I need to thank my friend and social justice advocate Eva Hoffman for inspiring me to write this article. Now that Romneybot 2012 has all but sewn up the Republican presidential nomination, he seems determined to burnish his credentials as a right-wing horror. Not content with being a misogynist, classist, lying, racist homophobe, he’s adding bully to his resume. Recent revelations of his behavior toward other students while in high school have raised further questions about Romney’s character.
As detailed in this report, Romney was the leader of a pack of popular students at the Cranbook School. When John Lauber, a quiet new student rumored to be gay, showed up with a bleached streak in his hair hanging over one eye, Romney was incensed. While his minions pinned Lauber to the ground, Romney cut off the offending lock with a pair of scissors. When this story surfaced, Romney engaged in his trademark waffling, saying he couldn’t remember and then offering a non-pology. What a shocker.
Let me be clear: someone’s behavior as a youth is not necessarily a reflection of who they are, nor is one incident a good way to define a person. I wouldn’t want every detail of my high school years to be used as a gauge of who I am today. When it helps clarify a lifetime of behavior, however, it’s worth looking at.
Let’s start with “I can’t remember” as a dodge. If Romney really can’t recall this incident it means that torturing another human being just doesn’t stand out in his mind. Yeah, that’s just who we want negotiating with Iran.You can bet John Lauber remembers that day.
Dodgy memory aside, any decent human being would say, “That’s awful! No-one should be treated that way.” Not Romney. And when his classmates were asked about the incident, they were either silent or used phrases like “real Lord of the Flies stuff” to describe they youthful Mitt. The Romney camp, trying to put a spin on the incident uses the word “hijinks” as a deflector. It’s pretty hard to reconcile those concepts.
And that’s the crux of it. Romney is disconnected from common decency. It’s easy to poke fun at his stilted speech and awkward manner. (Even if his wife says he’s a real cut-up…) Some of his behavior is so bizarre that it seems comical in a macabre way (just ask the family dog). But on any scale, from mocking the cookies supplied by campaign volunteers to signing a pledge to aggressively crush the rights of the gay community, Romney is fundamentally a bully.
Why be shocked? He made his Bain millions as a vulture capitalist: grabbing companies, running up debt, and bailing with his profits. He can’t offer a simple declarative sentence about Rush Limbaugh calling a grad student a whore on the air, deflecting lady stuff to his wife. As Governor, he tried to crush a commission tasked with LGBT rights. Every story that emerges paints a darker picture of a greedy sociopath only interested in his own advancement.
Romney’s lies and non-statements since he became a professional presidential candidate six years ago have made it hard to build a picture of the man based on his words. His deeds, on the other hand, speak volumes. And we can’t afford to have a president who is nothing more than a petty, selfish bully.