I don’t usually write about politics in this blog, but I’d like to make a stab at the Mitt Romney bullying story. As someone who was not part of the popular group in high school, and at least once the recipient of a grade school mob mentality, the impact of powerful students on their victims resonates with me. From what I would take as a well-verified account, Romney and his pals cornered and cut the hair of a student who was perceived different –i.e. homosexual. The other students involved seem to have vivid memories. Romney claims he doesn’t remember it, and stated: “I don't recall the incident myself, but I've seen the reports and I'm not going to argue with that. There's no question but that I did some stupid things when I was in high school, and obviously if I hurt anyone by virtue of that I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it.”
Sorry, that just doesn’t wash with me. First, I honestly cannot believe he doesn’t remember the incident – and the nervous laughter that accompanied his defensive comments on it suggests something else (possible hint for observing Romney: if he laughs nervously he’s really uncomfortable about the subject and not quite telling the truth). Like many politicians who try to cover up their behavior, it’s not their original action, but the follow-up that is worrisome. (Watergate, Iran Contra, Monica Lewinsky. The politician list is it seems endless ). It is what I didn’t hear from Mitt Romney that I find bothersome. Stupid is not the same as wrong. Riding a bike without a helmet is stupid. Assaulting someone is wrong. Mr. Romney doesn’t seem to know the difference, or can’t acknowledge his behavior fell into the latter category. What would I want to hear?
“You know. I remember this event. And I have to tell you I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed by what I did then. I was young, but that’s no excuse. It was wrong. And it reminds us of how important it is not to judge people. I wish today I could apologize to Mr. Lauber for causing him so much pain.” The issue is not what Mitt Romney did then – no one should be judged because of one teen-age incident. But they can be judged on what they do and say about that event as an adult. And that’s where Mitt Romney is seriously lacking.