Mittens the Mean Boy

I’ve been ambivalent about the Washington Post story of Mittens’s alleged preppy-days bullying. Although it’s sourced well enough to be true, probably, and reveals a very ugly side of Mittens, it was 50 years ago. People do change, and there’s plenty of more current stuff with which to bash Mittens.

However, I agree with Joan Walsh that his reaction to the story was bizarre.

What’s giving the story legs isn’t merely the homophobic hair-cutting episode, which a lawyer friend of Romney’s termed “assault and battery,” not “hijinks.” It’s Romney’s callous reaction. His campaign first tried to shrug off the story with an insincere non-apology, but when the details of Horowitz’s tale got people’s attention – the “terrified” classmate John Lauber “with tears in his eyes” as Romney chopped off his hair with a scissor; the callow preppie leading a sight-impaired teacher into a set of closed doors – the candidate made his own statement. And what a statement it was.

After Fox’s Brian Kilmeade shared the Lauber story, Romney actually chuckled, and said:

You know, I don’t, I don’t remember that incident. I’ll tell you, I certainly don’t believe that I or – I can’t speak for others – thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds in the 1960s.

You really have to listen to it to hear that the callow preppie hasn’t changed much in 50 years. As I noted yesterday, it’s rather brazen to say he doesn’t “remember that incident,” but to immediately volunteer that he didn’t think “the fellow was homosexual.” How could Lauber’s being gay have anything to do with an incident he says he doesn’t remember?

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And I remember the 1960s well enough to know that homosexuality was not “the furthest thing from our minds.” Not the first thing on our minds, maybe, but we were hardly Victorians about it.

The story is that in 1965 Mitt was a senior at a preppy private high school. A junior boy showed up after spring break with longish (drooping over his eyes) bleached blond hair. Remember that in 1965 the Beatles released Rubber Soul and the Rolling Stones hit the charts with “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” The Brylcreem look was for old men and losers.

But Mittens couldn’t deal with a blond Beatle bob on a boy, so he led a posse of other boys to tackle the shaggy one and hold him down while Mittens clipped off his hair with scissors. One of the participants remembered it as “viscous.”

Charles Blow:

In an interview with Fox Radio on Thursday, Romney laughed as he said that he didn’t remember the incident, although he acknowledged that “back in high school, you know, I, I did some dumb things. And if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize.” He continued, “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far. And, for that, I apologize.”

There is so much wrong with Romney’s response that I hardly know where to start.

One, the incident as described was not “hijinks.” It was assault. Second, how could he not remember that? Third, this was a classic unapologetic apology. But most of all,

Lastly, this would have been an amazing teaching moment about the impact of bullying if Romney had seized it. That is what a real leader would have done. That is what we would expect any adult to do. …

…While I have real reservations about holding senior citizens to account for what they did as seniors in high school, I have no reservations about expecting presidential candidates to know how to properly address the mistakes they once made.

This is where Romney falls short, once again.

This really does remind me of Dubya making fun of Carla Fay Tucker or giggling about the death penalty in a debate with Al Gore.

There is something seriously twisted about Mittens.

I’m not the first one to notice this resemblance, but I couldn’t find a decent “comparison” graphic, so I made one myself:

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18 thoughts on “Mittens the Mean Boy

  1. The most disturbing thing about Romney, to me, is that he never DOES step up to the plate. We are left guessing what he would do in any situation at all. He just says what seems to be the best thing to placate his audience. He owns responsibility for nothing, but claims credit for things he didn’t actually do.
    No wonder he seems so completely inhuman. And yes, some of his reactions remind one painfully of GW Bush.

  2. Of course Mitt doesn’t remember it!

    What’s one drop in an ocean of sociopathic callousness?

    Mitt is the latest model of Conservatism.
    He’s handsome.
    He’s rich – and started off that way, with a rich and powerful father. And the inheritance of his fathers money certainly didn’t hurt his career any.
    His wife is beautiful.
    His son’s hands have never been soiled by work or hard labor.
    Their cheeks never had salty tears running down them, like poor peoples children do, when told they can’t afford anything to eat, let alone get them what they want for Christmas.

    Mitt doesn’t care who knows it.
    And he doesn’t mind rubbing peoples faces in it.

    Mitt’s led a sheltered, entitled life. And if you didn’t, well, that was your choice!
    He’s been practicing and preparing for this moment his entire sheltered, entitled, life.

    He’s Mitt Romney!
    MITT ROMNEY, gosh-darn it!!!
    And he’s running for President. It was in the stars!
    He can’t be held accountable for what he did when he was a callous youth.
    Or a callous adult.
    Callousness is what mere mortals should expect when they approach a God.
    And cruelty is the price if they pay if they don’t show enough reverence, or cross a God’s paths uninvited.
    Maybe the cruelty is unintended?
    Maybe it’s the unintentional cruelty of rich and entitled people, too sheltered to know any.
    But it’s still cruelty.
    Mitt’s sorry if he inconvenienced you, and you thought he was being cruel.
    He wasn’t.
    He was just being Mitt.

  3. Not remembering does make it worse.. Shows he still hasn’t grown to take responsibility for his actions. Major, major ,major character flaw.

  4. No wonder he seems so completely inhuman

    Exactly! He’s like a lying machine that just pumps out stock answers that are unrelated to the question..He’s an android..a classic phoney.

  5. And let me say now, if I ran over anybody’s kids with one of my wife’s cadillacs, I don’t remember and he was a poor kid anyway.

  6. So, yeah, it was a long time ago and all BUT… if I had my choice between a candidate for President who was a bully in high school, and one who wasn’t, I’m inclined to pick one who wasn’t. Sure, people build character over a lifetime, but I’d prefer one who had started on that process sooner rather than later.

    Second, if I had to vote for one who was a bully, I’d prefer one for whom it had been a character-building experience, who’d been troubled and considered it afterwards, and had regrets about it. Maybe he’d have even reached out to his victim in later life, to apologize. But at a minimum, some statement that showed there was some learning and change since the event(s).

    But there’s no way I’m interested in a guy who was a bully in high school who never thought twice about it, and who doesn’t even remember it, and who reflexively spews a non-apology about “pranks” he may have pulled. Romney’s response to this story strikes me as vaguely sociopathic, reinforcing my sense that he is lacking normal human empathy, which is why he thinks it’s funny to tell stories about closing factories and putting people out of work, and why it was OK to just hose the dog off and go on after putting him on the roof.

  7. Mitt’s approval among core Rethug voters probably went up when they heard this story.

  8. Mitt’s quite the cut up…I bet the Romney diner hour is just a big ball of laughs. “Hey, Tag, pull daddy’s finger!”

  9. pdxharris,
    The Conservatards DO loves them some bullies!
    Now, if only Mitt had shoved something down the kid’s throat, he’d have been an absolute hero.
    Ok, maybe not shoved THAT down his throat – but anything else!

    And maha,
    Neidermeyer is the perfect analogy!
    With Newt as Flounder, Rick Perry as Stork, and Santorum as Dean Wormer, you’d have half of the cast for a Conservative version of an unfunny “Animal House” – the uncool half.
    And their fraternities name in it could be ‘Tappa Lotta Fears,’ ‘Hate Alloda Lefties.’

  10. ‎”obviously if I hurt anyone, I would apologize for it.” I’d bet my paycheck that this other dubya has never apologized in his life. This time the best he could manage was to say that he “would apologize”

  11. Apparently Sean Hannity found a passage in Obama’s memoir, about drinking and experimenting with drugs in high school, and Shammity’s reaction was, and I quote (for I just saw the clip): “Well, that puts Romney’s high-school bullying to shame, doesn’t it?”

    Uh, NO, for frack’s sake, it doesn’t. (OK, I admit kind of yelling that at the teevee.) What kind of a messed-up mindset thinks Obama’s self-directed behavior is worse than assault and battery on a fellow student? That a free and open admission of a mistake is worse than a candy-assed non-denial denial?

    Oh. Wait. Fox News. Cheebus, those bleepers are horrible people.

    But I must retract my previous assessment that Mittens reminds me of G.H.W. Bush. It’s G.W. the Worst Ever that he’s like. Shallow, insipid, pathologically false, morally ret**ded. From now on, I’ll use Stella’s “other Dubya” when I think of Mittens. If I can’t avoid thinking of him, that is.

  12. The story is well sourced – more than 2 witnesses recounted the same account.

    It’s not relevant to a thinking voter who bothers with the issues and facts. A lot of voters don’t bother with the issues or the facts. Which means this and the dogonthecar story may have way more influence than they should. In a rational world, which this is not.

    Mitt is counting on the campaign running to his script. (Yes, I will keep repeating this.) The poor rich kid, persecuted for his talent and genius. He’s begging Obama to make this about money. So far, the Obama team is painting Romney to be a sick mean homophobe. Stay tuned – the real fun starts when the USSC gets back. Health Care may overshadow the economy and Romney isn’t ready to go there.

  13. The only thing Mitt would ever put ahead of Mitt is that church he belongs to. A few years after he assaulted this kid for not being a homosexual he had another choice to make, between his country and that “church”. He chose the church over his country back then, that choice got him a couple years in France doing something? While folks that didn’t have a choice got shot at in the jungle. Mitt’s probably really sorry if his service to his “church” inconvenienced anybody. Why he was only a boy barely twenty years old.

  14. “Why he was only a boy barely twenty years old.” As were many of the people whose names on the Vietnam memorial.

  15. You know, why is everyone dancing around this issue? Lets drop the polite crap and get real for a minute, shall we? You hesitate to hold him to account for something he did just cause it “was a long time ago”? Seriously? I call bullshit! If he would have, say, darted out in front of a car to save a little old lady with a basket of kittens instead of terrorized a fellow student would we all be saying “that doesn’t count, it was a long time ago”? No. The rightie bloggers would be shouting it at anyone they could what a wonderful man mittens was for saving the old lady. I don’t like BS. I am to old for that. As others have pointed out kids younger then Mittens were dying in Vietnam and that is no joke.Mittens chose his church over his country(which is more BULLSHIT because we all know that means he used his religion to get out of serving his country whilst the un privileged died).

    What is it with the right? First we had bush jr making “youthful indiscretions” when he was 40(someone tell my wrinkles and gray hair 40 is youthful) and now this.They don’t waste any time giving out free passes to anyone with $ and privilege on their past.

    I own every single thing I have ever done. I don’t make excuses like “I was young”- you know charles manson was also”young” and his crimes(?) were at least , what 30 or more years ago? But hey why not use rightie logic and cut the old chap loose? was a long time ago and he probably doesnt even recall what he did .Seems like a rightie presidential candidate to me.He could be mittens VP!

    Part of being an adult is being accountable for all your actions. Not just the ones that you like or that show you in a good light.You want to give out free passes ? Fine , then let mittens run your household NOT MY country.I could care less whether mittens thought the other kid was gay or not , I don’t care what his age was. I care he terrorized another human being for being different. That boy he terrorized grew to be a man and he carried that day all the way to his grave, no doubt- so no need for mittens to carry his behavior to the grave also, lets give him a free pass. Especially at a time when we are, as a nation, trying to teach our kids to not be bullies. What better way to teach them then by showing them what they do when they are young really doesnt matter because people will stand in line to give them a free pass. I am sorry but that doesnt work.

    In my life I have done some good things for others. I have also done some really bad things that I have spend decades trying to make amends for. If you call me out on any one of those things you won’t get excuses.I wont lie and say I “don’t recall” – I will tell you I was WRONG and that I am still learning everyday how to be a better person. I will tell you I am sorry , like I have told those who I treated badly already.Part of living an authentic life is owning everything good and bad that makes up who you are. Saying you “don’t recall” = a lack of caring and understanding for what you have done to your victim.Even recovering drunks know better.Mittens doesn’t need to be president. He needs to go sit in his giant houses and think till he does” recall” then he needs to figure out what his God would expect him to do to make amends.Perhaps his mormon underwear is too tight and is cutting off the air to his brain.

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