hand -- ordinary, human to human, personal acts of kindness that are all about empathy and fellow feeling.
And then there is this extraordinary story. When a partner at work told Romney his 14-year-old daughter had snuck off to a rave party in New York, taken ecstasy, and disappeared, Romney shut down Bain and organized 200 employees to fly down to New York to find her. Thanks to Romney's signature leadership and competence, they did. But it all began with Romney's core character: his loving concern, self-confidence, and taking responsibility himself to get things done right.
These are the sorts of good deeds Ann Romney was referring to in her convention speech, when she said her husband does not believe in boasting about how he helps people.
Democrats want us all to know that Mitt was born rich, as if that disqualifies him from being an excellent president. Romney inherited a fortune from his father, who was an all-American rags-to-riches story, a working man who never graduated college and went on to head American Motors. But listen to this: Mitt Romney turned around and gave away every dime he inherited to charity, honoring his father's memory by funding a school of management in his honor. I've never heard of anyone who has done that -- give away his entire inheritance.
Mitt earned his own wealth, and he has always been generous with his money. Both Mitt and Ann have volunteered and given prodigiously their whole lives. Mitt and Ann gave away 13%-19% of their income the last two years. That is two to three times the norm for philanthropy.
Giving to their church heads the Romney list. The Democrats want to make tithing sound like a bad thing, something required and therefore meaningless. The Mormon church should be honored and famous for its charitable efforts. From 1985 to 2009, for example, Mormons donated over a billion dollars to humanitarian aid in 178 countries.
In addition to giving to and through the Mormon Church, the Romneys' main donations are to cure cancer, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis; to help the blind; and to help disadvantaged inner-city youths and disabled youths. They have given to libraries, to AIDS victims, to Harvard. In addition, Romney in 1997 created and led the Bain Capital Children's Charity Ltd., which spends more than $1 million annually on youths. Romney served for years on Boston's City Year, a group that works to help at-risk kids stay in school and graduate.
The Romney family commitment to help underprivileged children dates back to when Ann and her five boys saw a vehicle carrying a group of boys to a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services detention center. Ann became a remarkable volunteer.
She was a director of the inner-city group Best Friends, for teenage girls. She was a volunteer for the Ten Point Coalition for urban youths and for Families First, a parent education program. She was a volunteer instructor of middle-school girls at the multicultural Mother Caroline Academy in Boston.
She served on the board of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, again focusing her work on at-risk youth. By 1996, she was a member of the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Stand for Children.
During the 2002 Winter Olympics effort, she co-chaired the Olympic Aid charity, whichs provides athletic activities and programs for children in war-torn regions.
Charitable giving does reveal who a person is. Romney went to the NAACP to deliver this message, in a speech that received several standing ovations, but I doubt anyone there knew that the Romneys have been helping the black community for many years.
The Democrats are right in one thing. Mitt Romney is not an ordinary person.
Romney is an unusual man in every way -- unusually ambitious, unusually capable, unusually wealthy, unusually kind, unusually compassionate, unusually generous, unusually dedicated to serving his community and country. He is an unusually wonderful friend and neighbor.
He has earned a level of love, loyalty, respect, and admiration most of us only imagine -- has earned them by his good deeds. Not just in his church, but everywhere he has participated. He worked in business and created jobs -- not for a hundred, not for a thousand -- for over a hundred thousand other families. Then Romney moved on to public service, where he worked without pay, to save the Olympics after 9/11, and to be governor of Massachusetts.
As governor of Massachusetts, he won intense respect and loyalty from Secretary Jane Edmonds, a liberal Democrat and a black woman, whom he chose as cabinet secretary for education and workforce training. Jane Edmond's speech was another highlight at the convention:
Now Mitt Romney wants to be president of the United States. We are very lucky people to get the chance to elect a man of this moral caliber.
Karin McQuillan served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, wrote mystery novels set in Kenya, was a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, and contributes regularly to American Thinker.
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