“Lying Through His Teeth”: The Anatomy Of Mitt “The Jokester”
Today, let’s do a favor for Mitt Romney.
Not on your to-do list?
You have undoubtedly heard the story about a bullying episode during Romney’s high school years. The Washington Post quoted former classmates who said that Mitt had led an attack on a kid who had bleached blond hair that he wore over one eye. While the others held the boy down, Romney cut off the offending tresses.
Let me say right off the bat that stuff politicians did when they were in high school shouldn’t count. And while this appears to be a particularly mean, and possibly homophobic, incident, it is really a good idea to stick to that rule. Otherwise, we would have to go back to the question of whether Barack Obama ate dog meat in Indonesia and we will never move on to health care reform.
But about the hair-cutting story. When Mitt was asked about it, he said he did not “recall the incident.”
This puts a whole new spin on things. The idea that Romney could have absolutely no recollection of this event is way more shocking than the incident itself. Did he engage in this sort of behavior so often that things just sort of ran together?
I don’t believe he’s that lacking in feeling. So I propose that we give him the benefit of the doubt and agree that he is lying through his teeth.
Yes! And, honestly, it’s a good bet. We have seen far less evidence of Romney as a guy with a mean streak than of Romney as a robotic campaigner who finds it impossible to speak in an open, unprogrammed manner — particularly about any incident that makes him look bad.
He probably looks back at what he did and feels terrible. Then he represses that genuine emotion and tells Fox News that it’s all a blank to him, but that, if anyone was offended by the thing he doesn’t even recall happening, he is very, very sorry.
He is incapable, really, of admitting past errors. Perhaps you may remember that Romney once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter stuck in a cage on the station wagon roof. When he was originally asked about it, he claimed the dog “loves fresh air.”
This was more than four years ago. What would have happened if Romney had just said: “Boy, in retrospect that really does sound like a bad idea. But you have to remember that we had five boys under the age of 14. It was like living in a vortex; we did all kinds of stupid stuff.”
Do you think the nation — particularly the part that has ever tried to drive long distances with a car full of children — would have been understanding? I personally would never have mentioned the incident at all.
But since we haven’t gotten that sort of input, I kind of feel free to bring it up now and then.
Romney supporters have made a vague attempt to lump the hair-cutting incident in with Mitt’s long history of pranksterism. “You know, you hold the scissors close to his ear and you make a lot of snipping sounds, and you may traumatize the guy a little or scare the guy a little, but no harm, no foul,” Gregg Dearth, another Romney classmate, told ABC News.
It certainly is true that Mitt has a longstanding affinity for practical jokes. Let’s revisit a few:
• Invited to the wedding in which his wife was one of the bridesmaids, Romney livened up the afternoon by snitching the groom’s shoes and using nail polish to write H-E-L-P on the soles so all the guests could see it when the happy couple knelt down to take their marital vows.
• On his first visit to the White House during the Clinton administration, Romney protested when he was handed a red visitors’ badge with the letter A. “I’m not the one that cheated on my wife. He should be wearing the scarlet A, not me,” Mitt said, repeatedly, to the fun-loving White House security staff.
• During his stint in France, Romney entertained a homesick and undoubtedly edgy fellow young missionary by coming to his door wearing a sheet and impersonating a French terrorist/bandit.
• A teacher who students enjoyed making fun of for his poor eyesight was walking with Romney and some of his classmates when they came to two sets of glass doors. Mitt opened the first for his professor, swept his hand forward to indicate the second set was open as well, and then laughed hysterically when the teacher smacked into the closed door.
That last one was in high school, so we’re not counting it. Except as part of a lifelong pattern of fun.
By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, May 11, 2012
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