[Google: Bishop Jean Vilnet -- you will find an exemplary life.]
Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts on July 18, 1969. The road between Bazas and Bernos-Beaulac, France on June 16, 1968.
Same difference. Two tragic deaths with major American presidential candidates driving.
Bad driving, a car wreck, a woman killed, obscured and missing police reports, statements describing the aftermath to the incident that are implausible -- that is what we have for both drivers, Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney.
Kennedy was driving his mother's Lincoln (not his own Oldsmobile, if memory of the recovery images serves.) Romney was driving his boss's Citroen. This owner, H. Duane Anderson, was also the husband of the deceased.
Kennedy was not familiar with the island's roads or with the car. Romney was a new driver out for the first time driving that car and had never driven the Citroen DS.
Kennedy blamed no one but himself.
The car at Chappaquiddick was going slowly, maybe 15 or 20 miles an hour at the most, so Kennedy was not injured as the car slid off into the water. Kennedy has said that he tried to save Kopechne by diving back in to the water and swimming down to find her -- ultimately unsuccessful as the car was upside down and Kopechne had somehow moved or been moved by the accident to the back seat. Descriptions of the aftermath to the accident were where plausible truth and media-aimed stories diverged at a rapid pace.
Romney was severely injured in what was a head-on collision. French police at the scene thought that he was dying or had already died as the ambulance left for hospital. Mitt Romney was in a coma that lasted for days.
No one was charged in the Romney accident. The other driver was a Catholic priest, identified repeatedly in the statements of Romney and his friends as "Albert Marie, 46" was driving a Mercedes-Benz carrying his mother, identified as "Marie-Antoinette Marie," and a friend identified as "Marguerite Longué, 48."
We are unable to confirm any such priest with the name including "Albert Marie" with Marie as the surname and anything like the right birth date. However, there is a close match to a priest born in 1922. That is, Bishop Jean-Félix-Albert-Marie Vilnet. Then there comes out a news photo of Mgr. Vilnet from 1969 from an investiture that certainly resembles one of the 1968 photographs from the Bazas hospital. (Boston Globe has that photo mislabeled. On the evidence and by comparison this is Bishop Vilnet.)
Bishop Vilnet had participated in the Second Vatican
Council. From 1981 to 1987 he was president of the Council of Bishops of France. He had been a professor of theology and headed the university where the first Catholic fertility assistance was performed, getting involved to write standards allowing this procedure that were adopted generally.
He was used for international diplomacy by the Vatican, including rather tricky work that took him to Cuba for working out problems with Fidel Castro. He was an active bishop from 1964 to 1998. Today he is 90 and lives at Saint-Dié-des-Vosges.
This is hardly a man to get drunk, go off speeding, and kill a woman.
Today Romney says that he "believes there was a criminal proceeding against Marie (sic)." But that most certainly did not happen. No criminal investigation was registered and Romney's passport had been annotated to say that he was dead.
"We were all talking about how dangerous how the highways were and the French highways," Mr. Romney said, reported the Boston Globe in 2007. "Literally as we were having that conversation, boom, we were hit. It happened so quickly (that) there was no braking and no honking."
Romney's version is quoted in a NY Times piece from 2007:
"We were driving, as I recall, through a curvy section of road where the speed limit is very low - I can't remember what it is, but a very low speed limit - and suddenly there was a car in my lane that appeared so quickly around the corner or over the hill, I just don't recall the topography terribly well at this stage, but it happened so quickly that, as I recall, there was no braking and no honking - it was like immediate," Romney said. "My understanding was he ... had been passing a truck and the truck driver said he estimated his speed at about 120 kilometers, which is about 70 miles per hour. And so we had an immediate head-to-head kind of collision."
-- The "truck driver" is nonexistent. Romney ascribes his big lies to others.
-- Check the photo of the two cars after the accident. Here's a photo of what happens to a Citroen DS after a real highway speed head-on collision:
That road would not support driving at 120 kph under any circumstance. No such reports from any witnesses nor any truck driver were reported in local accounts. The accident did not occur on a "mountain road" either.
The various stories put out by Romney's supporters assert that Mgr. Marie was speeding and also that he was drunk. Both at the same time with his mother sitting beside him in the parish Mercedes.
As you might have guessed, no substantiation exists for either claim. This is a middle-aged bishop with no record of bad driving and surely not a drunk.
No report by French media of the time -- including the virulently anti-clerical Left Wing press -- contains any complaint against the behavior of the priest.
No charges were filed. If the priest had been drunk and killed Leona Anderson, status as a priest would not have protected him. That is part of what the French Revolution was about.
No investigation was registered. No arrest was made. Routine statements were taken by local police and from there a special privately leased railroad train returned the survivors from the Anderson car to Paris four days later. Insurance paid for the Mercedes.
Considering the general confusion of such an accident, there is no reason to expect that there would have been a different result -- assuming that no one was speeding and no one was drunk.
Want to lay betting odds on who was at fault?
Take your pick between a 21-year old Mormon missionary on his first trip through France's largely unpainted (in 1968) roads and a mature priest driving his mother and her friend? As well, this Citroen DS was also susceptible to understeering because the rear wheels were set narrower than the front wheels -- 1295 mm vs. 1500 mm. The young Mr. Romney could easily have misjudged a fork in the road, not been comfortable with the DS's "mushroom" shaped brake pedal, and gone across the road's drive line to hit the stopped Mercedes 180.
Le Monde had a piece with quotes from Sud Quest:
“I was frightened of driving a car,” said Mitt Romney to the Boston Globe in 2007. “I had a sense of vulnerability I had not experienced before.” It is not clear why H. Duane Anderson chose to have Romney drive the car in the first place.
The Anderson's Citroen carried Romney, H. Duane and Leola Anderson, André and Paulette Salarnier, and Suzanne Farel.
Seems that a half-dozen events of Mitt Romney's life have resulted in cover-up operations. If it's not being at the wheel for this fatal automobile accident, then it's the state residency requirement in 2002 to run for Massachusetts governor, or it's using Bain to take a $60-million "fee" out of Ampad while arranging $100-million in loans prior to bankruptcy and stiffing the lenders and employees and the employee pension fund (dumped on the public insurance system.)
The Republicans checked out this guy 'bout the same as they checked out Sarah Palin. That is, they didn't do it. Republicans provide the same level of Self-Regulating Organization (SRO) operation that you see with the New York Stock Exchange.
(Let's see how long it takes this post to register and then disappear off google and the other search engines.)
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