As you may have heard, the latest dirt dug up on assumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is an incident he participated in in high school where he pinned a gay student to the ground and cut off his hair, and other assorted homophobic behavior. Mittens and his team deflected the allegations by referring to the behavior as “hijinks” (the kind of description only a stodgy, aging Republican politician could get away with), but the outcry from the left uses a different word: bullying. And the left’s not wrong – this is a clear-cut case of bullying and harassment, the kind of thing that would get a kid suspended from school and forced to see a counselor in this day and age. But this was the freewheeling 1960s, things were different back then. So what does this mean in the context of Romney’s ability to lead the country?
There are a lot of angles to take here. My knee-jerk reaction was to lament the depths that political campaigning have sunk to nowadays. Guys, I did stuff in high school that I wasn’t proud of. I mean, I never cut off someone’s hair and I never picked on gay students (honestly, I was much too busy being picked on as an assumed gay student myself) but I certainly don’t want to be judged at my present age by who I was at seventeen. And Romney’s a hell of a lot further removed from his high school days than I am. So I was willing to cut him some slack and toss this whole debacle into the “disregard” pile where the dog on the roof of the car incident now lies. But, as so often happens, Romney then proceeded to issue an apology.
Yeah, you know what? I did that. And it was shitty of me. And I’m sorry as hell. But that was fifty years ago, and I am not the same person I was back then. So please stop dredging up the past and focus on the terrible things I’m doing to homosexuals today.
HAHAHAHAHAHA! I kid. I would have had a begrudging respect for the man had he handled it that way. But of course, Romney is a politician so that’s not what we got.
The actual apology was…well, let’s just say that apology’s not really the right word for it.
I don’t recall the incident myself, but I’ve seen the reports and I’m not going to argue with that. There’s no question but that I did some stupid things when I was in high school and obviously if I hurt anyone by virtue of that, I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it.
Look, Mitt, everyone else involved remembers it vividly. Are you telling me that you managed to pin a dude to the ground, cut off his hair and mock him ceaselessly and then fucking forget about it? I remember pretty much every shitty thing I’ve ever done. In HD. I realize that I have a vestigial appendage called a conscience which you clearly seem to lack, but give me a fucking break.
Beyond the non-statement, there are other troubling aspects to this story. People are saying that it gives something of a window into Romney’s character, and I honestly don’t think they’re too wrong. Because Mittens is no more tolerant or accommodating toward homosexuals now than he was back then. Sure, there are no recorded instances of him pinning them to the ground and sheering their golden locks, but his stance on homosexuality has been made abundantly clear in the last month. First he allowed his openly gay advisor to quit his job in shame after extreme pressure from the uglier side of the Republican party, when what he should have done was stand beside the man he thought enough of to hire in the first place. That was an act of cowardice and caving that sent a clear message that Mitt is more interested in the religious right than in doing what’s right. And just in the last few days, in reaction to the President’s statement that he believes that gay marriage should be legal (which, to be honest, was a half-assed statement in and of itself, since Obama punted as hard as he could by making it quite clear that it was his own personal belief and that he thinks that individual states should still have final say on the matter), Romney can’t seem to emphasize enough that he is very strongly against marriage equality, most recently in a commencement address he made at Liberty University, the wingnut factory founded by Jerry Falwell.
So should we hold the specific incident in Mitt’s past that’s such a haymaker right now against him? No, I think not. I think we should chalk that up to being a spoiled little rich asshole at a prestigious private school, the son of a rich and powerful politician father and member of a vehemently patriarchal and anti-gay religion. Romney’s character should be judged on what he’s doing now, as a candidate for president, to prove that he’s a spoiled little rich asshole, the son of a rich and powerful politician and member of a vehemently patriarchal and anti-gay religion. The man does something new and horrific every day, now, in the present where he is a grown adult, that we can hold against him. Why go digging for stupid “hijinks” from the Kennedy years to saddle him with? We’re not electing fourteen-year-old Mitt Romney to office, we’re electing sixty-five-year-old Mitt Romney, who is just as terrible a human being. Let’s concentrate on him, shall we?