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Kennedy writes: "As Governor Mitt Romney grapples with his Party's national banner, the test of his moral fiber will be the vigor with which he resists the dark impulse of ignorance, greed, vitriol, demagoguery and division, and how robustly he safeguards America's interest in a strong and independent democracy. Will Romney lead the GOP with the brand of decency that is his heritage, or will he choose instead, to outsource indecency and mudslinging to surrogates and Super PACs?"

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (photo: Santa Clara University)
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (photo: Santa Clara University)

Mitt Romney's Test of Moral Fiber

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Reader Supported News

09 January 12


was surprised when Mitt Romney's son, Matt, resuscitated the "birther" issue in New Hampshire on December 29. Speaking at a campaign event, the young Romney deflected a question about his father's refusal to release his income tax return by citing a proposal that President Barack Obama should first release his own birth certificate. Mr. Romney, who has since retracted his statement, apparently did not realize that, at White House urging, the state of Hawaii released the president's long form birth certificate on April 25, 2011.

The White House deemed that action necessary to quiet a noisy debate that was distracting the country and damaging the national interest. The basis of the tempest was the Constitution's Article II Section 1, which seems to prohibit anyone except "naturalized American citizens" born in the USA from serving as president. A small group of conspiracy crackpots, theorizing that the president was lying about having been born in Hawaii, found a bullhorn for their quackery on Fox News and hate radio. Like milk on a hot stove, the bizarre obsession of a lunatic fringe suddenly grew to envelop even the rational remnants of the Republican Party, drowning sane discourse on vital issues of public import. It was apparent from the outset that the topic's steroidal appeal was its dog whistle usefulness in highlighting the "otherness" of America's first African American president; there was no appetite among these conservative cohorts for applying the Article II Section 1 prohibition against the GOP's 2008 candidate, John McCain, a white man born in Panama.

Mr. Romney's initial choice to stir life back into the issue raised consistency questions peculiar to the Romney clan. Mitt's father - Governor George Romney of Michigan - was driven to distraction by his own "birther" movement when he ran in the Republican presidential primaries of 1968. Supporters of his opponent, Richard Nixon, argued that George Romney's presidency would be unconstitutional because Romney had been born in Mexico where his grandfather and five wives had fled to evade America's polygamy laws.

On a more salient point with relevance to the current campaign, the 1787 Constitutional Convention included the Article II Section 1 prohibition due to the prevailing fear that a foreign power might otherwise gain undue influence over America's democracy. Ironically, the greatest threat of that outcome today comes from those Super PACs which Romney's allies and campaign staffers have pioneered in Iowa. Arguably, Super PACs now pose the most menacing platform for foreign and private interests to gain an alarming hold on the White House. Under the current Supreme Court holding in Citizens United v. FEC, there is nothing to stop foreign governments or foreign owned corporations from secretly donating hundreds of millions of dollars to Super PACs enabling them to pick favored candidates and destroy their opponents.

Prior to his withdrawal from the presidential contest on February 28, 1968, George Romney ran an extraordinarily honest, thoughtful and honorable campaign. The senior Romney, a former Chairman and CEO of American Motors Corporation, criticized the military industrial complex for lying to Americans about Vietnam and mocked the products of Detroit's Big Three as "gas guzzling dinosaurs." He was a vocal advocate of Civil Rights and anti-poverty legislation. He supported strong unions as the launching pad for America's middle class and criticized conservative palaver about "rugged individualism," unrestricted free markets, and wholesale corporate deregulation as "nothing but a political banner to cover up greed." Romney, a Mormon bishop, refused to work on Sundays (with rare exception), fasted before big decisions, spurned dirty campaigning and other appeals to the dark forces of ignorance, greed, racism and division.

As Governor Mitt Romney grapples with his Party's national banner, the test of his moral fiber will be the vigor with which he resists the dark impulse of ignorance, greed, vitriol, demagoguery and division, and how robustly he safeguards America's interest in a strong and independent democracy. Will Romney lead the GOP with the brand of decency that is his heritage, or will he choose instead, to outsource indecency and mudslinging to surrogates and Super PACs?

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+38 # fredboy 2012-01-09 15:54
What Republicans most fear is that Romney will lead as a centrist, one who unites, one who honors science and reasoning, and one who spurns hatred. All of this they despise.
+3 # RLF 2012-01-10 07:09
What Romney will honor most is the greed with which he dismantled companies. He laid off workers with abandon, took "over funded" pension money, and destroyed healthy companies to line his own packets. That's the kind of thing to expect from Romney but frankly...its not all that different from what to expect from Obama!
+6 # Lute 2012-01-10 11:29
Centrist? What drugs are on, dude? Romney is hyped-up serial flip-flopper, a liar of the the highest order. He will say and do whatever he can to win the presidency. I saw him once, in 2005, at the Lesley graduation ceremony where her delivered the keynote address when he was still the Governor. The look in his eyes told me he was not right in the head. Then he gave such a self-centered, self-congratula tory speech that I took a nap rather than listen. If he is the best Mormons can offer us, then we and they are in deep voodoo. No one in their right mind will vote for this wingnut, thus Obama -- with all his own lies, faults -- wins big. Bring Mitt on! He's certain to give Obama 4 more years.
+1 # ABen 2012-01-11 09:30
fredboy; having watched Mitt twist with the political winds for thirty years, I am fairly certain he is not a "chip off the old block." Should Mitt become the GOP candidate, it looks likely, the corporate 'operatives' withing the GOP will bring him to heel just as they did John McCain before his '08' campaign.
+33 # Kasandra 2012-01-09 16:06
I love this guy, Robert Kennedy, Jr.--The last of the Political Super Heroes!
What are we going to do with this mess? All these guys have one hand in their pockets, and the other holding the microphone communicating false ideas that don't come true when they're in office. Like someone I can think of right now!
It's obviously time for transformation in all areas of politics!
+15 # grouchy 2012-01-09 16:24
I'm betting on the second of these choices!
-40 # Willy M. 2012-01-09 16:33
It is ironic that Mr. Kennedy is calling to account the moral fiber of Mr. Romney when Mr. Kennedy is opposed to vaccine therapy, probably the most effective medical tool devised in the last century to eliminate the pandemic scourges of smallpox, measles and rubella, and all based upon his "belief" that vaccines cause autism. It is his belief, since no medical evidence exists which can support his position.
+8 # colvictoria 2012-01-09 19:49
@Willy M.
Do you not know that the majority of the research done on vaccines is paid for by the same Pharma companies which make the vaccines?
Do I detect a conflict of interest?
Do you not know that vaccines are used to sterilize whole populations? cause the same diseases they are purported to eliminate and are used in depopulation efforts in Africa, China and India? Have you heard about eugenics?
Do you know that vaccines contain mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, MSG, polysorbate 80 aborted fetal tissue, human DNA fragments?
Did you know that there is not one study that examines the effect of all 50 doses of some 15 vaccines (the current CDC vaccine schedule) on a developing infants brain, endocrine, immune and neurological systems?
Where is the moral fiber of government sponsored vaccine damage and death?
You must be a paid minion of the Medical Mafia!
+10 # Merschrod 2012-01-09 20:29
Col, you are certainly on the lunatic fringe of vaccine conspiracy - to sterilize whole populations.... When I worked in Peru that was the line of the Monseñor against tetanus shots for young pre-mother women (most postnatal deaths in rural areas were the result of tetanus. The Catholic Church went bonkers on that one. Yes, contaminated vaccines can cause death, but not as a conspiracy
+8 # KittatinyHawk 2012-01-09 21:21
Really, believe that the flu shot from 6 years ago being promoted by GW and knowingly contaminated might disprove your thoughts.
I listen to Concerned Scientists and Canadian Doctors who warned us...GOP certainly didn't nor did their Pharmaceutical Companies. Read up people
+4 # KittatinyHawk 2012-01-09 21:19
Perhaps Mr Kennedy as many of us are not sure the meds used today are all that safe for our children. Many are not safe for us as adults. I believe the flu shot of 6 years ago is proof of that.
With little to no testing needed as long as FDA is paid off, I wonder how safe these meds are.
Curcumin is a beautiful herb coming from Tumeric. In the 1940's Chemical Corporations fought President in use in Cancer Medicine. Curcumin is used for centuries by Asian doctors to cure many diseases, cancer one. It has been proven to stunt growth of Tumours in animals and even put animals in Remission.
In 1970's Nixon tried to get this researched to promote cure for cancer, watergate squashed the promotion of this research
Time we start looking into the simple Herbs, Mushrooms and let Chemical Corporations esp Monsanto eating their own Chemicals.
Chemicals if you start some research are causing more cancers, more mental problems than ever before. Facts are out there, Mother Earth has many as does web. There is proof that Autism is on rise, perhaps the Monsanot Seeds of Agent Orange coatings are too blame, guess what they make other chemicals fact they are ethoquixon which is in our animal feed. It causes cancers, immune disease in our animals. It is produced by Monsanto and used on boats where fish are harvested. So we ingest also. Read up Willy, I have been for over 45 years
+33 # truthbug 2012-01-09 16:56
Mr. Kennedy,

I suggest the following answers to your questions:

Will Romney lead the GOP with the brand of decency that is his heritage...? No.

...will he choose instead, to outsource indecency and mudslinging to surrogates and Super PACs? Yes.
+20 # maddave 2012-01-09 17:04
From watching the debates, Romney seems like an honest, well meaning, level headed man. The aura that he wants to project is, one presumes: is "I already have mine*, so I am now free to lead the nation unselfishly toward better days . . . under God.

What this nation needs to understand is that we simply cannot survive** the elections of a President, a House and a Senate that are, philosophically , inextricably linked to Corporate America and the 1% that controls our legislators and our economy. We need to beat our way back toward sanity and a national policy in which the middle class - the workers, the hewers of wood and the drawers of water - are treated like equal members of society and NOT the disposable, eaisly-and-econ omically replaced commodities which we became AFTER we drank the plutocrats' Kool-Aid and turned our backs on the working man's only fiends; The Unions.

*but don't ask him for his tax returns. and don't ask him where he got th money or where he keeps it.
** If we do hold the presidency, regain the House & increase our Senate membership to 60+ we will be in for four more years of the S O S as we've had since 2008 . . . and the Supreme Court is likely to go conservative by margins of 6-3 or 7-2 .
+7 # maddave 2012-01-09 18:11
maddave ERRATA: The second foot note (**), above , ought tor read : " If we do NOT hold the presidency, ETC, ETC, ETC,
That makes it different, right?
+4 # KittatinyHawk 2012-01-09 21:23
Mitt like 90% of GOP/TP speak with Forked tongues
+24 # PeterAttwood 2012-01-09 17:06
His use of the Restore Our Future thugs against Gingrich while pretending to be uninvolved, plus the proof over years that he will say anything, believing in nothing except his entitlement, has already made everything very clear. And I think that making millions of dollars by destroying people's jobs and America's industrial base is a bit of a departure from his father's legacy too.
+14 # Jude 2012-01-09 19:02
I’m with you on this. RFK Jr’s article is brilliantly and cogently argued, and I hope Mitt reads it and feels the pang of a son betraying his father’s ideals, but I think the horse has already left the barn on this one.
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-01-09 21:23
His son is running a muck like the GOP standards want
+6 # Merschrod 2012-01-09 20:30
It is clear already how Romney will play the cards - marked!
0 # Merschrod 2012-01-09 20:35
This article is an interesting footnote on Romney's family history, and i could be wishful thinking on the part of folks who feel the Obama has blown it and Romney's appeal to the centrists will prevail.

We are in a sad state with Obama and Romney as the front runners.

How about Rocky Anderson? In him you get decency and an agenda to tune the tables on the Wall Street Gamblers.
+11 # marthature 2012-01-09 17:09
Don't worry about it, fredboy. He's got a GOP base to appease. Romney can become a centrist, honor science and reason, and spurn hatred when you can sprout wings and fly.
+28 # rivervalley 2012-01-09 17:21
the country needs RFKJr to run for office
+6 # Doubter 2012-01-09 21:33
I'll vote for him too, but I wish he wouldn't use "America" to mean only the U.S.A. (though he isn't alone in this; most 'Americans' speak as if the U.S.A. IS the whole continent))
There are 23 independent countries in NORTH America, 19 'dependent territories' and 7 'other areas.'
+3 # Jude 2012-01-09 23:10
I’ll second that. Canada is, nominally, one of the 23 independent American countries.
+6 # bugbuster 2012-01-09 18:28
The unanswered question is about the "independent" voters. They will decide the election. They will consciously think about it, *maybe* on the morning of the election. Depending on what subliminal messages from the barrage of TV ads he has been passively absorbing most recently, or on heads or tails, he will decide whom to vote for. That is the fatal weakness of American electoral politics.
+8 # jwb110 2012-01-09 18:55
I think that the lack of civility and the exposure of prejudice that having a President of color has also unleashed religious prejudice. It won't be an issue with the Democrats but it will open large rifts within the GOP/TP.
+7 # wwway 2012-01-09 19:09
In my opinion the obvious answer to Mr. Kennedy's concluding question is NO.
I read that the Philipines and India have formed a lobby to influence congress to vote against the American call center worker. Americans will not have representation in congress until they outlaw Citizens United.
0 # KittatinyHawk 2012-01-09 21:27
Let us Hope so
+4 # noitall 2012-01-09 19:16
...The second one. He's a republicant who agrees that corporations are people. People who think that any of these types can have enough money (and make things better for those who are needy) fool themselves; that is their problem, they can NEVER have enough. Any one of these millionaires would have had "enough" after they got their first million or second or third...where do you draw the line on lifestyle? silk toilet 'paper'? Dodo feather comforters? When you have it, you can think of places to spend it (and make a profit while doing that!).
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-01-09 21:29
None of these slobs care about companies being people...they just want money. They will play any game to get the money and Corporations love watching them grovel in the pig sties. They look just as moronic to them as they do to us, but we do not own the morons
-6 # 2wmcg2 2012-01-09 19:52
This is an extraordinarily generous assessment by Robert Kennedy, Jr. considering today's hyper-partisans hip and the fact that Mitt Romney began his political career by opposing his uncle Ted in 1994. It says much about Kennedy's basic decency.

My Dad worked in upper management at American Motors in the 1950s and 1960s so I had a chance to observe George Romney at close range. He was a larger than life figure. Among other things, as the top staff person at the Automotive Council for War Production, he played a leading role in the conversion of the U.S. auto industry to war production during World War II and the subsequent re-conversion to automobile production. He singlehandedly engineered the Compact Car Revolution of the late 1950s as CEO of the No.4 automaker.

I'm sure that Mitt Romney's core values are what he absorbed from his parents and from his church. Yes, the fact that he has received so much money and support from big Wall Street firms is troubling as well as the hard-right positions he has taken in the candidate debates. If elected President, however, I believe he would not be a Wall Street stooge but someone who addressed the nation's problems rationally and with the public's interests at heart.
+1 # KittatinyHawk 2012-01-09 21:32
He learned to be a whore not a good one.
He didnot take the lessons of hard work, fighting for populace vote, he disregarded that...too bad he didnot have to serve.
He is a puppet and he looks it as he has no clear, strong speech ability. None of them have the backbone to stand up for principals, they are just mouth pieces for those who pay their way. They too shall come to Pass
+1 # jimyoung 2012-01-10 11:12
I can only wish so. Even if true, though, it is far more important to get real progressive honest agents into every possible level of national, state, county, and smaller local government positions. No President can correct this mess on their own, even FDR, when pressed for politically difficult reforms, told those reform minded people that they had to "make me do it." I take that as his insistence that he couldn't do it without enough public support. I still wonder what would have happened if he had been able to get Herbert Hoover to run as a Democrat in 1920 with FDR as a possible Vice President. It is a huge if, since Hoover made his bones as Secretary of Commerce (and under sectretary of everything else) under Harding and Coolidge. Though those presidents lowered income taxes to record levels, they at least had the wealthiest 2% as the only ones paying income tax in 1927. Although Hoover had failed to realize "anarchical capitalists", as he called them, would spoil well meaning trickle down economics he did want to start some of the reforms FDR later used. It was too little and too late, though, and FDR found it more advantageous to make Hoover the whipping boy to get enough support to make the reforms, both might have agreed on, to carry the day. What a sad commentary on what it takes (throwing old heroes under the bus) to sway enough otherwise careless voters.
+3 # NJDebi 2012-01-09 20:04
What the US needs now is a Kennedy at its helm.
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-01-09 21:32
Or at least some with intelligence, honesty, integrity but then perhaps that is why the good guys are not Politicians
+2 # douglassmyth 2012-01-09 21:01
Why must we think in monarchical terms, when we're down and out? Should I be a bestselling author because my great-great grandfather was Nathaniel Hawthorne?

Don't you think the Kennedy's have had enough of politics?

I admit, there is one advantage for a Kennedy, not for a Romney: as relatively old money, he can tell the money people off. Romney might be able to do that, but he'd never want to: they're his buddies, his collaborators in looting the American economy.
+6 # heraldmage 2012-01-09 21:01
He already has shown us that the values of his family and religion have no place in GOP politics with his position on Iran.
Iran has done nothing it is not a military threat to the USA. It is a peaceful nation that unlike the USA & its allies it has not attacked, invaded or occupied another nation in over 300 years.
It threatens the USA because it refuses to let its people live in poverty while foreign corporation & the 1% profit from it's natural resources & labors of its people.
It created its own version of democracy and economic policy which while capitalism is failing it & others have prospered even in times of global economic distress.
Mitt Romney along with the rest of the GOP (aside from Ron Paul) are running on the lies, fabrications & misrepresentati ons of the past trying to scare the people into electing a war monger as president. In reality it is not to keep the USA or Israel safe from military attack but to preserve capitalism, the 20th century name for Feudalism. To maintain the status quo where the majority of the world wealth, resources, & property is controlled by the 1% & war is used to maintain profit margin.
Instant global communication has exposed the capitalist propaganda campaigns as lies, misrepresentati on & fabrication and shown the populous that different economic policies can be successfully employed to benefit the nation as a whole not just the 1%.
They will instigate a war before they allow economic equality.
+6 # John Gill 2012-01-09 21:06
Although it is true that the LDS church did, in the 1960's, issue statements in support of civil rights for all Americans, African American men were refused equal rights "within" the LDS church until 1978. Yep, the same church in which Romney Sr. was a bishop. In '78, following a long period of protests, including tourism boycotts of Utah by concerned Americans, boycotts of sporting events at Brigham Young U. by college athletes, and finally, what would appear to have been the real mover and shaker,a threat by the IRS to remove the church's tax exempt status, the leader of the church, President Kimball, received a "revelation from God" which he communicated to his "12 apostles",(yes, really. I am making none of this up.) and finally changed the rule that kept men of African American heritage out of the Mormon priesthood. 1978. So, I'm not all that sure about this "legacy of honor" idea, and although I personally refuse to claim the omniscient state of being that would allow me to know what was in President Kimball's mind at that time, it seems, on the face of things, to have come down to the "almighty" dollar. So a legacy of "money talks," I can easily accept, and it seems pretty evident to me, that Mitt is at least following in THAT sacred tradition.
+9 # sheila Cee 2012-01-09 21:50
Mr Romney made his fortunes by buying up factories, laying off the workers, outsourcing their jobs and then closing the factories.

And some of you still trust that he will stand up for the 99%.

If you think that, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Romney changes his position to suit his audience and get its votes. He lies and exaggerates to mislead people. I don't love Obama anymore but Romney scares me more as do all the other GOP candidates.

What do we do now? Darned if I know.
-21 # aaheart 2012-01-09 22:26
Claiming that Obama's birth certificate has been released is another test of moral fiber. What was released was a digital facsimile that was obviously photoshopped and doctored to imitate the "real thing", but the name of the hospital did not exist at the time of Obama's birth, Kenya did not exist on the "day of his birth", and many other clear discrepancies disallow the digital "proof". John McCain might not have been challenged because a resolution was passed granting him native born status.

The "national interest" is damaged most when the Constitution is made inconsequential and of no legal effect. The country was distracted, not by the call for proof of eligibility but by the stonewalling by Obama and his supporters. The law is the law and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

Further, "naturalized citizenship" is not the Constitutional test, but "native-born" of parents who are both American citizens. The "birth certificate" that was released PROVED that Obama was not eligible to be President because his father was "Kenyan" and not a US citizen.

Doesn't matter? Well, the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land. You don't like it? Pass an amendment, but don't try to slide this obvious fraud past us. It DOES matter, if for no other reason that it is a measure of adherence to the rule of law. It set the tone for what was to come and was,indeed, a harbinger for the erosion of the Bill of Rights that has continued unabated.
+1 # Doubter 2012-01-10 22:55
Rule of Law!? Over his birth certificate?
What's the matter with you, anyway?
What REALLY matters is that the BANKSTERS have him surrounded (Geithner, Summers et all) and are looting the treasury with or without his complicity. I'm 86 but YOU are the one that's gonna pay for these bailouts; ha ha.
I've only seen one mention that the mortgage holders should have been bailed out instead o the banks. The banks would have come out smelling like roses and the people could keep their homes.
But NO, the money has to go straight to the banks and to hell with everybody else!
And you're worried about a birth certificate!
The guy's a hand puppet and the country is at least 2/3 down the drain and you're distracted by such a superficial conspiracy theory.
Get real and figure out who is really running the show if you need something to get mad about.
+1 # Fight Back 2012-01-09 23:37
# aaheart 2012-01-09 20:26 said
"Further, "naturalized citizenship" is not the Constitutional test, but "native-born" of parents who are both American citizens. The "birth certificate" that was released PROVED that Obama was not eligible to be President because his father was "Kenyan" and not a US citizen."

I don't know what constitution is your guide, but it definitely is not the U.S. version, which states:
"No person except a NATURAL-BORN CITIZEN, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

See anything about both of one's parents having to be citizens? not even one of them has to be a citizen!

How about admitting you were wrong?
+1 # aaheart 2012-01-11 02:43
OK, "natural born". However, the only time the US Supreme Court ever did define the class of persons who were POTUS eligible under Article 2 Section 1 was in Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1874), wherein it was held:

“The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners.” Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 168.
+1 # mwd870 2012-01-10 06:11
"As Governor Mitt Romney grapples with his Party's national banner, the test of his moral fiber will be the vigor with which he resists the dark impulse of ignorance, greed, vitriol, demagoguery and division, and how robustly he safeguards America's interest in a strong and independent democracy. Will Romney lead the GOP with the brand of decency that is his heritage, or will he choose instead, to outsource indecency and mudslinging to surrogates and Super PACs?"

Is this a rhetorical question?
0 # Doubter 2012-01-11 00:29
+3 # lark3650 2012-01-10 08:23
Anyone who has ever heard RFK speak or read any of his speeches, you came to know a man with a real sense of the heart and soul ...he was a man who cared about this country and was a spokesman for the people who needed someone to speak out for them. This appears to be a game to Mitt Romney....a shell of a man who, unlike his father, doesn't even know what he stands for..until he is told...everythi ng is a political maneuver. I think the only vision he has is one of grandeur seeing himself standing in an expensive suit while they play "Hail to the Chief".....God forbid... RFK, Jr., your father would be proud to see that you are serving your country and carrying on with the same heart and soul and speaking out.... he would expect nothing less.
-1 # Todd Williams 2012-01-10 10:26
Don't ever trust Mormon Cult people, ever. So the old man split to Mex with his 5 wives? Telling, isn't it. People, don't fall for the Mormon line of bullshit.
-1 # Doubter 2012-01-10 15:49
I 'know' we more or less HAVE to BELIEVE in SOMETHING but:
I have to keep reiterating that ALL belief is the acceptance of statements without sufficient (or any) proof.
Only KNOWLEDGE would do it, but sadly: "I only know that I know nothing."
(I guess I could sum it up by stating that you shouldn't fall for ANYONE'S line of bullshit - why only pick on the Mormon absurdities?)

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