Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has made no secret of his antiquated views on same-sex marriage: he's against them on the grounds that his personal marriage is threatened by two dudes who are in love with each other filing a joint tax return. But newly surfaced reports show that not only is Mittens a political gay bully, during his youth, he was a real, live actual gay bully, a private academy shit who once held down a kid he thought was gay and forcibly cut his hair in front of several classmates.
The Washington Post published a heartbreaking piece today about Mitt Romney's time at the exclusive Cranbrook (which you may recognize from the scene in 8 Mile when Eminem eviscerates a fellow MC for having parents who have a really great marriage and for going to Cranbrook; that's a private school). Cliff's Notes version: Romney was a bombastic homophobic bully. The kind of asshole that kids are supposed to believe eventually won't have any bearing on their lives.
When a shy new student named John Lauber showed up with long, shaggy bleached blonde hair obscuring one eye, Romney was incensed by his nonconformity and complained loudly to his friends. According to the Post, what followed was nothing short of sadistic.
A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school's collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber's hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.
The next day, Lauber showed up to school with the standard issue square headed haircut, his bleached blonde locks gone. The story was verified separately by the Post by five separate classmates of Romney, each of whom says they remember the incident vividly. One of the men who corroborated the account says he witnessed the incident was so upset by the memory of his inaction that when he ran into Lauber in an airport years later, he felt compelled to apologize. Lauber died in 2004.
But that's not the only "you little turd" type behavior the GOP Presidential nominee exhibited as a young lad. In fact, it seems like the "pranks" Romney was so fond of pulling weren't really pranks at all, but mean-spirited bullying of the weak or the non-conforming. He'd interject "atta girl!" after a slightly effeminate student spoke up in class. He referred to a teacher with bad eyesight as "The Bat." He'd turn his nose up at socializing with students who didn't come from a wealthy pedigree. He and his buddies would pretend to be cops and threaten to arrest couples parked on a nearby lovers' lane.
When asked about his history of high school bullying during a radio interview this morning, Romney oscillated between laughing robotically, apologizing, and saying he had no recollection of any of the things that had happened. It was confusing. He said,
I'm not gonna be too concerned about their piece. I played a lot of pranks in high school, and they described some that, uh, well, you just say to yourself that, uh, back in high school, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by that, obviously I apologize. But overall, high school was a long time ago, and I'm glad I've got some good friends from those years.
But then, when pressed, he said,
I don't, I don't remember that incident. And I certainly don't believe that I, or, I can't speak for other people, of course, but thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from my mind back in the 1960's. That was not the case.
So why do we care about crap that happened almost 50 years ago? First, because this is an excellent opportunity for Mitt Romney to show that he's moved on from his juvenile gay bullying, that he's not just an overgrown version of the aristocratic Scott Farkas he appeared to be as a youth, that he's willing to own his mistakes and move beyond them. And if he's not willing to own his own actions and apologize like a grown up, American voters should consider what sort of personality they're dealing with here. Saying "I don't remember" is a total cop out. What sort of a person is capable of treating another person with such disrespect and then forgetting that it happened? Despite how Romney tries to sanitize his youthful actions, they're not "pranks" or "hijinks;" they're "bullying."
Maybe we don't want the "wild and crazy man" his wife says lives inside of Romney to come out. Maybe the wild and crazy man should stay in a particularly cruel episode of Gossip Girl where it belongs.