Two long Mitt Romney sketches unpack his BYU days, father's legacy
If John McCormick at Business Week has it right, the Mitt Romney apple was flung a good distance from the George Romney tree.
In an article probing Romney's Michigan roots, the magazine uses car imagery to pointedly contrast the two, contrasting Mitt's embrace on the stump of "chrome, fins and roaring motors" to his father's insistence that such relics were "dinosaurs," while introducing a new breed of smaller, more efficient cars.
It's a very deft piece of rhetoric on McCormick's part. Romney is embracing the dinosaur. Got it? But the contrast drawn here does have the ring of truth, and most profiles of the two men highlight a divide between the impetuous and outspoken father and the careful and calculating son.
“George Romney was very outspoken, extroverted, candid and dynamic in a way that Mitt has just never been able to be,” said Bill Ballenger, editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter. “He was a very straight-forward, straight-shooting guy and Mitt has always had this trouble of people thinking that there is something artificial about him.”
McCormick's piece focuses more heavily on George than on Mitt, and seems in part to be aimed at younger readers, like those in Michigan who have only the vaguest awareness of what Mitt's family once did in the state.
In the Washington Post, Jason Horowitz digs deep into the history of Romney's BYU experience, in a wide-ranging and somewhat loosely connected article.
Although Romney only spent two years at BYU, Horowitz suggests that the reasons he went there (after starting at Stanford) and the reasons he stayed and prospered are revealing.
Again, the picture is of Romney as an instinctively conservative but largely apolitical student, something of a teacher's favorite, and seemingly resented by some of his peers, including a few of those interviewed.
In Horowitz' telling, Romney's conservatism at BYU is less a political matter than a tempermental one. The contrast between the father's bold support of civil rights legislation and the son's avoidance of racial politics — at a time when racial policies at BYU were very much an issue — is notable.
Horowitz also describes Romney's early career moves and his aggressive fundraising leadership of the Cougar Club, revealing hints of the aggressive business innovator that was to come.
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