I'm talking about the Mitt Romney who, by five separate accounts, held down a fellow teen accused of being gay and forcibly clipped off the hair style that Romney and his friends found offensive. They attacked another boy with a weapon, and changed his appearance. They shamed him for his perceived sexuality in public.
And now, almost 40 years later while running for President, Romney has claimed he doesn't remember the incident:
“I don't remember that incident and I certainly don't believe I or — I can't speak for other people, of course — thought he was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from my mind back in the 1960s, so that was not the case. But as to pranks that were played back then ... I did stupid things, and I'm afraid I have to say sorry for it.” (via The Hill)There's only one way Mitt Romney couldn't remember this. The way the words sounded when they came from his mouth, the feeling of a struggling boy overpowered by Romney and his friends. The snip of the shears as he shamed a fellow student for no good reason other than he might have been different. The only way that Romney couldn't remember these distinctive memories is if they don't stand out in Romney's memory, either because it wasn't out of the ordinary, or because assaulting and shaming someone publicly for perceived differences doesn't register as memorable to Mitt Romney.
Like Andrew Sullivan, I think this is a lie. I think Romney remembers, in vivid detail, this incident. I think he probably even regrets it, not just because of the political inconvenience of it, but because he knows he did something wrong. Most bullies, the really bad ones, know they're in the wrong. I've had a few apologize to me; I owe an apology to someone when I see them next. A couple I've made peace with, even if that was only a respectful, knowing nod as I passed them on the street. What scares me about Romney's bullying is that he's afraid to acknowledge that it might have been wrong that he bullied a kid for being gay. That his party might see him as being soft on "the fags". Romney is too afraid of his own party to say "I was wrong to do this. You know, it was a different time, but it was still wrong. I wish the guy was still around so I could apologize in person. I'm a better man now. Most people have some things like this in their past. I hope they can look inside themselves and find the courage to apologize and admit that they, too, have had moments they were wrong."
That would take courage, strength, and dare I say it, a certain Presidential mindset. Romney only cares about appeasing the voters, a fact known to anyone who's seen him flip-flop daily. But this one truly scares me, because I always believed that deep down Romney cares about his personal image, about his sense of self. Now, we have found, this is expendable when the Republicans say to disregard it. Romney may no longer be a bully, but one thing is for sure - he is going to be the nominee of a party of bullies.