In PBS’s excellent Frontline series, the episode “The Choice: 2012” on the upcoming presidential election and candidates left me wondering about two things. The first was how did Obama pay for his time at Occidental, Columbia and Harvard, three very expensive schools and cities to study and live in?
He has never released his grades which were said to be mediocre at Occidental and Columbia. So, how did he get a Harvard “scholarship”? Is there no proof of that? No records? Are reporters all tongue-tied on this issue? Most Obama supporters, like myself (the first time around), just assumed the answer was floating about in the atmosphere. I assumed that Obama got some student loans or part-time jobs, not really thinking it through to fact-checking.
Yet, though “The Choice” spoke about many things in Obama’s life, his absent mother, his grandparents’ alcoholism, his ‘now you see ‘em, now you don’t father and stepfather; his school-boy myths of his father being a Kenyan King, his stepfather an Indonesian prince; and information about meeting his wife, his marriage into a genuine black-American family; his friendships, both from childhood to college and manhood days, something was lacking.
Through all this there were no specifics of financial support for very expensive colleges. Not until Obama’s law career had started and his books were written. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream and Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, did he make any money. It is then Obama is said to have started paying back student loans and Michelle, ensconced in her law career, did the same.
One theory is that, Percy Sutton, Malcom X’s lawyer, said that Obama’s tuition was paid by Khalid al-Mansour, a wealthy businessman with ties to Saudi Arabia, who now lives in Houston. He also used his influence to help get Obama into Harvard (with his less than stellar grades from Columbia) and wrote letters of recommendation for Obama when he wanted to join the Law Review.
Al-Mansour was the mentor of Black Panther Party founder Huey Newton and his co-founder, Bobby Seale. Sutton, as Manhattan’s Borough President for years, as well as Malcolm X’s lawyer, got around Harlem’s political scene (as did the young Obama), yet maintained an impeccable reputation. I could live with those facts if only someone from Obama or his camp had ever mentioned it.
Again, Sutton, who died at 89 in 2009, was well-respected and had nothing to gain from this except goodwill. Yet the mainstream media generally ignored this story during Sutton’s life. Did they ever ask any questions about the players’ interactions?
And now, my second question . . .
Was Mitt Romney a Draft Dodger?
In an email from Kevin Barrett, the host/creator of Truth Jihad, he commented that “Gordon Duff broke a story that might go viral and tip the (sham) presidential elections . . . or maybe not. Anyway, the breaking story was that Mitt Romney isn’t just a draft-dodger like Bush and Cheney—he’s a criminal draft evader. In 1966, Romney enrolled at Stanford, then had a psychiatric breakdown (depression), left Stanford, was shipped to France by his rich daddy (the Governor of Michigan) and spent two and a half years in France allegedly doing Mormon missionary work, and supposedly claiming exemption from the draft as a ‘minister of religion.’”
Barrett continues, “The problem: First, according to the law, a missionary is not a minister. Additionally, it was illegal to be a Mormon missionary in France at that time. Heck, they don’t even like the missionary position. (Seriously, Mormonism was defined by French law as a ‘dangerous cult.’) There was no Mormon missionary work happening in France. The reality is that his rich, powerful daddy, George Romney, the top Mormon in Michigan as well as the governor, illegally shielded him from the draft.
“And it cost George Romney the presidency. In 1968, Romney led Nixon for the Republican nomination by ten points in the polls. But Nixon’s henchmen dug up the Mitt Romney draft evasion story. They told George Romney that if he took the nomination from Nixon, his son Mitt would be going to prison as a draft evader. Romney bowed out, Nixon took the nomination and the presidency, and the rest is history.”
I found that fascinating yet wrote a note to Kevin about some omissions from the different point of view expressed in “The Choice: 2012.”
I mentioned the PBS documentary on Frontline tells a somewhat different story. It never mentioned Mitt Romney having a psychiatric breakdown or depression sometime during the Vietnam War and using that as a reason for deferring military service. But “The Choice: 2012” did say that Mitt was shipped off to France to do Mormon missionary work. It does mention the Mormon missionary work was with both the poor and troubled people.
There was no mention that he was unable or did not wish to serve in the US military. Nor does it mention it was illegal to be a Mormon missionary in France at that time. But it does mention that Mitt was in “a serious auto accident.” Mitt was driving on a country road, it claims, six people in the car. On a blind curve another car came rushing towards Mitt’s car at 70 mph and caused a head-on crash. Mitt was seriously injured. The attending first responder wrote, “Il est mort.” in the report initially, though Mitt survived. But, tragically, the wife of the Mission president was killed. None of this was mentioned in Gordon Duff’s story.
Mitt’s accident was not given as the reason George Romney lost the presidency to Nixon. “The Choice” claims that Romney Sr. had taken a trip to Vietnam and was totally disillusioned by the war and its senseless brutality and, therefore, reversed what he called his “brainwashed” opinion of it; this story was repeated in The New York Times and picked up by Nixon (the “brainwashed” statement and all) and was used to help George Romney lose the Republican nomination for president. George Romney gave up on politics after that incident. And the young Romney returned from France and his missionary work to face the world and his future.
Mitt idolized his father and this must have been a major kick in the pants for both. But the notion that Mitt had a breakdown or that higher forces pulled strings to get him out of the Army, as with George W. Bush or Dick Cheney, remains a question for me. This may be just the differences between mainstream media and Internet reporting.
But it does add another question, whether there is any conscious omission in both Obama’s and Romney’s cases by PBS’s Frontline’s producers. Is discretion the better part of journalism or laying it on the line warts and all for the public to see and judge? I think the latter is true, and hope equally that PBS didn’t leave out certain facts for that reason, nor did Duff include certain facts or non-facts for the wrong reasons. I would like to think that these were “honest” omissions, not “tempting” additions. Bottom line, it leaves viewers and readers with contradictory information and deciding for themselves what the real truth is.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.