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Turnaround: A reader’s guide (continued)

Romney likes cuddly animals better than he likes Royal Crown Cola. "Over the years, I began to associate Coke with all sorts of things I like: smiling young people, sports, music, the Olympics, and recently, polar bears. Those associations make me ‘feel good’ about Coke, a lot better than I do about RC Cola (are you still out there, RC?)." (128)

Romney’s a reformer, but can still respect the corrupt. Discussing Juan Antonio Samaranch, the former head of the International Olympic Committee, Romney writes: "He, more than anyone, seemed to typify the cronyism, ostentation, and abuse that plagued the public image of the Olympic movement. Much of the criticism was likely well-founded. Whatever the Olympics had become, Samaranch had to claim responsibility. And yet, in my personal dealings with the man, I found him reasonable and decisive." (144)

It wasn’t Romney’s fault North Station looked crappy during the DNC. "Our local Boston transit authority, which is independent and does not report to me, recently decided that it would not remove an unsightly overpass prior to the Democratic National Convention that is coming to town; the [Boston Globe] attributed the decision to me. In fact, the first time I even heard of the matter is when I picked up the paper and read about what I had supposed [sic] decided." (176)

Sometimes taxpayers need to pipe down and cough it up. "[Critics] blanch at the thought that the taxpayers should pay for the Games. But just who should pay then? The tooth fairy?" (222)

Alaska senator Ted Stevens, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, uses whimsical neckties to signal his moods. "If he is wearing the Incredible Hulk, get ready to battle. If he is wearing his Tasmanian Devil tie, just pack it up." (229)

Deep inside Romney lurks a Puritan waiting to break free. Romney describes receiving a security badge with a large, red "A" when preparing to enter the White House’s West Wing, then occupied by Bill Clinton. The badge inspired him to deliver some public commentary for Cindy Gillespie, his chief of federal relations and a committed Democrat, and the nearby Secret Service agents: " ‘I’m not the one that cheated on my wife. He should be wearing the scarlet A — not me.’ I grumbled all the way up the drive and into the West Wing visitors lobby." (231-232)

Romney has the answer to one of life’s great questions, but he’s not telling. "I think I know which comes first between the chicken and the egg," he writes, but then doesn’t specify which it is. (244)

The anti-Mormon hate mail Romney received while leading the games gave him new empathy for victims of anti-Semitism. "By far the most correspondence I received involved the Mormon church and my membership in it.... I understood a little better what my Jewish friends encounter, albeit more violent and dangerous in their case." (259)

Romney digs diversity. "Because the African American community is so small in Utah — about one percent of the population — many assume there is little ethnic diversity. But Utah has large Latino and Native American populations.... Within six months we had more than doubled the number of ethnic minorities employed at SLOC. It was a record in which we took pride." (259-261)

And that anti-gay-marriage stuff? Way overblown. "On one occasion, our SLOC board of directors was meeting in a building that I had learned was next door to the headquarters for the Salt Lake City chapter of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance. After the meeting, I walked into the GLA office and asked if they would consider helping recruit volunteers for the games. They jumped at the opportunity." (261)

The Mormon Church would never pressure a Mormon president. Discussing the back-and-forth over whether alcohol should be served at the Medals Plaza, constructed on a plot of land owned by the Mormon Church, Romney writes: "[T]he Church never got into the alcohol debate. I imagine that they cared but that they hoped we would just do the right thing by them." (279)

Romney’s a Mormon, but he’s a swinging Mormon. Romney offers this recollection of telling Robert D. Hales, a Mormon elder and member of the Church’s Quorum of the 12 Apostles, that Barenaked Ladies would be playing at Medals Plaza: "I plucked up my courage and called Elder Hales. There was a long pause on the line when I told him. I insisted that they were a great group, that they would comport themselves well and would do nothing to bring embarrassment to the Church or to the Games. ‘Then why do they call themselves that?’ came the reply. I explained that early in their history they had been asked about their favorite things and bare naked ladies had been one of their answers." (283)

Even Romney succumbs to schadenfreude. He confesses to conflicting emotions when the flame-lighting mechanism at the Sydney Olympics threatened to malfunction: "I admit to having terribly inappropriate, mixed emotions.... Remember the words of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady: ‘How simply frightful! How humiliating! How delightful!’" (318)

Romney covets George W. Bush’s wheels and thinks the prez is dreamy. "President Bush once invited me to join him in his limo. Cool. It’s quite narrow inside; the thick protection panels, of course, make it smaller. People waved heartily when they saw him drive by. Here was the leader who had declared the War on Terror, who had invaded Afghanistan to root out the Taliban. This was more than your average president." (354)

Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts the same way he took over the Salt Lake Games — reluctantly and altruistically. "If I didn’t ... the GOP would lose the office and probably disappear altogether as a viable political party in Massachusetts.... Democracy needs two parties.... If not me, who? ... Very simply, I was running to help people." (380-381)

Adam Reilly can be reached at areilly[a]phx.com

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Issue Date: August 6 - 12, 2004
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