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You went to Cranbrook/ That's a private school
May 10, 2012 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents.
posted by box (244 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of course he went to Cranbrook.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:40 AM on May 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


And of course he didn't get punished for bullying a likely gay classmate.

GRAR.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:42 AM on May 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


SWIFTSCHOOLERS FOR TRUTH.
posted by resurrexit at 7:42 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why didn't they interview the guy that got his hair chopped? Also, I can't believe Romney "couldn't recall the incident" when it sounds pretty intense.
posted by mathowie at 7:42 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because he died in 2004, Matt.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:44 AM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


(per page 2 of the article)
posted by joe lisboa at 7:44 AM on May 10, 2012


This is stupid, Obama did coke when he was young, that doesn't mean he does blow now. We all do dumb shit when we're young, people grow up.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:44 AM on May 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


"Lauber died in 2004, according to his three sisters."
posted by meows at 7:44 AM on May 10, 2012


From the article:

His campaign spokeswoman said the former Massachusetts governor has no recollection of the incident.

....Most bullies rarely remember bullying incidents, I've found.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:46 AM on May 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


Didn't you know? You need to be a prep school bully to get anywhere in the Republican Party these days.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:47 AM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Of course we all do stupid shit when we're young. I'd argue that the moral failing of doing drugs is slightly different than that of terrorizing another human being.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 7:48 AM on May 10, 2012 [61 favorites]


Best response from Twitter:‏ @daveweigel DEVELOPING: House Slytherin officially denies rumors that Romney was sorted into it.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:48 AM on May 10, 2012 [78 favorites]


I did some stupid, even borderline awful, shit when I was a kid and I would hate to be judged on it now. Everybody did. But somehow I think this is still illustrative of the way this guy IS. Of who he is. It fits right in with the whole. The dog on top of the car thing is just the same way. This is a guy who says, essentially, "I'll say what I need to, or stomp on who or whatever I need to, with a smile on my face, if my schedule won't accommodate your needs or the crowd is cheering and you are on the outside." The robo-Romney things is part of it, too. No empathy.

Fuck that guy.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:51 AM on May 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


This sounds an awful lot like gay bashing.
posted by alby at 7:53 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read this with mixed feelings. I was kind of a shit to people as a teenager, though I was too timid to lead or to be really cruel (think along these lines) -- and I'm terribly ashamed of it; I think I failed a test of character. And I think I've changed. So I'm not entirely without sympathy for the kinds of reactions this is likely to elicit.

That said, he is a coward for sending a spokeswoman out with vague denials. Own up, dude.
posted by eugenen at 7:53 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


TLDR version: Romney was in Slytherin.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:55 AM on May 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


As I said in the other thread, it should more damning in that it shows how stupendously privileged his upbringing was, and how astronomically far away from the average American he's been for his entire life in pretty much every sense. Certainly economically and socially.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:55 AM on May 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


Once a brute, always a brute.
posted by ericb at 7:56 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know what would make this all go away? A non-apology apology.

And right on cue: "Back in high school I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by that I apologize."
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:56 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was raised mormon in an upper class area. He sounds like half of the dipshit privileged upper middles class mormon white boys I grew up with. Some of the ones I knew thought it was hilarious to bring a firehose and spray it inside a gay bar. They later became bishops. They were a special bunch.
posted by long haired child at 7:57 AM on May 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


A teenaged Mormon at a prep school in 1965 wanted to hammer down the nail that was sticking up? I find this hard to believe.

It's repugnant, but come on. If we excluded every probable boarding school tyrant from becoming president, we wouldn't have had JFK, and I'm going to bet that FDR treated some people very poorly at Groton.

Of course, we definitely wouldn't have had either Bush. So there's that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:57 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


If we're going to judge people by how they acted in prep school, well, I'll just turn myself into the authorities now. I am in no way defending Romney now, but all-male prep school was the closest I ever got to being a gazelle in a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom episode. And then later the closest I ever got to being a lion.
posted by yerfatma at 7:58 AM on May 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


Best response from Twitter:‏ @daveweigel DEVELOPING: House Slytherin officially denies rumors that Romney was sorted into it.

Cmon, Romney was clearly a HufflePuff, no one knows what they're really about or where they stand on anything.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:58 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I mean I don't think we should ban people who went to boarding school from holding elected office just because it reflects a "privileged" upbringing or whatever. Some days I want to ban that word from Metafilter.
posted by eugenen at 7:59 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been an ass in the past when I was young, and I'll probably be one again now I am middle aged, but at least I am owning up and trying not to be. Not jumping up to deny gays the opportunity to marry and pleading amnesia at past transgressions. (though there are some episodes that might be blacked out).
posted by bystander at 7:59 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's repugnant, but come on. If we excluded every probable boarding school tyrant from becoming president, we wouldn't have had JFK, and I'm going to bet that FDR treated some people very poorly at Groton.

Which is why it'd be nice if stories such as these sparked more conversation and action on addressing bullying and violence in schools.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:59 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


joe lisboa: "Of course he went to Cranbrook."
What's this about? I'm not too familiar with the region.
posted by boo_radley at 7:59 AM on May 10, 2012


So you guys did some bad things? Did you hold someone down and cut his hair?
posted by Brocktoon at 8:00 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It would have been nice if rather than "I have no memory," he'd said, "Didn't happen."

The politician speak here is practically an admission. I'm haunted by the cruel things I did as a child (and the cruel things that were done to me). They are burned into my brain. There's no way one would need the wiggle room of "I don't remember," unless one feared further proof would be forthcoming.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:02 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some of the ones I knew thought it was hilarious to bring a firehose and spray it inside a gay bar

When I say I've been an ass, I haven't been a complete arsehole. There is youthful stupid, versus being a dick.
posted by bystander at 8:02 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I suspect that Romney has evolved over time. I won't judge him for his callow youth if he won't judge the rest of us.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:03 AM on May 10, 2012


Did you hold someone down and cut his hair?

No, but sometimes I sit behind a kid with a rat's tail on the bus and my fingers get twitchy for scissors.
posted by bystander at 8:03 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Romney, don't you go and cut his hair, do you think it's gonna make him change? He's just a boy with a new hair cut (and it's a pretty nice hair cut).
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:04 AM on May 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


Why didn't they interview the guy that got his hair chopped?

I think thaty would be rather difficult:

Lauber died in 2004, according to his three sisters.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:06 AM on May 10, 2012


Oh man, yes, of course he went to Cranbrook!

I went to a public high school in the area. Having an extracurricular hosted at that school was the worst. Those kids were mean. Really, really mean...I had a intermural basketball game there in 7th grade and afterwards our coach talked to us, explained that we shouldn't take any of what had happened personally, and that we would never be going back. The whole school was Slytherin.

This article seems overblown in that context - what Romney did there seems to fit the culture perfectly. (I will grant that maybe things have changed since he was in grade school and I was, my recollection of the place is from the late 90's-2000s.) But it is less telling that he was a nasty person at Cranbrook, and more telling that he was successful there. Telling in the sense that; I no longer have any doubt that the "Robot of Privilege" persona is anything but his real self. It looks like the media is actually trying to do him favors.

I had a speech competition there once as well, near the end of high school. Their team sneered a lot. Our team beat them. They still sneered. We met up again with them at the Regional tournament. One of their teammates cornered me in a stairwell and started bragging about how he'd just been accepted to Georgetown. "Where are you going? The University of Michigan?" I told him politely that I had been accepted there but I was actually going to (other Midwest university.) He had such a sad face. I think it shook his world that the public school kids got to go to fancy schools too. (Not that UMich isn't a great deal with in-state tuition.) It's got to be a tough life when you live and die by your signifiers of privilege.
posted by newg at 8:06 AM on May 10, 2012 [38 favorites]


His campaign spokeswoman said the former Massachusetts governor has no recollection of the incident.

Putting aside the issue at hand, this is an absolutely terrible way to deal with an allegation like this. The spokeswoman should have denied it, refused to comment, claimed that it was irrelevant to the campaign, or simply admit to the thing and use it as a teaching moment. Even GW Bush openly acknowledged his struggles with alcoholism, which probably would have buried him if he hadn't been honest and upfront about the matter.

And, for whatever it's worth, I'm not sure that the general demeanor of a the president has that much of an effect on his job duties. Bush always seemed like a pretty nice guy, and Al Gore was kind of a dick. I don't think there's any doubt at this point that we would have been better served by electing Gore.

Instead, she admitted that Romney was aware of the matter, had discussed it with her, and came to the conclusion that he didn't think he was a bully in high school.

Heck, even "I don't remember this incident, but today I believe that High School bullying certainly needs to stop" would have been a better response. The anti-bullying stance isn't popular with Republicans right now, but the ones who believe that are already voting Republican regardless of what happens. Might as well try to win over a few moderates by showing a bit of compassion (Heck, I really respect Chris Christie for being the only high-profile Republican to take leadership on the issue, even though he practically built his reputation on being a bully himself).
posted by schmod at 8:07 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Of course he went to Cranbrook."
What's this about? I'm not too familiar with the region.


Mostly Detroit-area prep school snark. Cranbrook is built on a pile of money. Which, in turn, rests on a giant pile of money. Don't get me wrong, some rich kids went to the (Catholic) school I attended, but Cranbrook was/is Old Money like whoa.

Their science center is quite lovely, however.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:07 AM on May 10, 2012


"Mitt? Fine chap, always in for a bit of tank'n'park on the younger faggots - and I use that term technically mind you Mr. PC Police- and he always had a thouser on hand to help out a struggling ourtype, althought there was this one time. We had been out on the lakey doing some wetters when the wwind kicked up and poor Mitt fell in and was taken by the rapids. I screamed for help but no one came - I guess you really can't get good help anymore - Anywossle we all thought he was dead until he just showed up a week later claiming had happened. It was all strawberry jumble except he seemed a bit off, like he wouldn't stop smiling and breaking eye contact. He kept repeating things to himself "I AM MIT ROMNEY." or 'I AM KNOWN AND FRIENDLY TO YOU." and he got remarkably cagey when anyone would mention that, that what do the lazy call them "oopeecey" on his neck. Who knows what really happened."
posted by The Whelk at 8:08 AM on May 10, 2012 [32 favorites]


Never knew Mitt had an interest in hairdressing.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:13 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Child is father of the man."
-- Wordsworth
posted by timsteil at 8:13 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I did some stupid, even borderline awful, shit when I was a kid and I would hate to be judged on it now. Everybody did.

Yes, everyone has done stupid things. But some of us haven't done stupid things that we could have simply chosen not to do - where we knew that by design that the only possible outcome going in was to hurt another human being.
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 8:18 AM on May 10, 2012


What's this about? I'm not too familiar with the region.

Also referencing Eminem's freestyle battle in the movie "8 Mile" -- see about 1:05 into this clip
posted by buddha9090 at 8:18 AM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is stupid, Obama did coke when he was young, that doesn't mean he does blow now. We all do dumb shit when we're young, people grow up.

Because doing a drug is like organizing an assault on someone? Sure, we all do stupid things as kids, but many, perhaps most of us, manage to grow up with out instigating vicious attacks....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:18 AM on May 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Not that I'm not disagreeing with you, even though it looks that way. :(
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 8:19 AM on May 10, 2012


come on, guys, he was just practicing for the day that he could hold the american government down and cut whatever he needed to
posted by pyramid termite at 8:20 AM on May 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm haunted by the cruel things I did as a child (and the cruel things that were done to me).

Where your nightmares end ... Willard begins.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:22 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


mathowie: "Also, I can't believe Romney "couldn't recall the incident" when it sounds pretty intense."

joe lisboa: "Because he died in 2004, Matt."

That wasn't the explanation I was expecting. But it makes sense.
posted by Plutor at 8:22 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Child is father of the man."
-- Wordsworth

Mitt's dad was a better person than he in a lot of ways. He supported and marched with civil rights advocates in direct defiance of the LDS' racism, he was at least tolerant of unions, he believed in efficient government without killing it off, pushed for open housing for the poor and minorities, and ended up opposing the Vietnam War. This was while he held office as Governor, then ran for President, then served as HUD Secretary, all as a Republican in the 1960s. Mitt Romney hardly deserves to share the same last name.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:24 AM on May 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


A bipartisan call for Congressional action on gay rights:
A bipartisan group of Senators is going public today with a call for Senate hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would expand the ban against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for all but the smallest private-sector employers, I’m told.

The White House came out in support of ENDA as a broader solution after it angered advocates by deciding against an executive order barring same sex discrimination by federal contractors. ENDA is a longtime priority for gay rights advocates, and there’s little chance it would pass this Congress, but the bipartisan group of Senators is hoping to draw attention to the issue in the wake of Obama’s announcement.

Today Dem Senators Jeff Merkley and Bob Casey and GOP Senators Mark Kirk and Susan Collins (who are both Republicans) will release a letter calling on the Senate health and labor committee to hold hearings on ENDA.
Now let's see if it goes anywhere...
posted by zombieflanders at 8:27 AM on May 10, 2012


That's not what "Child is father of the man" means, zombieflanders.
posted by howfar at 8:27 AM on May 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


I went to Cranbrook. I won't be voting for Romney. Neither will many of my classmates.
posted by bbuda at 8:27 AM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


And besides, the wench is dead.
posted by wilko at 8:27 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


He sure fired that kid's hairdo. How fitting.
posted by futz at 8:28 AM on May 10, 2012


I went to Cranbrook, graduated in the mid 2000s. Yes, it's spilling over with old money, and snobbery on some crazy levels. I was a boarding student on scholarship, there was definitely a massive chasm between the day and boarding students. I drove my Chrysler to a birthday party at one of the surrounding mansions, and one of the richer kids walked in and demanded to know "Who drives a Chrysler!?" The preferred day-student insult at the time was 'dirty boarder', stereotyping the fact that we never showered. (Not universally true, although there were some boys rooms that you could smell from outside the door).

And reading the article, I've noticed some things have, some haven't changed. Homophobia certainly was rarely an issue when I was there. We had openly gay faculty and students. If someone expressed those types of remarks it was definitely frowned upon, much more than the east-side blue collar community I came from. At the same time, the habit of the administration disappearing students seemingly overnight still happened a few times, although it would never happen for something like smoking one cigarette on campus.

All in all, I had a great experience there, living in the dorms. It was crazy diverse, I met kids and made lifelong friends from all over Detroit, Europe, Korea, the Middle East. It's embarassing and a damn shame that Mitt Romney might become our most famous alumnus.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 8:28 AM on May 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


newg: "One of their teammates cornered me in a stairwell and started bragging about how he'd just been accepted to Georgetown."

Seriously, why do all of the worst private schools feed into Georgetown? I actually have a fair bit of respect for GU's academics, but I remember that all the nasty/mean/dazzlingly-wealthy private schools in NJ would send 20-30 [of their worst] students a year to Georgetown, while it was virtually impossible to attend the place if you went to a public High School.

Addendum to this: I actually applied to (and was rejected from) Georgetown, because they had a pretty cool STEM Policy program. It was an absolutely bewildering experience. The fact that the application required you to supply a recent photograph of yourself was the first sign of sketchiness; what legitimate purpose could that possibly serve?

The interview, though, was something else entirely. After showing up to the interview (which the interviewer's secretary rescheduled three times; I never spoke to her prior to the interview), I was escorted into her house by one of her "servants" (who actually introduced herself to me using that title).

After watching the GU Alumna who would be interviewing me shout at her kids and servants for 10 minutes, the interview began by asking me point-blank why I attended a public school, when there were so many excellent private academies in the area (and went on a tirade about how all of her kids attended "the best" private schools because she just loved her kids so much). I responded that the private schools were all far too expensive for my family, and that my HS was actually one of the top-ranked schools in the country. She responded with "You should have tried harder," and expressed doubt that I would be able to pay for an education at Georgetown, much less be a valuable part of the community of GU alumni after graduation. Apparently she came from a long line of GU alumni, and her family had a building named after them.

The interview had gone off of the rails.

She then shifted to my resume and transcript, [correctly] noting that my background was primarily in science, and expressing doubts about why I would want to go to Georgetown with such a background. I explained about the STEM policy program, and she responded with a noncommital "I See...," suggested that I apply to a "technical school" instead, and abruptly ended the interview.

The servant escorted me out of the house, and back to my van. At this point, I really didn't want me to go to Georgetown either, but for very different reasons.

posted by schmod at 8:28 AM on May 10, 2012 [66 favorites]


I sincerely hope that Metafilter does not become the repository of every friggin' ugly statement made about the candidates. Conversations like these are really pretty ugly and useless.
posted by HuronBob at 8:29 AM on May 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was bullied for being an effeminate child in elementary school through high school. When I meet one of my former bullies as adults I ask about their life since school. It just doesn't matter to me. We all do stupid things in our youth and I would vote for one of my former bullies based on the same criteria I would any candidate.

I am less concerned about Romney's bullying then than I am abou Romney's bullying today.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:29 AM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


In an alternate universe, Romney is just the bad guy in a slobs-vs-snobs comedy.
posted by brundlefly at 8:34 AM on May 10, 2012


I suspect that Romney has evolved over time. I won't judge him for his callow youth if he won't judge the rest of us.

Isn't the whole point of this story that he hasn't really evolved on gay issues? He may not hold gay people down and cut off their hair anymore, but he certainly is holding them down in other ways, and would actively undermine their civil rights if given the opportunity.

Recently yet another gay teenager committed suicide in Utah. There is a direct lineage from incidents like Mitt's to incidents like this one. Mitt is silent on the issue. How exactly has he "evolved"?
posted by hermitosis at 8:37 AM on May 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I did some stupid, even borderline awful, shit when I was a kid and I would hate to be judged on it now. Everybody did.

I've done some too, but that's why we are not qualified to lead the country. There are people who have been capable of making the right decision, and those are the kinds of people we want to put in charge of the decision making.
posted by BurnChao at 8:39 AM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


In an alternate universe, Romney is just the bad guy in a slobs-vs-snobs comedy.

What do you mean alternate?
posted by The Whelk at 8:39 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I remember walking around the grounds of Cranbrook while on a high school field trip to Detroit (urban geography: the contrast between the inner city and suburbs. 1989ish), and a friend saying to me that it seemed like an image of heaven, with all these Greek follies and sculpture gardens hidden amongst idyllic woods and lawns. I guess the reality of going there might have been different.
posted by Flashman at 8:40 AM on May 10, 2012


Yeah, to be clear: nothing but respect for Cranbrook MeFites.

And kudos to those who organized the Cranbrook Alumni Against Romney page.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:43 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know people do regrettable things in their youth but this really bothered me.
I would imagine having that kind of shit done to you can just break something inside you forever.

And I know which of the two I'd have wanted to hang out with in high school. Lauber sounded way more fun. Seems like he developed into a pretty cool adult, too, with some seriously diverse interests. Unlike the sporto bully JC Penney Mannequin god robot.
posted by chococat at 8:48 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


..and here's the school busy CYA:

no one at Cranbrook Schools today was affiliated with the school when Romney was a student (1959-1965). As such, there is no one at Cranbrook who can offer any personal observations, anecdotes, or stories about any aspect of his time here or what he was like as a student.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 8:51 AM on May 10, 2012


Do people really give a shit about what others did in high school? I sure don't.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:52 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yea, looking at the past as a potential indicator of things to come or how things have changed or even just as an interesting perspective of a different time is way overrated...
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:54 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


More and more he becomes a bad character out of a Salinger novel.
posted by Sreiny at 8:54 AM on May 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I worry that what we think about what we did in high school, especially the way we tend to minimize the bad acts of youth, may perpetuate an environment where students today face abusive behavior that no human being should have to face.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:55 AM on May 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


More and more he becomes a bad character out of a Salinger novel.

Are there any good ones? sorry
posted by joe lisboa at 8:57 AM on May 10, 2012


Ideefixe: Do people really give a shit about what others did in high school? I sure don't.

Those who were victims of bullying tend to "really give a shit", yes.
posted by gilrain at 8:58 AM on May 10, 2012 [27 favorites]


Do people really give a shit about what others did in high school?

Would you vote for Kip Kinkel? The question here isn't "should anyone give a shit about what candidates did in high school," the question is "is what a candidate did in high school worth giving a shit about?"
posted by octobersurprise at 9:01 AM on May 10, 2012


I'm more shocked that they give those kids three weeks for spring break than I am that Romney was a douchebag in high school.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:01 AM on May 10, 2012


html, mofo, do you write it?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:03 AM on May 10, 2012


I sincerely hope that Metafilter does not become the repository of every friggin' ugly statement made about the candidates. Conversations like these are really pretty ugly and useless.

This thread needs a graph showing the growth in Cranbrook's endowment/tuition since Mitt's freshman year vs. the level of funding in Detroit public schools. Or maybe the expected lifetime earnings of a Cranbrook graduate vs. the average income in Michigan since 1959. I need to be whacked in the face with graphics showing just how privledged Romney's life has been.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:03 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, this isn't about the kind of bullying that most people experienced both sides of -- namecalling, antagonizing, fist-fights, etc.

This is about a gang of guys holding someone down and cutting off his hair because he was perceived as gay. I'd guess that far fewer people did anything in high school that's even remotely of this caliber.
posted by hermitosis at 9:05 AM on May 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: I need to be whacked in the face with graphics
posted by schmod at 9:06 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everyone does stupid shit when they're a teenager. The question is, as an adult, are you horrified by the stupid shit you did, or do you shrug it off as no big deal? Or are you proud of it?

I was contacted on FB by one of my high school bullies a while back, who wrote me to apologize for the way he treated me and to say that he understood if I didn't feel like forgiving him, but that the memory of his behavior was eating him up inside and he wanted to let me know that he felt like shit about it. It was actually really kind, and did a lot to ease the hurt. What's stopping Romney from doing the same?
posted by KathrynT at 9:07 AM on May 10, 2012 [17 favorites]


To me, the only thing about this that is relevant to current-day Mitt Romney is his current response to the story. I don't need to demonize him, I'm already sure I don't want him to be President. If I did need to demonize him, there are plenty of more current and relevant things to hate about his politics.

I do feel like his response to this is quite telling, in a bad way. I also think that there is value in reporting this story.

If I had to guess, I would totally guess that Romney is a complete asshole, but that really isn't important in the grand scheme of things.
posted by snofoam at 9:11 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's stopping Romney from doing the same?

“Back in high school I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by that I apologize.”

posted by T.D. Strange at 9:14 AM on May 10, 2012


Mitt Liv som Hatbrottsling
posted by BEE-EATING CAT-EATER at 9:15 AM on May 10, 2012


Cmon, Romney was clearly a HufflePuff, no one knows what they're really about or where they stand on anything.

Not likely. We're all about loyalty, patience, hard work, and justice. We'd shake our heads at mean old Mitt and then take that bullied student to go work our frustrations out in the garden.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:17 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's as non-apology as you can get and still try to call it one. He knows people were hurt and are offended, the "if" means he's completely unserious.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:19 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, from "I don't remember" to "I'm not to blame" faster than a Porsche can go from 0-60.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:22 AM on May 10, 2012


ROMNEY FLIP FLOPS, DECLARES IT'S NOT ALZHEIMER'S JUST APATHY
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:25 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


OTOH, this episode makes Josh Trevino, a dude into forced head-shavings, only like Romney more.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:30 AM on May 10, 2012


Yeah, I was sort of hesitant to judge Romney too harshly based on his actions as a teenager (I had a similar experience to KathrynT's a few years back), but that "apology" has destroyed any benefit of the doubt I was willing to give him. If anybody was hurt? If? For fuck's sake. Also:

“I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual,” Romney told Kilmeade. “That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.”

I wasn't around in the 60's, but I'm pretty sure this is bullshit, right?
posted by brundlefly at 9:31 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mitt Romney’s campaign calls gay teen bullying report ‘exaggerated’
posted by Burhanistan at 9:32 AM on May 10, 2012


He was not a natural athlete, but found his place among the jocks by managing the hockey team and leading megaphone cheers for the football team.

Hmm, we already had a cheer leader as President, and everyone knows how well that worked out.
posted by cell divide at 9:35 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


“Back in high school I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by that I apologize.”

there is a Grand Canyon sized gulf of difference between "I treated you really poorly, and the memories of my bad behavior are eating me up. You don't owe me forgiveness, but I wanted to let you know that I recognize that my behavior was wrong" and "Oh well, I was dumb, I'm sorry if you were hurt." The first is actually an apology, for example.
posted by KathrynT at 9:37 AM on May 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


And of course he didn't get punished for bullying a likely gay classmate.

GRAR.

joe lisboa, in those days no one would have been punished for this. The establishment gave us Stonewall, FFS; this sort of behavior was explicitly forbidden and implicitly tolerated, even encouraged in places.

I was attacked daily by classmates (ca1976-1985) for being perceived as gay, and I don't remember anyone getting severely punished for the assaults. Oh, they were "spoken to...".
posted by IAmBroom at 9:44 AM on May 10, 2012


Agreed, KathrynT. Jeez, I looked up a kid whose daily bullying for being effeminate I had witnessed on a daily basis but - to the best of my memory and hope - neither participated in nor, to my shame, intervened in. I looked the kid up 20 years later to apologize for the latter and for any part I did have in his harassment. Decent people who act poorly know it and feel regret.
posted by Occula at 9:47 AM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wasn't around in the 60's, but I'm pretty sure this is bullshit, right?

Why? No gay rights, no stonewall. Homosexuality was a rare medical disease whose victims were unfortunate but to be shunned. I'm sure lots of people got called faggot back then, but that's different from actually believing they were gay -- i'd bet like 75-90 percent of Americans would have told you they didn't know a gay person, had never met one. Hell, people were in denial about motherfuckin' Liberace back then.

Anyway, if you read the article closely, Romney sounds more like Oliver Wood than a slytherin --- one of those people who actually buys into the whole school spirit trip with goggle-eyed gusto. (actually, Adair from Mike and Psmith's a closer model, but nobody's read that but me.)
posted by Diablevert at 9:54 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a European, I am occasionally totally mystified by US American political discourse.

Who cares if he did some dumb shit as a kid 40 years ago?

It seems like there is a TOTAL disinterest in the US for what politicians ACTUALLY STAND FOR and what they ACTUALLY BELIEVE. It is always about what they did decades ago or what they do in their bedroom.
Did they inhale 30 years ago? Did they run someone over with a car 40 years ago?
How many times where they married? Or God forbid, is he maybe (gasp!) a homosexual?

By contrast, Europeans do seem to be able to put that private bullshit aside. Here are just some random examples that come to mind:
- French President Mitterand had a hidden lovechild that everyone knew about.
- German foreign minister Westerwelle is openly gay - and so is the mayor of Berlin.
- Oh, and so is Iceland's Prime Minister.
- French President elect Hollande has four childs with former candidate Segolaine Royal and recently left her for a star journalist.
- German's former chancellor (married four times) used to quip that he changes wife's about every 12 years or so, but at least he's faithful in between.

All of them would have been totally unelectable in the US, because of their former histories or present sexual orientation.

And surely many of them at one point or another mistreated their pets, did dope in highschool etc. But this shit simply doesn't get reported. Similarly, politician's stands on gay marriage are non-news over here. Why is that even an issue?

Fortunately, Europeans understand that NOTHING of that shit affects their ability as politicians. Whatever you may think of their politics, if there's something wrong with it, it is MOST PROBABLY not because they smoked a joint when they were 15. Or bullied someone when they were 17. It does NOT tell you much about their character. What DOES tell you something about their character is the policies that they supported as active politicians.

So wasn't Romeny governor of Massachusetts or something? Surely he must have made some decisions there, that will tell you much more about the guy than what he did to his dog 20 years ago. Don't diss him because of some dome things that he did to a gay kid 40 years ago. Look at what he thinks about gays TODAY. Reducing the man to some non-events that happened DECADES ago, strikes me as just lazy. It looks like an easy way out, because it will spare you to actually have an opinion on policy matters and see how Romney stacks up against that. It's simply easier to say "Hey, just look at the way he treats his dog - he can't be a good person/president." But intellectually, that's not so far away from "Hey, just look at the way Obama looks - he can't be a real American."

"Character" is totally overrated in US politics and mostly used to divert attention from the stuff that REALLY matters.
posted by sour cream at 9:58 AM on May 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


Don't diss him because of some dome things that he did to a gay kid 40 years ago. Look at what he thinks about gays TODAY.

Can't we do both?
posted by octobersurprise at 10:01 AM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Great post, and the (mostly apathetic, really) political follower in me wonders if there's less of this as an issue on the European front because politicians, as you put it, ACTUALLY STAND FOR something instead of jumping all over the issue and pandering to whatever idea is popular in the moment. I'm seriously asking...
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:02 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


So wasn't Romeny governor of Massachusetts or something? Surely he must have made some decisions there, that will tell you much more about the guy than what he did to his dog 20 years ago.

That was when he designed what would become Obamacare. We're not supposed to talk about that anymore.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:03 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Can't we do both?

Apparently, we cannot do both.

As I keep mentioning, we aren't going to get any debates about things that really matter, about issues that the President can really do - this election is going to be about teh gay.

I deeply regret that Ron Paul isn't going to get the nomination, because the debates would have been awesome...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:06 AM on May 10, 2012


I don't really care too much about his character during his high school days...I certainly made a lot of mistakes in my youth and did many things I'm not proud of.

But, when confronted with my mistakes, I can tell you what I've learned from them over the years. I can tell you how those mistakes shaped me, how those mistakes helped me become a better man, how they continue to improve my character to this day.

That's the kind of self-reflection and honesty I'd like to see from Romney, and that's the kind of opportunity he's decided to take a pass on.
posted by malocchio at 10:09 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


this election is going to be about teh gay.

Your dismissal of the civil rights issue of our time has been noted.

I deeply regret that Ron Paul isn't going to get the nomination

And ... scene.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:12 AM on May 10, 2012 [21 favorites]


>Who cares if he did some dumb shit as a kid 40 years ago?
>Reducing the man to some non-events that happened DECADES ago, strikes me as just lazy.
>As a European, I am occasionally totally mystified by US American political discourse.

American political discourse is sufficiently dumbed-down that policy-based argument is largely tuned out; stupid, sustained, cartoonish attacks-- caricature and repetition-- are the tools that win and lose elections.

This is indeed Dumb Shit He Did As a Kid-- that said, if the Dems campaigned as effectively as the GOP, they'd combine this very cinematic incident with Hapless Puppy Seamus Shitting from Fear on the Car-Roof, as well, perhaps, with some rendering of him snip-snip-snipping at Detroit, or letting it burn, or what have you, and create a mini-movie of Rich Spoiled Mitt Doing Bad Things to the Helpless. That Taiwanese spoof animation outfit is the pioneer, but expect its template to become ever more familiar.

If the Dems were smart, Mitt with Scissors would be turned into an inescapable meme, reproduced (at great surreptitious expense) everywhere.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:14 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So wasn't Romeny governor of Massachusetts or something? Surely he must have made some decisions there, that will tell you much more about the guy than what he did to his dog 20 years ago.

That was when he designed what would become Obamacare. We're not supposed to talk about that anymore.


Yes, some things are best forgotten to history.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:15 AM on May 10, 2012


All of them would have been totally unelectable in the US, because of their former histories or present sexual orientation.

To be fair, Europe's economy has suffered terribly with the elections of unabashed masochists. Nonetheless, the beatings shall continue until morale improves.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:16 AM on May 10, 2012


Diablevert: "Why? No gay rights, no stonewall. Homosexuality was a rare medical disease whose victims were unfortunate but to be shunned. I'm sure lots of people got called faggot back then, but that's different from actually believing they were gay -- i'd bet like 75-90 percent of Americans would have told you they didn't know a gay person, had never met one. Hell, people were in denial about motherfuckin' Liberace back then."

Well, yeah. Which is a long way from saying that people were unaware of homosexuality at the time. Or that people weren't bullied for it.
posted by brundlefly at 10:17 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


>>“I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual,” Romney told Kilmeade. “That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.”
>I wasn't around in the 60's, but I'm pretty sure this is bullshit, right?


That is the biggest pile of bullshit in the world, and proves what an asshole Romney still is. I was born in 1961. Boys in the 1960s and 1970s were obsessed with "fags" and gay bashing was routine. Even back in the 1950s, J.Edgar Hoover of all people and Joe McCarthy used rumors of homosexuality to persecute and control people; it ranked right up there with communism as a dark scandalous secret. And he was at a private boarding school, possibly all male? That would double the weirdness about being gay.

Look at his words: "“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” Because the kid had "bleached blond hair draped over one eye." Farthest thing from our minds? Complete and utter crap. Romney, the GOVERNOR"S SON, led a posse of 5 kids to hunt down this kid and cut his hair. Every other kid involved remembered and confirmed the story -- 4 of 5 even gave their names. What a lying sack of shit Romney is.
posted by msalt at 10:22 AM on May 10, 2012 [21 favorites]


A teenaged Mormon at a prep school in 1965 wanted to hammer down the nail that was sticking up?

When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:23 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bush always seemed like a pretty nice guy, and Al Gore was kind of a dick.

Bush was a raging, vicious bully in school. Which is kind of, you know, obvious by everything he says and does as an adult. Where the hell does anyone get the idea that he seemed "nice"?
posted by Navelgazer at 10:32 AM on May 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


All of them would have been totally unelectable in the US, because of their former histories or present sexual orientation.

Sour cream, this is a really silly thing to say. The United States has had gay mayors in Houston TX, Lexington KY, Providence RI, and Portland OR, to name a few and there are at least 3 openly gay members of the House of Representatives.

We obviously have a lot of work to do on this front, but it is erroneous to think that a homosexual man or woman cannot get elected in the USA.
posted by weinbot at 10:35 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who cares if he did some dumb shit as a kid 40 years ago?

It seems like there is a TOTAL disinterest in the US for what politicians ACTUALLY STAND FOR and what they ACTUALLY BELIEVE


Well, there's very little to indicate that the incident does not reflect what Mitt actually stands for or believes in.
posted by hermitosis at 10:37 AM on May 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm ashamed of some of the things I did just fifteen years ago. I never engaged in homophobic bullying, but I said some things that still haunt me. I wouldn't want to be judge now as the type of person who would say those things; it's not who I am now. But at the same time, it's relevant to who I am now, because they were experiences that I learned from. I learned that I couldn't take for granted that I'm a nice, rational person. I have to work for it.

What bothers me about is not just that Romney terrorized a fellow student for being gay when he was in high school. It's that he terrorized a fellow student for being gay, belongs to a largely anti-gay political party, and most disturbingly, that he claims not to remember the incident.

Most people who had never terrorized a fellow student for being gay would be able to flat out deny that it happened. They wouldn't just "not remember."

That tells me that Romney is either lying, or that such incidents were so commonplace that this one wasn't remarkable. The first would indict Romney for his dishonesty; the second would indict Romney because the incredibly weak non-apologies he's issued would be entirely inadequate.

I personally believe Romney is just lying and that the reason he's lying is that there is no way he can address this that will satisfy the disparate groups he's trying to appeal to. An apology that wasn't homophobic enough would piss off the radicals; an apology that was too homophobic would alienate the younger and more moderate voters.

Worst case scenario: Romney won't apologize for this incident because he's still a bully at heart who thinks the kid deserved it. Best case scenario: Romney won't apologize because he doesn't want to alienate people who really hate gays. Neither scenario is one that casts Romney in a good light.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:44 AM on May 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


All of them would have been totally unelectable in the US, because of their former histories or present sexual orientation.

We obviously have a lot of work to do on this front, but it is erroneous to think that a homosexual man or woman cannot get elected in the USA.

Ah, come one, the US had a gay President way before Europe had a gay Premier! Of course, it was a terrible disaster of a Presidency and he ended up sending his partner off to be the Minister to France, but that has nothing to do with his orientation.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:45 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


How does this compare to abducting a young woman, inducing her to smoke pot, and forcing her to bow down before "aqua Buddha"?

Not trying to be snarky -well, maybe- but it's dismaying that you can begin to draw a line through instances of this behavior in a cross-section of the Republican leadership.

Next up: Paul Ryan forces his freshman dorm mate to gargle cream sherry and sing the first page of dialog from ATLAS SHRUGGED! Don't miss it!
posted by newdaddy at 10:49 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Mitt? Fine chap, always in for a bit of tank'n'park on the younger faggots - and I use that term technically mind you Mr. PC Police- and he always had a thouser on hand to help out a struggling ourtype, althought there was this one time. We had been out on the lakey doing some wetters when the wwind kicked up and poor Mitt fell in and was taken by the rapids. I screamed for help but no one came - I guess you really can't get good help anymore - Anywossle we all thought he was dead until he just showed up a week later claiming had happened. It was all strawberry jumble except he seemed a bit off, like he wouldn't stop smiling and breaking eye contact. He kept repeating things to himself "I AM MIT ROMNEY." or 'I AM KNOWN AND FRIENDLY TO YOU." and he got remarkably cagey when anyone would mention that, that what do the lazy call them "oopeecey" on his neck. Who knows what really happened."
posted by The Whelk


There was an incident very like this, Whelkie, where Romney was involved in a head on collision in France during his mission:
Next came the missionary period, and here we begin to reach the part of the biography that the newspapers have already filled in. Romney went to France, finally ending up in Paris (in 1968, no less). He was driving a car one night in the French countryside, with passengers including the Mormon mission leader in France and his wife, and it was hit headlong by an apparently drunk French priest. The mission leader’s wife was killed; Romney was pronounced dead at the scene by one jumpy gendarme, although it turned out that his injuries were comparatively minor.
And I don't think he ever has been the same, and that his startlingly absolute lack of empathy probably does in fact stem from a brain injury caused by this accident.

That's some intuition you got there, son.
posted by jamjam at 10:50 AM on May 10, 2012


octobersurprise: Would you vote for Kip Kinkel?

You're illustrating the opposite of your point here, but the opposite point is a good one to make, so I'll elaborate. I was in the same classes as Kip's sister, and my French teacher, Mrs. Kinkel, was his mother. Once I'd gotten past 3rd-year French in high school, there were no further courses. I wanted to take the AP test, so Mrs. Kinkel offered to tutor me at her home.

Before I start: none of this is to excuse or explain what Kip did. But that's just the thing: Kip takes full responsibility for what he did. He doesn't use any of this as an excuse either. He has not forgotten what he did, far from it. He does not minimize and openly says he deserves his prison time – his lawyers haven't had much success arguing insanity because of that. Kip had always been a quiet, sensitive, effeminate boy. He took absolute, utter hell for it. The poor kid practically had a "bully me" target painted on him. Further, his father, who was strict-minded (it came through in his Spanish courses), thought the boy needed to behave "more like a man" (this can also be found in depositions and such online). His interest in guns was a direct result of that.

Kip was bullied. He became a bully two days of his life, and he hurt an awful lot of people that day, me among them, realizing that my French teacher had died with her last memory that of seeing her beloved son (she adored him) pointing a gun at her and shooting.

And he accepts all that. But you won't hear many people talking about how badly Kip was hounded for years and years at school with precious little support.

Romney sounds like a bully, one who refuses responsibility. Kip can never run for anything, he's in prison for the rest of his life. He imperils his own insanity appeals because he takes responsibility. Romney is such a wuss he daren't imperil what, exactly? What does he have to lose?
posted by fraula at 10:59 AM on May 10, 2012 [24 favorites]


Hey schmod, if that lady is still interviewing, you should let GU know how she treated you.
posted by kenko at 11:00 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Decent people who act poorly know it and feel regret.

This sums the whole thing up.

Decent people do not issue bullshit fake ass non-apologies.

Nuff said.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:03 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, I'm in no way a fan of Romney or his politics; Obama has my vote. But as an alumni of a boarding school that has produced more than a few presidential candidate, I find myself strongly inclined to agree that his behavior as a teen at boarding school is entirely unhelpful in figuring out his character.

Being female, I happily missed out on most of the physical hazing at my boarding school, but it being a small community, we all heard about specific instances, ranging from mildly cruel to downright criminal. Very rarely, hazers were expelled, but it was never because the victims came forward; in fact, the victims often considered their persecutors to be great friends. (The victims often went on to become the hazers, later on.) When somebody reported hazing -- and our word for it was "narc'd"; just reflect on the implications of that for a second! -- it was usually a bystander.

Anyway, my Facebook is alight right now with lots and lots of commentary by old friends from high school, debating on whether this behavior -- which surprises pretty much none of my fellow alumni, though we went to a different boarding school at a time when nobody got hazed for their sexual orientation -- is reflective of character, or instead endemic to the institution of boarding school. Pretty much everybody is leaning toward the latter. Which makes me think, adolescence in our culture is a time of particular instability and cruelty. Boarding school magnifies the worst (and the best, I must add - I loved my high school, though I was never one of the cool kids) of this time in our lives by creating a really strange Lord of the Flies atmosphere the likes of which I have never encountered since. It's just not a great atmosphere in which to gauge whether someone is going to turn into an ethical person or not. (However, if their behavior is compassionate and ethical at boarding school, they'll probably remain so. Couldn't we say that of all teenagers, though?)

That said, to reiterate: while I react to this story with something less than horrified condemnation, I've got plenty of horrified condemnation for Romney's more recent actions and statements. Go Obama 2012!
posted by artemisia at 11:13 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


My twitter feed:

@Former Reagan Speech Writer
Age 17--Julia is bullied.

@me to @Former Reagan Speechwriter there was a real 13 year old girl who hung herself the other day because she was bullied. Still funny? http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2012/05/13-year-old-girl-hangs-hersef-after-months-of-bullying-and-being-called-a-slut/

@Former Reagan Speech Writer to @me No, but you are a clown.

@me to @Former Reagan Speechwriter You're the only one telling jokes.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:19 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


sour cream: "It seems like there is a TOTAL disinterest in the US for what politicians ACTUALLY STAND FOR and what they ACTUALLY BELIEVE. It is always about what they did decades ago or what they do in their bedroom.

Did they inhale 30 years ago? Did they run someone over with a car 40 years ago?
How many times where they married? Or God forbid, is he maybe (gasp!) a homosexual?
"

Despite what George Bush and the media would have you think, the President actually has shockingly little power over policy-related matters. He (sometimes) has the power to say 'No' to a law, controls foreign affairs, and has his hands tied by congress in most other affairs.

Yes, the president can use his influence to guide legislation and execute policy, but he has very little actual power if the legislative and judicial branches don't see eye to eye with him. You could make a strong argument that there have been periods during the past three years when John Boehner held more political power than Barack Obama did.

Also, plenty of politicians have had successful careers despite having skeletons in their closet: Ted Kennedy, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani immediately spring to mind, and we also seem to have collectively gotten over the Bill Clinton thing.

Given the irelevance of the president's stance on "the issues," it's no surprise that we focus on the irrelevant stuff. It's because the Presidency is a surprisingly unimportant office.
posted by schmod at 11:22 AM on May 10, 2012


The incident doesn't define his behavior as an adult.

The lack of remorse does. Everyone does horrible shit when they are younger.

But the difference between a good person and an outright shit is that good people look back and regret how they behaved. They make amends externally, or rationalize internally. They talk about they've grown as human beings and how they wouldn't do it again

Romney is doing none of these. He doesn't regret being a bully.

That is more insight into his character than any policy proclamation or speech could ever give.

Fuck him, and fuck any of his base who cheer him on for being a fucking bully.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:23 AM on May 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


He was more at home on the sidelines, cheering the football team on as a member of the Pep Club, chanting such cheers into a megaphone as “Iron them out. Iron them out. Smooooth.”

This chant amuses me.
posted by exogenous at 11:25 AM on May 10, 2012


If he has no memory of this incident, how is he so sure that he didn't know the guy was gay? It's a simple question and the non-Fox media should be pressing him on it.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:31 AM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I sincerely hope that Metafilter does not become the repository of every friggin' ugly statement made about the candidates. Conversations like these are really pretty ugly and useless.

THIS IS THE ONLY WORTHWHILE COMMENT IN THIS ENTIRE THREAD AND IT DOESN'T HAVE A SINGLE FAVORITE.

Not a proud MeFi moment here, people.
posted by spicynuts at 11:41 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


If he has no memory of this incident, how is he so sure that he didn't know the guy was gay?

He has no memory of this incident. He remembers fully all the many other times he assaulted and tortured him.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:41 AM on May 10, 2012


If he has no memory of this incident, how is he so sure that he didn't know the guy was gay?

If I know that I knew know gay people, then I don't need to remember specific incidents involving a specific person to know that I knew that that person wasn't gay.
posted by kenko at 11:43 AM on May 10, 2012


You're illustrating the opposite of your point here

Well, the point I was trying to make was that we obviously don't automatically discount someone's youthful actions when we consider them for office, we just try to distinguish minor delinquencies that can overlooked or forgiven from major delinquencies that should bar someone from office. It isn't a question of forgetting someone's youth, it's a question of what they made of it. Kinkel was the first example to come to mind.

But if I rubbed a raw nerve or raised old traumas, accept my apologies. Thanks for your story; it is a good point to make.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:50 AM on May 10, 2012


What bothers me about is not just that Romney terrorized a fellow student for being gay when he was in high school. It's that he terrorized a fellow student for being gay,

I think that's putting the lens of the present on the past. People may think it's a quibble, but. It seems clear that he bullied him for deviating from to the rigid standards of 60s male square heterosexuality. But I don't think that necessarily meant, in 1965, that he thought the kid was gay "for real," in a holy-shit-you-like-dudes way. In a way it is unnecessary --- the deviation is still there whether or not the kid was gay or just, as Romney would have seen it, weird. It's the defiance of the code of masculinity that deserved punishment.

No that these are entirely unrelated. But I think it's a mistake to read into his actions back then an understanding of his attitude now, some indication that he's a raging homophobe. In 1965 what he did would have been a prank, maybe, not a call for psychological counseling/indication of profound disturbance. He was not abnormal for his time. The vast majority of people shift with the zeitgeist, and I bet Romney has too.
posted by Diablevert at 11:55 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think what's interesting is the information asymmetry between the 'attacker' and the 'victim'. Mitt probably didn't think it was big deal, he was just cutting the guy's hair. But for the guy he was held down and someone was coming at him with a pair of scissors. That would be pretty scary.

Anyway, people do stupid shit in highschool. It sounds like this place had a culture that was pretty conducive to this kind of craziness.
“I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual,” Romney told Kilmeade. “That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.”
I wasn't around in the 60's, but I'm pretty sure this is bullshit, right?
I don't think so. There was a huge hatred of "Hippies". The fact that they were more effeminate was a problem, but not particularly homosexual. In fact a lot of it was probably jealousy that male hippies were getting laid more often.

Also, where does it say he was gay? I keep seeing this "presumed gay" thing around, but seems more likely he was just a "presumed hippie" or something.
Most people who had never terrorized a fellow student for being gay would be able to flat out deny that it happened. They wouldn't just "not remember."
So now we've gone from asking whether or not the kid might have been gay, to just assuming this happened because Romney thought the kid was gay? Look, there was a ton of anger and resentment towards men with long hair in the 60s. It was an actual thing. It had nothing to do with thinking they were actually gay. People just got angry about dudes with long hair. It's totally believable that someone could get attacked simply for having long hair without the assumption of homosexuality.
Well, there's very little to indicate that the incident does not reflect what Mitt actually stands for or believes in.
That's idiotic. Does Obama believe in snorting coke, or is it just something he did as a younger person? Plus, again people seem to have gone completely off the rails and are assuming this guy was gay and that's why Romney did it.

If he mentioned homosexuality to the other boys, wouldn't they have said something to the reporters? They were all honest and open about the event, why would they all independently chose to cover up that aspect? One of them had been an Obama volunteer in '08.

This reminds me of the Sarah Palin thread where people became CONVINCED that Trigg was actually Bristol's kid, despite the extreme biological rarity of downs kids being born to young woman, and then when it came out that Bristol had another child they still thought Trigg might still be Bristol's as well, apparently gestating in 4 months or something. (This is something that Andrew Sullivan was ranting about for months, but it cropped up in the thread as well)

Politics seems to make people literally go insane and start to believe all kinds of crazy shit.
there is a Grand Canyon sized gulf of difference between "I treated you really poorly, and the memories of my bad behavior are eating me up. You don't owe me forgiveness, but I wanted to let you know that I recognize that my behavior was wrong" and "Oh well, I was dumb, I'm sorry if you were hurt." The first is actually an apology, for example. -- KathrynT
Decent people do not issue bullshit fake ass non-apologies. -- lord_wolf
I'm sure if the victim were alive Romney would invite him for a "beer summit" or something and probably pay him off.

But he's dead. Do you want Romney to write a heartfelt apology to a dead person, and then release it publicly? Because that's kind of ridiculous. The guy is dead, and really, the opportunity to apologize is gone. If he wasn't in politics, would he want too?
If he has no memory of this incident, how is he so sure that he didn't know the guy was gay? -- zombieflanders
He has no memory of this incident. He remembers fully all the many other times he assaulted and tortured him. -- kenko
Holy crap people, keep up with the thread -- He does remember the incident. That's why he issued the apology you are now complaining about. I guess it's not too surprising you'd bash him without bothering to keep the facts straight.

Some of the republican candidates were genuinely horrible people: Gingrich, Santorum, Rick Perry. Ron Paul had some issues with racism that were totally legitimate to bash him on. But the fact that other republicans are horrible people doesn't mean you should take random incidents from Romney's life and turn him into some moster. He's still the guy who brought universal healthcare to MA, essentially creating the template for "Obamacare"

And again as sour cream said, it's ridiculous that the argument would even be about what the candidate did in highschool, rather then what his actual policies are now. It's depressing.
posted by delmoi at 11:56 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Surprise! Out-of-touch, self-assured conservative asshole was an out-of-touch, self-assured teen. Quick, call a psych major! Looks like there are a few doctorates of material here. This will rewrite everything we know about assholery.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:04 PM on May 10, 2012


"Of course he went to Cranbrook."

And Clarence's parents have a real good marriage.
posted by klangklangston at 12:08 PM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, there's very little to indicate that the incident does not reflect what Mitt actually stands for or believes in.

That's idiotic. Does Obama believe in snorting coke, or is it just something he did as a younger person?


See! I TOLD you Obama was a muslim!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:09 PM on May 10, 2012


Mitt's dad was a better person than he in a lot of ways.

This is basically the theme of Rick Perlstein's article, What Mitt Romney Learned from His Dad. Perlstein's basic insight is that Mitt Romney attributed his father's defeat in the 1968 Republican presidential race to his father being too honest and authentic with voters. In this way, Mitt's robotic persona is the result of a man's obsession with finding a way to avoid repeating his father's "mistake."
posted by jonp72 at 12:12 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mitt, the prep-school sadist --"His attacks on gay students and disabled teachers reveal a preppy, entitled cruelty. Not remembering makes it worse."
posted by ericb at 12:13 PM on May 10, 2012


Also, where does it say he was gay? I keep seeing this "presumed gay" thing around, but seems more likely he was just a "presumed hippie" or something.

Page 5:

He came out as gay to his family and close friends and led a vagabond life, taking dressage lessons in England and touring with the Royal Lipizzaner Stallion riders. After an extreme fit of temper in front of his mother and sister at home in South Bend, he checked into the Menninger Clinic psychiatric hospital in Topeka, Kan. Later he received his embalmer’s license, worked as a chef aboard big freighters and fishing trawlers, and cooked for civilian contractors during the war in Bosnia and then, a decade later, in Iraq. His hair thinned as he aged, and in the winter of 2004 he returned to Seattle, the closest thing he had to a base. He died there of liver cancer that December.

He kept his hair blond until he died, said his sister Chris. “He never stopped bleaching it.”

posted by chococat at 12:23 PM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think so. There was a huge hatred of "Hippies". The fact that they were more effeminate was a problem, but not particularly homosexual. In fact a lot of it was probably jealousy that male hippies were getting laid more often.

Way to diminish the problems of the sissification culture there, bro.

Holy crap people, keep up with the thread -- He does remember the incident. That's why he issued the apology you are now complaining about. I guess it's not too surprising you'd bash him without bothering to keep the facts straight.
His campaign spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said in a statement that “anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body. The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents.”

“I don’t remember that incident,” Romney said, laughing. “I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s, so that was not the case.”
Has he and/or his spokesperson now denied this? And if so, why is lying about it better?

Some of the republican candidates were genuinely horrible people: Gingrich, Santorum, Rick Perry. Ron Paul had some issues with racism that were totally legitimate to bash him on. But the fact that other republicans are horrible people doesn't mean you should take random incidents from Romney's life and turn him into some moster. He's still the guy who brought universal healthcare to MA, essentially creating the template for "Obamacare"

I'm not sure why you're always so worked up over people criticizing Mitt Romney. He's not a nice person politically, since he's been publicly anti-gay and anti-choice for a very long time, and seems dismissive if not outright critical of the working class' plights. So he helped bring (almost-) universal health care to Massachusetts. He also used 200-year old state miscegenation law to block gay rights and continues to enthusiastically sign virulently anti-gay and anti-choice/"personhood" pledges. Just because he wasn't as loud mouthed and obvious about his shittiness towards people doesn't make him any better than Perry, Gingrich, et al. And as President, he's already publicly stated that he'd be on board with and would sign pretty much any crazy thing that Congress puts in front of him, including killing off the country's safety net for the lower and middle class and that very same health care plan.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:33 PM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why was that blind teacher he tormented driving a car?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:39 PM on May 10, 2012


I wondered the same thing. And a Beetle? Those aren't even easy for Ms. Eld and I to drive....
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:49 PM on May 10, 2012


Oh, and BTW if he was a different person now, then it would make a big difference (see also: Robert Byrd of 1964 vs Robert Byrd of 2009). But the article paints a picture of him as a privileged intolerant asshole and he's still a privileged intolerant asshole, except this time he has the ability to use his privilege to enshrine his (and other's) intolerance and assholery on 300 million people instead of some hippies and a fearful and compliant school administration.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:49 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


wow this one has legs. the stories are coming out of the woodwork now. I'm seeing he's got a request out to "old friends" at Cranbrook to defend him. You have to get past this and not talk about it. The last thing you need is people trying to defend you under relentless questioning by the media. He's only extending out the problem.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:06 PM on May 10, 2012


One former classmate and old friend of Romney’s - who refused to be identified by name - said there are “a lot of guys” who went to Cranbrook who have “really negative memories” of Romney’s behavior in the dorms, behavior this classmate describes as “evil” and “like Lord of the Flies.”
The classmate believes Romney is lying when he claims to not remember [the hair-cutting incident].

“It makes these fellows [who have owned up to it] very remorseful. For [Romney] not to remember it? It doesn’t ring true. How could the fellow with the scissors forget it?” the former classmate said.


Lord of the Flies? Wow. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have lift off.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:10 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why was that blind teacher he tormented driving a car?

Yeah, probably dude shouldn't have been driving, but enticing the guy to walk into a door? Not just not preventing it but pretending to open it for him so that he would walk into it? Come on. That's some Pigman-level brutality right there. God forbid Mitt Romney ever go blind.

So, that's kind of why I do care about what Romney did in high school, and on vacation, and also when he was governor of Massachusetts and what he wants to do as President. Strong people shouldn't take advantage of weak people. Strong people should protect weak people. And, like, literally every story that emerges about Mitt Romney reveals that he takes advantage of weak people. For me, that disqualifies him from the presidency.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:12 PM on May 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


The wonderful Emily Bazelon over at Slate, who is writing a book about bullying, has an interesting take:
posted by angrycat at 1:18 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


This simply confirms what we already knew, which is that Mitt Romney is an asshole.

Simple as that.

The asshole song.
posted by spitbull at 1:22 PM on May 10, 2012


Also, and to the point, we already knew he was an asshole to his fucking dog.
posted by spitbull at 1:26 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


From angrycat's link:
LGBT students are still more likely to be bullied and victimized by other kids: In a 2009 national survey, 85 percent of kids who identify as LGBT said they’d been verbally harassed at school, 40 percent physically harassed, and nearly 20 percent physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation. The consequences have been laid out by researchers: Boys who are targets have higher levels of anxiety and depression. For girls, being taunted as a lesbian is linked to social withdrawal. Students who are harassed because of their sexual identity miss substantially more school and, in one study, earned lower grades. And in a study of young gay adults between the ages of 21 and 25, the ones who reported being bullied frequently in middle school and high school were over five times more likely to say they’d attempted suicide than the ones who hadn’t been victimized.
posted by audi alteram partem at 1:26 PM on May 10, 2012


Yeah, this story is probably just the tip of the iceberg. And part of the reason it resonates so much is that people can see the lines connecting the high school bully to the vulture capitalist to the desperate politician.
posted by euphorb at 1:31 PM on May 10, 2012


Way to diminish the problems of the sissification culture there, bro.
How the am I "dimishing" it? Literally all I did was point out that it existed and could have been a motivation for Romney's behavior. If anything, you're diminishing it if you think it somehow wouldn't have been "as bad" as doing it because he knew the kid was gay.
“I don’t remember that incident,” Romney said, laughing. “I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s, so that was not the case.”
Has he and/or his spokesperson now denied this? And if so, why is lying about it better?
Hmm, for some reason I was thinking there was a statement from the spokesman saying he didn't remember, and then later an apology from Romney saying he remembered it and was sorry. But apparently he's saying he remembered the person, but not the specific incident (which seems unlikely - unless he did this stuff all the time, which it sounds like might be the case)
I'm not sure why you're always so worked up over people criticizing Mitt Romney.
Because it's this 2-minute hate bullshit where we post any negative thing about Romney and then have FFPs about how how cool Obama is
He's not a nice person politically, since he's been publicly anti-gay and anti-choice for a very long time, and seems dismissive if not outright critical of the working class' plights.
So why don't you make a post about that rather then all this pointless personality/decades old anecdote bullshit. Of course, part of the problem is that those things don't change so once you talk about them once, there's nothing more to say. People want to talk about these people and find out more about them. But there's this weird thing where we have to pretend our prurient interest in people's lives is somehow "politically relevant".

Remember in 2008 when Obama had a bad bowling game? At first it was just an amusing anecdote - but then political reporters tried to somehow make it into political hit on the guy in order to justify having spent so much time talking about it. Obviously that doesn't compare to this at all. But people are trying to take this anecdote and twist it into something that's relevant to the issues of the day. Instead of going after a kid for being weird or a hippie, he must have known he was gay and that was the reason he did it.

Now that said, look, I'm pruriently interested in this stuff too. If there was a pattern of lots of stuff, I would find that interesting to know about. But I don't see why people would be surprised to find out that an elite republican had been a bully in highschool. Seems pretty obvious to me (then on the other hand you have guys like Nixon and probably Gingrich who were picked on a lot and got bitter). But really, I don't really agree that we should be judging 50+ year old political candidates based on what they did in highschool.

I'm sure if you could get stories about LBJ in highschool, he would have been a terrible asshole. He was also a huge asshole has president. JFK was a huge asshole to women. But JFK is a liberal hero and LBJ passed some of the landmark liberal legislation in the 20th century.
Just because he wasn't as loud mouthed and obvious about his shittiness towards people doesn't make him any better than Perry, Gingrich, et al. And as President
Yeah, because being a republican makes you pure evil, there couldn't possibly be any gradation between Romney and Gingrich, they would totally be just as bad as eachother. Just like there wouldn't be any difference between the policies of Obama or Dennis Kucinich - all members of the political parties are totally interchangeable. (*rolls eyes*).
posted by delmoi at 1:32 PM on May 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


OFFS, and endless parade of pundit-class Republicans have made a big deal out of what Barack Obama ate for dinner in the 2d grade. And questioned the legitimacy of his actual place of birth, even.
posted by spitbull at 1:36 PM on May 10, 2012


I'm starting to think that Obama's people knew this article was coming out, and rushed out his change of heart on gay marriage to position himself against the bully they knew was about to be revealed.
posted by msalt at 1:39 PM on May 10, 2012


msalt, I had that thought too -- it was a mixture of 1) bad Romney press 2) gay-haters in the south and 3) make Obama look like The Dad I Always Wanted
posted by angrycat at 1:41 PM on May 10, 2012


If there was a pattern of lots of stuff, I would find that interesting to know about. But I don't see why people would be surprised to find out that an elite republican had been a bully in highschool.

The behavior described is second-degree assault.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:43 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: There was a huge hatred of "Hippies". The fact that they were more effeminate was a problem, but not particularly homosexual.

Nope. This was 1965. Hippies hadn't been invented yet. This was more "Mad Men" era.
posted by msalt at 1:45 PM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Delmoi, you're free to offer any major differences between Romney's current stances.and those of.the other candidates you mentioned at any time.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:52 PM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


The behavior described is second-degree assault.

Only if it happens in public school.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:53 PM on May 10, 2012


But people are trying to take this anecdote and twist it into something that's relevant to the issues of the day.

At the very least, I think that if allegations have been raised that Romney bullied students, it's relevant to ask him about his position on anti-bullying legislation and programs.

Even if it's inappropriate to talk about the Romney-as-bully story at all (which I find absurd given the Republican efforts to impugn Obama going back to his first day of life), bullying and homophobic violence are very much relevant issues of our day.
posted by audi alteram partem at 1:53 PM on May 10, 2012


Once a bully/brute, always a bully/brute!

Mitt Romney Bullied LGBT Youth Commission As Governor.
posted by ericb at 2:01 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm starting to think that Obama's people knew this article was coming out, and rushed out his change of heart on gay marriage to position himself against the bully they knew was about to be revealed.

Washington Post Held Mitt Romney Bullying Story In Print Due To Obama Gay Marriage News.
posted by ericb at 2:02 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The guy who bullied me more than anyone else in high school and I ran into each other about a year after graduating. Maybe more like six months. He had been a constant terror to me since like seventh grade.

This was in '85. Even in that short amount of time away from high school, he was sincerely contrite. He'd beaten me up more than once, punched me a number of times and took every opportunity to hurl abuse at me. Six months later, he's apologizing, making no excuses for his behavior, and we ended up having a great hour long conversation about college, life and sports.

I can't tell you how much that changed my whole mindset about the stuff I went through at his hands in college. His apology and my ability to forgive him for it took a weight off my shoulders that has never come back. I can barely recall the things that went down between us except in the most vague terms.

On the other hand, I was also bullied by a few other kids in middle and high school and I never heard a word from them and I am still a little bitter about it. I can tell you details about what happened with them - what I was wearing at the time, who they were with, which teachers didn't take action. I'm sure some of them feel bad about the things they did (and not just to me) and some of them don't.

Its amazing how much that apology - that sincere apology - meant to me. Different people's mileage may vary on this subject and I'm not claiming my experience was universal.

Now, if a reporter were to come up to me and say "that guy used to bully you all the time in high school and he's running for office for a political party you don't support, my first reaction would be to say "he apologized and I believe he's changed, even though I wouldn't vote for him for other reasons."

If the same questions was asked about the other bullies I faced, I would probably be more like "yeah, that happened. No idea what they're like now."

I'm kind of trying to wrap my head around what kind of behavior would make me genuinely concerned that, all these years later, a person I knew in high school didn't belong in elected office now. It may be partisan hackery or (and this tin-foilish thought fills me with a sort of strange Dead Zone like fear) it may be that he was so awful in high school that even now his classmates can't imagine him being put in charge of anything.

Anyhow, I know the victim of this incident has passed on, but if I were Mitt (and I am glad I am not), I would have said something like "I was a lousy person sometimes in high school, like many people, and I regret that. I've become a better person since then and recognize that I owe everyone who I hurt an apology. Thank goodness we grow out of our teenage behavior!"

Does this make him unqualified to be president? Not necessarily, but it does sound like he's incapable of basic human to human communication - something that seems to be plaguing his campaign.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:04 PM on May 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


"'The stories [Obama's marriage stance and Romney's Cranbrook behavior] aren't really about the same thing,' [Post political editor Steven] Ginsberg added, 'but the perception among some might have been that putting them together would have created an impression we didn’t want to create.'

... Ginsberg said he expected some criticism over the timing of the story, but noted that it had been in the works for weeks, long before Vice President Joseph Biden voiced his support for same-sex marriage Sunday on 'Meet the Press' and Obama's comments on Wednesday. Post editors had initially planned on running the piece mid-week.

In publishing Thursday online, Ginsberg said Post editors were being both 'mindful of the news yesterday and mindful of the competition.'

Indeed, editors are always reluctant to hold stories with exclusive material given the competitive nature of the news business.

The Post's Romney prep school story will run in Friday's print edition along with a second story on the reaction to it." *
posted by ericb at 2:06 PM on May 10, 2012


Somewhere I read a plea for Joe Biden to come out strongly in favor of legalizing pot.
posted by spitbull at 2:07 PM on May 10, 2012


The behavior described is second-degree assault. ... Only if it happens in public school.

What are you talking about?

As others are pointing out in the media, it was 'assault.' The incident happening at a private school does not negate that it was and is considered criminal in nature.
posted by ericb at 2:10 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, if there's ONE thing I hate about Metafilter readers, it's the profound personal rudeness that people exhibit.

joe lisboa's response to me is a perfect example:

> > this election is going to be about teh gay.

> Your dismissal of the civil rights issue of our time has been noted.

I have explained before that this is an issue that is very personally important to me - that my father was gay, and my parents died of AIDS. I shouldn't have to explain my personal background - but I feel forced to by your mockery.

Regretting that the election will be centered about one topic that the President has little control about has nothing to do with my personal commitment to gay rights, does not mean in the slightest that I am "dismissing" gay rights.

> > I deeply regret that Ron Paul isn't going to get the nomination

[key text deleted here]

> And ... scene.

As you perfectly well know, I am in NO sense a supporter of Mr. Ron Paul. You personally have condemned me in the past for my very left-wing stance.

As I wrote, the reason I regret Mr. Paul not getting the nomination is that we simply won't get any discussion of any substantive issues where the President can actually effect change. It would have been extremely exciting and revelatory to see Mr. Obama forced to explain his stances on foreign wars, the war on terror, the war on drugs, the rule of law, etc. - but instead he's going to have an opponent who agrees with him completely on all of these issues.

Mockery is not a substitute for a reasoned argument, and it's rude. If you disagree with what I write, I'll ask you to do it politely.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:13 PM on May 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh, and for the record, this entire article is pointless politics of personality. Every column inch wasted on "How Romney was a jerk as a teenager 50 years ago" is a column inch not spent discussing substantive issues. I'm sorry I even contributed to this gossip-fest.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:16 PM on May 10, 2012


Nope. This was 1965. Hippies hadn't been invented yet. This was more "Mad Men" era.

Eh, I think it's more complicated really. From what I remember from reading about the period feverishly as a teenager, my sense is that the popular notion of the beatnik probably had more traction than that of the hippie at this time, but the stereotype was shifting. On the other hand, one thing about popular hippie-dom after the Summer of Love was that it was much more of a self-identified and mainstream counterculture, and so a lot of the Other elements about the earlier counterculture were deemphasised and became less threatening. One of these was homosexuality. Being perceived as a beatnik in 1965 probably did contain the spectre of gayness in a way that being perceived as a hippie in 1968 did not.
posted by howfar at 2:20 PM on May 10, 2012


Hey ... fasten your seat belts this campaign season.

The 'oppo research' teams are just gearing up. They're ready, willing and able to share their findings with those in the press and media.

Heck, as we learned a few weeks ago, Obama ate dog as a child. Horrors.

And ... Vanity Fair let us know about one of his girlfriends from his early 20s.

The gloves are off! Let the new generation of Swift Boaters at it!

In Hell, Lee Atwater is grinning from 'ear-to-ear' while his protégé , Karl Rove is busy working behind the scenes to stir up scuttlebutt he hopes will stick.
posted by ericb at 2:20 PM on May 10, 2012


When Obama was an outsider -- "A Vanity Fair piece about the president's long-ago white girlfriend says less about race than class and belonging."
posted by ericb at 2:22 PM on May 10, 2012


I knew many great, really generous people in high school, who went out of their way to help the underprivileged both in school and outside it, who were politically aware when many of us were just self-interested wankers, and who were nice in person. And if any of them ran for president, I sure as hell would considered who they were and what they did in high school in their favor. Similarly, there were many assholes and bullies in high school, and if any of them ran, the only way on earth I would vote for them is if they had long, heartfelt story of reform with decades of actions to back it up. If that was the case, I wouldn't hold their horrors in high school against them. But if it wasn't the case -- if they had been assholes all along, in college, in investment banking, in politics, with the family dog for that matter -- then yes, I would hold it all against them, including the high school behavior. This is particularly important when psychopaths learn to fake humanity; their behavior when no one is watching, or before they learn to hide it, really matters. And if I accidentally don't vote for a few genuinely reformed assholes -- or if someone doesn't vote for me because of the way (I now regret) I fought with my younger brother -- I think that's a risk I can accept.

Being a politician is about how you respond to a shifting political landscape, and how you respond depends on your core beliefs and attitudes not just on your announced policies, and those core political beliefs are deeply tied to your attitude towards people around you, particularly those less privileged; so yes, your true personality does matter at least as much as your public positions, and yes, insights we get into that personality from your youth do matter, though that can certainly change as you grow up. Romney shows no sign of having grown up.
posted by chortly at 2:23 PM on May 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


The behavior described is second-degree assault.

Only if it happens in public school.

elwoodwile, can you explain your logic? Location has nothing to do with the crime.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:24 PM on May 10, 2012


howfar: No one would have recognized the term hippie in 1965, two years before the Summer of Love. The Jefferson Airplane wore suits on the cover of their first album.

More to the point, there is no reason to think that Lauber was identified as a beatnik or any counterculture other than gay. His hair was bleached blonde and fell over one eye. Beatnik? I don't think so. This was the end of the Marilyn Monroe era, and his look said gender gender gender.
posted by msalt at 2:26 PM on May 10, 2012


Being female, I happily missed out on most of the physical hazing at my boarding school, but it being a small community, we all heard about specific instances, ranging from mildly cruel to downright criminal. Very rarely, hazers were expelled, but it was never because the victims came forward; in fact, the victims often considered their persecutors to be great friends. (The victims often went on to become the hazers, later on.) When somebody reported hazing -- and our word for it was "narc'd"; just reflect on the implications of that for a second! -- it was usually a bystander.

artemisia, I don't doubt what you say, but you seem to be implying, "Ah, the kid probably laughed about it later that year, and even did it to some other freshman the following year!!! Boys will be boys, after all!"

That's pretty offensive.

Victims don't forget. I doubt this victim did.

Hazing is a kind of bullying, to be sure, but at least it implies a rite of passage: those who "pass" the hazing rise to the social level of their tormentors. This kid wouldn't, and didn't, and this wasn't hazing. It was homophobic bullying on the level of misdemeanor assault.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:28 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could be worse for Romney: the guy whose leg he shattered by throwing him off that tree might have kept a diary.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:30 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the FIVE other students involved in this incident -- all of whom confirmed it, took responsibility and apologized directly -- said that he ran into Lauber in an airport years later and apologized for not stopping it (he was the guy just watching.)

He said that Lauber told him then, many years later, that it was horrible and he thought about it all the time.
posted by msalt at 2:36 PM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Could be worse for Romney: the guy whose leg he shattered by throwing him off that tree might have kept a diary.

As Gene eventually relates to Finny, the jostling of the branch which caused "the accident" was the result of an impulsive move and not one based on anger. The two did end up forgiving each other.
posted by ericb at 2:40 PM on May 10, 2012


More to the point, there is no reason to think that Lauber was identified as a beatnik or any counterculture other than gay.

I'm not sure what point it is to really. Indulging in a hate attack is the same crime whether the object of your hatred actually has the perceived characteristic or not. If you think about what I said, you'll realise I wasn't playing down the chance of this being a homophobic assault, but rather the contrary.
posted by howfar at 2:41 PM on May 10, 2012


Mitt’s Mormon moment — when asked about Obama’s ‘treason’
posted by homunculus at 2:45 PM on May 10, 2012


Lauber died in 2004, according to his three sisters.

2004, of course, being the year when Romney's name was first tossed around as potential a presidential candidate.

Coincidence? Perhaps.
But isn't it odd that this undeniable fact is entirely ignored by the mainstream media?
posted by sour cream at 2:48 PM on May 10, 2012


Not applicable today? In 2006, Romney eliminated a Massachussetts commission set up to battle bullying against LGBT students after it lent it's name to a pride parade.

”Last year [at the parade] they had boys in fishnet stockings and high heels parading down Boylston Street,” Camenker told the Globe. ”They had boys dressed as women embracing. We presented stuff, and they were visibly sickened by what they saw. I said, basically, this group has to go.”

Romney’s spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom later confirmed that the photos were a key concern as well as the events inclusion of the transgender community.

“This year, what was brought to our attention was a press release that was not authorized by this office but which went out on state letterhead promoting a parade that was hosted by a crossdresser and celebrating, among other things, transgenderism,” Fehrnstrom said.

posted by msalt at 2:48 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems like there is a TOTAL disinterest in the US for what politicians ACTUALLY STAND FOR and what they ACTUALLY BELIEVE.

I gotta agree with this. Political discourse on the Internet/ 24 hour news/ social networks could be fairly easily automated with a script: "Candidate X did Activity Y, which reaffirms my existing beliefs about Candidate X." Loop as long as you like, the equilibrium never changes.

I would vote for a complete asshole murdering scumbag if I thought he could effect some positive change on issues I care about at this point.
posted by yerfatma at 2:48 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did some stupid, even borderline awful, shit when I was a kid and I would hate to be judged on it now. Everybody did.

I need to put this strongly: NO, we DIDN'T. I did some stupid things that I regret to this day, but that's because I'm sadsack with an inflated sense of how rational I was back in school. But, however, none of them involved holding anyone down and cutting his hair. That's an act of violence right there, of projecting your will onto another human being.

Once a brute, always a brute.

This is not true. (If it was meant ironically or sarcastically I apologize but there were no tells that I could see.)

It's repugnant, but come on. If we excluded every probable boarding school tyrant from becoming president, we wouldn't have had JFK, and I'm going to bet that FDR treated some people very poorly at Groton.

We don't know how good a president we would have gotten if there had been no JFK or FDR, and probable tyrant is a different quality of evidence than observed tyrant, so this reasoning is flawed. Of course, someone could act differently now than he acted in school, but it is still an important indicator that should not be ignored.

Of course, we definitely wouldn't have had either Bush. So there's that.

Exactly.
posted by JHarris at 2:51 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would vote for a complete asshole murdering scumbag if I thought he could effect some positive change on issues I care about at this point.

Must....not.....Godwin.....
posted by telstar at 2:52 PM on May 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Coincidence? Perhaps.
But isn't it odd that this undeniable fact is entirely ignored by the mainstream media?


Not really. I think you're trying too hard.
posted by JHarris at 2:53 PM on May 10, 2012


this is the most scandalous haircut since john edwards
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:55 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


kenko: "Hey schmod, if that lady is still interviewing, you should let GU know how she treated you."

You know, I've thought about it a few times, and I never figured out a way to do it that wouldn't cause me to come across as an asshole. The entire college application process basically destroyed my fragile teenage psyche, and I was very eager to put that chapter of my life behind me.

I ended up attending a state school, which I regarded at the time to be the worst-possible outcome. However, now, I'm really glad that I ended up where I did. Even though said state school probably wasn't the best fit for me, I'm really glad that I didn't spend my last few formative years surrounded by the Mitt Romneys and John Kerrys of the world.

And, also, the story basically sounds too ridiculous to be true, and I have a lingering suspicion in the back of my mind that my interviewer basically gave me an unfiltered view into the attitudes of the people running and attending the school.
posted by schmod at 3:02 PM on May 10, 2012


Delmoi, you're free to offer any major differences between Romney's current stances.and those of.the other candidates you mentioned at any time.
Mitt Romney doesn't want to ban pornography like Santorum, nor does he want to make poor minority children work as janitors, or build moon bases, like Gingrich. Do you think that was, like, difficult?
As others are pointing out in the media, it was 'assault.' The incident happening at a private school does not negate that it was and is considered criminal in nature.
Yeah, legally this would qualify as assault, but usually school bullying isn't prosecuted that way, although that might be changing nowadays. Romney would have been a minor at the time so even if he was convicted, it wouldn't have gone on his legal record anyway (not that technicality matters for a presidential candidate, obviously)
Oh, and for the record, this entire article is pointless politics of personality. Every column inch wasted on "How Romney was a jerk as a teenager 50 years ago" is a column inch not spent discussing substantive issues. I'm sorry I even contributed to this gossip-fest.
I don't mind "gossip" for the sake of gossip. What's annoying is when people try to turn it into a political issue, or use it to demonize someone. I'm not saying Mitt Romney wasn't a horrible little shit in highschool. But like I said, the same true of LBJ and JFK when they were in office on a personal level.
Being a politician is about how you respond to a shifting political landscape, and how you respond depends on your core beliefs and attitudes not just on your announced policies, and those core political beliefs are deeply tied to your attitude towards people around you, particularly those less privileged


This wasn't an example of someone being 'less privilaged' in terms of money or background, he was going to the same private school as Romney. The problem for him was that he was weird, and it was more about enforcing what he thought of as social norms. That's definitely a bad thing but it's fairly typical of republicans in general. All the stuff you say this says about his politics -- we pretty much already know.
His hair was bleached blonde and fell over one eye. Beatnik? I don't think so. This was the end of the Marilyn Monroe era, and his look said gender gender gender.
I wasn't around in 1965, I have no idea what your typical prep school kid would have thought about that. But kids have always attacked each other for being "weird" without worrying too much about any specific thing like being gay.

But the idea that someone like Romney would have a well developed sense of which people were likely to be gay seems odd since there weren't really many openly gay people that he could have compared him with. Where would Romney even get his idea about what specifically made someone "gay"?

And again, these reporters talked to 4 different people, all of whom brought it up unprompted, but none of them said it had anything to with Romney suspecting homosexuality. Why would all of them openly talk about the incident, but all of them cover it up if Romney mentioned it? If it was about perceived homosexuality, why wouldn't he mention it?

It's not like it's somehow "better" if the assault didn't happen due to homosexuality. Lots of straight kids get beat up too. But people want to use this incident to paint Romney as a virulent homophobe in order to demonize him - thus rather then being just a little shit in high school, he's a 'homophobe' and who "hasn't changed his views"
Mitt’s Mormon moment — when asked about Obama’s ‘treason’
There are lots of Evangelicals who think the same thing, despite the fact they are totally opposed to the separation of church and state.
Not really. I think you're trying too hard.
I think he was mocking crazy republicans who believe in an "Obama death list" and so on.
You know, I've thought about it a few times, and I never figured out a way to do it that wouldn't cause me to come across as an asshole. The entire college application process basically destroyed my fragile teenage psyche, and I was very eager to put that chapter of my life behind me.
The thing is, if you don't tell anyone she'll still be out there screwing over lots of other people. Although who knows if she's still active. It does seems super-bizarre that the school would actually have alumnae interview applicants, but I guess they want to 'maintain their culture' or something. So maybe her treatment of you isn't really that big of a problem for them.
posted by delmoi at 3:11 PM on May 10, 2012


Why can't people just leave Romney alone?
posted by lotusmish at 3:28 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Porn and moon bases are not.major issues. I'm talking about what Congress under full GOP rule would send.to.his desk.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:29 PM on May 10, 2012


Delmoi: I wasn't around in 1965, I have no idea what your typical prep school kid would have thought about that. But kids have always attacked each other for being "weird" without worrying too much about any specific thing like being gay.

I'm a few years younger than Romney, and even after Stonewall etc. homophobia was HUGE in the 60s and 70s, especially at all boys schools (like Mitt's and mine, a blue collar Catholic HS.) Guys were constantly scrutinized and attacked for being gay, or fags. It was the equivalent of "communist!" for youth during a fearful, uptight time.

I don't know where you're getting the idea that people in the article are not saying Lauber was gay. The lead of the article says he was attacked for his "presumed homosexuality" and he came out later after HS. Why would the lack of out gays reduce homophobia? On the contrary, it just increased the vulnerability of victims.

“He was very quiet, not a jock,” said Steph Lady. “Very soft-spoken. I know nothing, probably gay, but who knows. We were so stupid and naïve. I know there was homosexuality there but we didn’t even have a word for it. And there was homophobia then, too.”
posted by msalt at 3:33 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


>artemisia, I don't doubt what you say, but you seem to be implying, "Ah, the kid probably laughed about it later that year, and even did it to some other freshman the following year!!! Boys will be boys, after all!"

Nah, if I'd meant to convey such an ugly thought, I would have come out and said it.

What I was trying to convey in that paragraph was how deeply "normalized" this kind of bullying can be. Even the victims themselves did not feel able to -- and in a lot of cases claimed not to WANT to -- complain about it. This is NOT to say the victims did not suffer -- nor that they had no lasting scars from it. Just that, in such a place, ideas of "right" and "wrong" can seem very skewed. From conversations with classmates who were hazed, I've learned that some of them only recognized what they went through as being not okay long after they'd graduated.
posted by artemisia at 3:35 PM on May 10, 2012


And.really, picking the issues that not even the GOP base supports isn't difficult because its fantasyland. Bragging about those as serious major differences is pretty lame.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:37 PM on May 10, 2012


Oops, sorry, missed this bit: Hazing is a kind of bullying, to be sure, but at least it implies a rite of passage: those who "pass" the hazing rise to the social level of their tormentors. This kid wouldn't, and didn't, and this wasn't hazing. It was homophobic bullying on the level of misdemeanor assault.

I was unaware that there was some official definition of hazing. Certainly I wasn't referring to the sort of hazing that frats or athletic teams do. At my school, pretty much all guy-on-guy ragging was called "hazing" by the students. For example: "Dude, Billy hazed the hell out of Joe last night." This might mean that Billy ordered a pizza in his best friend Joe's name and then Joe was stuck paying for it, or it might mean he made some freshman named Joe drink water till Joe threw up. A very broad spectrum, some simple pranks, some downright cruel. So that's the definition I was using.
posted by artemisia at 3:41 PM on May 10, 2012


Romney would have been a minor at the time so even if he was convicted, it wouldn't have gone on his legal record anyway (not that technicality matters for a presidential candidate, obviously)

Romney was 18 at the time.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:43 PM on May 10, 2012


brundlefly: "“I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual,” Romney told Kilmeade. “That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.”"

Okay, is it just me, or are the two halves of that statement completely contradictory?
posted by schmod at 3:47 PM on May 10, 2012


Porn and moon bases are not.major issues. I'm talking about what Congress under full GOP rule would send.to.his desk.
So you left out the "poor minorities in Janitors" bit? Santorum has a whole host of bizarre sexual issues of which porn is only one aspect. He's the one who hit contraception, being opposed to it in general. Which I don't believe Romney ever opposed, other then when paid for by religious institutions. And realistically, pornography would become a serious issue if the government tried to ban it. It would mean invasive internet censorship, it would drive pornography underground, and basically be a disaster for civil liberties.

Santorum was also much more supportive of SOPA. When he was first asked about it, he defended it, only backing off when all the other republican candidates (including Romney)

The key point is that 1) being anti-porn is indicative of Santorum's bizarre obsession with sexuality in general 2) banning porn would be an enormous issue in terms of freedom of speech and internet freedom if it were actually tried. 3) Gingriche's "make poor kids work as janitors" thing is indicative of his fairly naked attempt to appeal to people's racism. I thought that was enough and threw the moonbase thing as a joke. You can add in Santorums general opposition to contraception as well.

The big difference between Gingrich and Romney is that while Gingrich amped the partisanship up to 11 in 1994, Romney worked with Ted Kennedy to bring about universal healthcare in MA. That also doesn't seem like the kind of thing a poor-hating political sociopath would do, so he probably isn't one.

But no, what he did in high school is apparently much more predictive of how he'll act as president then what he did as the governor of Massachusetts.

Look, if Romney were a hard-core ideological republican, he would have acted as a hard-core ideological republican as the governor. But, he didn't.

How he'll be as president depends a lot on which party in charge of the house and senate. If it's republicans, he'll govern in a right wing way, the same way Obama was able to pass left wing healthcare (and would have been able to enact more of his agenda if not for people like Joe Liberman and max baccus)

If the democrats are in power, he'll probably try to work with them, and unlike the republicans who refuse to work with Obama, the dems probably would and pass fairly moderate legislation.

Obviously the ideal solution would be for Obama to get re-elected and the Teabagger idiots thrown out of the house and senate. I think that's probably what will happen.
Okay, is it just me, or are the two halves of that statement completely contradictory?
Why is it contradictory? Like I said, I don't think people were even as aware of homosexuality in general at the time. It just wasn't talked about as much. I think Romney went after the kid for being "Weird", for being different. That sort of thing happens all the time.

If Romney was doing this because of perceived homosexuality, why didn't he mention it to his friends?
posted by delmoi at 4:04 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Being a politician is about how you respond to a shifting political landscape, and how you respond depends on your core beliefs and attitudes not just on your announced policies, and those core political beliefs are deeply tied to your attitude towards people around you, particularly those less privileged
This wasn't an example of someone being 'less privilaged' in terms of money or background, he was going to the same private school as Romney. The problem for him was that he was weird, and it was more about enforcing what he thought of as social norms. That's definitely a bad thing but it's fairly typical of republicans in general. All the stuff you say this says about his politics -- we pretty much already know.

Privilege can include wealth, class, race, gender, physical strength, age, education, normalcy (vs looking "weird"), and plenty of other things. How you deal with people lower on the totem along any of these dimensions is important, as is how you dealt with them earlier in life.

I'm also in favor of discussing stuff even if I, as a politics expert, "already know" it. Being politics experts, we know there are a lot of people who know very little, and each time something like this comes up, a few more of them become more aware.

But speaking just for myself, this actually was informative to me. I thought of Romney more as a superficial asshole who was mostly interested in conforming with whatever power structure was around in order to get ahead. Unlike even the story with the dog, this story shows him taking the lead and going out of his way to be abusive -- that's active antipathy, not just a disregard of the welfare of others in order to further oneself. To put it somewhat hyperbolically, it matters whether he is hollow or evil masquerading as hollow.
posted by chortly at 4:04 PM on May 10, 2012


"“I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual,” Romney told Kilmeade. “That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.”"
Okay, is it just me, or are the two halves of that statement completely contradictory?
I don't see how - could you please explain?

It seems to me like he was saying he doubts that he thought the kid was gay because in the 1960s the possibility of someone being gay wouldn't have occurred to him.
posted by Flunkie at 4:11 PM on May 10, 2012


If Romney was doing this because of perceived homosexuality, why didn't he mention it to his friends?

The guy was actually gay, and the witnesses said he was picked on for being gay. No need to state the obvious.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:36 PM on May 10, 2012


The big difference between Gingrich and Romney is that while Gingrich amped the partisanship up to 11 in 1994, Romney worked with Ted Kennedy to bring about universal healthcare in MA. That also doesn't seem like the kind of thing a poor-hating political sociopath would do, so he probably isn't one.

To me it seems like the kind of thing an opportunistic, vote-hungry politician in a notoriously liberal state with an aging master of the Senate lefty in charge of state politics would do. Especially if said politician started moving to the right when it became apparent that there was more money there than in being a moderate and attempted to distance himself from his previously commendable record.

Especially especially if said politician's personal life seemed to indicate that rather than having a set of complex, mature stances on a variety of issues that on first glance might seem contradictory, he had demonstrated a repeated pattern of tormenting and stepping on weaker, vulnerable people around him, along with a willingness in his political life to do whatever got him closer to his goal of becoming more powerful and influential.

If it's republicans, he'll govern in a right wing way, the same way Obama was able to pass left wing healthcare (and would have been able to enact more of his agenda if not for people like Joe Liberman and max baccus)

If the democrats are in power, he'll probably try to work with them, and unlike the republicans who refuse to work with Obama, the dems probably would and pass fairly moderate legislation.


But Obama's not a leftist president. The ACA is basically a Republican bill, filled with Republican ideas about delivering lots and lots of consumers to the health insurance industry, and it's, like, 50/50 whether the thing even gets past the Supreme Court next month anyway.

I think the Republicans were too willing over the past five-six years to give their party over to a far-right fringe that was eager to smear a black president, and as a result, if they win this election (for the record, I think they won't), they are going to be beholden to that fringe to govern from the far right. And Romney has already proven that he will do whatever he has to to keep climbing the ladder and that he's not particularly wedded to any one set of political stances.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:53 PM on May 10, 2012


The more I think about it, the more I realize that Mitt Romney is the all-boys-school equivalent of Regina George.
posted by schmod at 5:01 PM on May 10, 2012


We all do stupid shit when we're young, yes. But unless you own up to your mistakes and address what you did as wrong, then you're still just a bully.

Then Romney may get a pass, but Now Romney is obligated to at least address the issue. If he wants forgiveness for bullying, all he has to do is open his mouth and ask, sincerely. It's kind of amazing the healing power of a sincere apology--it can make emotional pain disappear. But it has to be sincere.

Because Romney can't give a sincere answer to any question, not even "How do you like the weather, today, Mitt?", it's futile to expect him to address this, much less deliver a heart-felt apology. But that's the issue: is Romney the man willing to man up and take responsibility for Romney the boy? His inability to address it (along with just about everything else) shows me yet more evidence that Mitt Romney is probably a sociopath.
posted by zardoz at 5:04 PM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I keep seeing this "presumed gay" thing around, but seems more likely he was just a "presumed hippie" or something.

I think that might be a bit of an anachronism. According to the Washington Post, Romney went to Cranbrook from 1959 to 1965. The use of the word "hippie" in its modern sense only dates to about 1965 or so. The San Francisco Examiner, the rival paper to the San Francisco Chronicle that invented the word "beatnik," did not use the word "hippie" until a September 6, 1965 article titled "A New Haven for Beatniks." (cite) In the context of that article, "hippie" referred to a younger second-wave of beatniks who hung out at the Blue Unicorn coffee house near the Haight-Ashbury district. I have some vintage newspapers on an old blog of mine, which show that the distinction between "hippie" and "beatnik" was very blurry between 1963 and 1965, with beatnik actually being the more popular term then.

Romney was probably so square back then I doubt he knew what a "hippie" in the post-1965 sense was. If anything, the use of the word "hippie" was more common in the lyrics of songs like the Orlons, South Street to refer to someone into all the hippest dances and styles.
posted by jonp72 at 5:27 PM on May 10, 2012


Remembering the incident would require a capacity for guilt, regret, and shame.
posted by savvysearch at 5:29 PM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


In an alternate universe, Romney is just the bad guy in a slobs-vs-snobs comedy.

Does that mean, if Obama wins in November, Biden's gonna be all, "Hey everybody, we're all getting laid tonight!"
posted by jonp72 at 5:30 PM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


The New Yorker: Mitt Romney, Bully.
posted by ericb at 5:31 PM on May 10, 2012


Oh, geez. 30 Rock just made a joke about Romney killing hobos.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:35 PM on May 10, 2012


I re-read the article more closely and I wanted to clarify that my above comment was not intended to smear all students at Cranbrook as nasty brats. More specifically, the attitude of the staff there seemed to permit bad behavior to the extent that the badly behaved kids couldn't even keep it together in front of guests. It is in this sense that the "culture" of the school is defined by outsiders, anyway. Romney's assault went unpunished, but when his victim was caught smoking much later he was expelled? The code for this kind of attitude I believe is "insular."

Anyway my apologies for falling into regional rivalries there. It seems like few of the students who actually went to school with him liked him either. For what it's worth, this article seems heavily coded. If you multiply the intensity of the statements made by former students by about 5 or 10 on the distate scale you might be close to what they really think.
posted by newg at 5:36 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Privilege can include wealth, class, race, gender, physical strength, age, education, normalcy (vs looking "weird"), and plenty of other things. How you deal with people lower on the totem along any of these dimensions is important, as is how you dealt with them earlier in life.
Sure well, kids can get picked on for being rich too (although being picked on does seem to correlate with being poor, not being able to afford 'cool' stuff, etc). Pretty much anyone would have less "privilege" then the son of the governor going to a "lord of the flies" style boarding school. The obsession over making every single thing about "privilege" gets annoying.

Picking on someone for being weird or a nerd or whatever is still a pretty awful thing to do - but it doesn't allow people to paint Romney as a hateful homophobe who may not have changed instead of someone who was a douche bag bully in high school. It doesn't fit as easily into the current political narrative.

On the other hand, being known as having been a "Generalized" bully in highschool might actually be worse politically. A lot of people probably have their own negative memories of bullies in middle school/highschool. No one wants to vote for Biff.

Also, I don't think it's all that clear that how people behave personally impacts their politics all that much. I think trying to "psychoanalyze" candidates from anecdotes is positively idiotic. Especially when you're taking shit from highschool and applying it to a 50 year old dude. That sort of thing is mostly about establishing social hierarchies then it is about their political views.

Again, Mitt Romney actually has a record. If he really does hate poor people why did work to get them all health insurance when he was MA governor? That's the exact opposite of what you would expect if this idea that a person's high school behavior dictates how they'll be in office. Like I said, how right wing he'll be probably depends on who is in congress or the senate. If the republicans keep control, there could be a lot of right wing stuff passed. Otherwise, he'd probably try to reach out to the dems, as he did when he was governor in MA.
To me it seems like the kind of thing an opportunistic, vote-hungry politician in a notoriously liberal state with an aging master of the Senate lefty in charge of state politics would do. Especially if said politician started moving to the right when it became apparent that there was more money there than in being a moderate and attempted to distance himself from his previously commendable record.
Romney is raising most of his money from wallstreet, which previously mostly supported Obama. They don't care about people being rightwing, other then supporting banking interests, which as you pointed out both "Obamacare" and "Romneycare" do - they funnel money into private insurance companies who are ultimately owned by wallstreet. His cash has nothing to do with his views on abortion and gay rights, those are issues he took to get votes. Which, it should be pointed out, Obama was also willing to do in pretending to be against gay marriage for a number of years.
Especially especially if said politician's personal life seemed to indicate that rather than having a set of complex, mature stances on a variety of issues that on first glance might seem contradictory, he had demonstrated a repeated pattern of tormenting and stepping on weaker, vulnerable people around him
Please, this is ridiculous. If you can pick and chose whatever anecdotes you want, contextalize them however you feel, then you can portray anyone however you want. That's why so many republicans think obama is a Kenyan socialist Muslim who wants take away guns and put everyone on welfare. It's because they only hear anecdotes that confirm those narratives. Meanwhile, people here are passing around anecdotes that paint Romney as the "Generic evil republican". It's lazy thinking.

I also find it somewhat hilarious that you would say he only helped get people healthcare for cynical reasons. Well so what? That's exactly the reason it wouldn't be a problem if the congress stayed democratic. He would "cynically" help poor an middle class people president, just like how Nixon "cynically" started the EPA and tried to create his own universal healthcare system.

Anyway, if it's true if he did that stuff cynically, then it's also still true that you can't predict what policies he'll support, because he might cynically not act on the horrible secret views you think you can predict.

Anyway, I think the supreme court is a huge issue this election, more so in the past with stuff like Citizens United and so on. The problem is all the stuff that actually matters for deciding we already know. So the media fixates on superfluous bullshit, which people try to turn into political issues or to psych up "their side" against the other, whatever.

I'm not saying this story isn't an interesting story, it is. But the problem is the idea that it would have a serious, predictable impact on his policy positions. In fact, it isn't even like we have to guess what his policy positions are.
and the witnesses said he was picked on for being gay.
I didn't see that in the WaPo article. Where was that reported?
posted by delmoi at 5:39 PM on May 10, 2012


We get it, delmoi. You're a contrarian. Collect your badge and your door prize on the way out. Feel free to use the entrance. Because that's so contrarian!
Yeah I think contrarianism plays a part here, sure. If everyone wants to pile on it naturally makes me want to take the opposite position if I think it's wrong. No one else is going to defend Romney around here. I'm not going to vote for the guy, but believe it or not it's actually possible to vote against someone without hating their guts!

The other thing is that any time some problem with Obama is brought up, certain people try to turn it into a referendum on whatever the republican du jure is, because if you criticize Obama, you are Objectively pro-Gingrich! Or whoever. The problem, though, is that while Romney is obviously your typical republican, he isn't really that "Scary" - so now there's an effort to portray Romney as a horrible monster that's as easy to hate as Newt Gingrich.

Anyway, just because you get butthurt hearing opinions that disagree with you, you can't actually do anything about me being in the thread.
posted by delmoi at 5:48 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: you can't actually do anything about me being in the thread.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:06 PM on May 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


If he really does hate poor people why did work to get them all health insurance when he was MA governor? That's the exact opposite of what you would expect if this idea that a person's high school behavior dictates how they'll be in office.

that depends on whether you believe he's acting from actual conviction or just as an opportunistic jerk - i'd say he cut the boy's hair because he thought he could get away with it and might get brownie points from his peers - maybe even some of his superiors - and i'd say he worked to get those poor people health insurance because it was a way to make himself not look so bad to people in a liberal leaning state - of course, he had no idea that obama was going to take something much like his program and push for it - or that there would be a tea party that would object so strenuously to it

in fact, it makes me wonder if there's not another explanation altogether - he's a follower, not a leader - hardly the sort of man we want as a president
posted by pyramid termite at 6:06 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please, this is ridiculous. If you can pick and chose whatever anecdotes you want, contextalize them however you feel, then you can portray anyone however you want. That's why so many republicans think obama is a Kenyan socialist Muslim who wants take away guns and put everyone on welfare. It's because they only hear anecdotes that confirm those narratives.

The difference between negative anecdotes about Romney and negative anecdotes about Obama is that the negative anecdotes about Romney are confirmed by his family (the weird dog business) and various eyewitnesses (bullying his classmate), whereas the Obama anecdotes are largely fabricated. He wasn't born in Kenya, he's never been a socialist and he belonged to a Protestant Christian church.

I also find it somewhat hilarious that you would say he only helped get people healthcare for cynical reasons. Well so what? That's exactly the reason it wouldn't be a problem if the congress stayed democratic. He would "cynically" help poor an middle class people president, just like how Nixon "cynically" started the EPA and tried to create his own universal healthcare system.

The cynical reasons he might have had for supporting liberal policies as a governor in Massachusetts won't be present if he is president, regardless of the composition of his legislature. If the legislature is Republican, he'll face the exact opposite pressure from the far-right wing of his party that he faced from the left wing of the Democratic party as governor. If he has a Democratic legislature, what incentive does he have to move left? It's a lot easier to position yourself as a centrist president with sensible ideas who is stymied by the hacks in Congress while doing nothing than it is to move left in a party that hates compromise, not to mention the fact that that party is even further to the right now than Nixon was in '72.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:33 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, just because you get butthurt hearing opinions that disagree with you, you can't actually do anything about me being in the thread.

Please step away from my butt, and please stop diagnosing my butt from afar. Thanks!
posted by joe lisboa at 6:35 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


you can't actually do anything about me being in the thread.

Oh believe me, darling. We know.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:36 PM on May 10, 2012


delmoi, you think Romney will govern as a pragmatic moderate?

I choose to take him at his most recent word to govern as a "severe" conservative. If you are right, Romney is a rank liar. If I'm right there's not a dime's worth of difference (ha ha) between Romney and any other right wing wacko, and besides, congress.
posted by spitbull at 6:50 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I won't judge him for his callow youth if he won't judge the rest of us."

Seeing as he reserves not only the right to judge, but also the right to open the door to bedrooms all over the US and dictate as to what and cannot be done in them using the law as his righteous whip, I'll reserve that right, thank you. He's an unmitigated asshole.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:00 PM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


delmoi, you think Romney will govern as a pragmatic moderate?
I think it depends on congress -- the same thing is true about Obama. The democrats controlled congress, but with guys like Joe Lieberman, Max Baucus, and other "conservative" (i.e. corrupt as hell) you ended up with a fairly moderate set of policy outcomes. Now with a republican congress, Obama has done nothing legislatively except sign a bunch of spending cuts into law after weakly negotiating them down a little.
If you are right, Romney is a rank liar.
You mean, like, every other politician ever? Or do you think Obama really did think gay marriage went against his religious convictions until just a few days ago? (which was his previous excuse for dropping his former support for it)

They all lie about everything, which is why I prefer looking at their actual track record. Romney's track record as a governor actually was moderate.
Seeing as he reserves not only the right to judge, but also the right to open the door to bedrooms all over the US and dictate as to what and cannot be done in them using the law as his righteous whip
Being against gay marriage, as obama claimed to be until a couple days ago, does not mean you want to illegalize being gay. What actual policy positions does he have to regulate what goes on "in the bedroom"?

(On the other hand, someone like Santorum seemed completely obsessed with sex, and really did want to regulate it, from porno to contraception)
posted by delmoi at 7:04 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Btw, I don't think there's anything wrong with talking about this, and I don't even think there's anything wrong with not wanting to vote for him because of it. There's nothing wrong with not voting for someone simply because you think they are an asshole.

But what I don't think you can really say is that this somehow has anything to do with what kind of policies he'll support. LBJ was a huge asshole on a personal level, and passed lots of great legislation. Not that I think Mitt Romney will.

I also don't think there's much evidence to say that this was due to the kid specifically being gay, and Romney being a homophone rather then Romney just being a bully and picking on the "weird" kid.
Aaaaanndddd.... delmoi has fully "evolved." Bravo, sir.
Do you actually have anything substantive to say? I have no idea what you're even trying to say here. Obama claimed his position on gay marriage was "evolving" (from for it, to against it, and now back to being for it). Are you saying my position on Mitt Romney is somehow like Obama's position on gay marriage? Because I have no idea what that might even mean.
posted by delmoi at 7:46 PM on May 10, 2012


Ladies and Gentlemen I submit to you that the issue before us is not that Mitt Romney was once a bullying prep-school fascist. He is a wealthy white scion running as a dynastic Republican of course he was.
The question is what kind of tree grew from that sapling. Was it hard like hickory or oak or some soft willow tree or yellow pine. That tree that grew has hollowed out and creeks in the wind. No man of that character will win election to President of the United States.
It is a shame, he held some promise when young. The boy, Willard, once held a passionate and firm opinion about men's hair styles. These opinions were so strong that he was compelled to tackle a man and shear him year lest that queer coiffure tempt the rest of the lads to soddomy. Where is that strength of conviction today? Say what you will about the merits of the barber of Cranbrook, but at least that boy had an conviction and took action. Today we have withered Willard who represents a pandering political nihilism. He gained the nomination by being the last one standing after superpacs demolished the others for him. He won by not losing, not by making us care about him. He stands for nothing and with no one. Last week he fired a campaign advisor because the man was gay. This week he says he opposes discrimination in employment against gays. He spent the last year railing against the auto bailout and last week he took credit for it. I expect him to grow a beard next and start calling us bro's. America will never accept a man of such unpredictable temperament lead us.
posted by humanfont at 7:48 PM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Howard Fineman: Mystery Mitt -- Who Is He Really?
posted by ericb at 7:48 PM on May 10, 2012


[joe lisboa, you seem to be unable to be in this thread without making things personal, please take the night off and come back tomorrow. delmoi, please try to share the thread with other people and don't make it all about you, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:02 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


There were those who said that Bill Clinton or GWB were just pragmatic center-left or -right politicians who would mainly behave as their past records and the political context suggested. Then there were those who said that that was 90% the case, but who also thought that pre-politics behaviors and personality, before they hit the spotlight, provides some useful guidance on what might happen when they became president. Lewinsky, welfare reform, lying about WMDs to get revenge on Saddam, the complete collapse of GWB's initiative in the second term -- all of these were things that knowing their personalities and backgrounds would help predict and understand, above and beyond their past record or the political context of the time. Presidents have a lot of freedom to set agendas, start wars, decide closely-divided issues, and so on. What they choose to do with this power is not easy to predict, and is certainly not obvious given their past political behavior as senators or governors, or the current political "climate". Gleaning what we can about their real personality is important for predicting what they are going to do. Reading Caro's biography makes it more, not less, explicable how LBJ could both be an asshole, and pass civil rights and great society legislation.
posted by chortly at 8:09 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


For many potential Romney voters, I'll bet behavior like this will be seen as a feature, not a bug.
posted by Camofrog at 8:51 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Boarding school magnifies the worst (and the best, I must add - I loved my high school, though I was never one of the cool kids) of this time in our lives by creating a really strange Lord of the Flies atmosphere the likes of which I have never encountered since. It's just not a great atmosphere in which to gauge whether someone is going to turn into an ethical person or not.

Wait - how does that follow? In the first sentence you're saying that boarding school enhances things that are already inherantly part of someone's personality, but then you say that....it's not a good judge of what someone's personality is?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:21 AM on May 11, 2012


That also doesn't seem like the kind of thing a poor-hating political sociopath would do

For real? Sociopaths are people without a moral core. They do whatever is opportunistic for them, including pretending to be normal human beings.

The more we learn about Mitt "Who Am I Really?" Romney, the more I am convinced that "sociopath" is exactly the right term. Another synonym, of course, is "bully," or "venture capitalist." He's running for office for Pete's sake.

How anyone could support this tool is beyond me.
posted by spitbull at 6:05 AM on May 11, 2012


You went to Cranbrook/ That's a private school paddlin'
posted by kirkaracha at 6:24 AM on May 11, 2012


Even if this story is explained away as The 1960's: When Freaks Were Fairgame, it only underscores how outmoded Romney really is.
posted by Brian B. at 6:59 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


But what I don't think you can really say is that this somehow has anything to do with what kind of policies he'll support.

Right. Which is why reporters should be asking him (and Obama for that matter) what policies they support to fight bullying.

The media should ask that question whether or not this story came out. But, as several people have lamented in this thread, the media are far more interested in scandal than substantive policy debate. So, this story of Romney assaulting a fellow student presents a rare moment where the useless media obsession with scandal could segue into a discussion that actually focuses on policy.

Even if the media don't rise to the occasion (and I expect they won't), I'll take the opportunity to point out that the kind of trauma Romney and his friends inflicted on Lauber decades ago continues to occur in our schools today leading to needless suffering and far too often suicide.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:05 AM on May 11, 2012


It's worth point out that all this equivocating about how Romney would be a moderate as long as he had a Congress that isn't batshit crazy doesn't matter. At best, there's not going to be a distinct minority (i.e. that both can't siphon off a lot of Blue Dogs in the Senate and at or near a majority in the House) of GOP in Congress until the end of his hypothetical first term. This election and the next both consist almost entirely of the 2006 and 2008 wave Dems defending iffy seats while the GOP seats stay relatively safe, especially in the Senate, where 50/50 would be a near-sweep for Dems this year. But in that same hypothetical Romney win from above, it's almost certain that the sweep would be entirely on the GOP side, putting the GOP at a 55-vote majority in the Senate while keeping the House. All they'd need would be 5 conservative Dems (Landrieu, Baucus, Casey, Warner, and Manchin is a likely coalition) for the crazy, and that's just in the first two years. Several of them have expressed support or actually voted for the crazy shit like personhood, the Ryan budget, health care repeal, and killing off most of the EPA/NASA/NSF.

So, no, it doesn't matter how he would theoretically govern with Democratic majorities, because they won't exist. In the meantime, a lot of stuff that would take years, maybe even decades to fix will get put in front of him. Maybe Romney isn't a total monster himself, but there's absolutely zero evidence that he would complain let alone veto a lot of monstrous stuff that would be put in front of him. Defend that all you want with fantasy scenarios that have no basis in reality, but you're manufacturing a version of American politics that doesn't exist.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:12 AM on May 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


In Further Remarks, Romney Classmate Calls Anti-Gay Scissors Attack An Unforgettable 'Haunting Memory': Video.
posted by ericb at 9:37 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Paul Begala: Once a Bully, Always a Bully -- "Romney would be able to dismiss the bullying story as ancient history if it didn’t confirm what we already suspected about him—that he’s a serial abuser of power."
posted by ericb at 9:54 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


As to whether Romney and friends thought the victim was gay, here is one of the participants from ericb's link:

Maxwell said he held the boy’s arm and leg, describing he and his friends as a “pack of dogs.”

Asked if Lauber was targeted because he was gay, as reported by the Post, Maxwell said, “We didn’t know that word in those days … but there were other words that were used. We weren’t ignorant, we just didn’t use the current names for things.”

posted by msalt at 11:00 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


artemisia, thank you for that more nuanced explanation of what you were trying to say. We still disagree somewhat, but at least I'm not hearing you imply, "Boys will be boys!" to the issue of brutal harassment.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:54 PM on May 11, 2012


Tamron Hall Shuts Romney Surrogate Tim Carney Down: 'You're Not Gonna Come On And Insult Me' (Video).
posted by ericb at 2:16 PM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Romney’s spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom later confirmed that the photos were a key concern as well as the events inclusion of the transgender community.

Senior Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom outed a transgender woman, ending her political career: "I can remember his glee when he found the birth certificate."*
posted by ericb at 2:26 PM on May 11, 2012


Buzzfeed: A Mitt ("I'll be better than Ted ... ") Romney gay rights timeline.
posted by ericb at 2:28 PM on May 11, 2012


Mitt Romney, Trust-Fund Bully (and Not Just in School)
posted by homunculus at 3:53 PM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nobody who watched him use Massachusetts as a stepladder to where he is today can be surprised that, today, we have two garish examples of the fact that, for all his success in business and his well-manicured family raised on his well-manicured lawns, Romney is essentially an entitled fopdoodle who divides the world into two classes, Himself and The Help, and who is running for president because his golden life has taught him the essential lesson that there is nothing in the world he can't charm and/or money-whip into his pocket if he really, really wants it.

Heh.
posted by Artw at 5:58 PM on May 11, 2012


Romney is running for President as the ultimate extension of his work at Bain Capital.

The United States has many assets that can be sold off, such as National Parks, federal lands, infrastructure, mineral rights, spectrum, etc., for a pittance to his friends and supporters, and the Republicans can make that look like a necessity merely by allowing the deficit, and consequently the debt, to balloon by further reducing taxes on the wealthy-- which will have the added benefit of giving them more money to buy it all.

In essence, he wants to be our Yeltsin, minus the alcohol and the populism.
posted by jamjam at 7:48 PM on May 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Top Romney aide outed transgender woman in political smear
posted by Artw at 9:19 PM on May 11, 2012


Gah, I see that's already noted...
posted by Artw at 9:19 PM on May 11, 2012


'honorable men don’t chuckle at cruelty'
posted by Anything at 12:29 AM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


‘Bully’ Documentary Director: Romney Should Lead On This Issue
posted by zombieflanders at 5:04 AM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Despite conformist attitudes that carried over from the 1950's, and despite movie depictions of school cruelty like Carrie in the 1970's, gang beat-downs among social peers were not considered normal in the 1960's. Personal freedom as expression was a threatening trend for some, but reactionary Romney was breaking new ground within his sphere of influence The memory of the event for others reflects this. Romney's amnesia excuse is more telling, especially in tone, because it obviously never bothered him. Romney fails these tests as a positive leader because he considers himself morally superior even without the money and political connections. People don't do such Mormons any favors by regarding them to be generally humble or tolerant just because it is assumed they developed these traits while they were socially on notice for polygamy, racism, and neo-Christianity. The fact is they never cultivated those traits as a sincere tradition at any time during their wilderness years, nor did they naturally evolve from those positions. And they weren't just minding their own business, but going across the globe, disestablishing all other beliefs in the process. In other words, the bullying, the dog on the car, and all those plastic gaffes are warnings, not just mistakes.
posted by Brian B. at 12:56 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mitt Romney's Teen Years: A Time Of Homosexual Panic In America.
posted by ericb at 10:12 AM on May 14, 2012


Mitt Romney Bullying Story Creates Message Headache For House Vote.
posted by ericb at 1:53 PM on May 14, 2012


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