Mitt Romney was a homophobic bully in high school, say former classmates

REUTERS: Romney speaks at a campaign event in Wilmington, DE.

In the Washington Post, testimonials by prep school classmates of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney paint the former Governor of Massachusetts as a homophobic bully. So, basically— he hasn't changed much. Snip:

John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

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

With help from other bullies, the story goes, Romney then tackled Lauber, pinned him to the ground, and while the young man was weeping, cut off his hair with scissors.

Romney was not disciplined for the incident, or for the rest of the alleged bullying detailed in the story. Lauber died in 2004, so we can't hear his side—but friends interviewed in the Washington Post piece say the hair-cutting attack impacted him deeply and remained with him for the rest of his life.

ABC News also interviewed school friends of Romney, one of whom described his behavior as “like Lord of the Flies.” Romney apologized for the "prank" in a radio interview today, but said that “homosexuality” was never on his mind. Oh, of course not. Snip:

Romney’s former classmate, Phillip Maxwell, now a lawyer, described witnessing the incident and said he considered the “prank” the two pulled at Michigan’s Cranbrook School to be “assault and battery.” Maxwell said [he] held the boy’s arm and leg, describing himself and his friends as a “pack of dogs.”


  1. Even without the hate crime element, it would still have been some pretty proactive and vicious douchebaggery.

    1. Working from the back side where I don’t necessarily notice immediately what comment a thread is in, I can no longer tell the difference between comments in this thread and comments in the two threads about police brutality in Dekalb County.  It seems that Mr. Romney does represent a certain demographic quite, quite well.

      1.  Romney initiated a pretty intense act of bullying. I am not surprised. Never believe the myth that bullies are unpopular loners. Bullies usually already close to the top of the heap and become more popular by bullying.

        But Antinous, why do you take the name of a dude who bullied poor Penelope and Telemachos.? Sure, Penelope outsmarted him and Telemachos went on his own voyage and came back to get his revenge, but Homer says you are a jerk.

        I don’t think you are a jerk.

        1. That’s an obscure referent for Antinous. There’s a much more famous one.

          1. I always thought you named yerself after Hadrian’s boy-favorite who supposedly drowned in the Nile and was afterward deified. The early Fathers of the Church hated his guts, posthumously (well, at least they hated his cult) , I seem to recall.

          2. Correct. And I’m not the only one on the internet. I just discovered another Antinous with quite a few entries on Urban Dictionary. And he even sort of sounds like me in some of them

      2.  Arriving to this thread from the one you refer to, I can only agree that there are some similarities. And let’s not forget our dear friends from the TSA!

        1.  Judging by his biography he’d lie a hell of a lot more convincingly than Romney did.

          “And then the angel Moroni spoke unto me: the men who wear their hair as women will be shorn.  And thus did I do as the angel commanded.”

  2. I wish Lauber was alive today to give his account. While Romney “cannot recall,” others did, e.g.: “In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, ‘Atta girl!’” That makes me cringe.

    1. I get where you’re coming from, but there would be a down side.  If Lauber was alive and talked publicly, he’d have right-wing bloggers and Fox News vultures combing through his trash, investigating his countertops, and hounding his relatives at home and work to dig up any dirt to make him out to be a lying opportunist sleazeball.  For talking about his childhood bullying experience, he would experience bullying on a national scale which would not rest until his public reputation was destroyed.

  3. The simple question for Romney is whether he ever apologized to Lauber before he died.  But of course, if Romney claims he didn’t remember the incident, then we know the answer.

    I think it is a defining characteristic of bullies that they generally do not remember the humiliation they’ve heaped on others.  Why should they, it is just another fun-filled day to them.  Nothing remarkable.

    1. The simple question for Romney is whether he ever apologized to Lauber before he died.

      He can still apologize; he just needs to join Mr. Lauber in order to do it.

      1. Eh, too much.

        In any case, if Mitt can invite people to covert to the LDS church after they’ve died, including his own devoutly Atheist father-in-law, surely he can get other messages through as well. Sports scores perhaps, or the state of the garden – or an apology for having been a raging pr!ck as a young man.

    2. to me, no matter how he responded to this, it underlines what a jerk he is. if he honestly can’t remember inflicting this kind of assault on someone (something at least 5 other people involved say they clearly recalled and were haunted by years afterwards), then he’s simply a bully with no compassion; and if he DOES remember it and is hiding it, he’s a LYING bully with no compassion.

      1. The funny thing is that there’s a good, tested response to this. Dubya may have been a poor excuse for many things, least of all a President, but in a similar situation he had the grace, the wit, or the coaching to say that he’d been something of a sh!t as a younger man, but with the guidance of his wife and of Jesus he had found a better path.

        Heck, Mitt could have positively used this, could have said that he thinks of his misspent youth often and hopes that such reflections have helped him in raising his five sons to be better people than he was. But instead, he responded poorly: either he lied about remembering these incidents that he seems never to have apologized for – or, worse, he’s telling the truth, and even while living another fifty years and raising five sons of his own he’s managed never to contemplate that he was apparently something of a raging assho|e in prep school.

        1.  Just more evidence that he’s not ready for the big chair.  He can’t even lie well.

    3. “I think it is a defining characteristic of bullies that they generally do not remember the humiliation they’ve heaped on others.”

      I think the defining characteristic is an amazing ability to turn what should be guilt, into more sadism.

    4. “I think it is a defining characteristic of bullies that they generally do not remember the humiliation they’ve heaped on others.”
      At my 20th high school reunion, a friend of mine confronted 4 people that had bullied her.  Three apologized with various reasons as to why they had acted that way – problems at home, their own insecurities, etc.

      The fourth response: “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t remember anything, anyway that was a long time ago so get over it.”  She didn’t name names, but I immediately guessed who #4 was – and she was the worst of the bunch.

  4. “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!”

    As a former (not-so-softly spoken) teenager with bleached blonde hair draped over one eye who was also perpetually teased for his nonconformity and (incorrectly) presumed  homosexuality, I can confirm that freaking out the squares is one of the best parts of the deal.

    With help from other bullies, the story goes, Romney then tackled Lauber, pinned him to the ground, and while the young man was weeping, cut off his hair.


  5. The man is 65 years old.   I’m pretty sure that in the  47 years since he has changed as a person. 

          1. No, not all of it.  Just the difference between his tax rate for capital gains, and the corresponding tax rate for earned income.

    1. Fortunately, we have direct comparisons:

      “It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me…What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”
      – Thomas Buford, classmate of Romney’s who held Lauber down

      “It was a hack job…It was vicious.”
      – Philip Maxwell, childhood friend of Romney’s, present during the incident

      “He was just easy pickin’s,” said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.
      – Matthew Friedemann, classmate and close friend of Romney

      But as to pranks that were played back then, I don’t remember them all, but again, high school days, I did stupid things. … And if anyone was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that.”
      – Mitt Romney

      Three 65-ish men who were present or involved remember the incident and expressed unqualified regret. One can’t says he can’t remember it, and classifies what the others call “senseless, stupid, idiotic” and “vicious” as a “prank”.

      Who’s changed and who hasn’t?

        1. I’ve been observing the royal subjunctive in the UK. If someone says to me, “Do you think it will rain tomorrow?”, I say “Yes.” Prince Charles will say, “Well, one wouldn’t not think that, would one?” Double negative, conditional, subjunctive, passive, interrogative seems to be the grammar of choice for people trying to avoid a public commitment to a position.

          1. Double negative, conditional, subjunctive, passive, interrogative seems to be the grammar of choice for people trying to avoid a public commitment to a position.

            Might not one on that remain unquoted by me?

      1. The main difference, of course, is only one of those men is running as the Presidential candidate of a party whose base would rip him apart if he sounded like he actually regretted doing something horrible to a gay man.

        1. I’m pretty sure that even Marcus Bachmann, who literally makes a living by trying to browbeat Gay folks into becoming Straight, doesn’t admit to or openly encourage physical assault on someone because they look like a sissy.

          1. Did you miss the article on the good Pastor Sean Harris, who told his congregation to “crack the wrists and punch children you suspect of being gay”? Or miss the sounds of the congregation whooping and applauding?

            Assaulting gay kids is considered a-ok for a large segment of the population.

    2. My oldest half-brother was twenty years my senior.  He was in high school in 1966, and his track coach told him to get his hair cut or he, the coach, would cut it for him.  My brother refused, and the coach held him down and cut it.

      Nineteen years later I had that same track coach as a math teacher, though at the time I didn’t know about my brother’s long-ago experience with him.  He turned out to be the same first-class dickweed he was in the sixties, and when I complained to my parents about the guy, the first and only math teacher in my life to make me dread going to class, they recognized his name and told me about him.

      You may argue that the same act of assault is quite different when perpetrated by an adult teacher than it is when perpetrated by a classmate, and you’d be right when it comes to culpability, though it may make no difference as far as the victim is concerned.  Also, it would seem that forcibly cutting the hair of the freaks must have been a “thing” back in the day, an almost respectable pastime enjoyed by the squares when they felt threatened and felt sure they could get away from it, backed up as they were by the Establishment.

      But Coach Brooks was a redneck high school track coach and mediocre algebra teacher at a blue-collar public high school.  Somehow he stayed employed, but he would have had a lot of trouble being elected to any office. Willard Mitt Romney was the son of the state’s Governor, a scion of power and respectability being groomed for Great Things and an Impressive Future.  As the campaign struggles to find old school chums of his to fly to his character’s defense, we have yet to hear any of them pipe up. 

      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

      We’re not living in fiction, and Mitt Romney isn’t Draco Malfoy (though the behavior seems oddly evocative of that privileged little blond asswipe), but I am less eager to assume that adolescent bullies tend to grow out of their bullying ways, especially the ones who have been privileged and sheltered and rewarded for their conquests all their adult lives.

    3. We have all done shitty things.  To answer the question “have you ever assaulted anyone?” question, yes, I have.  I also bullied kids and flung about homophobic comments.  I had cringe worthy moments of dumb and awful when I was young. 
      My problem isn’t with what Romney did.  Pinning someone for dumb shit they did when they weren’t even legally an adult over half a life time ago is stupid. People change, and there isn’t a person alive that is the same person they were in High School.  Holding someone responsible for the dumb shit they did a few decades ago when they were still an immature idiot is counterproductive.

      All of that said, I still think that this incident shows that Romney’s is a douche bag.

      The response from a remorseful human would have been to say “I was a dumb and at times a real shit head.  I am deeply ashamed of what I did.  The things that I did were simply wrong and I will not make any excuses for it.  I apologize to anyone that I have hurt.  While I can make no excuses for what I did when I was young, I want to assure the American people that that the young Romney that did those things is dead.  I would hope that the American people don’t judge the man I am today by the things I did as a boy.”  Then he could babble on about how he has taught his little spawn not to be shit heads like he was.

      That would have killed this cold.  He shows shame and remorse, doesn’t make excuses, and points out that what someone did a few decades ago while going through puberty generally has jack shit with how they are today.  Romney’s total failure to do this with his half assed apology and inability to take responsibility leaves lingering questions.  His total lack of shame is what makes this news worthy.  If he had been ashamed and remorseful, the “but that ain’t me now” argument would have stuck.  

      His mealy mouthed half apology that lacks any sort of shame is the news, not what he did.  If he isn’t ashamed of what he did, one has to ask how much has he really changed?  The fact that he would deny basic liberty at not cost to himself to millions of gay couples and their friends and family makes it pretty clear that Romney is still an unabashed douche bag.

      1. Even George Wallace confessed, apologized and asked for forgiveness. And he got it, because it was heartfelt and real.

        Romney’s victim probably had psychological issues for years if not the rest of his life. If Romney can’t even grasp the significance to another person of what he did, he’s not off the hook.

      2. Why should he have learned?

        His behaviour never had any direct negative effects on him – on the contrary, it helped him to stay “at the head of the pack” and I can only presume that he wouldn’t have made the shitload of money that he has, if he would’ve been a nicer person.

        Being a dick and a bully got him to where he is now.

      3.  I’d be fine with letting it go, except… Romney hasn’t changed. He picks on the poor, blaming them for not working hard enough. He picks on single mothers. He just recently ejected a gay man from his staff.

        Same Mittens Romney.

      4. “While I can make no excuses for what I did when I was young, I want to assure the American people that that the young Romney that did those things is dead.”

        Zombie Romney would be better than the current edition, at least it would be honest and direct. Anyway I wouldn’t vote for anyone with a dead person inside them.

        BTW Romney was 18 years old and legally an adult at the time of the incident in question.

    4. Not as much as Obama has since his personal failure to be born into a two-parent household. 

  6. As interesting as Romney’s continued lack of insight and humanity is Maxwell’s gaining of insight as he grew up.  Even the most sensitive among us have done things we’re not proud of, but they haunt us the rest of our lives.

      1. Well, I suppose the answer would be yes if you count two grade school fights.

        My point, however, was really about becoming a little more enlightened, as it seemed Maxwell did.  I’m not trying to excuse anyone here.  I’m just noting the difference in the way that Maxwell and Romney have come to view the incident even though they were both perpetrators.

        1. I guess he’s stuck, politically? To admit fault and show remorse would be to show some kind of weakness and a possible fondness for hairstyling, which would deeply offend typical Republican voters. Plus he’d be admitting to doing an obviously terrible thing, which would turn off any of those confused swing voters, at least the ones with a conscience. 

          Safer to play it off as a clouded memory of possibly pranking someone who’s (luckily for Romney) deceased. And then attack liberals for politicizing something he’s pretty sure probably didn’t really happen, at least until the photos appear. They were rich and could afford cameras, and surely some yearbook geek was there … :-/

      2. sometimes you are complete prick without cause to boingboing readers and it leaves me thinking less of boingboing everytime it happens.

        All told though I find it hilarious that boingboing seems to care so much about companies that treat their customers badly, yet the comment moderators and some of the editors/contributors to the site are guilty of the exact same thing.

        1. what are you talking about? getting slammed by the mods is a proud part of the boingboing brand!

          1.  With respect, sometimes you *are* unfair.   But I don’t see this as one of those times, personally.

            (And besides, if you were perfect, you’d invalidate the concept of entropy, and the universe would explode.)

          2.  Eh, any commenter bombing the thread with copy/paste responses would be violating the rules. It isn’t less trollish when a moderator does it. Ugly forum behavior is ugly forum behavior.

            I have to assume that the reason most of us hang out here is the generally high quality of article and commentary. So as a group I suspect we are less willing than most to give trollish behavior a pass. Presenting your (good) point in this manner undermines it.

          3. But they’re not copy/paste responses. They’re a legitimate question to four people who all said roughly the same thing.

        2. It really is terrible when Antinous is unkind to you on this tiny corner of the internet. If only there were some place you could go to discuss this story in the manner you’d prefer, unconstrained by the iron fist of Antinous.

        3.  As far as mods go, I’ve seen far worse than Antinous.

          “Have you ever assaulted anyone?” is a perfectly fine question to ask anyone. A bit insensitive perhaps, but “complete prick”? Come on…

        4. are you actually equating being moderated as a guest in an online forum to being held down and assaulted by several people at a school your parents pay to keep you at?

          This place needs a fainting couch. So many people with the vapors.

      3. I agree with the point headcode makes.  The past of both men is revealing, but the fact that Romney has remained rigidly insulated against self-reflection for the past fourty-odd years, while Maxwell appears to have thought about his own actions, realized how awful he was, felt nd expressed compassion and shame.

        It doesn’t make either one’s actions acceptable, but for one of them I can hold out hope that he’s changed.

        Also, I agree that anyone with a shred of self-awareness has surely done something that they feel was terrible and shameful. That this doesn’t seem to qualify for Romney suggests either he hasn’t a shred of self-awareness, or that this particular terrible thing doesn’t even register on the scale of the atrocities he’s committed.

        And, since it seems to be on topic (?)
        – I was physically bullied early in elementary school, but not nearly as badly as a lot of kids have it
        – I got in a few fights later in elementary school, at least a couple of which I started.  In all instances where the fight could be said to have a winner and a loser, I lost.
        – In the sixth grade I sucker-punched my friend without provocation on a weird impulse I to this day do not understand.  I immediately felt awful and apologized.  My friend was very gracious about it, probably because he could see how horrified I was, and I was pretty shrimpy, so he didn’t even get a bruise.
        – In seventh and eighth grades I was unkind in a variety of small ways to a kid who was being bullied more seriously by others.  This is the instance I most strongly regret.  When we reconnected later in life, he was entirely gracious, for which I am profoundly grateful and admire him.  I think and hope I apologized to him, though I wouldn’t swear to it.

        I think that covers it.

  7. Sounds mostly to me like he was a douchebag in college. So what? So were a lot of people.  Whether homosexuality was on his mind is debatable and impossible to prove.  He was tormenting a guy who was being teased for looking different, which, while despicable, is something that’s gone on since the beginning of time.

    I’ve done things I’m not proud about. I’m sure others have as well. Makes one wonder what you expect from a leader, and how reasonable some expectations are.

    Please note: I’m not making excuses. I’m just annoyed at the attitude that it’s ok to blame people for dumb crap they did when they were kids. (although the definition of “kid” is certainly argumentative. I’m speaking as someone who’s about to turn 35). 

    1. The problem isn’t the dumb stuff he did as a teenager.  The problem is that he’s still the same privileged bully now.  Everyone did dumb stuff as a teenager… but most of us, reminded of it, go “Oh god, did I do that?  I’m sorry.  Man, I was stupid back then.”  (Which is exactly what everyone else involved with this incident has done.)

      The problem is that Romney deals with criticism by evading, deceiving and making passive-voice non-apologies.  That is the most common evil habit of politicians… and the one that leads to the most disastrous decisions, because someone who can’t say “I was wrong” can’t learn from mistakes.

      (Blair did it a lot during the Iraq war… and that habit in him was the reason I predicted, correctly, on the day he took office, the kind of jackass he’d turn into given real power.  Learn from those mistakes, and avoid this guy like the over-entitled scum he so obviously is.)

    2.  I’d forgive romney this past sin if he wasn’t still the same douchebag. He’s moved on to blaming the poor, blaming single mothers, and firing gay members of his staff.


    3. “kids”

      If Romney is elected President he’ll have the power to send kids that were basically the same age as him to go kill people around the world.

      Also, is it just me, or does every apologetic response to this seem to come with a “We all did dumb things”? 

      Things like this?  No, I’m sorry, but no.

      I get the feeling people are sympathetic because they too were/are bullies.

      I also don’t buy that this incident which happened on the cusp of adulthood is completely divorced from his character.  He got even richer and more powerful and became enlightened…..

      And wow, how he could have really put a damper on this by actually saying he was sorry for it rather than pulling that disgusting IF I offended somebody shit..

      1. I agree with your statement re: “We all did dumb things” disclaimer for Romney people are dropping. 

        The few occasions I assaulted anyone as a kid I was turning the tables, sticking it to a bully. Mostly after 7th grade when I realised I could take a severe beating and probably live, and never shed a tear or capitulate. 

        I can think of a few girlfriends I’d like to see again and apologize -again- for being somewhat insensitive, but most of my ex’s are on good terms or still friends.

        Dumb things?, yes, assaulting someone?, not in that context. Not even close.

  8. We all did stupis shit in college. Lets not lower ourselves to the tactics of the right. Lets instead focus on the douchebag that he is now

      1. I once held down and kid and gave him a pink belly untill he cried. I put electrical tape around a kids head and then tried to yank it off and his whole head came with me. I’ve punched someone. 
        So yes I have. But I was a douchebag then. i’m not a douchebag now.
        not to say that Romney is not a douchebag now – but we’re all retarded at that age and we do stupid stuff. Focusing on this stuff is petty and is just slinging shit.
        focus on the now. 
        Have you got a perfect past? 

        1. It may be safe to say that we all “do stupid stuff” as kids.  But not all of us are cruel to each other.  Not all of us would overpower someone and perform physical mischief on him or her simply because he or she has a hairstyle or skin color or sexual preference or affectation or religion that does not fall under our own narrow umbrella of Things We Think Are True And Correct.

          Weirdly enough, even among those of us who were raised in a trailer park, some of us were brought up better than that.

        2. we’re all retarded at that age and we do stupid stuff.

          Speak for yourself.  Not all of us were bullies. But it makes sense that those who were think we should all just move on.

          It’s this “kids will be kids” attitude that gives bullies their power. Maybe if the “stupid stuff” kids did followed them into their adult lives, the adults in their lives wouldn’t be so blasé about letting it happen. Maybe Romney suffering a few slings and arrows over this will make a good object lesson.

        3. I’m very willing to believe that a 65-year-old man with a stable family life isn’t the violent sneering bully they were as a older teenager. But they have to help me out with that belief: they have to say that they’ve thought about their former selves, and they’ve changed, and they hope their kids were better than they had been at the same age. They have to take responsibility. But Mitt’s whole life has been about entitlement, about what’s owed to him – not about responsibility.

        4. Thank you for replying to @Antinous_Moderator:disqus  ‘s repeated question so we have a chance to respond to his prompt unlike everyone further up thread :)

          Your defending Romney says more about yourself than it does about him.

          I don’t think people should be held forever accountable for indiscretions in their youth.  However, there are people who did the things you and Romney did in high school, and there are those who didn’t. The ones who didn’t weren’t necessarily all victims, but many of them were.

          The ones who did do that shit are a minority. We all did things we regret, but a small minority escalated to bullying and assault as you did. You may think what you did was minor, and that everyone did stuff like that. You’re wrong, and even if you weren’t wrong, it isn’t a valid defense. There is no defense.

          The people who did that stuff often end up in positions of power, undeservedly. Fine. But we can draw the line at the fucking office of the president, where douchebags and assholes are not welcome.

          Maybe you’ve changed your ways as you got older, but you defending Romney here indicates that maybe you haven’t completely reformed. Romney sure hasn’t reformed.

          Once an asshole, 95% of the time, always an asshole (though usually mellowed a bit – it’s built-in, deep). Sorry.

        5. from :I was a douchebag then. i’m not a douchebag now.

          to: Focusing on this stuff is petty and is just slinging shit.

          in once sentnce.

          One mustn’t not applaud that level of self-awareness.

        6. It’s called the false consensus bias.

          Most people believe that everyone else is basically just like them. Especially when they believe this in order to excuse themselves for being assholes.

          No, azzamckazza, we didn’t “all do stupid shit in college” that involved bullying and abusing people.

        7. It’s called the false consensus bias.

          Most people believe that everyone else is basically just like them. Especially when they believe this in order to excuse themselves for being assholes.

          No, azzamckazza, we didn’t “all do stupid shit in college” that involved bullying and abusing people.

        8.  But I was a douchebag then. i’m not a douchebag now.

          Unfortunately we have no way of getting a second opinion on that.

        9. “I put electrical tape around a kids head and then tried to yank it off and his whole head came with me. ”
          You tore some child’s head clean off and consider it “stupid stuff”?

          j/k, but you are wrong to assume that assaulting someone the way Romney did when he was 18 years old is the same as throwing paper airplanes in class or cheating on a quiz.

          BTW you think you are not a douchbag now, and Romney seems to feel the same way about himself. 

          Did you lower your bar just now, or raise it?

      2. i sympathize with what you’re saying, but if a candidate agreed with me on all issues i would soberly overlook this (and probably much worse), as likely would many or even most. the issue here is that his history as an asshole emotionally correlates with his platform. i’m not sure if emotionalizing his platform is the right thing to be doing, whatever one may think of it.

        1. I would actually consider being a bully, and moreso Romney’s clear lack of guilt about it, as kind of a deal killer even in a candidate more politically acceptable to me. 

          To me it’s more serious a mark against one’s character than anything John Edwards did, and his moral lapse basically killed his career. 

      3. Antinous, I’ve seen this response too often on this thread. Writing the same response over and over again is something BoingBoing moderators have taken others to task for in the past, and all I ask is that you follow the same guidelines.

        I understand and can empathise, but as they say, sauce for the goose, yadda yadda. :)

        1. Moderators get to make meta-commentary; that’s part of what we do. In some cases, I find it worthwhile to repeat myself to highlight a trend in a thread.

        2.  But he’s asking the same question to *different people*.

          I rather like the whole “moderator as interviewer” thing.  As long as it doesn’t completely take over the whole of the comments.  AFAIK no-one else is doing it.

          1. That is true; I just wanted to make sure he doesn’t open himself to cries of hypocrisy. And for what it’s worth, I accept his argument.

          2. In this case, I’m not even trying to be snarky.  I just can’t fathom the idea that I could hold someone down and hack off his hair and then not have a clear memory of it, even a half-century later.

            I want to know if anyone here has committed an assault of that gravity and just blown it off as another day at school.

        3. Though at first I thought the question was just poking at obvious comment bombers, now I think it’s a valuable reminder to all to really stop and think about whether we’ve ever done anything like this. Are we suppressing some guilty memory or excusing ourselves for being vicious pricks at some point against someone defenseless and frightened?

      4. I remember that once, a number of bullies pushed me and another short kid into a cage, and poked us with sticks to get us to fight.

        It’s an extreme example, but that’s how bullying works. The big bullies corner you, and either you join the bullying or you get destroyed. There were times when I didn’t join them, and I was beaten, I was harassed, I had my books and papers destroyed, and I was kicked out of my first high school. If I wasn’t so angry I’d have been suicidal; a psychiatrist wanted me to take drugs, assuming it was depression instead of having a screwed-up puberty and being beaten up all the time. There were times when I did join them and those times still haunt me.

  9. I think it’s interesting that so many people think this isn’t a big deal. I think tackling another human being, holding them down, and cutting their hair off is spectacularly horrifying. I don’t know anyone closely that would have ever considered that behavior to be acceptable, even as teenagers. Even kids know this is brutal. 

    I have never attacked anyone, and violated them like this as a kid. This is a bit more than a kids with be kids kind of thing.

    1. Exactly. Not being an outright monster just isn’t that hard, even at a young age. Anyone who says this is “kids being kids” was either a bully at that age, or is seriously underestimating kids’ intelligence.

    2. I watched a film where a Transgender woman had her hair forcibly cut off by her father who couldn’t accept his son’s transition to a female identity. Anyway it was one of the most horrific scenes in the film.

      I think my opinion of Romney and what his actions say about him would be different if Romney manned up an apologized, I’m not surprised he’s this sort of person, not at all, but that he couldn’t directly apologize is what upsets me.

      He could have in planning the attack not considered that way it would make the boy feel, but her had to know after he’d done it just how badly he fucked up as a human being.

      Lol and he calls himself a Christian, yeah sure god makes you moral…

      inb4: Mormons aren’t Christians

    3. Remember all those scare-stories about how the right-wing militia in Iran (I’m afraid I can’t remember the name) were punishing improper coiffure, and imposing religiously appropriate haircuts? All those stories about people being stoned by the Taliban for adopting the hairstyle of Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic? Hair-based violence is a real thing world wide, sometimes a deeply terrifying thing involving even the death penalty – and has been denounced as such by some of the same right-wing partisans eager to dismiss Mitt’s youthful indiscretions.

  10. A life long pattern of depraved indifference for the feelings of those around them and a clear inability to reflect honestly on their actions are prime hall marks of a sociopath.

    1. Lyndon Johnson used to beat the shit out of Lady Bird Johnson when he had company, yet he nuked nobody.

      1. Is this intended as humor? Because I’m not aware that it’s true, and a couple of quick and admittedly haphazard Google queries didn’t find anything.

  11. If John Kerry had “swiftboating”, I wonder what the equivalent term would be for Mitt Romney’s travails? 

    I’m not suggesting this claim against Romney is untrue, just wondering what phrase might be.

    1. When it’s about something that really happened, the term is “reporting”. It’s often used as an alternative to making things up, when discrediting people who actually deserve it.

      1. Thing of sick beauty that people would acknowledge the GOP attack on Kerry was a falsehood in order to try and associate this incident of Romney’s as being false.

        It doesn’t say a lot that Romney is the best that the GOP could find, it says WAY TOO MUCH.

    2.  Well, at least he doesn’t like to rick santorum.

      Not that it’s not perfectly fine to rick santorum.

    3.  I’m not suggesting this claim against Romney is untrue, just wondering what phrase might be.

      That’s exactly what you’re trying to do.

  12. I saw this on Rachel Maddow tonight. She astutely pointed the weirdness of Mitt Romney’s attempts to say he can’t remember: that although he distinctly remembers not knowing or suspecting at the time that both people that he might have bullied were gay, he can’t remember actually doing to bullying. 


    1. Yep, the fool has limited the possible interpretations of his response to Liar, or Psychopath.

      The only thing he had to do to avoid either of those interpretations was tell the truth.

  13. If you’ve seen the Russian foreign film, Hipsters, you will know that this hair cutting business is the work of COMMUNISTS!! 

  14. For reference, here are the criteria for PCL-R Factors 1a and 1b in the Hare Psychopathy Checklist:
    * Glibness/superficial charm
    * Grandiose sense of self-worth
    * Pathological lying
    * Cunning/manipulative
    * Lack of remorse or guilt
    * Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
    * Callousness; lack of empathy
    * Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

  15. Romney could have admitted the incident and stated how much he regretted it. He could’ve said, “I did some stupid, stupid things as a kid–we all have–and this is one that I’m just darn ashamed of. I wish Mr. Lauber was still with us so I could offer my unqualified, heartfelt apology.” Follow it up with a call to Lauber’s family, telling them what he “wished I had told your brother so many years ago.”

    He could then take up the recent attention drawn to childhood bullying and tie it to “family values.” Sponsor showings of the “Bully” movie. Make it into a pillar of his campaign–“America has long been the protector of free people, and it starts here, at home.” Then it’s only a few hack sentences to tie it to anti-regulation, increased militarism, and all the “freedoms” that the right wing blabbers about.

    But that would mean acknowledging people afflicted with teh ghey are being beat up on, literally and figuratively. And today’s GOP just couldn’t have that.

    1.  It would also require him to genuinely and authentically admit to being wrong.  Politicians are loathe to do so, let alone anybody in the GOP.

      1. Plus the GOP base itself seems kind of.. inhospitable to humanity.

        Woops, achieving redundancy has been achieved. Sorry about that. Too much horror for the brain to filter through.

  16. Slightly tangential, but this thread brings to mind Stephen King’s observation: “If your best years were at high school, you were one of the bullies”.

    1. Oh that Steven King – Always calling it as he sees it !


  17. are ‘drive by haircuts’ commonplace in high schools? my friend tim had long hair in front and shaved the rest of his head, and he had two fellows (both computer nerds actually) grab his front ponytail and cut it. it was quite traumatic, since he was a super nice quiet guy. i wanted to kill the guys that did it. true story.

    bah, politics. they always bring up such strong feelings. much like organized sports. and in both cases i am woefully unequipped to dialogue.

      1.  Go read the bible. Samson’s hair and stuff. Or just listen to Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (“She broke your throne and she cut your hair”). There is a huge pack of freakin’ symbolism in cutting someones hair (against their will). It implies submission – in this case forced submission – and powerlessness. It’s certainly a crass violation of private space.

  18. There’s an interview making the rounds with Romney from back in 2007 in which he recalls first meeting his future spouse:

    “He remembered that when he was a Cub Scout in elementary school, he and some other scouts saw Ann riding a horse bareback across a railroad track.  ‘What do Cub Scouts do when they see a little girl on a horse?’ Mitt says now. ‘We picked up stones and threw them [at her].'”

    He thinks this is normal behavior for Cub Scouts to do that.  He and Ann both think it quaint and funny now, perhaps on a par with dipping a girl’s pigtails in an inkwell.  Throwing stones at a girl riding a horse.  There is something profoundly damaged and ugly inside this man, to a degree even his assault on John Lauber only hints at.

    1. I was a cub scout in the 70’s, so a decade later than Romney I think, I can attest that we did not act that way esp. in uniform. Little boys do rotten things here and there, so do little girls, but either this Romney person is exaggerating his behaviour as a child or he was a very bad person who got away with very bad behaviour by virtue of being extremely privileged. 

      I think it the latter, because he used his privilege to establish himself as a leader and then had other children doing very bad things with him. Without the privilege of being the son of the Gov. he would have faced stiffer competition in all things and faced penalties/rewards for his behaviour that may have modified it. But as it stands he went from a pre-pubescent that leads others to throws rocks at girls, even while in the uniform of a system that espoused honourable behaviour, to a post-pubescent man-boy that attacked homosexuals and coerced others to do the same.

      We know he is not remarkable, he could not be who and where he is without taking full advantage of his privileged upbringing. 

    2. Dude, that’s just fucked. There is something seriously fucking wrong with a population that wants to elect this man.

    1. All the competent candidates declined to run until 2016, given Obama’s strength.  Except for Huntsman, who is entirely competent, but also entirely unacceptable to the GOP base.  Even moreso than Romney.  

      1. Hunstman’s 2016 campaign slogan will be “How about we nomiante a grown-up?”

  19. So Romney indulged in a random act of cruelty at school over 40 years ago. That fact by itself it need not be deal-breaker from being CEO of some company (you can bully people out of private companies that exist to enrich the shareholders and the executive, people who don’t like it can go elsewhere), but it should disbar him from holding office in a civilised nation. Why is Romney even running? Is the US presidency actually still a personal vanity contest? To me the fact Romney is put forward highlights something deeply wrong with US politics. You get the sense that Romney could try to run a country, but he’d run it like a business. You can’t fire your citizens, you’re responsible for all of them and it’s a different ball game. The inability to grasp that point seems to be the defining characteristic of contemporary republicans.

    Romney cannot possibly be *the* individual most fit to head the executive branch of the nation of the United States. If you’re running the whole country, there is no place to bully people. If the Republicans are putting him forward, then their agenda is something other than selecting the best leader. If the Republicans want to be taken seriously as a political force in the USA, they need to admit they’ve lost so hard following GWB that they’re out of office for at least the next decade, and start grooming some people with actual leadership credentials for the 2020 or 2024 race.

  20. So Romney was obsessed with a gay classmate and stalked him? 

    Lucky Mitt didn’t sodomize him, just to show him who’s boss. 

  21. Romney says he can’t recall and he’s sorry if he “offended” anyone? Bullcrap. He remembers. That’s not “offending” someone. That’s assault, plain and simple. He remembers and that’s a pretty weakass cop-out.

  22. The only way Romney wouldn’t be able to remember this incident (if it indeed took place) is if he had done so many other worse things that this was an inconsequential drop in the bucket.

  23. It’s perhaps worth mentioning that Romney was almost certainly eighteen at the time of the incident. He was born March 12, 1947, and it happened after spring break in 1965, when he was a high school senior.

    The “He was just a kid!” argument would hold a lot more weight for me if he’d been twelve at the time, instead of a legal adult.

    1. Obviously eighteen with the mental capacity of a twelve year old !
      also has a slight case of CRS- CANT REMEMBER SHIT .
      how could someone physically attack another in a mob environment hold them down and forcibly cut their hair  and have no mental recollection of it – I say”LIAR  LIAR PANTS ON FIRE”  – as this election season rolls on I wonder what other interesting life events Mittens cant remember………

      1. I’m 40+ and with prompting can remember most events of my late teens-early twenties despite diagnosed memory disorders and a few severe concussions, as well as drug use during those years. I have issues with names and faces, I cannot do those without full context, but events, happenings, occasions, only require prompting for at least some recall.

        That said, I can choose to remember nothing. I don’t believe Romney doesn’t remember and I’m disappointed that he cannot make anyone believe it.

  24. Moderator note:  So the Talking Point™ that’s burning up the internet is this:  OHMYGOD!  Obama pushed shoved a girl!  (edited to reflect my actual search terms) Google it if you want to see right-wing PR in action.  Let’s deconstruct this so that I don’t have to take the machete to any more Talking Points™.

    Obama:  Was in Middle School.
    Romney:  Was a High School Senior.

    Obama:  Shoved a girl.
    Romney:  Led a gang assault in which he held down his victim and physically violated him while verbally abusing him.

    Obama:  Talked about it in his memoir.
    Romney:  Barely remembers it because there were so many incidents.

    Myth busted.

    1. The girl’s real name is Joella Edwards (called “Coretta” in Obama’s book, and there are several interviews of her around.  

      She and Obama were the only Black kids in Obama’s private school in Hawaii, and they were friends.  They were both bullied by many of the other students, so badly in her case that she transferred to a public school to escape it in 9th grade.  In one of the interviews she gave,  she called him her “savior” and a “knight in shining armor” due to him sticking up for her.  

      She also says he never shoved her, that that was a bit of drama or whatever in his book, not something that actually happened.  

      So yeah… myth further busted.  Not that the right wingers are going to listen or care.

    2. This is why Google’s filtered search results is such a bad idea. When I googled “Obama pushed a girl” I didn’t really get any direct hits. Which I am guessing is due to my largely left wing perusal of the interwebs?
      So if what I hear about google filtering is right then someone else might have gotten pages upon pages of right wing rants? To which I will be forever oblivious?

      1. Ah.  My fault.  I used ‘shoved’ in my search.  I’ll edit my comment.

    3.  Yeah, a -much- better comparison would be Senator Robert Byrd, who was an active member of the KKK in his twenties, filibustered the civil rights act of ’64, but got a free pass on both because he voted reliably left wing starting in the ’70s.

      1. “reliably left wing” lol.

        He got a free pass because the people of West Virginia liked him.

        Your material is really bad.

  25. Note to all countries full of people that don’t look like Romney…be afraid of the elections.

    every time i hear the guy talk he sets of my creep alarm…i don’t think he has changed much since his senior year.

  26. Kids do stupid things and people do change, but change requires recognition that you did something wrong, and it doesn’t seem that Romney realized that.

    1. …as in the Tea Party meaning of the word “Christian”.  Nothing to do with the actual teaching of Jesus Christ, of course. 

      1. In my experience Christianity as a political force in general has nothing much to do with the teachings of Jesus. Just look at the Catholic church, ffs.

    2. I don’t know how it was in the ’60’s, but there currently is zero mention of religion on any of their admission web site pages.  I’ve never heard of it being anything other than a really expensive, exclusive school.  Here’s the page where they list tuition.

  27. I’m interested that so much of the attention given to this Washington Post story has gone to the gay-bashing incident with the hair. Don’t get me wrong: the idea of several kids holding a peer down while they assault him with scissors is flatly horrific. But the story that I find even more amazing is the one with the teacher, who is described as being either half-blind or perpetually distracted. The one who Mitt walked into a door, just for the Lulz.

    Really? A physical assault on a teacher? In a school that (claims to have) expelled Lauber for smoking a single cigarette? And a sly, sniggering assault on an infirm and defenseless teacher at that? That just seems an incredible thing to have done. Although I suspect Lauber’s father was neither the former CEO of a major car company nor the governor of the state.

    (The story where he impersonates a police officer, which I think may be a felony, to get cheap thrills by intruding on a young lady and her date at an intimate moment, and scares her with the utter destruction of her life as she knows it were she genuinely to be arrested, is also pretty impressively dickish)

      1. Sure. I took some care to make it clear I was disgusted by that assault. But it seems to me there’s a different sort of cruelty between on the one hand mob violence by a bunch of teenage boys against another teenage boy who is somehow Other, and on the other hand the premeditated felonistic seeking out, perving over, humiliation of, and terrifying of a young woman. I’m not trying to say which is worse – but I think the latter variety is rarer.

        1. the premeditated felonistic seeking out, perving over, humiliation of, and terrifying of a young woman

          Except for the victim’s sex, isn’t this exactly what he did? And didn’t he do it because the victim was feminine?

          1. The incident with the young woman involved props, and seeking out a victim – likely not someone they knew well – off of school grounds and at night. The mob violence against Mr. Lauber was perpetrated by a bunch of assho|es he knew quite well, and could have been fairly impromptu. And speaking as someone who was bullied by a kid, even while it’s happening you have a sense that there is a structure to the event, that these jerks are scum but they will only take it so far, that they are trying to extract their daily due of humiliation.

            Again, I’m not trying to make a comparative value judgement here about which was worse or was more extreme. They’re very different incidents, one brutally violent but done according to something of a recognized formula, the other likely wholly nonviolent but extremely unpredictable. But I do think the fake cop stunt was a different and more unusual kind of bullying.

          2. @Warren_Terra, I follow you. Mitt is a bottomless box of horrors, each more exotic and dehumanizing than the last, and I am significantly ashamed that a large fraction of the American populace wants to give him more power.

        2. Then I wonder why he wasn’t prosecuted.   I obviously don’t expect the full five years the law would allow, specially since he wasn’t an adult, but some social service hours would have been sensible. 

          1. Believe me, it was worse. Maybe in a different way, but worse. If your father had beaten your mother or you bloody, it wouldn’t be a crime in many places. The cops wouldn’t even consider helping you out of the situation.

      2. Sounds like assault with a deadly weapon ( scissors) to me – but hey 

        I’ve hated mittens from the start. I can not put trust in a person who’s company purchased other companies to disassemble them for profit – While countless people lost their jobs – It’s fucking un- american and shit like that put us were we  are today. Now he wants to run for president – I say NAY !

  28. What an ass he was. He said he did not remember it and he did not know what Gay meant. Yea right I sure would remember if I cut someone’s hair like that and I knew what the term Gay was in lower grade school. Romney is one big liar and can never be trusted.

  29. I bullied a few kids in both Junior High and High School (Only up to about 10th grade when I befriended a kid I had bullied in 8th grade) and even though I don’t remember details about all of them, I do remember doing it….and why. Sometimes it was out of boredom, sometimes it was just because I didn’t like the kid…other times because kids ran their mouths off about me. I call bullshit on Mittens forgetting. I can’t help but feel like Romney is getting by with a slap on the wrist…yet again. First in High School…and now as a Presidential candidate. WTF?? This should be getting A LOT more attention and it should be looked into further. I eventually owned up to the things I did…and I was fairly immature….but I know what I did was wrong. With Romney, I get the vibe that he never reflected on what he did and he’s just like looking at it all like “Well, whadda ya gonna do? Ya know? Ahhh, high school. Fun times.”

    Christ, what an asshole.

  30. I found it very telling that they dug up one of his old classmates who is comparing the whole incident to like when you goto a pool party and they threaten to push someone in but don’t.  Of course this upstanding citizen wasn’t there and shouldn’t be used to confirm or deny the allegation but there he is getting his time on tv claiming it couldn’t have happened.

    I feel bad for the victim of the attack and now for his family.  They are going to have these “wonderful” political types digging into their lives and reopening old wounds.  Looking for any sort of dirt they can use to find some sort of bizzaro justification for the actions of some rich kids who if not for their position in society would have been in jail.

    This is not a man who made a childish mistake and learned from it.  This is a man who can not admit even remote awareness of assaulting another human being because it would undermine his political future to actually apologize to someone who might have been gay.  I guess this is where our politics are now, you need to capture the violent homophobe vote.

    1. You think this is going to hurt Romney? I mean among people who would consider voting for him? Do you think it will make anti-gay conservatives less or more likely to vote for a guy they’ve hitherto thought is too pro-gay? Do you think it will make conservatives who think Romney is a liberal wimp less or more likely to vote for him? And among moderate voters who don’t give a damn about what someone did half a century ago when he was an obnoxious teenager, do you think they’ll hold it against him? I think the only people who are going to attach any importance to this are people who are already firmly in the Democratic party camp.

    1. I’m sure he also thinks that being nominated will mean that his horse will be in front of that cart; the fool.

  31. Well, I guess all the boingers who up till now were planning on voting for Romney have today had a change of heart.

  32. It’s important to see this assault in the context of Romney’s assault on Seamus the Dog. In both cases we have overwhelming physical force used to restrain an unwilling, unconsenting subject; humiliation (haircutting as symbolic castration; the dog shitting himself copiously and repeatedly); and denial-“forgetting”–arguing away the severity of what was done. I strongly suggest we ride this emerging pattern to an electoral drubbing in November for Rat Bastard Romney: “Vote Mitt Romney: He’ll Hold You Captive, Violate Your Rights, and Make You Shit Yourself.”

  33. Romney, like any person of faith (or sociopath), appears to be in the grip of the fantasy that he is, at best, unlikely to commit an act of moral depravity – And, more likely, INCAPABLE of such an act.

    He will ALWAYS twist it around in his mind to where the “other” had it coming, and that, instead of being a preppy jagoff, was simply fulfilling the glorious role of being singled out by the Creator of the Universe to right an intolerable wrong.

    In his mind, I’m sure, there is no difference between Mr. Lauber, the companies that Bain Capital raided and wrecked or anybody who defies god and Joseph Smith by not voting for Romney – They all DESERVE what he did and will do to them.

    Really – I more expected to hear an emerging  story like this to be attributed to Santorum, who certainly seems more belligerent and likely to physically assault someone “different”, than does a patrician doofus like Romney – But I can’t say I’m surprised to hear of an event like this in his past. And Romneys’  “Duhhhhhhh… I don’t ‘member dat” response speaks volumes about his own sense of personal responsibility and accountability.

    1. I’m a non-theist and I agree with your general point but I have to object to your 100% correlation between sociopathy and religion. The overlap isn’t total, and it’s possible to make your argument without slandering good people.  In fact it’s actually more persuasive if you don’t start a comment with a slur.

      1. Thank you, speaking as an Obama-supporting gay-rights-activist Quaker married to a Mennonite of similar political character.

      2. I (militant atheist) have to concur.

        ‘Sides: you can be an atheist and still be a total dickwad.

  34. They way he squeals about raising taxes you’d think he knows -exactly- how to come across as someone being held down and given a haircut.

  35.  When you’re rich you can wait 50 years and apologize seven years after the guy is dead.

    If Barak Obama had so much as pointed a spork at someone in high school FOX News would be on 24-hour, DANGEROUS BLACK RADICAL ALERT until he was out of office.

  36. Going meta here because I’ve read all the comments and everything’s pretty much been said.  I’m a little surprised that BB was late to this party with an evening post.  All day this story had smoke pouring off of every political blog like a destroyer under War Emergency Power.

    And kudos to Lead Moderator Antinous for his deft handling of the commentariat.

    1. Cheers.

      I was surprised that HuffPo only had about 6,000 comments on this by the end of the day, especially since it was their banner for a while. President Obama’s gay marriage support had > 50,000 comments. Just thinking about it made me need to lie down with a cool cloth on my forehead.

  37. At the risk of sounding like I’m defending the current king of popular douchebaggery, I’m going to say that this should be swept aside. Not forgotten about, but swept aside. My guess is that the people who won’t find Mr. Romney’s shameful, fall into 2 categories. 1.) His unshakable constituency. 2.) The “kids will be kids”/”We all did dumb stuff when we were young” people.Then there’s a 3rd group: people who think that this incident is disgusting. All of those are valid opinions (as all opinions inherently are) regardless of their ethical alignment, but none of them have anything to do with why I believe this should be shelved. 

    Why do I think this needs to be moved out of the spotlight? It’s not a vote changer. Do you really think anyone, no matter which of these 3 groups to which s/he belongs, is going to change her/his opinion because this has come to light? Here’s what that might look like:

    Group 1.) “Mitt was beatin’ up the gays way back then too? Well, alllllllright. I guess I will vote for him after all.”
    Group 2.) “He was a jackass when he was in high school as high schoolers are wont to be. That makes me think differently about his 40-some-year-older self and want to change my opinion of him as a candidate.”
    Group 3.) “Man, he was a jerk back then. He almost got my vote, but there’s no way I’m voting for a guy who was a jerk when he was 17.”

    Maybe I’m wrong, but those scenarios all seem equally laughable to me. That’s why I think we need to spend this valuable time discussing why he’s such an ass now. And why his policies during his time in office are dangerous.

    1. It’s not about changing their votes. It’s about spotting the people who can’t pass up an opportunity to protect and apologize for a bully.

      Without enablers, bullies can’t exist. Don’t be that guy, guy.

      1. How am I enabling? I didn’t even give my opinion on the whole thing.

        Don’t jump to conclusions, guy.

        1.  “At the risk of sounding like I’m defending the current king of popular douchebaggery, I’m going to…”

          1. Show me where I protected his bullying actions. Show me where I apologized for them. I never said ignore this, forgive him for it, or anything like that. That “at the risk of” line was a covert way to place myself into Group 3 mentioned in my original post & to signal my lack of support for Mitt. Way to read between the lines, comrade!

            I want this d-bag (I’m talking about Mitt Romney, not you. I try not to make snap judgements about people without evidence) to fade into oblivion. I happen to believe that discussing his behavior as a teenager is an ineffective way to do that. 

          2.  @boingboing-6ec00eeb639d309bafaeb0a3ea24fb3c:disqus – yet you keep responding to people who wish to focus on it.

            Focus on what you want to focus on, and stop trying to bully people into agreeing with you. You’ve repeated yourelf, and done what you said yourself would probably come across poorly, and yet you need to get the last word in on a conversation you claim to want to not have.

            Go give some other hippie a haircut. 

      2. while i totally agree with your remark “Without enablers, bullies can’t exist” i’m a bit more fuzzy on the notion of whether “the people who can’t pass up an opportunity to protect and apologize for a bully” 40 years later are really functioning as enablers. there i some case to be made for believing that it allows the following kind of mentality: “me beating up this little prick during recess won’t matter – i mean, look at what everyone is saying about what romney did when he was in school”. but if that’s true then we have a condundrum: i think that you’re right about the enabling side of things but that jfaehnle is right about the political side of things (as in “this will not affect voting and so is wasting time in the context of a political process”). how do we handle something that is simultaneously very important and very unimportant?

        1. Precisely my point. Form your opinion to this thing, and move on because your opinion will almost certainly just reinforce your current opinion or ambivalence (is it possible to reinforce ambivalence?). Let’s instead talk about how electing this guy is a bad idea in terms of “when he was governor, he did x, which suggests as POTUS, he’ll probably do y; and that’s going to hurt the nation because z.” and the like.

          1. when he was governor he was neutered by the state legislature, and was not unlike mister bean.

            Now, lets talk about what a sadist he was in family and corporate life… and oh look, ALSO IN HIGH SCHOOL.

            Almost a pattern, with enough data points.

            If you focus on enough trees, you might eventually recognize the forest your in, or not. pal.

          2. When he was MY governor, he skipped out half-term to run in ’08 and also threw his Lt. Gov. under the bus in HER run for his seat. I think we’re talking about behavioral patterns here; let’s consult the DSM-IV for a dx of people who can’t remember traumatizing their peers and who develop a pathological aversion to maintaining a previously stated position.

        2. If someone think it’s more important to point out the time elapsed since the abuse, to the exclusion of validating the responsibility for it, then that person is focusing on what they wish to focus on, which is not the culpability of the abuser, but rather the circumstance of the victim.

          1. you totally failed to answer my question. 

            yes in relation to bullying and its enablers, Romney and his friends then and now should be called out on their actions and held accountable for them, regardless of the time elapsed.

            no in relation to the political process, this issue isn’t going to change votes or opinions in any notable way, and thus ends up being largely irrelevant to the actual outcome no matter what your opinion of Romney, his friends and his defenders is.

            so, how do you, personally, reconcile those two perspectives?

          2.  @PaulDavisTheFirst:disqus – that was my answer. We focus on what we find important (our own opinion) and not on what isn’t important (the opinions of people we percieve as opposing our ego). Right?

          3. i don’t consider my own opinion very important at all. without evidence to the contrary, i like to believe that people who disagree with me have just as noble and justifiable basis for their opinion as i do. the existence of different opinions appears to me as an oppurtunity to explore the nature of and origins of the difference, since neither my own opinion nor the one i disagree with has any particular primacy. in the best possible outcome, both people/groups leave with new opinions informed by the perspective of the other(s). in the worst outcome, both retain their existing opinions but feel even more certain that they are right. so in a word, no ..

        3. i’m a bit more fuzzy on the notion of whether “the people who can’t pass up an opportunity to protect and apologize for a bully” 40 years later are really functioning as enablers.

          Given that anti-bullying initiatives are being considered in various states and communities and that some politicians, pundits and religious fanatics are opposing any anti-bullying laws, I’m not fuzzy on this issue at all.

    2.  “Man, he was a jerk back then. He almost got my vote, but there’s no way I’m voting for a guy who was a jerk when he was 17.”
      I agree that’s an unlikely scenario.  But the November election is about more than the top of the ticket.  If the nominee has negative appeal to some voters that reduces turnout and affects tight races downticket.  Control of the US House and Senate could depend on which party can get more people to the polls.  Then there are state and local races.  Mitt looking like a thug, and appearing clueless about it, could have more consequences for the GOP than just the Presidency.  Remember the 2010 midterm election result was wildly different from 2008 just because Dems didn’t have a strong headliner to motivate the base.

      1. Great point. Hadn’t thought of it in that light. Thank you for responding in a thoughtful, worthwhile manner. And again, I don’t think this shouldn’t have been covered. I think too much time spent on can become wasted time (he says as he goes onto his 40th cumulative minute of responding to this post).

  38. That’s the old testament Romney. Now that he’s had a son and he’s a loving leader, you can ignore whatever heinous things he did in the past and just concentrate how much Romney loves everyone.

  39. I find Antinous sometimes to be kind of a jerk, and the moderation on the site often  comes across as childish and/or peevish.  But his repeated question “have you assaulted someone?” makes a point, I think.  Several have said “we all regret stuff we did”, to which his response conveys (to me) the rejoinder “really, did you do something as awful as what Mitt Romney did?  There are things to regret, and then there are things to regret.”

    1. “(swiftboat) To attack a politician with specious claims; To trick, scam, or swindle”
      Not in this case.  There seems to be no doubt that Romney led an assault against another student.  No need to invent a political narrative for that.

  40. Bleh- non issue .  And it’s too early to affect the election at all. By November this will be forgotten.

    1. If someone attacks people who are more vulnerable than him, mocks people for seeming ‘gay,’ and hurts people for having disabilities, that’s wrong.

      If someone instigates these attacks and encourages these attacks, those are serious moral failings, and the kind of moral failings that hurt more and more people if he gets more and more power.

      If someone sometimes goes along with bullying, to avoid being a target of bullying, well, I have done that, and I am still haunted by that. By my teens, between the bullying and my health problems, it was an effort of will not to kill myself, and I didn’t always have much will left over to refuse to go along with the bullying.

      I don’t think it’s a good idea to give some people power over other people. But as long as some people, such as politicians, police, and ceos, do hold power over other people, bullies should not be those holding power. Certainly not the bullies who instigate bullying, and generally not the victims who become occasional bullies either.

      1. Not saying what he did was right. He should have been punished then. I am not holding anyone in their 50s-60s too accountable for what they did in High School.

        ETA – Romney isn’t going to be much different than Obama if he wins. None of them are that different. They only differentiate when they want to win elections.

        1. What’s the cutoff date?  If you get to 50 unpunished then it’s like it didn’t happen?

        2. This isn’t about whether he should be punished.

          This is about whether he can be trusted with power… and he’s running for one of the most powerful positions in the world.

        3. ETA – Romney isn’t going to be much different than Obama if he wins. None of them are that different. They only differentiate when they want to win elections.

          Oh please.

          Which president do you think will be more likely to push for gay marriage next year? The one who just endorsed it or the one who said he never would?

          When Prop 8 comes before the Supreme Court, which president do you think will instruct the Department of Justice to defend the prop and which will tell them not to defend it?

          The false equivocation between Romney and Obama is complete bullshit, and only works if they only thing you care about — and the only thing you think the president does — is deciding whether companies get bailed out to save the economy.

    2. Bleh- non issue.

      How many times have we had this discussion about how you are always dismissive of other people’s suffering?

  41. More telling than the actual behavior would be the claim that he doesn’t remember it.

    Also, a candidate “pals around” with people who engaged in questionable behavior in their younger days… the shoe, it fits the other foot.

  42. “I’m sorry if anyone was offended” is the classic, boilerplate dickhead non-apology apology.  

    I really have the feeling that Obama is going to trounce Romney, even if the economy goes in the tank.  Romney has ZERO ability to connect with people and he’s a gaffe machine.  Obama may not be a great president but he’s a virtuoso politician.  The choice will be clear: reasonable, pragmatic person versus flaming asshole.

  43. romnesia – The failure to recall all the terrible ill conceived things you’ve ever done.

  44. Lauber’s family? The one that shipped him off to boarding school 50 years ago, has a better memory than the eyewitnesses?

    Something has been noted, but probably not what you were going for @bill stanley

  45. that sneering ugly photograph man abuses puppies , women, ponies,  gays, stuffing his already heavy pockets by looting the middle class while protecting his fat cat racist tea bagging brothers in the DC.  Surprise surprise, Old Mittens is a scalliwag, POLITICIAN.  Its only May, there can’t be a whole lot more to drag out of the basement before Nov. Please news reporters,  please find more – we can’t possibly milk what we’ve got till then. Oh I know, the VP selection is forthcoming. That should be worth a whole big vat of bile. 

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