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08 October 2012


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A four deferment politician with hundreds of millions of dollars in Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts to avoid US tax obligations speaking in the Hall of Valor. That's certainly uncommon valor. It should at least be an interesting speech.


Fred et al

I watched it. A few points from my alumnus point of view.

1- There is a great irony in Romney the standard bearer of a reluctant GOP giving this talk in a building named for George Marshall who was slandered as a "communist sympathiser" by Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy the darling of the extreme right. Marshall was so little like MCCarthy as to call into question whether or not MCCarthy belonged to the same species. The idea of Marshall as a "communist sympathiser" was an insult that would have been dealt with directly in another time. 2. The room in which the talk was delivered is called the Hall of Valor because of the alumni military medals on the upper level. The room is usually used for non-alumni buffet lunches or dinners.during inter-collegiate academic conferences held in the building. This is hardly VMI's greatest "sacred space." That place is at the other end of the parade ground in Jackson Memorial Hall. 3- The cadets came to this event in "class dress" rather than dress grey coats. That means that the institute treated this as just another academic event. The cadets brought their caps as well. That means they were going on to lunch or class from the meeting rather than revelling in ths great speech. Governor McDonnell signalled the ordinariness of this moment by saying that there would not be "amnesty", i.e., forgiveness of existing disciplinary penalties by him as chief executive of the commonwealth of Virginia and de jure commander of VMI. the governor usually grants amnesty in visits to VMI. 4- The cadets were polite as always but just that. 5- The Superintendant of VMI introduced Romney with the restraint and the courtesy for which he is well known. Governor McDonnell did his best to make this event into a political rally by his intemperate remarks. These were so blatantly partisan that there is a question of integrity and abuse of executive power.

You can be sure that VMI did not volunteer to host this event without a gooddeal of pressure from McDonnell. pl


Col. Lang:

I'm looking forward to your comments and analysis of Gov. Romney's speech.



This was a speech to the Rotary Club or a high school graduation. It claimed to be different in substance from BHO's ME policy but, except for a vaguely stressed belligerence, I don't see much difference. I wonder if he talked to the US Navy about his intention to "restore" a second carrier battle group to ME deployment. Unfortunately a lot of ignoramuses will think it was a 'strong" speech. pl


I watched this as well, though I missed the initial opening remarks from the Superintendant. I was struck by a number of Romney's comments to include that he would arm the Syrian rebels and that there is a "strategic alliance" with Israel. Since there is no treaty of alliance with the State of Isreal I certainly hope he is asked what he means by the press.


Since last Wednesday's debate meltdown by Obama, this is clearly now a competitive race. So far, Romney has given the impression that the three pillars of his foreign and national security policy are: 1. total marriage to Israel under Bibi; 2. assail China as a currency manipulator; and 3. treat Russia as the greatest geopolitical threat to the US. If he is serious about winning the election or running the country's foreign and national security policy, my humble suggestion is that he make a very high-visibility public announcement at some appropriate point after the foreign policy debate with Obama next week, flanked by some of the most respected Republican Party foreign policy realists. He should announce that he has already spoken with several people who have agreed to serve in his cabinet and White House if he is elected. Among those people should be any one or combination of Richard Lugar (leaving the Senate in January), Chuck Hagel, Robert Gates, Michael Hayden, Robert Zoellick, Colin Powell. They could be further flanked by James Baker III, Brent Scowcroft and a few other people of that experience. They are not all perfect, but they at least are a different kettle of fish than John Bolton and some of the other neocons who have been listed among Romney's key advisors. American voters who are sick of Obama need to have some reassurance that they are not buying a retread of Bush-Cheney war mongering, and so far, Romney has not passed the smell test. Some things he said in his VMI talk were both true and surprised some observers, including his discussion about al Qaeda's spread and the links between the original 9/11 and the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack on 9/11/12; and his call for a two-state solution to the Israel Palestine conflict, not a popular statement with Bibi and crew.


A hell of a lot more voters are Rotarians than those having advanced degrees in Middle Eastern studies.


Romney's speech will be rebroadcast on C-Span today at 4:25 PM EST for those who missed it as I did and may again.

robt willmann

This is supposed to be the text of the speech Romney gave.


As Fred said above, there is no ratified treaty with Israel (other than maybe a part of a misleadingly called "free trade" agreement); certainly there is no treaty creating any sort of "alliance". It is quite impossible to agree to a treaty involving mutual defense or anything of the sort with Israel because it has never declared its borders. The question obviously is: what area, exactly, is the U.S. supposed to be helping to defend? We can be pretty sure in assuming that the press will not be asking Romney any specifics about his statements in his speech about "reaffirming" the "historic ties" to Israel and "our abiding commitment to its security", about which Fred was wondering.

Very troubling is Romney's saying certain things in the speech, such as: "more than
30,000 men, women, and children have been massacred by the Assad regime over the
last 20 months", without revealing how he thinks that number has been verified; that Iran
is "closer than ever to nuclear weapons capability" and that "the United States and our
friends and allies will prevent [Iran] from acquiring nuclear weapons capability", without
defining "nuclear weapons capability" and its relation to the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty and any possible imminent, clear and present danger to the U.S.; and "last year
when Iranian agents plotted to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in our nation's capital",
which was the contrived and silly charge, which generated lots of knee-slapping
laughter, that a used car salesman had "conspired" to have the Mexican Zetas drug organization 1) assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, and then 2) attack the Israeli embassay and 3) the Saudi embassy, all in a day's work, one would assume. If Mitt
Romney acually believes that Zetas story, he will believe any con the neocons feed him.

And more: "In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those
members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they
need to defeat Assad's tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets". It would be fun to be a fly
on the wall watching how members of the "Syrian opposition" who "share our values" (not
knowing what values he is talking about) are identified, and then "organized" to "defeat"
tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets. In the real world, taking on tanks, helicopters, and
fighter jets is a tall order.

He had to throw a bone to the Palestinians: "I will recommit America to the goal of a
democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with
the Jewish state of Israel". He does not say a "sovereign" (the critical characteristic) and
"contiguous" Palestinian state, but does say that Israel will be the Jewish state, something
that Israeli Arabs might be somewhat surprised to hear Mr. Romney say.

He will "call on" 25 of the 28 NATO members who are not contributing 2 percent of their
GDP to "security spending" to honor that commitment. The response of those 25
countries will be fascinating to hear.

If Romney is serious about what he said, the speech is a definite danger to peace in the
Middle East and surrounding areas.

Cliffiord Kiracofe

Normally for such an academic event a much larger hall, Cameron, is used so that all cadets may attend. In this case with limited seating Firsts (Seniors) were given first choice to attend, then Seconds, then Thirds. Fourths were not invited. Cadets say that this was arranged because the speaker desired a smaller venue with a photogenic room for media purposes. Cadets who attended said it was "scripted" and "Hollywood style". They noted two large teleprompters to assist the speaker.

On the campaign trail GW Bush spoke here as did McCain. My own sense is they wanted to use this venerable institution, a public institution, merely as a campaign backdrop with a military flavor. Romney's campaign team followed suit. Given the circumstances, the institution handled the event with courtesy as Col. Lang indicated.

Adjacent to the building in which Romney spoke, there is the very fine General George C. Marshall Foundation museum and research library. It is well worth a visit in person or online.


My favorite respond to this speech would be, to 'draft' (if only there was one) his sons. Or grandsons, if old enough. Granddaughters too, if he has any.


all and CK

Sure, there are several much larger spaces for this kind of things. I remember going to Blue Grass concerts in the field house (Cameron or an older one) Lester Flatt and Earl Scrugg were great. Cadets got a discount and I needed one. The audience were country people from outside Lexington or from the mountains. They were very accepting of us grey creatures. If they had put this in JM hsll I would be in a fury but I think the best possible was done. pl


Gov. Romney enlightened us today with his intent to increase the Navy shipbuilding program from its present nine vessels annually to fifteen vessels. Also John Lehman in a recent interview claiming to represent Romney stated the fleet will go up to 351 vessels versus the present 315 plus adding another Naval Air Task Force and many other force increases. Nothing cheap here.
We have fought two wars over the past decade on a credit card and Mr. Romney's tax plans indicate no overall increases though he infers a tax cut for the well off in America. With present federal tax rates at their lowest in my lifetime am I wrong to question his intentions?


Two points:

1) What is the basis for supposing that anything that comes out of Romney's mouth in public settings represents belief/conviction when he has contradicted himself on just about everything as a matter of routine - and is a compulsive liar? He has a buccaneer investor's mentality for whom there is now only one bottom line: getting into the White House. He will put his political chips anywhere there looks to be a good return. The only time he spoke from the heart and let his hair down was during that notorious address to fat cat donors - the 47% occasion. None of us would stake anything personal on the hope that that wasn't the "real" Romney. Why should we be prepared to stake the country?

2. On Joe McCarthy. For me, the saddest incident of those times was when Dwight Eisenhower went to Wisconsin for a campaign speech and at the last moment deleted from his prepared remarks a homage to George Marshall. Bad political advice? probably - but this will always be a stain on Eisenhower's record. The other stain was his failure ever to declare what was right and what was wrong after the school desegration decision. (This is also well established history). Of course, these days that sort of behavior is commonplace. It wasn't then.



It would be interesting to know what the cadets present thought. They looked amused. As for Eisenhower I hope he died thinking of the friend and mentor he had betrayed. BTW, my medals hang in that room up on the gallery level. pl


Just saw the speech, great prep for foreign policy debate coming up. That's all you can expect for now. Polls are even so everything counts, everything is scripted. Same for BHO.

BTW, that is the best hall at VMI, Cameron Hall is ugly.



That is not the best hall at VMI. JM Hall is the best. Are you an alumnus? pl

Clifford Kiracofe

Yes, the venue was probably the best for a small audience and for media purposes. Sec. State Clinton spoke in Cameron this year. Bush as President spoke in Cameron in 2002. Senator McCain spoke in JM Hall in 2007. So it varies.

There was not much at all in the Romney speech. Neocon-ish but modulated. More of a style thing with slick delivery.

Alba Etie

It is IMO very unlikely any of the realist you menntioned would serve President Romney. For example then Senator Hagel was one of the very few elected official speaking out against the coming illegal occuppation of Irak . I believe it was on Anderson Cooper that Senator Hagel was asked didn't he fear the wraith of the neocons in the Administration for speaking out against the coming cluster f---k in Mesopatamia ? Senator Hagels response was and I am paraphrasing -'What will they do to me send me back to Vietnam ?"
Well for the record many of us here in Texas always said we should have ran Jeb the first time because he was the smart one .
Regardless of the outcome of the 2012 election - I have 2016 ticket in mind Chuck Hagel / Jeb Bush . Given the flux of our comity perhaps it could be a third party run .


Alba Etie

Hagel asked me once if I would consider going back to VN for a visit. We looked at each other and started to laugh. "I'd rather be in hell with my back broken," I said. pl



As I said earlier, I agree. Senator McCain. whatever his faults deserved the privilege. pl


Jonst, draft? Why? All his sons learned their values at their father's knee. Invest their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in service to the Republic? Why daddy had 4 deferments, he hides millions in foreign banks; but power - now that's something he'll try and buy. Serve in the ranks - that looks like a great big no.



The two most egregious parts of the "speech" were Romney's foolish statement that he would "jawbone" the other members of NATO into spending 2% of their individual GDP on defense as well as his neoconish apparent belief that he could have similarly pressured the Iraqi government into granting us a SOFA. Incredible. pl

Hank Foresman

Actually one of the best concerts of my Cadetship was the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in Jackson Memorial Hall with the likes of Alex Morrison '39 snake dancing behind the band.

Hank Foresman

But the true hero of those days was Mr. Joseph Welch, the bastion of proper Boston Law Firms, who after one of Senator McCarthy's tirades, said, "Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Fred Fisher is a young man who went to the Harvard Law School and came into my firm and is starting what looks to be a brilliant career with us. Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. It is true he is still with Hale and Dorr. It is true that he will continue to be with Hale and Dorr. It is, I regret to say, equally true that I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think I am a gentle man but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me.
When McCarthy tried to renew his attack, Welch interrupted him:
Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers Guild. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_N._Welch
McCarthy tried to ask Welch another question about Fisher, and Welch cut him off:
Mr. McCarthy, I will not discuss this further with you. You have sat within six feet of me and could have asked me about Fred Fisher. You have seen fit to bring it out. And if there is a God in Heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further.

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