352 pp. St. Martin’s Griffin. $15.99
“No Apology” is Romney’s first attempt at collecting his thoughts, opinions, and views of the world in a coherent text for the public. Considering his past policies, which include legislation favorable for gay rights and pro-choice, many have wondered where the Republican candidate stands when it comes to both social and economic policies. Well, apparently Romney came back with a response: an over 300 page long answer to all those questions and doubts.
What makes “No Apology” stand out from his speeches or political pamphlets is not merely its book form. “No Apology” gives us for the first time, a background, however biased that might be, of how Romney came to believe the things he believes. “No Apology” is not a mere collection of political essays, it is first and foremost an account of the journey that led to the creation of the man and politician we know today.
What really stands out on this book is his belief in the American dream and the power of America as the ‘modern’ global empire. It is only normal for Romney to do so. Most Americans are proud of their nation and the values it represents in the world. Mitt Romney, as the man that plans to be the image of the nation, obviously cannot go against it. Nevertheless, Romney goes beyond any imaginable line of patriotism, declaring and arguing in favour of every decision taken by the American presidents in the past years, especially the military policies.
In “No Apology”, Romney advocates a rebirth of the US as a military power. He tries to reason such an increase in military spending by recalling the reader of the great threats posed by current terrorist groups and authoritarian regimes. Mitt Romney wants to see the US return to the military glory it used to have while he was just a child. Romney grew up in an era where the US had just solidified its position as a global power just out of World War II. He went to college and graduate school during the moment when the US had indeed lost Vietnam, but was also assisting in the dismantling of communist regimes all over Eastern Europe. Such an image is difficult to shake off.
Mitt Romney grew up in a privileged household. With a father who was once a successful businessman and afterward, a remarkable politician, Mitt Romney’s life looks easy. But the childhood recollections he shares are not those of a child pampered into adulthood. Romney describes the many times his father would force him and his siblings into the most menial of jobs, starting from weeding and shovelling snow. His father taught him that “the pursuit of the difficult makes men strong”, a lesson Mitt took to heart, making of him the hard-working man at the top of his class at both Harvard Law and Harvard Business Schools.
Surprisingly, Romney’s Mormon background, which has caused him so much trouble in the past, is only mentioned two or three times in the whole book. However, despite this lack, it is clear that his father’s lessons translated into every projected that he undertook, whether it was the re-organization of the Olympics in Salt Lake City, or mentoring lost souls as a pastor.
On another note, his religious traditions can easily be seen in his perspectives on the social policies he proposes. In the last chapters of “No Apology”, he complains about the high number of children born out of wedlock, an issue most Republicans tend not to mention, perhaps because none are without faults when it comes to disrespecting the sanctity of marriage. But for Mitt Romney, happily married for more than thirty years and used to the Mormon view that a man and a woman should lie together not only after being legally married, but only with the purpose of bearing children to the world, such an issue is given its due importance.
Yet the same traditions that make him strive for a conservative outlook of family life have also created the more familiar man that most people tend to ignore because of his wealth. In the introduction of his book, Romney mentions being in a line inside a Wal-Mart while waiting for his turn to pay. That such a prominent figure of American politics could shop in the symbol of the American middle class demonstrates, less the need for Romney to appeal to the average American, than it does the trust he has for the corporations built by man like himself and his former classmates and colleagues even, who decided to trust the ideal of the opportunities to be found in America.
Despite his faults, Mitt Romney is not the one-dimensional, frigid politician most people make him to be. There is certainly potential in his economic ideas that should not be dismissed easily because of his background. Of course he is not eloquent or charming, if the presidential race were instead a public speaking competition he would probably end up last, and his ideas sometimes are too straightforward for people to accept. Yet he should not be dismissed: as much as his book frustrates you at times, it also sheds light on the man behind the face.