A 50-year-old Hate-Crime?

The Washington Post dropped a bomb today revealing a very ugly story from Mitt Romney's childhood corroborated by five independent witnesses, including former close friends of Romney who participated in what I would call an assault.

John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled. [...]

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

If something like this happened today, the punishment would be severe. I dare say this could even be classified as a hate-crime if the student was indeed assaulted because of his perceived homosexuality. Of course in 1965 there were no such laws.

As Charles Pierce of Esquire recalls, Romney's reputation for being a bully extended well into his adult life, including during his tenure as Governor.

While governor, he sold out various friends and allies at the drop of a hat. He appointed a guy named William Monahan to be the head of the state's Civil Service Commission and then fired him in a 13-minute phone call after a Globe story revealed that Monahan had purchased a piece of property two decades earlier from some purported organized-crime figures, a story that can't have caught anyone by surprise, since a local paper in Monahan's hometown had revealed it 10 years earlier. In the years since, Monahan had been a staunch supporter of all of Romney's political endeavors, especially his involvement in the controversial construction of a massive Mormon Temple in the toney Boston suburb of Belmont.

(Romney's alleged purity did not last out his term, the Globe pointed out. As his term ran out, he stocked almost 200 state jobs with his political loyalists, including Eric Fehrnstrom, my old Herald colleague who's already made his mark on this year's campaign.)

Many of us did things in our childhood we regret, however not all of us went on to bankrupt companies for profit, strong-arm our political opponents, or sideline our national security adviser because Bryan Fischer doesn't approve of his homosexuality.

This story suggests Romney may not have approved of Grenell's openness either. It also suggests Romney's opposition to same-sex marriage may not be just a political pander to the conservative base.

  • KAboink

    I think this says: Okay assholes, you just tried to swiftboat a sitting President….bring it on.

  • Stephen LaRose

    Entitled, cruel, bordering on the psychotic. Is that a Mitt Romney or the bully from half of John Hughes’s scripts?

  • gescove

    Yeah, it’s old, but this incident seems to me to add more detail to the portrait of Romney’s character. I am struck by what a loathsome person comes into focus. He’s the privileged kid who was a bully in school but always got away with it. He’s the preener and inciter surrounded by adoring toadies. He’s the holier-than-thou door knocker with a pamphlet and the smug certitude you are going to Hell. He’s the schemer ducking responsibilities he’s only too happy for others to bear. He’s the boss who enjoys making your life miserable simply because he can. He’s the guy who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. He’s the rich SOB, wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice, wanting to profit by heaping more misery on those less fortunate. He’s the smiling bastard who says one thing to your face, another to your back, and then lies about all of it when it’s convenient. He’s the insufferable neighbor you wish would move away, forever tut-tutting and tsk-tsking, borrowing your stuff and returning it broken, if ever. Ugh.

    • BadSaratoga

      “He’s the privileged kid who was a bully in school but always got away with it.”

      And that’s been the case his whole adult life too.

  • atlavely

    I’ll bet this will play well with the R base…

    • D_C_Wilson

      He’ll probably gain at least 3 percentage points among social conservatives over this.

  • KQµårk™

    I could forgive Romney’s teen indiscretions even up to gay bashing IF he had an epiphany as an adult about the LGBT community. But he has NOT his policies are anti-LGBT and most of all he puts millions into gay bashing organizations like the Mormon church.

    The fact that he allegedly can’t remember this incident and still apologizes shows Romney is just not a liar, he is incapable of telling the truth about anything.

    Again Romney just does not have the character to be POTUS. Anyone who votes for this man even if they agree with his policies are just unprincipled and weak as Romney is.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    I don’t know; I can’t seem to get too worked up over this. I was a high school teacher for 13 years and witnessed more than my share of teenage douchebaggery, and ran across more than a few true sociopaths. No offense to teen readers or parents of teens, but teenagers typically lack empathy, impulse control, the ability to perform risk-benefit analysis or even perceive risk associated with their actions, and they certainly lack judgment and wisdom. Some of them lack rudimentary social manners, and some of them lack any sense of basic decency. They’re selfish, dishonest, solipsistic and cruel.

    In recent years I’ve reconnected, albeit briefly and informally, with some people I knew in high school who I despised at the time, for any or all of the above reasons. I’ve found that they’re simply not the same people now that they were then; they don’t treat me (or anyone else) the same way they did then. A lot of people do mature.

    Look, I don’t doubt that Romney was a dick when he was that age. This was a really, really rotten thing to do, and his apparent lack of empathy or remorse over it today is troubling. I still feel terrible even today about some of the things I did and said in high school and college. But let’s keep things in perspective.

    As a teacher I always believed in making students suffer the consequences of their choices, and not allowing them (or their parents) to use their youth and inexperience as an excuse for bad decisionmaking. I’m just not sure it’s fair now to hold the sexagenarian Mitt Romney fully liable for what the adolescent Mitt Romney did when he was a teenage douchebag.

    • JMAshby

      I’d be more inclined to agree with this perspective if Romney didn’t have such a reputation for taking advantage of people with less power throughout his entire adult life, or the fact that his stance on LGBT issues seems to reflect this behavior.

    • D_C_Wilson

      I tend to agree. Most people have done stupid stuff in their youth. It is unfair to hold the adult responsible for the adolescent.

      Of course, this is after four years of the right desperately digging through Obama’s childhood, starting (quite literally) from the moment of his birth, though his years living in Indonesia, all the way to his college and law school years, in order to find the hidden “proof” that he was raised on a steady diet of communism and radical Islamic terrorism.

      So, naturally, now they’re going to insist that the teen years should be off limits.

  • pgeorge

    The fact that he says he doesn’t remember, while still giggling about it as being potentially among his many “pranks,” says volumes. And whether he specifically knew the boy was gay, he DID know he was younger and “different,” which was apparently enough to set Romney off – because difference can’t be tolerated.

  • Rollo Tamasi

    The Romney pander on gay rights issues happened in 1994, when he said he would be to the Left of Ted Kennedy.

    When he no longer needed the liberal state of MA, he showed his true colors. On this issue, at least.

    • D_C_Wilson

      I don’t think anyone has seen his true colors. He just had to switch groups to pander to.

      • Bob Rutledge

        I don’t think he has any true colors. Just an easily re-formatted OS.

  • maggy

    It is NOT a pander. he is “serverely” conservative, and as we are finding out, without morals or compassion.