Yes, Romney’s bullying 40 years ago is relevant

From the Washington Post came this week a rather disturbing recounting of an incident from Mitt Romney’s youth:

Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenage son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

Some have claimed this should be written off as a youthful prank, or because it happened nearly 50 years ago.  But they’re wrong.   This is legitimate news, and America needs to know about this and judge it as they choose a president in November.  Why?  A few reasons:

  • This goes way beyond just a simple prank.  A prank is dipping someone’s hand in warm water while they’re asleep, or putting Nair on their eyebrows, or saran wrapping a toilet bowl.  And it goes beyond simple bullying, such as picking on someone, shoving them, or just… well, being a dick.  This plan was hatched over several days, and involved something which is clearly assault.  Look, I’m not saying the guy should be arrested for it years later, but at the time?  Yes.
  • Did I mention the plan was hatched over several days?  That’s crazy.  It wasn’t just spur of the moment stupidity, it was cold-blooded.  It was planned.  There’s something just a little psychotic about that.
  • We’re picking the guy whose finger will be on the button.  Who will be able to launch 10,000 nuclear weapons at will.  Sanity matters.  Is he crazy?  I doubt it.  But I doubt it just a little bit less after reading this story.
  • This might be part of pattern.  Is he sane?  Well, he seems so, but he’s also the guy who strapped a dog to his car roof.  That’s far from normal.   Is he a homophobe?  Well, he attacked someone presumed to be gay decades ago — and he didn’t have the guts to stand up for an openly gay senior staffer on his campaign, Ric Grennell, when he was attacked by right-wing knuckleheads.  I don’t think he’s a raging homophobe by any stretch, so maybe this is less relevant.  I think he’s just gutless.
  • He was 18.  He wasn’t 12.  Yeah, it happened a while ago, but he wasn’t a little kid, he was a man.
  • His selective amnesia.   The incident was corroborated by 5 different students, independently.  And yet Romney says he didn’t recall the incident.  Who the hell forgets something like this?  He’s either lying outright, or this wasn’t apparently odd enough to be out of the norm for him.  Either is frightening.
  • His lame apology.  When confronted with this, Romney’s gave the non-apology apology: “as to pranks that were played back then, I don’t remember them all, but again, high school days, I did stupid things. … And if anyone was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that.”   Yeah, I wonder if anyone was offended by being tackled the ground, assaulted, and made to cry and scream for help.  Lame.

Those facts make the story relevant.

Now, you could also question the fact that Romney got away with this, while the poor kid he assaulted later got thrown out for smoking a cigarette.  And maybe, just maybe, this had something to do with his dad being governor at the time.  Who knows.  But honestly, I think this is the least relevant part of all.  And there’s more than enough stuff that IS relevant to make this newsworthy, relevant, and disturbing.

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About John Hlinko

John Hlinko is a frequent political pundit on TV, and the founder of Left Action, a network of over 1 million activists. He is also the author of, "Share, Retweet, Repeat: Get Your Message Read and Spread," ranked by Amazon.com as the # 1 "hot new release" in web marketing in early 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook
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4 Responses to Yes, Romney’s bullying 40 years ago is relevant

  1. Debra says:

    The last paragraph sums it up nicely!

  2. Evan Stevens says:

    Assaulting classmates at 18, assaulting businesses thereafter. Relevant, and indicative of a lifelong pattern of benevolent, anti-social behavior.

  3. Paulhaider74 says:

    This incident in Romney’s adolescence is further proof that Mittwit is a Mormon and not a Christian. Jesus Christ had long hair like a hippie and spent an inordinate amount of time with twelve other men. Jesus Christ did not have a wife or a steady girlfriend and washed the feet of those twelve men who traveled with him everywhere. It was Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, who had multiple wives and was likely to have the short hair that is approved of by Mitt Romney and his fellow cult members. Although Jesus Christ would have never condoned a hate crime that is anti-gay and homophobic, it is likely that Joseph Smith wouldn’t have cared.
    Paul Haider, Chicago

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