Weather Forecast


The real Mitt Romney remains a mystery

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was walking on the beach near his $12 million home in La Jolla, Calif., when he saw a young man smoking marijuana and drinking. He went up to the man, demanding he stop both activities.

This anecdote, revealed by reporter Michael Barbaro of The New York Times in a story about Romney's disgruntled neighbors, indicates that Romney is not a live-and-let-live kind of guy. Medical marijuana is legal in California, so Romney could not know that what the man was doing was illegal. But he saw behavior he disapproved of and tried to stop it.

Barbaro said that other neighbors reported being told by local police to report suspected marijuana smoking because Romney had asked them to do what they could to end pot smoking on the beach.

The story also said a number of Romney's neighbors worry his plans to quadruple the size of his 3,000-square-foot beachfront house will block their ocean views. Romney, the story said, has spent $22,000 lobbying local officials to approve his house plans.

Some of Romney's California neighbors are upset because they are in gay unions and Romney opposes gay marriage.

Romney also has said he favors getting rid of any federal money that goes to Planned Parenthood because it sanctions abortions, although it also provides cancer screening for many women who otherwise could not afford it.

As a young man, Romney voiced wholehearted support for the war in Vietnam, although he got draft deferments so he never served in the military. He was deferred because he was a student and also because he was a Mormon missionary in France trying to convert people he met there.

When asked on the campaign trail why none of his five sons did any military service, Romney said they served their country by helping him campaign for president. Later, he said he didn't mean to equate campaigning with the service of Americans who have gone to war for their country.

For a man who has been running for president for eight years, we know remarkably little about him except that he is wealthy and has many wealthy friends who want him to be president.

That is why it is so maddening that he won't tell us exactly how he would stimulate the economy other than by cutting taxes, removing the burden of federal regulations on businesses and pushing Congress to cut back government services. But here, too, Romney has not said exactly what he would end or curtail.

Romney's running theme is that President Barack Obama is a failed president because the national debt has soared and the economy has not roared back from recession, partly because of Europe's economic problems. But many economists argue government spending prevented a major depression.

Three months of disappointing job growth figures have helped Romney in the polls and taken the wind out of Obama's sails. But Romney has never said exactly what he would do to make companies with record profits begin hiring again, although Europe is not buying as much U.S. goods and services as was hoped.

It seems as though Romney knows that whoever is elected in November will get credit for an expected economic growth spurt in 2013 or 2014, no matter what policies the next president pursues. If Romney wins, he will say that economic recovery occurred because of his goal of lower taxes and less government regulation. (Of course, if Obama wins, he will say that economic recovery is a result of his policies.)

The irony is that huge tax increases on everyone are set automatically to go into effect in January unless Congress acts. Congress has made clear it will not do anything until the lame duck session after the November elections, if then. Is Romney demanding action by Congress now? No.

The more we learn about Romney, it seems, the less we know him.