The Globe And Mitt Romney (And Johnny Fairplay?)

I agree with Dan Kennedy that the Globe let Romney off easy by blindly accepting the story of Mom's abortion position, but I'll go further.

It seems to me that a major question about Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is what he actually believes, when he believes it, and why. And more specifically, whether he makes up stories out of whole cloth to explain or re-write his beliefs and actions after the fact.

Did he make up the story of his mother's abortion stance forged from a son-in-law's sister's death, to convince Massachusetts residents in 1994 that he was reliably pro-choice? I don't know.

Did he fabricate the story of having an epiphany in 2005 about the value of life when a doctor showed him frozen embryos, to convince Republican voters in 2007 that he is reliably pro-life? I don't know.

Did he fabricate the tale of pulling over in his car and weeping for joy when he heard the news that the Mormon Church had lifted its ban on black priests, to convince Americans that he never agreed with the church's most objectionable tenets? I don't know.

Mitt Romney has this habit of telling these kinds of stories to explain himself, his positions, his actions, his motivations, his business accomplishments, his religious practices, his Olympics work, and etc. Many of the stories (like crying in the car) only crop up long after the fact, with no explanation of why neither he nor anyone else ever mentioned them before.

There's a name for people who cynically make up stories about themselves for strategic gain: Johnny Fairplay.

I don't know whether Mitt Romney is a Johnny Fairplay or not. But if he is, then his life story -- which the Globe is trying to write the definitive version of -- is a very different one than if he isn't a Johnny Fairplay and these stories are all true.

So far, through four parts of the saga, it certainly seems as though the Globe is not even considering the possibility that Romney (perhaps with help from those around him) is whitewashing his life story. That maybe his car crash in France wasn't a big deal to him, until years later he decided it made for a good story about what drives him. That maybe Romney's "one penetrating question" had nothing to do with how Bain grew fat on its Gartner Group acquisition. That maybe the idea to run against Ted Kennedy came from conversations with political consultants, not from a bedtime suggestion from Ann prompted by her recently deceased father's advice. Etc.

In fact, the most telling tale in the Globe series so far might be this one from yesterday's installment, in which Romney made Bill Bain promise to lie to protect Romney's reputation -- ie, rewrite Romney's past -- if Bain Capital flopped:
So Bain sweetened the offer. He guaranteed that if the experiment failed, Romney would get his old job and salary back, plus any raises handed out during his absence.

Romney had one more concern: the impact on his reputation should he prove unable to do the job. In the end, Bain agreed to craft a cover story if necessary, promising to bring Romney back to the consulting firm and explain Romney's return as a matter of his being more valuable to Bain as a consultant.

''So,'' Bain says, ''there was no professional or financial risk.''
Presumably, had Bain Capital failed, Bill Bain would have dutifully fabricated a revised history of those years, and that would be the one the Globe wrote this week. How many other such promises has Romney demanded over the years? How many are still being kept? How do we know?

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