Remember the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah? Of course, that was what helped put Mitt Romney on the map nationally and internationally. Financially, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) was deep in the hole. Then the bribery scandal surrounding the bid hit the news in a big way.
The foundering committee turned to Mitt Romney, a guy with a great track record in turning around failing businesses. Romney came in and made everything better than even the most optimistic had hoped. The games went well (except for the ice skating scandal) and made money. Romney, who had previously failed in a 1994 bid for Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat, went home to Massachusetts and became governor.
I have been (slowly) reading Texas Governor Rick Perry’s book On My Honor. (I am not commenting here about Perry’s handling of the FLDS fiasco.) The book is about Perry’s experiences with the Boy Scouts of America. Perry particularly discusses the vendetta by some on the Left to purge the BSA from American public life.
On pages 90 and 120-121, Perry specifically discusses yet another Salt Lake Olympic scandal. The Great Salt Lake Council of the BSA had been in a number of meetings with Olympic officials focusing on how the Boy Scouts could help the Olympic effort through volunteerism and use of BSA facilities, similar to what had been done in Georgia for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Shortly after the Supreme Court decided in 2000 that the BSA was constitutionally permitted to exclude activist homosexuals from leadership positions, SLOC shut down all communication with the BSA. Romney, who is an Eagle Scout and has been a Scout leader, refused to return calls. The entire SLOC staff acted as if the BSA had suddenly ceased to exist.
Finally, a SLOC spokeswoman was asked directly by a reporter whether the Boy Scouts had been shut out of volunteering to help with the Olympics because of gay protests over the court decision. She responded that any Scout was permitted to apply to volunteer, but only as a private individual and not as a Boy Scout. Moreover, boys would have to be 18 or older. This effectively cut off any official BSA involvement.
Romney and other former SLOC officials have since avoided any discussion of the Olympic shutout of the BSA. So it’s not truly known what caused the shutout. But Perry works to build a case that it was retribution for the Supreme Court ruling. He finally cites Romney’s statement during a 1994 debate with Sen. Kennedy, where Romney said, “I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of the sexual orientation.”
Of course, it is well known that Romney changed many of his liberal positions in an attempt to appeal to conservatives during his presidential candidacy. He has left himself wide open to the accusation that he would say anything to get elected. I think that his view is more likely something along the lines of, “It’s nothing personal. It’s just business. That’s the way the game works in business.”
Romney has been mentioned as the ideal running mate for John McCain this fall. Whether that happens or not, you can bet that Romney will be gunning for the GOP nomination next time the position is actually open (2012 or 2016). GOP voters might question whether a businessman would actually be superior to a politician as president.