I found this Boston Globe piece informative. It has become something of a ritual of presidential politics to inquire where each candidate was during Vietnam. The difference between missing days on National Guard duty and living for years in the Hanoi Hilton can be very significant for any candidate, and the public has an interest in the patriotic history of each presidential hopeful.
So where was Mitt Romney? Serving an LDS mission France for two and a half years (would the story have been printed if it hadn’t had this religious tie-in? One wonders). After that, he received draft deferments to pursue his education. Ho hum. So now we’ve answered that question.
While the piece does not have the tone of an expose and doesn’t appear to take cheap shots, it is notable for its focus on the deferments Romney obtained for his religious service. Indeed, it may not be accidental that a reader could easily be left with the impression that Romney cynically used his mission to avoid military service. On the contrary, the vast majority of LDS young men are raised with the expectation that they will serve a mission, and a very large number of them do so, whether in times of war or peace.
But the shadow of that hanging innuendo remains over the story. That is why it is astonishing that in this full-length treatment, Globe writer Michael Kranish saves the following revelation for the very last paragraph:
“When Governor Romney’s deferment for college and missionary service ended, he made himself available for military service, and his name went into the lottery, but he was not selected,” Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said via e-mail.
In other words, in case you were thinking that Romney was willing to use any avenue he could to escape the draft, you should know that he did actually submit his name for the lottery, and was simply passed over. But you will only learn that if you read every last word of the story.
Maybe the Globe is just challenging its readers to pay more attention by hiding ultra-relevant details at the very end of long stories. Or maybe they don’t think it’s important, in a piece giving rise to the implication that Romney sneakily avoided military duty, that he did exactly what he was supposed to do when not eligible for deferments, and entered the lottery like everyone else.
I don’t smell anything sinister here, just a bit of poor editing, perhaps. But it’s worth pointing out before some critic smells an opening in Romney’s draft record. To sum up, Romney made a religious decision to serve his Church, as a great number of LDS young men did at the time and still do today. Then he went to school. When he got out, he entered the lottery. But maybe it’s not much of a story if you include that last part.