Shocking news from Boston: Symptoms that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is suffering from a family curse of being brainwashed. The Governor's father, George Romney, had to withdraw from the 1968 presidential race after explaining that his change of heart on Vietnam-from enthusiastic support to calling for withdrawal-was caused by brainwashing.
Now comes Mitt Romney, who, according to the latest CNN poll, is tied for fifth place--with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist-for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
The governor has decided to condemn Harvard University for inviting former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to speak (and is also not providing a state police escort) because Khatami allegedly "supports violent jihad and the destruction of Israel." We hold no beef with Harvard University, where the love of free speech did not go far enough to tolerate their own President Larry Summers' controversial remarks about women and science, but inviting Mohammad Khatami, as FOX TV show host Bill O'Reilly has reminded Governor Romney, should be unexceptional for universities. Governor Romney notwithstanding, simply inviting somebody to speak does not amount to honoring the person. It just means that a person represents an important point of view that you believe your faculty and students would benefit being exposed to.
Khatami, who after leaving office remains an important voice in Iran, is clearly somebody who Americans, particularly those specializing in foreign affairs, should be entitled to hear-particularly since we may end up going to war with his country.
But the governor seems ill-informed to boot. Khatami on many occasions has condemned terrorism and has stated that should the Israelis and Palestinians be able to reach an agreement, Iran should not stand in the way. In a statement issued by Governor Romney's office, Khatami is accused of overseeing "the torture and murder of Iranian students." In reality, Khatami was the leader of the Iranian reformers. He never had control of the Iranian security services that were responsible for repression, but he often has criticized state suppression of student activists, many of whom were his enthusiastic supporters.
Clearly, Khatami was not a decisive and effective leader. And he does not share the American perspectives on many issues, including the Iranian nuclear program. Yet, on his orders, uranium enrichment was suspended and resumed only after he left office. Thus, to portray Khatami as not really different from his successor, radical-firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is outright preposterous. Governor Romney, with so much intellectual firepower available to him in his home state, surely should know that much. We, of course, would not suspect the distinguished governor with his stellar Mormon values of pandering to AIPAC and other Israeli supporters, particularly since many of them have a much more sophisticated view of Iranian politics and are in favor of dialogue with Iranian reformers. So, Mitt Romney being brainwashed sounds like a more plausible explanation. Like father, like son?