Can This Story Die Now? (Update: Or Not)

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor?,Politics — posted by Anwyn on December 23, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

I saw my father fly tankers every day for the air force, too.

Because I lived in the same house with him and saw him get up early, put on his flight suit, drink his Coke, and go to work. Did I ever actually lay eyeballs on him manipulating the controls of a KC-135? No I did not. But I saw him fly for our military nevertheless.

So now that we’ve established Romney’s dad was literally with MLK, can we all also accept “saw” as a figure of speech that means “I knew my dad was doing this”?

And even if Romney’s father hadn’t actually marched physically with MLK, marching at the same time and for the same cause is good enough to fall under the same figure of speech. He would have “marched with MLK” kind of like the British armed forces “stand with us” in Iraq even if most of our guys never inhabit a tank with them.

For pete’s sake.

Update: Or not.

Then-governor George Romney did indeed march in Grosse Pointe, on Saturday, June 29, 1963, but Martin Luther King Jr. was not there; he was in New Brunswick, New Jersey, addressing the closing session of the annual New Jersey AFL-CIO labor institute at Rutgers University.

Those facts are indisputable, and quite frankly, the campaign must have known the women’s story would eventually be debunked — few people’s every daily movement has been as closely tracked and documented as King’s. As I write this, I am looking at an article from page E8 of the June 30, 1963 Chicago Tribune, which discusses both events (among other civil-rights actions of the previous day), clearly placing the two men hundreds of miles apart. I also have here the June 30, 1963 San Antonio News, which carries a photo and article about Romney at the Grosse Pointe march; and an AP story about King’s speech in New Jersey.

A King researcher editing his letters from that time has stated definitively that the two men never marched together; Michigan and Grosse Pointe historians have stated definitively that King was not at the 1963 Grosse Pointe march; Michigan civil-rights participants of the time have concurred; so have those who worked for George Romney at the time.

So the campaign gave the two “eyewitnesses” the contact information to tell their story to Politico after Romney already said he was saying “saw” in the figurative sense, as I described above. Both statements were figurative–that George Romney “marched with” MLK (because he marched at the same time for the same cause) and that Mitt Romney “saw it” (in the same sense that I saw my dad fly for the air force). Both of those figurative uses are perfectly acceptable, grammatically speaking. But the campaign directing the two “eyewitnesses” to Politico after Mitt had already gone all-out with the “figurative” explanation, again perfectly acceptable, is at the very least a huge political screwup and at the very most the promotion of a blatant lie.

Message to the Phoenix, though:

It is offensive because of people like Russell Peebles.

Peebles is an 88-year-old man, a former resident of Grosse Pointe for 48 years, who was present at both the Grosse Pointe march in 1963, and the MLK speech in Grosse point in 1968 — the event at which the Romney campaign initially insisted Romney and King marched together.

I tried to contact Peebles earlier this week, prior to writing the original article, but we missed each other back-and-forth. Peebles sent me an email today, attesting to the fact that George Romney was at the 1963 march, but not the 1968 speech; and that King was at the 1968 speech, but not the 1963 march.

Peebles, and many others like him, deserve to have the history of what they did told honestly. Changing that history by mistake — which is quite possibly how this began — is unfortunate. Changing that history intentionally — which is what the campaign is doing now — is offensive.

A lot of people have tried to make “offensive” the last word (heh) in damning adjectives. But it’s not. Untrue is still quite a bit worse. And for the Romney campaign to promote the story of the eyewitnesses if they already know it’s untrue, after Romney himself indicated that it’s untrue by his explanation of his use of figurative language, is dumb on the face of it and promulgating a lie on people they think are stupid at worst.

(H/t: Hot Air.)


  1. I think the reason this story has legs is the public, accurately, has suspicions that Romney is slick, packaged shyster who will say or do anything to get elected. This is just a lie and obfuscation that has resonance, whereas most examples of his mendacity are about arcane policy and issue politics, people can easily understand and relate to a bold faced lie like this. I don’t buy the “see” explanation. Romney is a serial liar and exagerater, panderer and demagogue. Good to see him finally blunder badly enough for the casual political follwer to notice.

    Not to mention the hypocrisy and irony about his “civil rights” record, when the cult to which he belongs would not ordain black men for another 15 years after that ’63 march, on the grounds that dark skin was a mark of disfavor from God, that blacks and brown peoples could never ascend into heaven, except as “servants” for the “delightsome” (their word) white people.

    I find Romney disgusting on many levels, so I applaud his exposure. Secondly, the public usually gets it right about the character of individuals, and rarely sinks someone on a false charge. Like the fact that Algore may have been innocent of claiming to invent the internet or he and Tipper being the inspiration for Love Story, these stories none the less resonated with the general public because they reflected the true nature of his character- a stiff, pompous, preachy and pedantic elitist who always thought he was the smartest guy in the world and was indeed so smart he needed to be president to save us poor stupid common folks from our own stupidity.

    Conversely, the public never bought the MSM’s ‘narrative’ that George W. Bush was an intellectually vapid moron, concluding rightly that a former military fighter jet pilot and Ivy League graduate was not a cretin, no matter how many “Bush is Stupid” stories the liberal press cranked out.

    Romney is a slick, packaged, dishonest empty suit. If it takes a story like this to take him down, so be it.

    Comment by docweasel — December 22, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

  2. The MLK story is merely one small example of Romney’s basic dishonesty and perfidy…

    Bloggers like the lovely Anwyn are bending over backwards to “forgive” racist cult member Mitt Romney’s stupid lie that he watched his father march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
    I think the reason this story has legs is the pu…

    Trackback by docweaselblog — December 22, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

  3. Nice spin- except that not only have the two “witnesses” been proven to have been mistaken, but it’s become clear that the Romney campaign knew that their claim was untrue when it advanced that claim. As to the claim that Romney was only “figuratively” claiming to have witnessed an event which never took place, you really need to decide whether you’re claiming the march happened or that Romney himself wasn’t making that claim. Personally, I’m willing to give Romney the benefit of the doubt on the second point, but it does require a deliberate effort of the will.

    Now I wonder whether you used the same approach to the loud cries of “Liar!” aimed at Mike Huckabee-who actually had a bachelor’s degree in religion and was a considerable way toward a Master of Divinity degree when he uttered the only technically inaccurate claim that he had a degree in theology.

    Comment by Bob Waters — December 26, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

  4. Bob … chill. I’m not spinning for Romney. If you cared to read anything else on this blog, you’d know I’m supporting Fred Thompson. And my post includes the Phoenix evidence that the “eyewitnesses” are mistaken and also makes the same point you just did, that Romney’s camp must have known about this at the time.

    I know exactly what I’m “claiming”–nothing. Originally I said that figurative language would cover 1) the marches having taken place that meant that George Romney “marched with” MLK even if they weren’t physically marching in the same place and 2) Mitt saying he “saw” this even though he wasn’t at either march. Romney himself made the “figurative” claim, not the literal one, and then for the campaign to promote “eyewitnesses” for the literal view is just stupid.

    Do me a favor and read every word of my post next time before you comment.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 26, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

  5. do you think about Martin Luther king Jr how did he die and when did he die that she want how did someperson kill him

    Comment by Shelbie — January 23, 2008 @ 1:59 pm

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