Tuesday, February 9 , 2016, 1:05 am | Fair 54º

Mark Shields: No Right to Remain Silent for Mitt Romney

Republican's campaign insists there will be time to introduce the Real Mitt at the convention

By Mark Shields |

Under the Supreme Court’s Miranda decision, the police are required to inform an arrested suspect that he or she can consult with an attorney before and during interrogation and that the suspect need not answer questions.

This rule raised a hypothetical: If the late Marcel Marceau, the world’s best-known mime, had been stopped for speeding, would the arresting officer have had to tell him, “You have the right to remain silent”?

There is no Miranda rule in American presidential politics, where we voters expect, even demand, that presidential candidates tell us about themselves — who they are, what makes them tick and what makes them both like us and yet different from us.

Please know that if you might someday want to run for the White House and are inhibited by either an acute sense of privacy or terminal humility from answering such questions, your political rivals will — unflatteringly — fill in all the blank spots for you.

Think about it: What did we know about Republican candidate Ronald Reagan long before he was elected in 1980? That he had been a radio sports announcer in Des Moines who went to Hollywood, where in Knute Rockne, All American he played George Gipp, the dying Notre Dame star halfback (earning himself a lifelong nickname), became president of the screen actors union, left the Democratic Party after four times voting for FDR and won two terms as Republican governor of California, then the world’s sixth-largest economy. We knew that the Gipper, who had an easy sense of humor, if elected would be the country’s first divorced president.

George H.W. Bush? Born into a wealthy New England family with a commitment to public service. His father was a Republican senator from Connecticut. On the day in 1942 when he graduated from prestigious Andover, where he was captain of the baseball team, Bush celebrated his 18th birthday and enlisted in the Navy. In less than a year, as that service’s youngest pilot, he would be flying torpedo bombers and be shot down by Japanese guns. He married at 21, moved to Texas, founded an oil company, lost two U.S. Senate races and got elected to the House of Representatives, where he voted for the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

What do we know about Mitt Romney? Not that much. His dad, a committed Mormon, was the successful president of American Motors before winning three terms as the civil rights-championing Republican governor of Michigan. We know that Romney went to a select private boys’ school, served a 30-month Mormon mission in France, graduated from Brigham Young University, married Ann, his high-school sweetheart, and earned degrees from Harvard Law and Harvard Business School.

We know that he founded Bain Capital, became a multimillioniaire, successfully headed the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, won one term as governor of Massachusetts and has been running for president since at least 2005.

But Romney must have an outsized zone of privacy. As a Republican who served successfully as governor in one of America’s bluest states, he would have been, on paper, a formidable general election nominee. But he spent the last two presidential campaigns running to the right of John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, while wooing the most conservative of GOP primary voters, especially on the issue of immigration. Romney is not comfortable speaking publicly about his religion or how his faith informs his politics.

The Obama campaign has spent time and money defining Romney’s private equity career as regularly putting profits before people and private international paydays ahead of American domestic prosperity. From Romney, there have been no public sightings of humor, candor or empathy. The Romney campaign insists that there will be time to introduce the Real Mitt to American voters at the Tampa, Fla., convention.

But the longer he remains silent about who he is and what his personal hopes and, yes, doubts might be, Romney all but guarantees that essentially hostile brushes will paint his public portrait.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him.

» on 08.05.12 @ 03:02 AM

He’s really hurting himself by not releasing his tax returns.  What is he afraid of?

» on 08.05.12 @ 03:30 AM

Mr. Shields, thanks to the courageous determination of brave journalists like yourself, you are doggedly filling in all of the blank spaces and bringing sunshine to the deep, dark secrets that the devious Mitt Romney wishes to keep hidden. Mr. Romney’s recently exposed freshman year high school report card is the latest example of your fine work. You have to be so proud, and deservedly so. We Americans are truly in your debt.

With all that said, how are you coming on reporting on President Obama’s college applications and transcripts? I hate to be the skunk at your re-election party, but I just realized that all we actually know about the earlier life of the 51-year-old Barack Obama is what he wrote in his two memoirs — which we now know apparently aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Just curious.

» on 08.05.12 @ 03:36 AM

Romney should never be mentioned in the same breath as Reagan. In fact , none of the buffoons posing as GOP candidates for the last two cycles even come close. They all say they adhere to his ideals although Reagan would most likely have ditched these recalcitrants who have dragged the party off course in recent decades.
  The God and guns , Palin worshipping loonies continually abuse his memory while only understanding a small fragment of his conservatism.

» on 08.05.12 @ 01:32 PM

I love how unrepentant liberals now gush so lovingly about Reagan. These same liberals were nearly comatose at the prospect of his Presidency. No president was as harshly treated by liberals as was President Reagan. Of course, he didn’t give a sh*t because he knew who he was and had a strong set of beliefs. He wasn’t interested in being liked by liberals or reading the tea leave polls to tell him what to do.

» on 08.05.12 @ 03:10 PM

Father Loo, can you say the same for Romney? I think he reads the “tea leave polls” as well as the teabagger ones.

Reagan was not afraid to backtrack on his positions once he learned they didn’t work. Read about his tax cuts.

» on 08.05.12 @ 03:34 PM

Did you vote for Reagan, Wally?

» on 08.06.12 @ 08:46 AM

Yup , I supported Ford and voted for him against Carter, voted for Reagan and Bush senior. Only when the party began to veer off course did I start to divide my votes. Cheney,Wolfowitz, Rummy and demigod Nordquist did nothing but give credence to the argument that the party had been hijacked. I’m still looking for a good Republican to vote for but the Gingrich, Herman Cain , Palin types seem to be all the right can come up with. It seems that the truly sane potential candidates realize the insanity of the party and wont touch it.
  Being continually attacked by the Noozhawk core of TeaBirchers for being so “librul” provides me with a lot of entertainment and laughs , but does make one wax for a time when the GOP was more reasonable and pragmatic.

» on 08.06.12 @ 04:52 PM

Willie you talk about the high jacking of the GOP by the Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney crowd and then disparage the one group most responsible for trouncing this crowd in the 2008 and 2010 elections. What gives?

Reagan tried to turn the GOP into a more conservative Goldwater party but was unable to get past the establishment oligarchy represented by Bush senior. Once Reagan was out Bush definitely turned the party back toward its country club roots. By that time many wealthy elitists had already trekked across the aisle and established a nice oligarchy there with their more liberal friends.

The Tea Party you love to disparage along with your “librul” friends was an answer to the Bush junior’s foray back to oligarchy status. All they wanted was to get the party back to that conservative place Reagan tried to two decades earlier. And of course to wake people up to the huge mistake the country made electing one of the most liberal, leftist, socialists we have ever put in the white house, that you are an ardent supporter of.

» on 08.06.12 @ 09:33 PM

As usual Professor , you are all wet again. Present day conservatives did not trounce your fallen hero Cheney, and he continues to draw standing ovations whenever he emerges from his cave to attend rightwing functions. Same goes for Rove , Rice and all the other kooks who were at the wheel when we drove off the cliff.
  As for me being an “ardent supporter” of Obama - thats pretty funny too.

» on 08.06.12 @ 10:43 PM

Why doesn’t Romney just release his tax returns?  What is he hiding? 

Check out this slide show of Republican opinions about this:


» on 08.06.12 @ 11:30 PM

Old SB, the reason why he doesn’t release his tax returns for ten years because it will show that he took advantage of LEGAL loopholes to shield some of his income from taxes. Most very wealthy people have lawyers and accountants to help them reduce their tax liability. The problem is not Romney; it is a dysfunctional tax code for which the Democratic Party is equally culpable.

Of course, Obama will immediately run attack ads pummeling Romney because he is rich. This seems to the raison d’etre for the Obama campaign. Hope and change has now morphed into a mudslinging, get-into-the-gutter campaign of personal attacks and demagoguery.

» on 08.07.12 @ 03:18 AM

So now Looseagle knows the content of Romneys tax returns before they are ever released to the public. Damn smartest guy, and clairvoyant too.

» on 08.07.12 @ 01:02 PM

I think Romney should publish too, so I know what sort of loop holes I can use to reduce my tax burden. But if he doesn’t so what, its no ones business what this guy does unless it’s illegal. In that case the IRS can handle it and Romney can rot in jail. As for all these “libruls” wailing and moaning over this why don’t you demand Harry Reid publish his? This is just more hypocrisy and political hay that has absolutely no relevance.

Willie there is a great distinction between establishment conservatives (the old country club oligarchs) and the rest of us who migrate toward the Tea Party. The Tea Partiers you love to hate, disparage and denigrate are mostly common working class folks with traditional values, family centric and small government minded. Yes, as with any group there are fringes so you “libruls” can go chase them down and build an entire mystique around a whole lot of nothing and waste your time. But the rest of us are all around you and we are not at all happy with the Rove/Cheney/etc.. oligarchy. It was pretty clear in 06, 08 and especially 2010, where Rove got his butt kicked. It is still happening and the old guard, the one embodied by Bush senior, is quite upset now.

The Tea Party is less the fringe you libruls keep regurgitating and more about those pragmatic and reasonable approaches to government Reagan espoused. We only accept Romney and his Wall Street oligarchy because he is far less destructive than your nit wit in there now. Once again it boils down to the lesser of evils, the fringe socialist who wants to solve all our problems by transferring a shrinking wealth pie from the few to the many or a fringe fat cat who wants to solve all our problems by transferring a shrinking wealth pie from the many to the few. Either way we are screwed, but if I’m gonna get it I would rather it be by a capitalist market where my purchasing decisions have power than from a government backed by the most powerful military on earth and my vote means nothing.

» on 08.07.12 @ 03:56 PM

He is screwed whether he releases or doesn’t release his tax returns. The Obama campaign is going to make hay out of this either way. Obama and his consultants know the only way for him to get reelected is to tear down Romney. The last thing they want to do is have the American public focus on Obama’s record. This campaign will be one attack ad after another. In order to effectively counter it, Romney will have to get into the gutter with Obama. What a sorry state of affairs.

» on 08.07.12 @ 10:07 PM

As usual Professor , you are all wet again . I do not “hate” members of the Tea Party. I just recognize the lack of curiosity that so many of them show. No one seems to care where Tea Party funding comes from. No one seems to care that the same tainted coffers have been funding anti global warming propaganda.Those lies are now being recognized as b.s. even by the most entrenched rightwing deniers. No , Professor , I dont hate them - I just dont respect them .

» on 08.08.12 @ 02:47 PM

OMG – now we have AGW too? Yikes, Willie. The Tea Party is far more diverse than you “libruls” want to admit. You poke around until you “find” something then wrap the whole movement in it to continue your denigration. The same thing happened to the OWS movement.

Look at the common underlying message and leave the dopy fringe crap where it belongs, at the fringe. The OWS movement was largely about the excesses of Wall Street parasites and they were thoroughly waylaid by attacks on their rather large fringe elements, no different than what happened to the Tea Party except the fringe is much smaller and the movement far more mainstream. The Tea Party has largely been about the excesses of government and shock and surprise the two movements are one and the same, both attacking parasites that are consuming our national treasure with no reticence or reluctance. If only we could get rid of this specious partisan crap.

Any time you want to go down the AGW road I will be glad to spank you hard on that one, be careful what you wish for.

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