Romney the prankster, Obama the politician

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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264 Responses

  1. I’ll respectfully half-disagree about Obama being “a day late and a dollar short,” mainly because, from what I’ve seen, the vast majority of those “for whom it matters most” are very happy with Obama. I won’t say there wasn’t a healthy dollop of calculation and cynicism to the whole thing — but I will say that I’m not aware of a politician who made a similar gesture for whom that wasn’t the case. Recall one of Obama’s favorite examples (usually for self-justification, and I’d say often undeservedly), Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. By the standards we’re holding the current President to, the 16th most definitely did not shower himself with glory.

    ETA: This was a good post; I agree that if you wanna be POTUS, it’s more or less ALL fair game; and it’s nice to have you up front again, Kain, and not just because it makes my focus on the political day-to-day seem less conspicuously frivolous!Report

    • Avatar Autumm says:

      I rally like your comment I completely agree!Report

    • Avatar Bad-ass Motherfisher says:

      Because he plays his cards close to his chest, of course. Because he gambled and it paid off, but he gambled with the lives of vulnerable members of society and he did so for paltry reasons. At least he did come out on the side of angels, but he waited for an opportune moment to do so.

      I’ll have to disagree on all counts. The rest of his agenda is worth quite a lot, and I would not like to see John McCain as our president. For better or worse, a lot of people on the anti-gay side feel very strongly about it, and Obama is the first president to weigh in the the matter while he still had elections ahead of him.

      As for this being an opportune time? There is an election in November, and it’s likely to be close (take a look at North Carolina). Opportune would be December. Although I’m sure Obama’s decision was at least partly calculated, he is taking some risk in stating that particular position right this moment…Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      Thanks, Elias. I agree that it’s *nice* to see Obama come out in favor of gay marriage. It’s the process that rankles. We all know he was before it before he was against it before he was for it again. It just feels dirty.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Say I’m this gay guy who wants to get legally married in one of the many states that have declared it aint never going to happen. Now, does the President coming out and saying that he personally is okay with the idea of gay guys getting legally married change anything one iota for me? I mean, aside from signalling that he’d sure like my vote?Report

        • Does it matter to you that the actual gay people who want to get legally married in states where it’s been banned think the President’s expression of support is important and indeed an affirmation of their worth as human beings?

          I mean really, why pose this hypothetical when you’re doing it from the outside in?Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. says:

            I don’t think that my question is without merit even if I’m not gay. Even if we drop the hypothetical, the question’s the same: Isn’t the President saying that, personally, he’d be okay with gays getting married, a really nice symbolic gesture that changes their situation very little, if at all, from what it was two days ago?Report

            • Then why do they find it so meaningful?

              Perhaps that’s the question you might want to ask instead?Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Rufus,

              For one, humans love symbolism. That’s why so much politics is purely symbolic.

              For two, the more politicians that come out publicly in support of SSM, the more likely we are to get there eventually. Sure, it may not change anything today, compared to two days ago, but it can make it safer for another politician to come forward, and another, and eventually it could help to improve their situation sooner than it would otherwise have been improved.Report

            • Avatar James Vonder Haar says:

              I’m queer myself, and I largely agree with Rufus. A statement of support is welcome, but it doesn’t really change the situation on the ground. Obama does more for the movement by getting re-elected, if only to prevent the republicans from backsliding on daft and appointing anti-gay justices, than anything else.

              It does, however, make me deliriously giddy that we have come so far that the most prevalent reaction to the first sitting president supporting full legal equality is that it’s a cynical ploy to win votes.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            Personally, I would hope that gays wouldn’t find themselves to be so one-dimensional as to be dependent on any statement from any politician as “…an affirmation of their worth as human beings.”
            And if they do, I would hope that they seek therapy.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Appreciative != Dependent.

              I can only wonder why you chose that particular word.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I chose that word based on the concept of the neediness for such affirmations.
                Whereas if Obama had made some pro-union statement, I would immediately think that he was either 1) talking about teachers or public employees, or 2) thinking that I was pretty dumb and would fall for anything.

                Like I’ve said, a partisan is someone who believes that one side isn’t lying.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                But the non-partisan is just as predisposed to belief and just as conditioned to responses as the self-identified partisan is. So the non partisan isn’t immune to your criticism.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                It wasn’t really a criticism per se so much as an observation. Were it a criticism, there would be something in there about how being non-partisan is better.
                If the non-partisan accepts that he is going to be lied to no matter who opens their mouth next, is that better or not?
                The end result is still the same.
                It’s just that I feel better about things when I’m not being played for a sucker.
                That’s all.Report

              • Will, I do not need the President to affirm my worth as a human being. I am entirely comfortable with my own worth without needing the opinion of a perfect stranger, no matter how powerful, to validate it.

                That said, it is an incredibly powerful and moving thing when the President of the United States says publicly, and for the first time in history, that he agrees with our side in an ongoing, difficult and painful civil rights struggle. It means something. Now, is it pure, unfiltered milk of human kindness that informed that decision? I am not so impossibly naive to believe it. Doesn’t matter. It matters that the most powerful politician in the country has made a statement of support for a cause that a great many of us feel on an undeniably (and understandably) personal level.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I would like to leave as thoughtful a comment.
                However, I find myself at a loss.
                Instead, I will say that I understand the warm fuzzies, and I’m happy for you. I know that’s a good feeling.

                That said, I find it hard to see the gay rights movement as a “civil rights” movement per se.
                It just seems like there has been an awful lot of progress over a short amount of time, and without any great, sweeping legislation to accomplish it.
                Unlike any civil rights movement I can remember.

                In reflection, the gay rights movement has moved counter to most civil rights movements.
                Used to, all the gay rights activists were the Act Out crowd, or Act Up, or whoever they were– a bunch of clowns.
                But these days, the activists tend to be more human-looking types.
                On the other hand, most civil rights tend to move more and more to the fringe as they go along.
                The gay rights movement has moved in the other direction. I guess the cloens grew up.

                But that’s what I see, as a by-stander.

                Again, I’m happy for your warm fuzzies.
                It will fade soon enough, so enjoy it while you can. I mean that sincerely.Report

              • Avatar James Vonder Haar says:

                No ” great, sweeping” legislative changes? As early as a decade ago gay sex was criminalizes in the majority of states. Now none of them do so. We’ve gone from the act that defines our group being illegal to our relationships being recognized as fully equal to those of the majority in less than 10 years. That’s a tremendous amount of legislative change:Report

            • Avatar sonmi451 says:

              Politicians make laws. It’s not about wanting politicians to looooove them, or warm fuzzy feelings or anything.

              Nice to see you’re still a jerk, though.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach says:

      “I think Obama’s playing of the gay community is downright cynical as well. His recent vocal support for gay marriage strikes me as the worst sort of politicking – a welcome boon to his re-election campaign perhaps, but a day late and a dollar short for those for whom it matters most. ”

      Yes and yes.

      His cowardice on the subject has been despicable. Anyone who wants to rationalize it by acknowledging “that’s what politicians do” is only encouraging the corrupt process by tolerating it.

      On a related but separate issue, I don’t quite understand (and this is probably because 1.) I’m not gay and 2.) I’m a young’n from gen-millenial) why the President’s pivot on this issue is an affirmation of a gay or lesbian person’s humanity.

      Why is one’s humanity located in whether or not they can form certain contracts with other people which the government will grant benefits to?

      What would feminism say to people whow locate their self-worth (not only in the statements of another man) but in an institution that’s (legally) mostly concerned with property exchange?Report

  2. Avatar The Angry Hamster says:

    The President is an expert politician (having come out of the Chicago election machine), and the Republicans simply cannot put forth a candidate worth getting excited about. I am a life long Republican, and I am sad to say this election will come down to just another popularity contest.

    Vox populi…Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Add this to the Seamus the Dog incident, and it’s easy to conclude that Romney has an empathy deficit and perhaps enjoys exercising power over those less powerful than he more than we would like in ourselves or our friends. Words like “cruelty” and “sadism” come to mind.

    Now, I realize I may be domesticating something really ugly when I say this, which I hate. But a degree of amorality, a tolerance for cruelty, and maybe even a touch of sadism may be an asset for a guy whose job includes ordering military missions that are all but certain to result in the death of human beings.Report

  4. Avatar Trumwill says:

    Off the top of my head, this strikes me as more pertinent than his religion. Not something I would make a decision based off in itself, but more indicative of Romney the Man.Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley says:

    As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

    I’ll await Romney’s response. Does he show as much remorse as Andrew Clark, or does he try to downplay it? It’s the kind of thing that could either be the act of a young insecure boy desperately trying for social status, or it could be an indicator of someone who’s borderline psychopathic in having no empathy for others. Added to the dog-on-car story, it does make me wonder if Romney lacks understanding and concern for others’ well-being. But youth and the desire for status being the volatile combination it is, I wouldn’t yet come to that conclusion.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Thanks, Elias.

        “Back in high school, I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that,

        Standard non-apology.

        “I don’t remember that incident,” Romney told Kilmeade, chuckling.

        “Chuckling.” That tears it.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          if anybody was hurt by that or offended

          How can anyone still be dumb enough to preface an apology with that?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            Because, sadly, they usually seem to get away with it? A certain subset of the population tries their utmost to point out the falsity of it, but somehow that point rarely seems to get much traction.

            Am I wrong about that? I hope so.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew says:

              I think Mike’s question went more to, what do they get out of it? Is it really that beneficial to be able to deny an admission of wrongdoing to those legal-minded enough to notice that there wasn’t one, when the point of the exercise is to convince most people that a real apology has been offered, which to any reasonable person includes an admission of wrongdoing? Apparently, it is, but I agree it’s a little hard to see how.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                What the other Mike said. A real apology would cost Mitt nothing and might humanize him (something he’s badly in need of.)Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Any decent crisis manager will slap you silly if you propose writing an apology like that.

                It constantly amazes me that politicos don’t have decent crisis managers.Report

              • Avatar Plinko says:

                I think the opposite is true for politicians, once you spit out the pseudo apology, all your allies have their ‘JEEZ! He already apologized for that!!1!’ base covered. Why admit any more culpability than you need to?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Mike and Mike (in the evening),

                I think part of it is to avoid admitting any real responsibility, and I think the supporters of such people implicitly recognize that and enjoy seeing their person (whether athlete, movie star, or politician) successfully play the game of mollifying people with an apology that isn’t real.

                I think to actually admit responsibility and be sorry will make many of their supporters unhappy, and of course for those individuals with egos like athletes, movie stars and politicians have–e.g., narcissists–admitting error is an emotional blow they can’t really bear. Even more, at a certain level of narcissism I think they’re unable to actually be sorry or to recognize that they ought to be. Their only goal is to quell the disturbance, nothing more.

                It’s depressing, and maybe I’m just cynical. But I know a couple of these narcissistic types, and that’s my impression of them.

                I get what you’re both saying, and it’s how I try to live my own life, so I’m not arguing with your normative position at all.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Yeah, that’s plausible. Also, they might think that a real admission of wrongdoing would not actually mollify ire toward them that much more than a non-apology, while it would potentially give opponents actual material with which to attack them, as well as some implicit encouragement to do so. More elementally, they simply fear it signals weakness, which is No-No Numero Uno for the type of figure you accurately describe us to be talking about here.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                More elementally, they simply fear it signals weakness

                Yes, that’s the description I was scratching around for. Perfect; thank you.Report

          • Avatar Erik Kain says:

            If I apologized to my wife that way for being a dumb-ass she’d kick me to the curb. This is a pathetic apology. He should non-apologize for such a bad non-apology.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC says:

            Romney has been very poorly programmed. That is the response when polssay something wrong, it doesn’t make any sense in the context of attacking someone.

            I don’t mean it ‘isn’t a good idea’, I mean, literally, it makes no sense contextually. If ‘anybody’ was hurt or offended? No, Romneybot, a specific person was hurt, and the issues isn’t who was ‘offended’. This was not a statement where you insulted people which you then measly-mouth apologized for. This was you actually causing actual harm to an actual person.

            Seriously, Romney is almost a caricature of a politician at times. Even a caricature of human being!

            Now I’m imaging him driving down the road, and a tire blows and he skids off the road and through a mass of people…and he gets out and says ‘If anybody was hurt by that or offended by my accident, I apologize for that.’ while people bleed to death on the sidewalk.

            For whoever is programming Romney: The correct response to newly revealed assaults the Romney bot has committed to emphasis how it was a prank, how you didn’t intend it to be as harmful as it clearly was, how you got caught up in the mob, and how you deeply regret it. I can even diagnose where the error is. You put in:
            if ‘people offended at your behavior’
            then ‘apologize if anybody was hurt by that or offended’,

            But you forgot to program in some sort of sanity check on ‘Wait, what if instead of just saying something dumb, he actually really did something he should apologize for?’ (And you should probably disable the creepy chuckling for a while after that, also. That needs work, anyway.)Report

    • James,

      I do think Romney’s response now (which you’ve dissected a bit), is much more indicative of his character than his actions then. And you’re right, the “if anybody was hurt” has all the earmarks of a non-apology.Report

    • Avatar James Vonder Haar says:

      There is surely nothing problematic about the most powerful man in the world being willing to hurt those less powerful than he for enhancing his status.Report

  6. Avatar BradK says:

    I sincerely doubt John Lauber would consider Mitt Romney a prankster. More like an assailant.

    That said, I share both your assessment regarding the duplicities of these men, and your regret that one of them will be our leader for the next four years. One interesting thing to note though is that the arcs of their gay/anti-gay swings are the inverse of one another. Obama was pro-gay, including full marriage equality, before he set his sights on the beltway and reversed himself, only to come full circle as of yesterday. Romney on the other hand sounds like he started off firmly in the homophobe camp, softened up a bit when he was governor of blue-state Massachusetts, and is now running as hard and fast as he can to recapture the not only intolerant but sociopathic spirit of his youth.Report

  7. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Hmmm, Erik Kain… rings a bell…Report

  8. Avatar Scott says:

    So which is the bad part, that they cut some guys hair or that the guy they did it to was presumed to be gay? Come on what BS, when I wrestled in high school, guys did crap like this to each other all the time.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Scott, unless you know what it was like to be bullied and defenseless, you just don’t know. Try reading some studies on the effect of bullying. Try asking someone who really was bullied, and not just getting pranked by a guy who he’d pranked earlier. It’s a completely different thing.Report

    • Avatar karl says:

      And your point is…?Report

      • Avatar Scott says:

        karl:

        Well in part I think this is another manufactured BS DEM gotcha moment to score points especially since the victim was “presumed” to be gay, so Romney can be made out to be homophobic. Know one knows is the victim really is gay or even if his presumed gayness had anything to do with the price of tea, but it is a hell of sound bite. Didn’t Barry smoke weed? What does that say about his respect for the law?Report

        • Avatar karl says:

          Don’t worry, your questions about Mitt Romney’s Schooldays will be answered as fully as the 24/7 newsfotainment juggernaut will allow. BTW, what do think of the leftist bloggers calling Romney “Mittens”?Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      Gee, if you and your wrestling buddies did the same thing in high school, then it CANT be bullying.Report

  9. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    In all seriousness (and good to see you up in the byline), I kind of count Romney’s youth as both “fair game” and “totally irrelevant.” Which was similar to my feelings about Bush’s youthful issues with controlled substances.

    I get where you’re coming from with Obama, but disagree with your condemnation. If he were calling our troops home tomorrow, or ending the WOD, I’d get that it was an election ploy but I’d still raise the glass and make a toast.Report

    • Avatar Trumwill says:

      I think it’s more pertinent with Romney than with Bush. Bush let it be known pretty early on that he had some problems in his youth and that he became a different person.

      That being said, this sort of thing isn’t going to factor in unless it’s a rather close call. Very few people are going to vote for someone whose policies they detest because the guy they are much more in agreement with did some bad stuff in high school.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Probably… but there’s this big part of me that equates “was immature in high school” with “once smoked a joint.” It seems a tepid thing to make a judgment on at this point in their career. Which is not to say it isn’t fair game; I think it’s all fair game. It’s just not interesting to me.Report

        • Avatar BradK says:

          I think it’s much more interesting in the context of his recent — and escalating — anti-gay positions. If he were more tolerant (and sincere about it), the high school behavior might be easier to dismiss. As it stands, they are mutually reinforcing.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            Yeah, that’s the thing though. Like most of his base that so hates him, I’m not sure he really believes that. I just have a feeling he’ll be happy to say “Boo Gays!” for the next 6 months, but only when he’s backed into a corner to say it, and then once he’s elected or defeated I don’t expect to hear him really discuss it again.Report

            • Avatar Scott Fields says:

              Tod –

              I keep seeing this “I have a feeling Romney’s not as bad as all that…” sentiment written by bloggers I respect. Sincerely, why do you think there’s a “real” Romney who is somehow being kept from us? I don’t get it.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                That’s a good question, Scott, and I’m not entirely sure. It’s just that, especially in the primary, when the other candidates would keep pushing him to tack right and keep up, he just looked so… I dunno, uncomfortable. There was always this frozen smile look of near panic expression he had, and it was like you could see the bubble over his head saying “Really? I’m going to have to agree with THAT?”

                I could be wring, and even if I’m right it says a completely different set of things about him that will make me vote otherwise.

                Seriously, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a primary make me go from “I’d totally be happy to vote for that guy” to “Never in a million years” like this year’s had me do with Romney.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                So you’re gonna write in Newt? Bachman? Cain?

                In all seriousness, if any rational person was undecided about the GOP in 2011-12, and they were privileged enough to watch the debates, the inner debate they might have been experiencing was settled. Decisively. I’ve never seen such a bunch of hacks, grifters and charlatans to choose from. Evah!

                And let’s not go to any false equivalences about the Democrats. It’s never been that bad for them, has it?

                Has it?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                No, it’s never been that bad with the Democrats. The Republicans are engaged in a purge, the likes of which we probably have never seen in American politics. I see no scenario in which this turns out well for them in the long run. Two party systems normally tend toward centrist politics, because that’s where the most votes are (if you can get the moderates out to vote)–moving to the wings by purging moderates makes you more appealing to the faithful, but less appealing to the general public.Report

              • Tod, I think the Romney “deer in the headlights” thing is an entirely valid visceral ground for voting against. This is the Leader of the Free World, and bullshitting the 24/7 news cycle is part of the job. Mebbe the biggest part of the job because perception equals reality.

                And I mean that sincerely not cynically. Voting Barack Obama over John McCain b/c BHO was a master bullshitter and McCain was like a minus 68 I thought was valid, all politics and positions aside.

                This is a cold cruel world and like Captain Kirk proved in The Corbomite Maneuver, the game is poker, not chess.

                And if you or anybody gives President Obama a second term in November because he’s a good bullshitter and Mitt Romney is not, that’s a vote I can respect. [For the 3rd time, I really mean this.] It’s better to be feared than loved: Barack Obama planned to sweettalk Iran’s jihadi clients and AQ and the Taliban, but blowing their asses up with drones and shit is way cooler.

                I remain open on His Mittness in that his verbal twitchiness was about how much to slap down RickSant and Newt. I think that was the hardest part, not calling out the BHO presidency, but how to take away the guns and knives from the GOP’s 5-yr-olds without being too brutish about it and alienating the GOP base.

                I think he’s Mission Accomplished that. He’s @ 91% of the GOP vote, the Mormon vs. evangelical stuff a dim memory as BHO has just been trapped into proudly going

                http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/05/biden-apologizes-to-obama-for-same-sex-marriage-comments/Report

              • Avatar Scott Fields says:

                Romney will get his +90% share of the GOP vote in the general election, no question, but not due to any love or respect for himself, but due to the utter contempt the GOP has for the Great Usurper currently residing in the White House. They won’t be voting for Obama, but Romney’s still got to get them out to vote for him and he’s got a long way to go to seal that deal.

                Even then, Romney’s going to have to secure a whole bunch of Independents. Based on his play so far, he’s got to be hoping for a Euro Zone crash.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                I remain open on His Mittness in that his verbal twitchiness was about how much to slap down RickSant and Newt. I think that was the hardest part, not calling out the BHO presidency, but how to take away the guns and knives from the GOP’s 5-yr-olds without being too brutish about it and alienating the GOP base.

                I was wondering that during the primary too. Not that I was going to vote for him regardless because of policy positions. But he always seemed to the Only Sane Man in a roomful of crazy. (So much so that I was sorta hoping that any of the others got it, so Obama would win easy.) So I kept thinking, like you, that his oddness was him having to stand there and hold his tongue when completely idiotic positions were required of him by the base.

                But at this point, that’s over. Sure, Ron Paul’s probably going to make a disturbance at the convention, but those people aren’t voting for Romney anyway.

                …so, uh…when does he turn back into a human being instead of the weirdly puppetted entity he is now?

                I mean, for example, this current thing doesn’t have anything to do with policy positions. Newt’s not standing there touting a pro-assaulting-people-in-your-youth platform.

                And I hope the base of the Republican party would not take issue with an actual apology from Romney in this regard. Or is it a total inability to show any sort of weakness?

                The weirdness, towards policy during the primary, I would understand, in theory. But he seems to be that way all the time, in all contexts. At times, he almost seems like a person emulating a politician, right down to his inappropriately-used chuckle.Report

              • Avatar Scott Fields (formerly 62across) says:

                I don’t know about that uncomfortableness. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the primaries (too much vitriol for me to stomach live) and could only go by the transcripts.

                As for me, I think Romney has been remarkably consistent – contrary to his flip-flopper reputation. Here is a man born into great wealth and privilege, who then parlayed that remarkable bit of luck into even greater wealth and privilege by betting with other people’s money during his days at Bain. Throughout his political career he has chosen the path of least resistance, from his days of more liberal positions when he ran for office and governed in a liberal state to the more severely conservative way he has been behaving of late for the GOP base. He’s had it all handed to him and thinks he’s entitled to it.

                Consider that it’s a near certainty that a Romney win would also entail Republican control of both chambers of Congress and you’ve got to know a Romney administration will be whatever will make the least trouble for him.Report

              • Avatar Michelle says:

                “He’s had it all handed to him and thinks he’s entitled to it. ”

                This. I think his massive sense of entitlement will kill him in the end. He seems to think he deserves the presidency because he was born to it.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I completely disagree. Imo, of all the major candidates for election for the last few cycles, Willard “Mitt” Romney carries the least entitlement mentality of any of them. You can see that from the Republican primaries. Mitt Romney plays to win the game according to the rules as they stand.Report

              • Avatar concernMolerus says:

                Well, I think he felt entitled to win the primary, and was annoyed at the other candidates for not rolling over so he could scratch their bellies…or kick them as he saw fit. That said, in the debates he *was* a stickler for the rules, almost nerd-like. If someone went over time, he’d be like, “Excuse me, moderator, moderator? Yeah, Newt over there, he’s had his 30 second rebuttal. Its my turn. See, rule 1043b says so.”Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                koz,
                oh, fucking bullshit. man stole maine from paul. open stealing. the electors woudln’t go with the popular vote.
                that’s not the democrat “we’ve got unelected electors” (which was ALSO bullshit, at least to have that many), it’s way worse.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      > I kind of count Romney’s youth as both “fair game” and
      > “totally irrelevant.”

      I don’t think it’s… totally… irrelevant.

      Look, to my retrospective disgust, we played “Smear the Queer” when I was a kid. The rules of the game were: chase the kid with the football, pound him if you caught him with it, any time you wanted to avoid being tackled, just throw away the ball (ironically, the toughest guys hung onto the ball the most, which of course meant the were “the most queer”, I guess). It was blatantly homophobic in name, but we were 8 and I don’t think any of us put any time into considering the ramifications of where the name came from.

      For what it’s worth, I’m sorry about playing that game.

      Most of us gave up that sort of thing across the timeline of high school. Bullies grew out of it. People just stopped caring if you were gay or not; “fag” and “homo” were insults in fourth grade when none of us knew what the hell it meant, but most (not all, but most) of us grew out of that when we started using the big three “bad words”.

      Most people laughed at Eddie Murphy and Sam Kinison’s homophobic comedy, but nobody I knew who did that… would also hold somebody down and shave their head. Unless they were hazing an incoming frat brother.

      James and Scott, right above, illustrate the break between hazing and bullying. It’s hazing when it’s getting you into the in-crowd. It’s bullying when it’s a rejection of you ever being able to be in the in-crowd. When you’re being hazed, you’re not really afraid for your safety. When you’re bullied, you are.

      People will abuse power. Most teenagers are really good at this, and sometimes they grow out of it, and sometimes they don’t. What Mitt Romney did 40 years ago is only interesting to the extent that how he feels about it today tells us something about him.

      I didn’t find that apology exactly over-brimming with sincerity. But that’s just me.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        We had that same game but it we were much more noble and healthier about it. We called it Kill the Guy with the Ball. We were clearly an advanced lot in my neighbourhood.

        If he could show some insight and offer a real apology instead of PR crap then it should all be left in the past. As it is , this continues to paint him as a nasty rich boy.Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott says:

          Good on you guys. “Kill the Guy with the Ball” is possibly the best sport name ever.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          We used to play that a lot. Almost every recess, this one guy would check out a football and lead a group of boys to the back field, where the teachers couldn’t see. Come to think of it, his father was a dentist…Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        fwiw, here is the history of my perception of Smear the Queer:

        Ages 7-13 – Wicked Awesome
        Subsequent many years: Never thought of it at all
        Younger Adult: Remembered it one day, thought “wow, I can’t believe we all played such a homophobic game”
        Subsequent many years: Never thought of it at all
        Older Adult: Remembered it one day, thought “wow, I can’t believe we all played such a homoerotic game”

        The story as told in the Post article does indeed make him sound like quite the sniveling weasel. But my dad did the private school thing back in the 40s, and his stories (which I must say he remembered fondly) were far worse than this one. Which isn’t to say I approve; just that while I’m willing to take behaviors of Mitt’s today and trace them backward to 1965, I’m less willing to take those stories and extrapolate forward and make independent conclusions about the man he is today. Too much happens to guys on the way from young teens to long in the tooth adults.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Tod,

          Which is why his response now is so important, and so unsatisfactory.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            Well, private school of this sort kinda-sorta *is* an in-crowd.

            I can see someone failing to differentiate between “I bullied a bunch of people back then” and “I hazed a bunch of guys and a couple took it wrong”, just due to the context of that sort of private school. I don’t really excuse it, mind, I can just see how someone’s brain might map something that way.

            I don’t find his response thrilling either, but I already thought he was an ass, so that may be confirmation bias on my part.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

              Dude, I think you just gave me my next post… Better yet, it get’s to be a non-devisive one to follow the acidic one from this morning. Many thanks.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              Well, private school of this sort kinda-sorta *is* an in-crowd.

              *Has* an in-crowd, which may be a majority, even a vast majority. But there are always some kids that don’t fit it, and Lauber was pretty clearly one Read Orwell’s Such, Such were the Joysfor the view from another.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Sure, but I mean…

                Hm, how do I put this? Okay, zip back to the 80s. I have no frame of reference to know it’s still this way, but back then, in public school, there are in-crowds and out-crowds. In private schools, there are other in-crowds and out-crowds, and in those upper class private schools, there are in-crowds and out-crowds.

                The in-crowd in your average public high school recognizes that there is an in-crowd and an out-crowd. Usually the in-crowd is a lot smaller than the out-crowd.

                In the average private high school, there is usually less of an emphasis on the in-crowd; there’s more in-crowds and they overlap somewhat and the geeks and nerds usually can get a foot in one of the in-crowds, if they really want to.

                But in the upper class private school, the tuition keeps out most of the out-crowds. The in-crowd is almost everybody. It’s less about in-crowds and out-crowds, and more about the handful of “weirdos” and everybody else.

                The idea of a clique, I would think, is different in those three places. I expect most of the upper-class private school kids to feel sort of like, “What? We’re all in the in-crowd, we’re just hazing some guys”. Does that make sense?Report

              • Sort of. I think it’s more that such schools also have a vicious tendency to really hammer down the nail that sticks out. I’ve been in social circles of a similar background, and that usually has been the case.

                That is to say, when they bully, they bully in a much harder way, IMO than where an out-crowd has further outlets.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                It’s funny, because I think we’re seeing he same thing and drawing different conclusions. I agree, there’s the in-crowd and the few outsiders. But I see the most common altercations between them as the in-crowd punishing the outsiders for the crime of not being the right sort of people to join the in-crowd. By your definitions (which I like), that’s pure bullying.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Oh, yeah, I agree. It’s still bullying. But I’m just trying to see it from the perspective of the people who are/were there.

                The argument goes something like this: “Look, I know nobody wants to fess up to being a bully, but I’m not a bully. Hazing’s okay, right? I mean, it’s traditional anyway. Especially at (institution) where I was at, it was part of the (corporate culture). Everybody knew it was just hazing. If you didn’t get that, it was just because you were *really* weird. It wasn’t about in-crowds, it was just this (one, two, not really that many, after all) guy/gal who just overreacted.”

                It’s easy to bullshit yourself.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                Yes, but people who are good at bullshitting themselves should probably be in command of the world’s largest strategic nuclear arsenal.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                …err I meant should probably NOT be in command of the world’s largest strategic nuclear arsenal.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Maybe not, but anybody who is married and has children and runs for President of the United States is bullshitting himself (or herself), so… well, yeah.

                We are run by bullshitters.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            “Which is why his response now is so important, and so unsatisfactory.”

            I’d agree, but for totally different reasons. I look at his reply, and I actually don’t think he’s a bullying sadist. I look at it and I think, this guy just has no substance. He’s a terrible campaigner, and seems to predicate every answer he gives on the theory that he just has to placate his audience of the moment and no one will remember or care what he actually said.Report

            • Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

              There were people who did stupid and self-destructive and thoughtless things when we were kids. Which is….all of us? But not everyone did cruel things. Especially in high school. People who did that stuck out, even then. It seems to have struck his former friends forcefully.

              That’s telling in a very different way than smoked pot, got someone pregnant, what have you.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I’d guess that almost every boy, ever, has done something stupidly cruel. Not just self-destructive or thoughtless, but actually cruel.

                But there’s also a difference between being cruel to a cat when you’re five without knowing it, being cruel to your girlfriend when you’re thirteen because you’re thirteen… being cruel to your friend because you’re sixteen and in a crappy mood… and being cruel to the guy that is really, really easy to pick on with the help of a bunch of like-minded cruel people.

                That’s not just cruel, it’s cowardly.

                Cruelty is something you (hopefully) grow out of. Cowardice is… different.Report

              • Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

                I suppose that’s right (and I suspect gender-neutral). Perhaps that’s a better way of putting it. What I meant was that there are levels of regrettable acts. This seems a) excessively regrettable, and b) apparently not regretted.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Oh, I expect it is gender-neutral, as well. I’ve seen gaggles of teenage girls rip one to her psychic core. That’s some mean-spirited cruelty, right there.

                This looks that way to me too; both your (a) and (b). But even those two things together are only pointers at how he’d be as a CiC, and unreliable markers at that. Lots of people whitewash their own behavior in their head. It took me years to figure out that I pushed a lot of people away from me in grade school and my relative isolation was partially self-imposed.

                But I agree with Erik certainly that it *looks* bad, any way you slice it.Report

        • Avatar concernMolerus says:

          I’ll forgive the sins of youth readily. I’ve already forgiven Mittens. What I haven’t forgiven Mittens is his inability, in contrast to President Obama, to own up to the mistakes of the past. Mittens says, oh I don’t remember, but I did a lot of pranks back then. Bullshit, he remembers. And that wasn’t no prank, Mr. Biff Mittens.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        It’s hazing when it’s getting you into the in-crowd. It’s bullying when it’s a rejection of you ever being able to be in the in-crowd.

        Thank you, Pat. I wish I’d thought to say it that way.

        When you’re being hazed, you’re not really afraid for your safety. When you’re bullied, you are.
        Yeah, that’s it exactly. I had kids who tried to bully me, because I was pretty scrawny. But I fought back, and the bullying stopped. I have friends who weren’t fighters, and they suffered for years and still have deep emotional wounds. At our local middle school, both of my oldest two daughters have had to suffer through bullying. One really took it to heart at first, but eventually learned to roll her eyes at the things the kids said, and when they realized they weren’t getting to her they quit. My other daughter has been tormented most of the year, and she’s so damn sensitive it just cuts her to the quick. Fortunately the school has taken real steps to protect her, so it’s diminished a lot. But as a parent watching your child be afraid to go to school, that’s the point at which I’d personally like to show certain folks just what it’s like to be on that end of things.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          We’re dealing with this right now. Second grade is early, but there you go.

          The big thing is the throng. One bully is one thing. A group of kids surrounding you and taunting you triggers all sorts of reptilian brain parts. It’s a whole different experience.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            Ah, good luck. Give the little tyke all kinds of love and support.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            I’ve been there, and had to deal with boys on both sides of he equation. Each case is equally sucky in totally different ways.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            He’ll be fine. They’re second graders, after all. The nice thing about starting this early (hah, nice!) is that you get introduced to the concept when all the repercussions are stuck up inside your head.

            Which still sucks, but this is a lesson you have to learn at some point, I guess, so better learn it while all the negative stuff is between your ears than when all the negative stuff is between your ears *and* you have an atomic wedgie and a black eye or something.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        When you’re being hazed, you’re not really afraid for your safety.

        Why the hell not?Report

        • Because you’re young and stupid and you want in on the club. Young and stupid people are fearless when going after things they want. That’s part of what makes them young and stupid.

          I didn’t say I support hazing, I think it’s stupid and that’s why I didn’t join a fraternity. I wouldn’t do well in the military either, for the same reason. But I recognize that there’s a difference between the two. The intentions of the parties involved, for one. Hazing is, oddly enough, intended to be a constructive/bonding experience (remember: still think it’s stupid). Bullying certainly is not.

          Heck, we can go back to talking about medical residency. That’s hazing, iff’n you ask me, as it is currently practiced in the U.S. Why the medical profession – of all professions! – has this as an institutional requirement is utterly beyond me.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        “I didn’t find that apology exactly over-brimming with sincerity. But that’s just me.”

        Does Romney do much of anything, aside defend his wealth, with sincerity? I don’t think so. But that’s just me. (-;Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      Thanks, Tod. I don’t think it’s irrelevant. It would be if he actually showed that he’d changed, become a better man, etc. Alas…Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        It’s funny, if I try to square the story to my perception of Romney now it isn’t the bullying story that stands out. It’s secondary stiff about the initial outsider, underplaying his Mormonism and toadying to the jocks and popular & rich kids in order to be accepted and invited along on ski trips that makes me go, “Hey! He’s still that guy!”Report

  10. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    You guys are right; stuff we do when we’re kids should determine what paths we are permitted to take for the entire rest of our lives.Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      Of course, this isn’t what anyone is actually saying DensityDuck. If that were the case we’d none of us have any legs to stand on, me least of all. My past is littered with stupid mistakes and stupider ones, bad treatment of people who deserved better and plenty of things I’m not proud of. But I’m not going to hide behind a non-apology or, for that matter, run for president. I do have a marijuana conviction on my record; this has prevented me from renting apartments before. Our pasts inevitably harry us along the way in small and big ways.Report

      • Avatar Erik Kain says:

        Oh, and also: this is still the best damn combox on the internet and I love all of you. But good grief. If you don’t like it here: go. If you don’t like someone else here: ignore them.

        I’m not asking for peace or even civility. Just less fishing meta.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        I was mean to my friend, Cynthia, when I was in second grade. She wore her Girl Scout uniform to school, and I was mean to her, and made her cry.
        Frankly, that still bothers me. I wish I wasn’t such an ass. I wish that I could go back and take that harm away.

        On the other hand, my younger brother ate cat food, and tried to get me to do it too.
        I’ve never eaten cat food.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        “this isn’t what anyone is actually saying DensityDuck.”

        Eat me. It’s exactly what people are saying. In this thread we have people saying that Romney’s grade-school behavior means he should not be President.

        “I do have a marijuana conviction on my record; this has prevented me from renting apartments before.”

        And you think this is a good thing? You agree with people who think the marijuana conviction is an appropriate means to judge your present character and likely future behavior?Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          > In this thread we have people saying that Romney’s grade-school
          > behavior means he should not be President.

          Who said that?

          I just re-read the entire thread. JHG comes closest to saying “this one thing all by itself is enough for me not to want to vote for the guy”, and he didn’t actually say that. Some people said that it confirmed or fit with their impression of him based off of other additional reports. Burt actually pointed out that if it were true it might be considered an asset.

          And that’s not what you said in your previous comment anyway. You said, “stuff we do when we’re kids should determine what paths we are permitted to take for the entire rest of our lives.”

          Nobody suggested anything like, “he shouldn’t be *allowed* to run for President”.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            Oh, you wanna go? Let’s go, then.

            ****************

            BradK May 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm
            It’s one thing to send people to their death, it’s altogether different when you are the one pulling the trigger…and enjoying it as sport.

            33 Fnord May 10, 2012 at 6:48 pm
            It may, perhaps, be an asset in a Commander-in-Chief. But it has some disturbing implications in the ultimate head of the federal law enforcement apparatus.

            89 Patrick Cahalan May 10, 2012 at 6:56 pm
            People will abuse power. Most teenagers are really good at this, and sometimes they grow out of it, and sometimes they don’t. What Mitt Romney did 40 years ago is only interesting to the extent that how he feels about it today tells us something about him. I didn’t find that apology exactly over-brimming with sincerity.

            102 Nob Akimoto May 11, 2012 at 2:46 am
            Yes, but people who are good at bullshitting themselves should probably [not] be in command of the world’s largest strategic nuclear arsenal.

            139 Erik Kain May 10, 2012 at 7:48 pm
            What we do in our past is a marker for how we are in the present. It helps others see whether or not we’ve truly changed. Mistakes in your past can be a good indicator that you’re a very good person. Or a very selfish, power-hungry one.

            161 Erik Kain May 10, 2012 at 8:02 pm
            “I can’t think of a hiring situation where I would give a flying fish what a 65 year old guy did in senior year of high school.” I can. When they run for president, namely.

            ****************

            “Nobody suggested anything like, “he shouldn’t be *allowed* to run for President”. ”

            Welp, gosh, I guess you’re right. They’re allowing as how he can run, it’s just that nobody should vote for him because of something that happened when he was in high school.Report

        • Avatar Erik Kain says:

          “Eat me.” For real, man? “Eat me”? Yawn…

          I think my marijuana conviction says much less about me than Romney’s bullying says about him, and yet I can’t rent some apartments and he can be president. Life’s not fair. Oh well.

          The point is, though, that judgments are made about us due to our past. Some are automatic – policies that determine people with any criminal record can’t do something. These must be changed through processes – change a policy, change a law, whatever.

          Other are based on judgments of one’s character – like should we entrust the care of the nation to a man with very little character. We enforce these judgments with evidence – such as his flip-flopping, his role at Bain, his bullying at prep school, his personal beliefs.

          It’s not any one of these things anyone is saying disqualifies him or loses him a vote – it’s the sum of his parts that make him such a terrible presidential candidate.Report

      • Avatar wheelers_cat says:

        lawl, EDK, the gay-bullying is NOTHING compared to whats coming down the pike for Romney.
        He was a draft dodger who took a religious deferment as a mormon missionary to go to FRANCE instead of the meat grinder of Viet Nam.
        He marched in support of the draft.
        Theres still six months until the election.
        If you think our chum-inthe-water-feeding-frenzy media is going to give him a pass on this, you are as nuts as the GOP is for letting this guy run.Report

  11. Avatar MFarmer says:

    I can’t take anymore. This is real torture. Cutting hair is child’s play compared to this. I just can’t take it anymore.Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      Gosh, Farmer, I write my first post about politics in what – weeks? And you can’t “take it anymore.” By all means, as I’ve told you in painful detail a thousand times before, just go away. Just spare me your moaning and groaning and self-pity. I’m sick beyond measure of it. Half the reason I don’t post here more lately is all this complaining and bickering. It’s bloody boring and I’m done with it. Go if you want to go, stay if you want to stay, but if you say you can’t take it anymore the door is right over there.Report

      • Avatar Erik Kain says:

        Oh, and also: this is still the best damn combox on the internet and I love all of you. But good grief. If you don’t like it here: go. If you don’t like someone else here: ignore them.

        I’m not asking for peace or even civility. Just less fishing meta.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        Gosh, Erik. Was it that painful to go into such detail totell me to go away? I certainly don’t want you in any pain. I have moaned andgroaned and exhibited self-pity? You are making this up aren’t you. No where in any posts will you find me moaning and groaning and expressing self-pity. What you seek, I guess, is a place where you are unconditionally respected and praised. Good luck that. I’ll help you out andremove one dissenting voice. Now, perhaps you can participate more, at least until someone else comes along who thinks you are full of shit.Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          Just call him a troll and be done with it.

          It’s sort of the “in” thing nowadays, from what I understand.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            I’m sure it would be harder for Eric et all to criticize if there was any substance there but there wasn’t. Cross out the expressions of emotional disdain and Mike’s original comment box is empty.Report

        • Mr. Farmer, don’t give in to the dark side. I’m not going to compare Mr. Kain’s situation to my own here, well, actually I will. We can keep it chill. We must keep it chill, or the LoOG is lost. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.

          Mebbe Romney is too weird to be president. On the other hand, McCain is weird, Obama is weird, John Kerry is weird, and let’s not mention Dubya lest we set off the fire alarms and have to evacuate the building.

          So I think we’re on a sliding scale of weird. Now, it’s true you can’t talk about Obama’s weirdness, hanging out with the radicals and commies, and a paper trail as blank as Chauncy Gardiner’s except for his own autohagiographies because you’re “othering” him, and that’s bad. Y’see, Mitt’s bullying 50 years ago is sort of normal weirdness, so that’s “fair game.”

          But despite this structural disadvantage, there are 6 months to go to the election and I trust you’ll have a chance to get your innings in on BHO. At some point, we might even look at his record. Now that ain’t gonna be pretty.

          😉Report

          • Avatar Pyre says:

            I had to comment here.

            “We must keep it chill, or the LoOG is lost. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”

            It’s just a blogging site/message board.

            Frankly, speaking as someone who spent WAY too many years on a political message board, it is a valuable skill to both know when it’s time to leave and to actually leave. Given MFarmer’s initial post as well as the subsequent “I’m gonna leave” post, I would argue that he isn’t getting much from the site and it may very well be time to take a break or to strike out for a different site/board that is more in tune with his sensibilities.Report

            • Yah, Mr. Pyre, 2 days ago someboy threatened to leave over yrs truly’s posts & comments. Several mainpage contributors urged him to remain and just ignore this l’il meperson.

              Whereas I urged Mr. Farmer, a longtime commenter, to remain, but chill the hot stuff, the personal stuff.

              I still don’t know the rules, Mr. Pyre, that apply to you, me and every other LoOGperson. I have a code, but I don’t know if it’s the same as yours.

              That part is more interesting to me than Romney blowing dogs, but I might be in the minority on that.Report

  12. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I would really, really hate to be suddenly held accountable for things I did in high school. I never bullied anyone but certainly did some things I am not proud of.

    I also think going down that road might backfire for the President’s supporters. It’s hard to find anyone who was perfect at that age and that’s essentially the bar that has been set.Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      What we do in our past is a marker for how we are in the present. It helps others see whether or not we’ve truly changed. Mistakes in your past can be a good indicator that you’re a very good person. Or a very selfish, power-hungry one.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Yeah, if there’s one that that would really be a new twist it would be Obama’s opposition trying to make his past a campaign issue.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      I have no bomb that if you are confronted with something you did in high school you could express genuine regret sincerely. And, really, my only criticism of Romney at this point is that he can’t.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Mike,

      It’s not so much what you did, but how you respond to what you did. As I noted above, I thought of Andrew Clark:

      And the bizzare thing is that I did it for my old man. I tortured this poor kid because I wanted him to think that I was cool…So I’m sitting in the lockeroom and I’m taping up my knee, and Larry’s undressing a couple locker’s down from me. And he’s kinda, he’s kinda skinny. Weak. And I started thinkin’ about my father, and his attitude about, about weakness. And the next thing I knew, I jumped on top of him and started wailing on him. And my friends, they just laughed and cheered me on. And afterwards, when I’m sitting in Vernon’s office, all I could think about was Larry’s father and Larry having to go home and explain what happened to him. And the humiliation – the fucking humiliation he must have felt. It must have been unreal. I mean, how… how do you apologize for something like that? There’s no way.

      That’s what I want to hear Romney say. That’s what I hope you say. That’s what I say about some things I did.Report

      • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

        I can honestly say that I never did anything remotely like that in high school or before or after that I would need to apologize like that.

        However, I did do the right thing when the bullies DID try to beat up on someone weaker or different than them and I got in their face if they tried it when I was around (or after, if I wasn’t). Sometimes, several of us would send a message to the bully and their posse.

        It is sickening to me to hear so many here admit to such behavior. I didn’t do it when I was 15 (or any time), BECAUSE I KNEW IT WAS WRONG!

        Who are you people?Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          I was usually the guy getting bullied, myself.Report

          • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

            So was I. And I got my rear kicked on more than a few occasions when trying to stand up to the bullies (for me or for someone else).Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          I don’t actually see any admissions of bullying on this thread.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            I did just a few things, of which I am today ashamed. One in particular hurts me to think about, because of the humiliation I caused. The guy left town right after high school and disappeared; didn’t even come back for his brother’s funeral. I wish to hell I could apologize to him.

            I could explain, but that would require getting way more personal than I can bear. Suffice it to say that I was a pretty unhappy kid. My story and my actions wouldn’t surprise a psychologist. Very predictable, but no less sad, deplorable, and regretted because of that.Report

          • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

            In this single comment thread, I think this:

            I never bullied anyone but certainly did some things I am not proud of.

            and this:

            That’s what I say about some things I did.

            head down that path.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          Who are you people?

          Bullies all grown up, right? Even now not apologizing for what they did when they were younger because they were ‘young’.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Oh come on, that’s massively uncharitable.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Why do you say that?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Well, for one reason most to all of the confessions of bullying were accompanied with expressions of regret/contrition over their actions in the past. Since none of the victims are present in this forum are present that’s really all one can practically expect from anyone who’s done something to someone else.Report

          • Avatar Alan Scott says:

            Except, of course, people are apologizing for what they did when they were young. Right here on this thread. People whose high school crimes were much smaller than rounding up a posse and cutting off a guy’s hair because it was kinda gay.

            So where’s Romney? If he said “yeah, bullying gay people is bad and I apologize for what I did”, then this would be a non-issue. If he actually supported gay rights, then nobody would care. Instead, he’s rounding up a posse of republicans to cut off our civil rights because they’re kinda gay.Report

        • Avatar A Teacher says:

          Humans. Flawed by creation or by evolution, but at the end flawed creatures always with room to improve.Report

    • “I would really, really hate to be suddenly held accountable for things I did in high school. I never bullied anyone but certainly did some things I am not proud of. ”

      I would had it, too. But I did do what I did in high school and in subsequent years, and I have to live with the fact I did it whether anyone calls me on it or not. I have to take responsibility for my own actions.Report

  13. Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

    Wait a minute, Mr. Kain, are you complaining that the POTUS is good at politics?

    I’ll let you in on a secret – they all are. You can’t be POTUS without it.

    But, don’t let me rain on your rain.

    Faster! And, without politics next time!! Do the right thing but don’t take any advantage from it!!!…..Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      Yes, I would like to see politicians do the right thing, especially when the political gain is so little and the moral implications so vast.Report

      • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

        Hey, I agree. I’ve been arguing for politicians to do the right thing, because of the underlying morality, for decades. Haven’t had any luck so far, except locally (very locally).

        They do politics. They don’t do the right thing unless that coincides nicely with the politics. Left, or Right, or Center. All the same. Even your most beloved politician. Obama is no different, and I never really expected him to be all that different (except in some obvious ways that are important).

        It seems a little naive and nit-picky to me to focus so much on only the political calculation, when he’s done a huge amount for LGBT rights and advancement in our current society. Much more than any of his predecessors, and much much more than conservatives, Republicans, or Christians do (or have done). But, still not enough for you and others. Fair enough. To each his own.Report

  14. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I can’t think of a hiring situation where I would give a flying fish what a 65 year old guy did in senior year of high school.Report

  15. Avatar b-psycho says:

    I’m not surprised that Mitt Romney took part in the unfortunate ritual of shaming and attacking those who fail to fit in the designated social/cultural box of their time & place. At all. With the extent to which such conformity enforcement has been, and continues to be, shrugged off or even accepted in educational settings, I would have been shocked if it were revealed he didn’t do so. Most people just accept that as how things are — which is the problem. This doesn’t say anything that should surprise a reasonable observer.

    Still though, I can’t help but wonder whatever happened to the guy he assaulted, since the fate of Mitt’s peers was revealed as part of the story.Report

  16. Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

    I’m really surprised that four of his old friends went on the record about this, even though the bullied kid is now dead.

    That seems to be telling in some way. Either they feel REALLY bad about it, or they don’t think he should be president? Or…what? I’d be pretty hesitant to tell anything about any of my friends in a similar situation (not that the schmoes I was friends with in high school are headed for the presidency).Report

  17. I don’t know, the two incidents at least to me, tell me something else of the character of both men.

    The first is brash, conceited and perhaps a bit arrogant. (I know the type, I’m one myself, at least intellectually). More importantly when confronted with his actions years later, with the benefit of DECADES of hindsight, he reacts with a shrug and a complete non-apology.

    The second plays things close to his chest, is probably over cautious, but is willing eventually to do the right thing. He’s not as bold as we’d like him to be, and he plays politics. But I think ultimately he shows an ability to accept the moral arc of history.

    Why does the latter trouble you as much as the former in terms of political leadership? Shouldn’t we want our politicians to be willing to renounce flawed stances and eventually come around to what we perceive?Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      Here’s the thing. I like Obama. At least more than Romney. And I hold him to a higher standard because of it. So it may not be as bad, or bother me as much, but it rankles for its own reasons.Report

  18. Avatar Scott Fields says:

    Erik –

    Can you ask you to lay this out in greater detail?

    “Because he gambled and it paid off, but he gambled with the lives of vulnerable members of society and he did so for paltry reasons.”

    What was gambled exactly? What are the reasons for this gamble that is so paltry?

    I completely get how Obama is being politically calculating here. No argument there. I have a harder time seeing why it feels dirty.Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain says:

      Concerted support from the most powerful politician in America is something I think would benefit the gay community; withholding that support is a gamble with peoples’ lives. Doing it to help win an election is paltry.Report

      • Avatar Scott Fields says:

        I see.

        I don’t want to push back too much on this, as we are not far apart on this, but I see this differently. As John Howard Griffin gets at above, what Obama did yesterday was make a statement of support. In advance of that statement came a long list of actions (signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, repealed Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, lifted the HIV Entry Ban, banned job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government, stopped defending DOMA, etc.) in concerted support of the gay community. The actions speak louder than the words, I think.

        And NONE of those actions would have been taken without winning the election. Granted that was a political calculation and not some ideal, but it is far from paltry.Report

  19. Avatar Stillwater says:

    What this means to me is that there is actual (additional) evidence of Romney being a sadistic prick. His character – at least one aspect of it, no? – is revealed and his priorities are laid bare. Everything other than that is apologetics or whitewashing or false-equivalizing.

    Whether this issue matters to people casting votes will show who they are and what they believe and what their priorities are. That doesn’t mean they won’t still vote for Romney. Just that they’ll be pinching their noses a little tighter after learning about this. Unless they don’t. And then we learn something about who they are and what their priorities are.Report

  20. Avatar Bert Wells says:

    The political calculation charge against Obama is belied by the fact that he ended DADT, and has taken a principled and meaningful position in not defending DOMA. You don’t get to complain about a coach not getting a running touchdown until the fourth quarter if the team has been scoring on the thorough the air all game.

    As for Romney, he was an asshole kid forty something years ago, so what? I don’t like the policies that he stands for today, and that is enough for me.Report

  21. Avatar dhex says:

    i daresay someone who assaulted a fellow student with a pair of scissors is unfit to kill foreigners in my name.Report

    • Avatar Scott says:

      dhex:

      But Barry the dope smoker is qualified?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Scott,

        Not that I think Romney is unqualified to be president, but your analogy presents an interesting comparison that’s not to your advantage.

        A: Person who assaulted (by legal standards) and humiliated another person.
        B: Person who ingested an illegal drug, harming only himself and no other person.

        Assuming we see both of these as non-admirable actions, which is least admirable?Report

  22. Avatar North says:

    On the Romney aspect I don’t. Mostly this just has played into my preconceptions: Romney has a wooden ear and is approaching society from a position and a history of privilege. The former suits the latter very poorly. A wooden eared politician who has risen from humble beginnings can pull of being “real” or “fiesty”. A gifted politician who comes from privilege can mitigate it and come off “regal”, “dignified” or at least “clever”. Romney, who I’m beginning to believe has a genuine wooden ear comes off pretty much as a pratt because of his background. Not a good place to be in for a man in his position.

    On the Obama side of things I think it is somewhat more complicated. I mean being a centrist myself I am keenly aware of the balancing act he needs to play. I can definitely see people feeling indignant; the move does look cynical, he does look like he’s been pushed into this by circumstance and polls. Oddly enough I actually think a little better of Obama because of it but my angle is different.
    Personally I’ve always despised Obama’s hope and change new politician shtick. I think most of his worst political choices came from an angle of trying to preserve that above it patina he cultivated so seeing him behaving like a real practical politician does encourage me. I think it’s healthy that people stop seeing him as some kind of new special savior and start viewing him as a scheming politician like all the rest of them. Much of Obama’s moves in the last year or so have warmed me to him because I really get the feel that he’s facing the fact that his hope & change rhetoric is stale and few buy it any more.

    Beyond that there is a thrill to hear him finally take the right position on SSM. In a way the thrill is heightened by how and why he came to that position. This isn’t a gift he’s generously bestowing upon us; this is a victory that we have somewhat forced him into giving us. This is something we earned, not something we were given.

    And that makes this cynic smile.Report

  23. Avatar karl says:

    Apropos of nothing, has anyone called this little expose a “swiftboating” yet?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      John Lauber, the victim of Romney’s little haircut, slung hash in war zones as a two-bit line cook in Bosnia and then, a decade later, in Iraq. Which is a whole lot fucking closer to action than Romney ever got.

      Well, Lauber is dead now. He was gay, as it turns out. And Lauber wasn’t the only queer Romney would bully at Cranbook. Swiftboating would imply glory-hounding and story-embellishment, a dreadful accusation for Kerry and Gore, two guys who did get some south east Asian mud on their shoes. I don’t begrudge anyone not going to Vietnam, it was a vile and stupid war. But the guys who knew Kerry and Gore vouch for their presence on the duty rosters in that time zone and Kerry’s crew liked him well enough.

      But apropos to nothing, anyone who would call this a “swiftboating” does not understand the word. The Hausa say “what is a perfect secret the first night becomes perfectly obvious in ten lunar months.” They speak of pregnancy but in Romney’s case, this sort of story doesn’t stay suppressed.

      I have been bullied at several different private schools and had occasion to beat one of my tormentors with a cricket bat badly enough to put him in the hospital, for which I was subsequently expelled. I was also beaten and raped by an older boy at one when I was eight years old, but that tale shall not be told here, for it was not believed at the time. I learned to survive and quickly acquired the necessary skills for life which instilled the requisite amount of fear in my enemies, skills I have attempted to unlearn over the course of my life. The last private school I attended was a great joy and largely made up for the prior ones, but I have a bruised spot in my soul when I hear of bullying and abuse of this sort. I have never tolerated it in my subordinates: a bully is fundamentally a coward. If anyone wants to see me at my worst, bully someone in my shadow.

      Romney was just another arrogant private school prick. He may have changed over time. This I observe of the human personality, we don’t change much after the age of 14. I hope he has changed but I rather doubt it. Alll leadership is by example and there are several sorts of examples, the worst and perhaps the most common is the bully.Report

      • Avatar karl says:

        Apropos of something, “anyone who would call this a “swiftboating” does not understand the word.”

        Exactly. My comment points to the coming use of the word (my brave prediction!) by Romney apologists after they see that this will be more than a one-day wonder-story. And the more pushback this gets, the more digging up and reporting of every unsavory Romney episode we’ll get. I’m loving it — a Republican presidential candidate being treated like a Democrat for the first time since at least 1988.Report

  24. Avatar A Teacher says:

    I had a crush in High School on a girl who bullied me. It’s complicated (I think) but the crush came before the bullying. Perhaps her bullying me was a way to deal with the unwanted affection/ attention. We never dated. I tried to be a friend to her, and for the most part she seemed to take delight in making me regret my friendly overtures by watching me twist. In hindsight some of her comments and actions were downright cruel.

    Since then I’ve gotten married, had two kids. Gotten a job, done well at it. She’s been married, has two kids and is now divorced. Her kids are doing well (though one is recovering from cancer). She does well by her self with a good job and near as I can tell is a quality single mom.

    We’ve had a chance to reconnect through Facebook. We talked. We cried a little. We were honest and frank with each other about what happened.

    Make no mistake: She never did ~ANY~thing approaching what Romney is accused of. Nothing close to that. She may have been witness to similar incidents, but she never participated. I don’t remember honestly what bullyings I received that she saw. But I do know I was never bullied as badly as Romney stands accused.

    But we’ve changed. She’s changed. If she were to run for some kind of office, or heck needed a personal reference, I’d be profoundly hesitant to call her out for what happened 20 years ago. It’s just not who she is anymore. We’ve found our place and shared in forgiveness and the deeds are behind us.

    I want to ~hate~ Romney for what he did. I may end up there if I think on it more. It is indefensible, and while I’m sure they’re mostly in spin/recover mode, at the end of the day it’s too little too late on this issue. But at the same time it just feels “off” to hold this up, on it’s own, as something to indite him for. How many of us would want to be judged for what we did as children?

    I hate this one, I really do….Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Honestly, I wouldn’t judge anyone on the sole basis of what they did as a child.

      I think it’s interesting that people who are reported to be his friends are talking about this. Now, this can mean that they’re not really his friends, or this can mean that they think he hasn’t changed, or it can mean any one of a number of things.

      The fact that he went out and saved a bunch of people from a boat accident means something.

      Most of all this together means: “People are complicated, not simple creatures.” Whether Romney is at heart a privileged snot, or a well meaning person who really thinks he can do a good job running the country who isn’t adept at making these things look one way instead of another, or he’s a closet bully, or… he’s… all three of those things and none of those things because everybody is more than the sum of some of the things that they are, we (the voter) don’t know.

      At best, all we can do is listen to these stories, try to get an idea of what we think the best, most reasonable interpretation is for these stories, be honest about your own internal biases which are leading you to that idea (because let’s face it, you’ve got biases), and vote your conscience.Report

  25. Avatar Morat20 says:

    I can’t remember where I read it (although I’m pretty sure it was a liberal blog) but someone pointed out that Bush the Younger, for all his faults, had a similar moment when he was around that age.

    Except rather than bullying the kid for gayness (real or perceived) Dubya stood up for the bullied kid.

    Which I thought, if true, was a rather humanizing moment for Bush. Then again, while I abhored his politics, his constantly failing upwards, his wars and pretty much everything he’s done in his public life EVER — there always were a number of private, personal moments that humanized him to me. I’d have voted for an amoeba over him for President, and cheerfully label him ‘Worst President Ever’ — but never thought he was the worst PERSON to ever hold the office, that’s for darn sure.

    Bush I simply felt was out of his depth, surrounded by bad advisors, and should never ever in a million years have been running for the office. He simply wasn’t suited for it.

    Neither am I, for that matter. 🙂Report

    • Avatar A Teacher says:

      Read the first chapter of Craig Ferguson’s book/ auto biography/ memoirs. He goes into detail about meeting Bush the Younger at an official dinner and having a chance to talk, man to man, about “stuff.” Bush looks a lot different when he’s just a guy in a tux, sharing ice water with another recovering alcholic.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      There’s a picture of GWB out there — completely unscripted, punching someone (unprovoked and unexpectedly) after the “bell” (equiv for rugby, that I don’t play or watch).

      That’s the type of picture that real psyops people love to find. It gives some insight into who GWB is.

      I find this entire incident to be the same way.

      Which is not to say that someone can’t do a HORRIBLE thing, and grow up afterwards. It doesn’t seem like Romney has.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        I can empathize, to an extent, with Romney the Younger. That age — that part of human life — might as well be called “The Years of Abject Dickery and Stupidity” because, well, it’s common. You do stupid things, regretable things, make dumb mistakes.

        It’s part of growing up.

        I never bullied a kid for being gay — but I certainly fell into similar issues, denigrating other kids to try to reinforce my own social position (not terribly high up, but even the geeks and outcasts form groups) — I luckily did very few things I regret, but I said a lot of things I regret.

        My dad’s the same way — he’s told stories of his youth, growing up in East Texas. (The Appalachian Hills of Texas. If there is a place more backwords and redneck in Texas, I have yet to hear of it). Casual racism, gay baiting, petty assault– stuff he has to get somewhat drunk to even admit to, because it’s that shameful to him now.

        Never been arrested, hard worker who went from blue collar to white collar, pillar of the community sort who’d never dream of treating anyone any different despite his occasionally appalling flashes of generalized racism. (Actually fairly mild for a man of his age. He’s in his late 60s. Raised in a different time).

        I can look at that story of Romney and see my father, whom I know is a good man. But the part I see of my dad — the way he regrets those acts, those words — I don’t see in Romney now. Not that I’d expect Romney to go out and gay bait now. He’s a public figure. That’s not done, even if he had the urge to. (Which I also sorta doubt).

        But there doesn’t appear to be that critical bit — the bit where you look back and think “I can’t believe I did that. Why did I do that? That poor kid.”Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          *nods* yeah, I heard about East Texas — the only part that’s properly part of the South.
          The story I got was about three black kids in the inner city, all talking trash about this Jewish storeowner — how he’s ripping them off, etc, etc. So all three kids picked up stones, and they stood in front of the storeowner’s big plate glass window. Adn they started counting down — they were all gonna throw. Well, his friends chickened out, and he threw — did at least a couple of thousand dollars worth of property damage. They ran like hell.

          Now, I grant, you had to be there — but he honestly regretted what he had done — in the same sort of soul-aching weariness I figure Byrd had.

          He never knew I was jewish.Report

  26. Avatar wardsmith says:

    Luckily, the Obama administration has been 100% forthcoming with every kind of detail from the President’s past including his school records, LSAT scores, Columbia thesis, the list goes on and on.
    Of course being a “native born” Hawaiian I’m certain he proudly celebrated King Kamehameha Day and participated in the time-honored beat down haoles tradition. Unfortunately our stalwart intrepid press has become distracted by yet another squirrel so we won’t be seeing any details, ever.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I’m with ya, bro. How can bullying some gay kid be worse than being a Kenyan Muslim Socialist, right?Report

      • Avatar wardsmith says:

        You’re positive he’s gay right? Because that fits the meme the Democrats are inventing no? I admit my news sources aren’t always the same as your echo chamber choices, in fact I’m most partial to this version presently. It’s even better if you understand Mandarin. It is also a shame that we get more analysis from Taiwan than the American press.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Who cares whether he was gay. At least we know Romney was born in this country, right?Report

        • Avatar Liberty60 says:

          Your point is well taken. Unless I personally had sex with Mr. Lauber, I would have no way of knowing he was or wasn’t gay.

          And if Romney and the others merely thought Lauber was gay, well, then the entire story collapses into nothing more than the hideously cruel torment of an ostracized outsider at the hands of a group of priviledged bullies, one of whom is asking to become the most powerful man in the world, and seems to have no regrets or sense of responsibility or moral qualms about it.

          Glad we cleared that up!Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          It doesn’t fucking matter if he was gay. Whether the victim was gay or straight, Romney victimized him.

          Fuck all apologists for bullying. I’m a father of children who’ve been bullied, and this is my nightmare. To hell with anyone who takes this shit lightly. You’re fucking monsters.Report

          • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

            This.

            Oh, and did I mention…THIS!Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            “It doesn’t fucking matter if he was gay. ”

            Which is why it seems like every news story or blog post about this brings it up at least three times, at least once in the lead-in paragraph, and in the headline if at all possible.Report

          • Avatar wardsmith says:

            This was 1965 if the facts presented in the story are indeed facts. Therefore the vast majority of the country had crewcuts if not simply short hair. Hell, the all boy high school I went to (similar to Mike’s post elsewhere) had a frigging REQUIREMENT that hair could not be longer than the top of the ear and could not under any circumstances touch the collar. It will be interesting to me whether we ever get to hear from Mr. Lauber himself on his new found fame. (whoops, he’s dead, and dead men don’t tell tales). It is of course uninteresting that the “witness” in the stories are mostly Democrats including one who worked on the Obama campaign. This smacks of the same Machiavellian intrigue as the “victim” in the Cain case who just happened to be a neighbor of Axelrod’s in Chicago. But maybe I read too many spy novels.

            James, take a chill pill. Nothing I said was to take anything lightly and I’m sorry for your children being bullied. My children were Eurasian outliers in a pasty white community and received some harassment growing up. I had them bring their grandfather to school for show and tell. He spoke Mandarin, sang a Chines opera song, demonstrated using chopsticks. But what /really/ impressed the classmates was when he demonstrated Gung Fu. The teasing didn’t stop completely but it diminished substantially. This is just the nature of the world we live in. Rose colored glasses folks think everything is always rosy and I know better. I’m not a pessimist, just a pragmatist.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Ward,

              I will not chill on this one. You’re missing the point because you want this to be a partisan issue. So the school had rules on hair length–that makes it acceptable for other students to enforce them through what legally qualifies as an assault?

              And to repeat myself again and again, the real issue isn’t what Romney did then, but what he does now. And what he’s done now is fucking laugh at a description of the incident and downplay its significance. My guess is that you want to avoid talking about that and keep the focus on how long ago the original incident was because that way it’s more convenient for you. Fuck all partisans who put identity before decency. I’ve got not use for the lot of you.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                James I don’t want this to be a partisan issue but the DNC sure in the hell does and if you don’t recognize that I suggest you immediately resign your position as a political science professor. Now I gave a link above, including a video and I sure the “FUCK” don’t see Romney laughing, so I suppose you’re just projecting. I don’t blame you, you work in academia and it is virtually a mortal sin to engage in conservative thought there so of course you’re going to have to go all in liberal on this issue. Sometimes you just go off the rails and this is one of those times. I’ll happily reengage with you when you’ve calmed down.

                Frankly I would have left this site forever except that you personally asked me to stay. If you’d like me to leave forever now (and most liberals on this site would cheer if you did) just say the word. This site can easily become the echo chamber so many wish it would and all pretense of open-discussion can go down the memory hole.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Ward,

                First, listen here, at the two minute mark. Romney is audibly chuckling.

                Second, this isn’t a partisan issue to me. I have long ago decided I’m not voting for either Obama or Romney. I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the partisan issue here. Sometimes it turns out that things people use for partisan purposes just happen to be real. And are you really going to use that as your excuse? The DNC is being partisan, therefore you will be, too? How noble. But hey, if that’s the best person you want to be, that’s your choice.

                I suggest you immediately resign your position as a political science professor
                You don’t know jack about political science, if you think that it’s just about American political campaigns. Jesus, I never even studied campaigns and elections, and it’s such a tiny corner of the discipline. But hey, don’t let not knowing prevent you from trying to lecture me about my own field.

                No, I don’t want you to leave this site. I want you to engage intelligently, not respond like a partisan hack. They’re a dime a goddam dozen, and you can do a hell of a lot better. Again, though, if that’s the best type of person you want to be, it’s your choice.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                James, I was discussing blatant political partisanship and you know it. If as a political science professor you don’t know what partisanship is, or when it is manifested I feel sorry for you and your students. It has nothing to do with “American” politics either. You’re carrying your own baggage into this conversation, I’m sorry something happened with you and a friend that caused him to leave town, but again that has nothing to do with the facts on the ground in this case, of something that may or may not have happened 48 years ago. I don’t have a dog in this fight, I don’t support Romney, but I sure in the hell can’t stand this cyber bullying either. The rush to judgement by “partisans” on the left is complete and goes unregarded. When someone tries to add a balancing view they are “cyber bullied” into silence. This is the new normal.
                I’ve listened to the complete audio. I don’t know if he was laughing or not, the audio is choppy in multiple places including at least a dozen where laughing would make no sense at all and yet it sounds like laughing. Or is it just an artifact of the 4khz recording of a low signal integrity call? He definitely laughs at 11:35 in the call. I would certainly rather listen to the original than jump to any conclusions on this. But that’s just me.
                There are also multiple other points being made in the 12 minutes including fixing the economy, foreign affairs and other fairly important considerations for a POTUS to be concerned with. But by all means lets all go back to Ridgemont High and relive our most embarrassing and fundamentally stupid period of our lives.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Wardsmith,

                You were responding to my comment, and I wasn’t talking about partisanship. You brought the partisan angle in, and I don’t give a shit about the partisan angle.

                If all you can see in this is the partisan angle–if you’re only response to it is based on partisanship–then you need not feel sorry for me, because I don’t need the sympathy of people who can’t look at issues outside of a partisan perspective. I don’t respect that at all.

                Just how far would you go with this? If Republican Candidate Joe Smith had raped a child in the past, and it first came to public notice because the Democrats brought it out into the open, would you say, “it doesn’t matter; it’s just the Democrats being partisan?”

                Sometimes the source of the information doesn’t matter–the information itself does. And, again, more than the information, it’s Romney’s response. I wouldn’t despise a guy for having bullied someone when he was in his teens, because I understand why teens do that. The real issue is that Romney doesn’t demonstrate an ounce of remorse about his behavior. A decent person would.

                If you want to side with partisanship over decency, go ahead. Hell, I don’t give a damn if you vote for Romney–voting shouldn’t be single-issue anyway. But if you want to demonstrate that you’re any better than the DNC you so despise, you should be saying, “Yeah, regardless of who brought this information out, it’s disturbing, and Romney’s response is too goddam cavalier by half.”

                But don’t fucking ask me to get down and roll around in the partisan manure pile with you and the DNC. I don’t have a goddam party, and this type of thing makes me very glad I stuck to that.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                P.S.,
                Again, please don’t try to tell me what a political science professor should know–I’ve got considerably more expertise than you. There are fields within the discipline where the concept of parties, hence partisanship, isn’t relevant. That’s why I’m laughing at your feeble attempt to insult me. When insulting someone, it’s best not to reveal your own ignorance.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Was Clinton a serial rapist or wasn’t he? What happened to the apologists who were defending him then? Do I have to point you to thousands of links? What he did was clearly WRONG but the mainstream PARTISAN media gave him a pass. We don’t even know what Obama has done because the media has shown complete disinterest in muckraking his past. This isn’t a fair fight, this isn’t even in the same area code as a fair fight. This is a brawl and the DNC is bringing everything to bear on it. The RNC is playing Marquess of Queensbury rules and the DNC is bringing machine guns.

                Do I suspect exaggeration and outright fabrication on this story? Absolutely. Is that “fair game”? You tell me. Is this what Civics is all about today? Is this the kind of lesson you’re teaching your students? Liberty said it below in response to Duck: So what you’re saying is that its truth or accuracy doesn’t matter, because even if it’s totally made up it’s fake but accurate… “Yes, actually”. No wonder our government is shit, our society is turning to shit and Democracy has become a shambles.
                My favorite president’s favorite word was “bully”. Care to take a guess what his name was? He said “Walk softly and carry a big stick”. I guess in today’s world he couldn’t get elected dog catcher.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Was Clinton a serial rapist or wasn’t he? … What he did was clearly WRONG but the mainstream PARTISAN media gave him a pass.

                And that’s the level you want to be at?

                That’s what I don’t get and don’t respect.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Is this what Civics is all about today? Is this the kind of lesson you’re teaching your students?

                Dude, I don’t teach civics. I teach political science. There’s a big difference.

                And I don’t get into stuff like this in class. Maybe it comes as some surprise, but I’m able to distinguish between a blog and a classroom. I keep very quiet about my political views in the classroom–I don’t have to do that on a politically oriented blog. But, again, thanks for trying to teach me my business despite your evident lack of knowledge about it.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I gave a link above, including a video and I sure the “FUCK” don’t see Romney laughing,

                Ward, did you listen to Romney’s words in the link you gave? He said he didn’t remember the incident, but that he didn’t dispute it. And then he said he did some stupid thing in high school and “if I hurt anyone by virtue of that, I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it.”

                So he’s not actually apologizing; it’s all “if” and “would,” not “I did” and “I do.”Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “Here’s something you supposedly did forty years ago to a guy you don’t remember in a place you barely remember. Are you willing to take ownership for all that and admit that you were a horrible person back then and therefore you’re probably still a horrible person now?”Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            James, my son had been bullied a well, to the point that I was forced to change his elementary school. I know that nightmare well.

            In case it wasn’t clear, I was mocking ward for taking a purely partisan approach to this.Report

        • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

          It’s even better if you understand Mandarin.

          And would be even better if it were a link.Report

  27. Avatar Liberty60 says:

    The thing about these sorts of stories is, they don’t generally stick unless they confirm what is already suspected by people.

    The story has legs because most people already view Romney as the priviledged prep school jerk who bullies people.

    Go ahead and argue each case (corporate job-cremator, dog torturer, unprincipled shape-shifter) one at a time, and wave them all away, but the cumulative effect is there, and so far, Romney hasn’t shown any ability to pull off any sort of character-defining pivot. All he has managed is to giggle weakly and feign amnesia.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      So what you’re saying is that its truth or accuracy doesn’t matter, because even if it’s totally made up it’s fake but accurate.Report

      • Avatar Liberty60 says:

        Yes, actually. From a strictly strategic POV.

        For the average voter trying to make up his mind about Romney’s character, its not the charges that matter- everyone is pretty savvy to mudslinging. Instead its the rebuttal.

        Look at how Romney is handling this- no angry claims of innocence, no swearing of how he would never do such a thing…only a weak mush of non-apology and forgetfulness and pretty much just befuddlement about how anyone could think this is a big deal. Because in his mind, it really isn’t.

        In other words, Romney himself is his own worst witness. He confirms in his own words the underlying charge against him of callous indifference to the suffering of others.Report

        • Avatar wardsmith says:

          Liberty60 have you stopped beating your wife? And why aren’t you willing to apologize for it now?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            The Romney-style reply:

            Well, chuckle, I don’t remember ever doing that. Sometimes my roughhousing with her might have gone a little bit far, chuckle, but I don’t think I ever did anything like that.

            The Rasonable Person-style reply:
            I never beat my wife. That’s a terrible thing to do, really really terrible.

            or,

            I did do that. It was a terrible terrible thing to do, and I am so sorry I ever acted in such an awful way.

            Two of those replies are decent. One of them is indecent.Report

          • Avatar Liberty60 says:

            I’ve denounced Stalin, openly and publicly.

            What more do you want from me?Report

        • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

          Romney is a muslim.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “So what you’re saying is that its truth or accuracy doesn’t matter, because even if it’s totally made up it’s fake but accurate.

          “Yes, actually. From a strictly strategic POV…its not the charges that matter- everyone is pretty savvy to mudslinging. Instead its the rebuttal.”

          Taking a page from LBJ, eh? Let’s make the bastard deny it.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        It’s so fake that four separate people who were there at the time came forward to tell it,Report

  28. Avatar Morzer says:

    “…he gambled with the lives of vulnerable members of society and he did so for paltry reasons”

    Exactly how did Obama “gamble with their lives”? Did he order the formation of gay ninja battalions to invade the barbarian wastes of Oklahoma or Tennessee? Did he demand a levy of gay children to form Obama Janissary regiments? Or is this simply preposterous and self-righteous hyperbole by someone who has never run for office, never had to weigh the consequences for himself and his party of saying something courageous in an election year – and yes, coming out for gay marriage is a pretty courageous thing to do in the fever-swamp climate of teabagger and “conservative” pathological hatred whipped up by Fox and its GOP race-baiting cronies. I expect hyperbolic idiocy from DougJ or AngryBlackLady, or FireDogLake for that matter, but I really thought ED had a bit more sense.Report

    • Avatar Liberty60 says:

      “Did he order the formation of gay ninja battalions to invade the barbarian wastes of Oklahoma or Tennessee?”

      No, but I like the cut of your jib, sir!Report

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