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A bully pulpit? Who is Mitt Romney?

Updated on August 30, 2012

Boys will be bullies

Pranks, Antics, Bullying. You say tomato, I say throw it at him.

In La Cage Aux Folles, Georges isn’t just whistling “Dixie” (which I have never heard anyone actually do) when he sings in Song on the Sand, “It’s strange what we recall. And odd what we forget.”

In the May 11 (2012) Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mitt-romneys-prep-school-classmates-recall-pranks-but-also-troubling-incidents/2012/05/10/gIQA3WOKFU_story.html) Jason Horowitz quotes five of Mitt Romney’s classmates at the elite Cranbrook School (where according to the article, the other boys teased “Wiiillard” because his father ran only little American Motors and not GM or Ford, the really rich boys’ version of mine is bigger…..) have clear and haunted memories of his being so disturbed by the long bleached hair of John Lauber, a gay classmate at the school on scholarship that he led a gang of his classmates on a raid to the room of the young man everyone described as quiet and reserved (he succumbed to cancer in 2004) and held him down while the fearless cheerleader and athletic team manager chopped off his hair.

Mr. Romney said that he doesn’t recall the incident, but if it occurred and if he hurt anyone by that, he apologizes for it.

Or as Maxwell Smart might have said with equal sincerity and credibility, “Sorry about that.”

Fair and Balanced

Talking with Neil Cavuto on the legendarily fair and balanced Fox News, Mr. Romney asserted his obvious innocence by adding that he “had no idea what that individual’s sexual orientation might be.” (Mr. Lauber was not open about his sexual orientation at the time.) He reminded us that homosexuality wasn’t discussed in the 60s. “So that’s simply not accurate.”

Mr. Romney’s spokeswoman issued a statement that “anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows he doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body."

"Gay?" What means this "gay"?

In the same article, the Post quotes Gary Hummel, described as “a closeted gay student at the time,” recalled Mr. Romney punctuating his attempts to offer an opinion in class with taunts of “Atta girl.” So maybe they didn’t call the rose by that name….

Mr. Romney’s spokeswoman said that the candidate has no recollection of that.

Maybe he’d remember if we Watergated him: (Senator, At this point in time, I have no recollection….)

The [cough, cough] alleged incidents appear to have come to light because the Romney campaign has been dredging up his high school days to show what a scamp he was.

The Post also quotes former classmate Pierce Getsinger recounting a time that he observed Mr. Romney “giggling hysterically” after guiding a famously near-sighted teacher into a closed door. What a kidder!

Thank goodness, he doesn’t have a mean spirited bone in his body! It could have been a second story window.

David Seed, a Cranbrook student who was one of the guilt-ridden (Five of the six claim to recall it with guilt and regret. The sixth apparently developed sudden-onset Alzheimer’s) Romney’s Raiders who assaulted John Lauber, reports recognizing him in an airport bar in the mid-90s. He apologized for not doing more to help, he said, and Mr. Lauber described how frightened he was. “It was horrible,” he said. “It’s something I have thought a lot about since.”

For others, apparently, it was just another day of good-natured antics.

Prank? Bullying? Soulless Mischief?

A hubber recently asked whether the haircutting “prank” qualified as bullying. I don’t think that the term matters (although in my mind there is no question that it was not only bullying in all its mean-spirited completeness, but also aggravated assault and what today might be considered a hate crime).

I find pranks, at their best, contemptible. They are acts calculated to cause embarrassment and humiliation. Some say antics. Whatever we call them, it seems to me that the bahavior indicates a profound character flaw. Just as, at an extreme, the serial killer of today might have killed small animals as a child or teen, so the basic instinct of imposing one's will on another as a teen, of being offended because someone doesn't wear his hair in a style that one approves, sounds warning bells.

The notion that it is “Strange what we recall and odd what we forget” in “Song on the Sand” continues, “I hear la, la, la, la, la, la…..” and so do I, whether in English or Arabic

But the best that the probable Republican candidate can come up with is “Sorry about that.”

And so say we all. I hope.

Now, Romney’s Raiders didn’t have Mr. Lauber to kick around for very long because another student caught him sneaking a cigarette on the school grounds one weekend. The school was known for being strict. Apparently, the standards were somewhat different for scholarship boys and the governor’s son. Who would have thought?

Two footies

First, violating all the rules of journalism, I have drawn all of my information from the The Washington Post, known to my conservative friend as “The Liberal Rag,” and bits and pieces from television and Internet news.

Second, I do not make light of Alzheimer’s. I experienced its devastation “up close and personal” for quite few years. I can think of no more brutal affliction.

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    • Clive Donegal profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Donegal 

      6 years ago from En Route

      I agree. It isn't the specific act so much as what it reveals about his core character.

    • LauraGT profile image

      LauraGT 

      6 years ago from MA

      I'm surprised by how many people want to excuse Romney's behavior. Yes, everyone makes mistakes. But, contrary to some people's opinions, not everyone does something this mean in their childhoods. And, for many people who do, it often haunts them. Romney clearly has no remorse, which speaks volumes about his character.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      Lisa

      I am very surprised at your comment.

      I also disagree with it.

      First, of all these are all hearsay stories, and no one is under oath. But even if it were all true, and you had to go back to when someone was nineteen to get even this story, don't you think that if Romney did really bad things as an adult, those stories would be out there instead?

    • profile image

      Angela Oddone 

      6 years ago

      Congratulations on a great post. It obviously struck a chord that resonated. Enjoyable reading. Makes me imagine what it would be like to read a post written in the voice of the Romney family dog. Thankfully, it seems many people still look for good judgment as a key trait for sound leadership.

    • Clive Donegal profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Donegal 

      6 years ago from En Route

      Well reasoned. Thank you.

    • Clive Donegal profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Donegal 

      6 years ago from En Route

      Thanks for your comment, Lisa. I agree. The scary part to me is the subtle cruelty. Coupled with repeated remarks by his campaign that he hasn't a mean-spirited bone, it feels as if something in Denmark is odiferous.

      The five contemporaries who have reported the incident, one a retired prosector, another a retired principal, (I realize that that is only two, lest my math become an issue, but they are the two I recall.) did not suggest that Mr. Romney thought that it was funny. They said that he had expressed that he was bothered by the young man's hair and decided that he should not be wearing it so.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      ib radmasters ... I think Obama is a wimp and Romney is a narcissistic, battery-operated robot. I cannot imagine voting for either one, even if I could.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      This one is a button-pusher for me; and the length of my comment will confirm that. I certainly understand if you don't want a "longie" comment on your Hub, but I've been shocked to see how many people think this wasn't a big deal (or else is in the past and doesn't matter at this point)...

      I very much get the point of your Hub, and I agree with you. I believe this individual may not have "a mean bone in his body", but it's only x percent of the population who would be willing to do a couple of things he is said to have done (and apparently not had a clue that there was anything "clueless" about it). Most of us, I think, remember doing stupid things when we were kids; but a whole lot of us never didn't anything stupid that involved humiliating someone else, essentially "attacking" them ("funny" or not), and appearing to completely lack respect or caring instinct for someone (or something) else.

      We don't change in nature. If we were five-year-olds who wouldn't "hurt a fly" we usually grow up to be that way too. If we were stupid little/young jerks who thought it was a big joke to do stuff to other people we tend to grow up to be that way too. It doesn't even matter if knew/suspect the individual was gay. If what's being reported is accurate he took it upon himself to think it would be funny to cut off someone else's hair. If he doesn't remember it, it's either because he has so much of that kind of stuff in his background he can't remember one incident; or else he remembers it, won't be a man and own up, and say, "Oh, I did do that, and I now that I'm an adult I feel awful that I ever did such a thing."

      I measure people's character, intelligence, and nature by whether or not they "get" that doing stuff with disregard for others amounts to being a pea brain. Slapping on a big smile and speaking in "nicey-nice" isn't enough. There's all kinds of "stupid-kid stuff" that people should get a pass for, but not being capable of doing that kind of thing to someone and being so stupid and so lacking in respect for the "being" of someone else as to think "it's a big, funny, prank". I'd guess there's the chance he does now see that it wasn't right, but if he could do it at all (even as a young guy); but most people don't need to grow up or hear it from others before they don't have the instinct to bully, mistreat, violate, or humiliate someone else.

      I'm a registered Republican voter, and I really don't want Obama in again; but between seeing some of the smooth talk the other one things others don't pick up on, and some of the stuff that has come out about him; I won't be voting for this particular Republican. The dead people can have my vote. I've given this individual a pass on the thing a lot of others have had issues with, his wealth and the whole "out-of-touch" thing. To me, that's not enough reason not to vote for someone. Getting the "alarm bells" that someone "doesn't have a clue" when it comes to being kind, respectful, and compassionate from the time one was a kid.... That, to me, is reason to think someone is, at best, too clueless to get my vote.

      All "misdeeds" are not the same in nature. (Maybe someone let this one out intentionally in order to make sure the callous and stupid among us see him as "one of them".) Maybe something like avoiding the draft or not addressing the citizenship thing is a bigger "misdeed", but I think there's a big difference between things like that and being someone who thinks it funny to violate and humiliate someone else. Zebras don't change their stripes. They just grow up, put on a fancy suit, slap on a big smile, get a high-priced hair-do and dye job; and call the instincts they've had in the past "in the past". That one incident may be one thing, but the stripes are another.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      Clive

      Your skills in English also elude me.

      It is plain to see that my point is that neither the Romney or the Obama issue that I mentioned are issues for the 2012 US Election Campaign.

      Your attempt at eloquence is short circuited by your logic.

      Dr Bill Kidd

      Are either you or Clive even eligible to vote in the US Election??

    • Clive Donegal profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Donegal 

      6 years ago from En Route

      Not that it matters in terms of degree, but it was a teacher so nearsighted that students called him "Bat" whom Mr. Romney respectfully guided into the closed door.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      It's interesting, Clive, how the mention of this act of brutality begets collective amnesia. No one seems to remember a thing about common decency. And c'mon, walking a blind kid into a door--that should have been the headline.

    • Clive Donegal profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Donegal 

      6 years ago from En Route

      Really? The birth chestnut?

      I do fancy the logic that if person A did something bad than person B has a free pass, though.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      Clive

      The point of your hub eludes me.

      Even if Romney did what the story alleges that he has done, it is not relevant for the election campaign. Bill Clinton was against the Vietnam War, and he even left the country to avoid the draft. There was also many allegations of Governor Bill Clinton cheating on Hillary.

      No one cared then, and I don't care about Romney now.

      Is it any more an issue than the Obama not addressing his citizenship.

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