No one expects the funny pages to reflect the same level of journalistic fairness that news pages do, but when a cartoonist gets it as wrong as Garry Trudeau did recently, it's worth taking the time to correct the record. Some people may think it silly to challenge the "facts" that turn up on the comics page, but Gary Trudeau missed the boat so badly a few weeks ago somebody needs to say something.
Garry Trudeau has made a tidy living for the past four decades poking fun at pop culture and politics, but his pen shouldn't come with a license to blatantly distort the truth and that's what he did on with Mitt Romney. Comics are meant to make us laugh, and I like a good yuk as much as anyone, but there's nothing funny about the mean-spirited mistruths Garry Trudeau tried passing off as satire in a recent strip.
Here is the strip:
Smug Liberal DJ: What are you saying, Governor Romney? That you've flipped on gay rights? A person as principled as you? Ain't Goinga happen!
Romney: Um… Actually…
Egotistical DJ : Mitt Romney, repudiating his core beliefs for a shot at the presidency? Forget it! He has too much integrity!
Romney: I don't, I don't! I swear!
Cappuccino sipping, goatee wearing self righteous DJ : I'm not listening! No, na, na, na, na
So lets take these one at a time. According to Gary Trudeau Romney, "flipped on gay rights". This simply is not true. Google "Mitt Romney". Go to the 2nd page. It is " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitt_Romney". Then go to #Same-sex marriage. You will read;
"When he ran for governor in 2002, Romney declared his opposition to both same-sex marriage and civil unions. "Call me old fashioned, but I don't support gay marriage nor do I support civil union," said Romney in an October 2002 gubernatorial debate. McElhenny, John. "Shannon O'Brien supports gay marriage" Daily Collegian October 16, 2002. Retrieved December 10, 2006
During his 1994 campaign against Senator Edward Kennedy, Romney said that same-sex marriage "is not appropriate at this time" and pointed out that marriage was regulated under the jurisdiction of state laws. He also said his voice, as a Republican, would carry more weight on lesbian and gay issues than Kennedy's, even if they took the same position on issues like allowing gays and lesbians in the military.
It's one thing to note in Doonesbury that gays should be treated with respect. But it is wrong to try to advance your cause by trying by lie about people who do not agree with you 100%.
It is stupid to selectively point at early statements of moderates that you agree with, and then point at unrelated current comments that you disagree with, and try and say that the person has changed, as though the only valid position, then in now, is an extreme pro or con position.
Using Doonesbury to draw attention to the this complicated issue is important. But no matter how right you think your side is, it is wrong to lie about, oversimplify, or miss characterize the other side. The desire to present a clever, controversial, or PC statement, should not override the need for a rational argument based in the facts.
If the Doonesbury creator had suggested that Mitt Romney is wrong, I could respect him for that. He is welcome to his opinion. But when you make claims, like asserting that Mitt Romney has "flip-flopped" on the issue, you had better get your facts straight, and Mitt Romney has not changed his position.
For more "origianl" documents that document Mitt Romney's position on this issue go here:
Mitt Romney has said:
"I agree with the President on the need for a federal marriage amendment that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. As I've said before, amending the U.S. Constitution may be the best and most reliable way to prevent a patchwork of inconsistent marriage laws between states and to guard against overreaching by the judicial branch. Acts of lawlessness in San Francisco bring into even sharper focus the need to proceed with the process of amending the Constitution. I don't think anyone ever imagined that we would have courts and local officials defining marriage in a way that has no historical precedent whatsoever, and claiming it's been in the Constitution all along. Of course, we must conduct this debate with decency, tolerance and respect for those with different opinions. The definition of marriage is so fundamental to society that it should not be decided by one court in Massachusetts or by one mayor in San Francisco. In America, the people should decide. In America, the people are fair and tolerant. Let the people decide."
* Governor Mitt Romney, 02-24-2004 Press Release
To see questions that reporters have asked Mitt Romney on the issue, with his answers, go here:
I do not question Gary T's motives. I believe he is honestly doing what he things is right. However I believe he is misdirected. You shouldn't have to lie about your political opponents in order to win the debate. Mitt Romney agrees with Gary T, that we need to protect the rights of gays.
Romney has said;
"Preserving the definition of marriage should not infringe on the right of individuals to live in the manner of their choosing. One person may choose to live as a single, even to have and raise her own child. Others may choose to live in same sex partnerships or civil arrangements. There is an unshakeable majority of opinion in this country that we should cherish and protect individual rights with tolerance and understanding. "
"This is a subject about which people have tender emotions in part because it touches individual lives... like me, the great majority of Americans wish both to preserve the traditional definition of marriage and to oppose bias and intolerance directed towards gays and lesbians."
Governor Mitt Romney, 06-22-2004 Press Release
But just because Romney can see the need to protect gays does not mean that he oversimplifies the issue, and demonize those who disagree with him.
The Doonsbery cartoon accuses Mitt Romney of changing his position on gays, with out giving one example of a change. But then it accuses Mitt Romney of liyng for political advantage. It is Ironic that Doonsbery has to lie in order to call Mitt Romney a liar.
This from Dean Barnett, Hugh Hewitt's co-blogger:
On the day the decision went into effect, dozens of gay couples descended on Massachusetts' city and town halls to get married. The TV cameras sought out Governor Romney for his response to the day's events. The media no doubt expected him to toss some red meat to the knuckle-dragging conservatives that Romney was courting in anticipation of a presidential bid. Instead, Romney pleaded that the public and gay marriage critics in particular bear in mind that this was a happy and joyous day for many individuals, and act respectfully and accordingly.
If you saw him deliver that sentiment on the news, you could see it was heartfelt. You could also see that Mitt Romney would not square with the stereotypical (and of course mistaken) view of a gay marriage opponent. He was not a hater and not a homophobe. Rather, he was a decent man who thought the policy of gay marriage was an unwise one and, regardless of the policy's wisdom, was disappointed in the judicial overreach that brought it into being.
People who think that they have to demonize and lie about people in order to advance their agenda, are only building up resentment, and hatred from the other side. Mitt Romney has done more to bring respect and tolerence to gays than Doonsberry. By lying about people like Mitt Romney, and James Dobson, Doonsbery has only gotten people more angry. Much like Ted Kennedy, Doonsbery is standing in the way of progress on gay rights, no matter how smug and self rightous he feels about himself.
Dean Barnett, a supporter of gay rights says this:
Romney spent a solid chunk of the '94 campaign expressing his tolerance and acceptance for homosexuals. Naturally, nothing he could say in this regard would satisfy his critics. If he didn't explicitly condemn the teachings of his church, his critics would continue to bray. And bray they did, from practically the first day of his campaign until the last.
It was in this context that Romney made his now-famous comments in a 1994 interview with Bay Windows, a Boston newspaper that caters to the gay community. Among his observations were these:
I feel that as a society and for me as an individual, it's incumbent on all of us to respect one another, regardless of our differences and beliefs, our differences in sexual orientation, in race and that America has always been a place, and should be a place, to welcome and tolerate people's differences.
I personally feel and one of my core beliefs is that we should accept people of all backgrounds and recognize everyone as a brother and a sister because we are all part of the family of man.
Attacking people like Mitt Romney, Doonsbery shows who the real entolerent people are.
Dean Barnett continues:
I spent a decent amount of time with Romney in '94, and got to know him reasonably well. He's not a hater. He's not a bigot. He's not a homophobe. No one who has worked with him or who actually has known him in any capacity says otherwise. And this is a man who has led a prominent and powerful business life.
Romney is also a traditionalist. He does not believe that institutions such as marriage should be mucked with. And he certainly doesn't believe that such institutions should be playthings for a gaggle of unelected officials who happen to wear black robes for a living.
In other words, his opposition to gay marriage is based on good faith differences with gay marriage proponents regarding where a particular legal line should be drawn. And by good faith, I mean that he arrives at his position not out of hate, bigotry or political calculation, but out of a true sense of moral conviction regarding what is best and noblest for our society.
On where the legal line should be drawn on gay marriage, he and I happen to differ. Unlike Romney, and unlike most of the readers of this site, I have no problem with legalizing gay marriage. But unlike Romney's critics, I know that the difference is a good faith one, and not the result of those I disagree with making venal calculations or indulging their prejudiced natures.
The preceding is the part that some narrow-minded gay marriage proponents just can't get. They think that if you're against gay marriage, you are necessarily a hater and by definition a homophobe. That's just not so.
Another thing regarding Romney and gay marriage warrants mentioning: This was not a fight he sought. Even given the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's prior reckless disregard for precedent and the democratic process, no one foresaw the SJC discovering a pre-existing right to gay marriage in the Commonwealth's 220 year old Constitution. Even by the SJC's own lofty standards for such things, it was a stunning piece of judicial arrogance. In short, it was not part of a Romney master-plan to be the anti-gay marriage candidate.
Critics of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists think the key to winning their support is to be the most-narrow minded and hate-filled candidate in the field. These critics chronically lament the bigotry of these specifically identifiable communities while crudely and cruelly caricaturizing them; it is a perverse credit to these critics that they never betray any sense of irony while doing so.
One of the reasons Mitt Romney will be increasingly successful as more people get to know him is because he is the real deal – Mitt is a good, honest and decent man. And those are far from his only virtues. But those are the virtues that Republicans of all religious and ethnic affiliations hunger for most in their '08 standard bearer.
It doesn't take much effort to discover that Romney has not changed his position on Gay Marriage. Then how is it that so many people people in the MSM blindly repeat it? Because the MSM is stupid. They are all sheeps. They all live in an echo chamber. If a democrate critisizes a republican, they will blindley repeat the name calling, without even thinking about it. Their is no better example of this than the way the MSM has treated Mitt Romney.
Trudeau appears to support gay marriage, as the cartoon's second-to-last panel indicates. Maybe that's why he took this unwarranted shot at Romney, a vocal proponent of defending marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Trudeau's liberalism and his apparent desire to see someone named Clinton, Obama or Edwards elected in 2008 is not surprising. That he'd simply make up lies about Romney to express that point is.
You don't have to be a fan of Romney's, in fact, you can pretty much reject everything he stands for and still see that he wasn't treated fairly here.
Dislike the guy as much as you want, but it's not Romney whose blind allegiance to a political ideology is on display here.Doonesbury vs. America