Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, was a gay-bashing high school bully who said, “Atta girl,” to effeminate boys and shockingly had a days-long emotional attack that culminated with him pinning down a gay classmate and cutting off his bleached-blond long hair. Governor Romney claims he has no memory of any of these incidents that date back to 1965, according to a lengthy and heart-wrenching exposé in today’s Washington Post. An excerpt:
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.
The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be named. The men have differing political affiliations, although they mostly lean Democratic. Buford volunteered for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. Seed, a registered independent, has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan. All of them said that politics in no way colored their recollections.
“It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said. “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”
“It was a hack job,” recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. “It was vicious.”
The Post article concludes with an emotional note about John Lauber:
He came out as gay to his family and close friends and led a vagabond life, taking dressage lessons in England and touring with the Royal Lipizzaner Stallion riders.
His hair thinned as he aged, and in the winter of 2004 he returned to Seattle, the closest thing he had to a base. He died there of liver cancer that December.
He kept his hair blond until he died, said his sister Chris. “He never stopped bleaching it.”
But Lauber was not the only target for the gay-bashing Mitt Romney.
In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, “Atta girl!” In the culture of that time and place, that was not entirely out of the norm. Hummel recalled some teachers using similar language.
Saul, Romney’s campaign spokeswoman, said the candidate has no recollection of the incident.
Yes, it was 1965, a different time, when these acts of anti-gay bullying were not just ignored or accepted, but often condoned.
But the handful of Mitt Romney’s classmates who either participated or didn’t stop it, not only remember his gay-bashing, they feel terrible about it. For Romney to not remember, and thus not be affected by his own gay-bashing, speaks volumes about his character.
The Romney campaign, and others, no doubt would say it was 1965. It doesn’t matter. But Mitt Romney married his wife Ann in 1969, just four years later, and that certainly matters in his campaign.
And they have on their campaign website a video that shows Mitt’s life, beginning with 1968, with the note:
“I think there’s one word that would be high on my list of a few words you would describe Mitt with. It would be trust. I think the qualities Mitt would bring to the Oval Office would be integrity, intelligence, an ability to see a problem and see a solution and make people recognize that he has those leadership qualities that would unite many people.” – Ann Romney
At what point do your actions matter?
By: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement, May 10, 2012
What a wonderful world! My daughter brought me a satellite radio for my birthday and I have been listening to the classic hits of the’50s. I call the station “50s on the Five for 50-Somethings.” Unfortunately every time I hear the classic 1950s song “What a Wonderful World” by the great Sam Cooke, I think of Michele Bachmann. Why? Because of the opening words, “Don’t’ know much about history. Don’t know much biology.”
Earlier this year, Bachmann said that the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which started the Revolutionary War, were fought in New Hampshire when every school kid knows the battles were fought in Massachusetts. Any day, I expect her to say that Kaiser Willy should have been tried for war crimes for starting World War II.
Earlier this year, the conservative congresswoman described homosexuality as “sexual dysfunction.” She may be surprised to know that the American Medical Association doesn’t list homosexuality as a sexual dysfunction. Representative Bachmann has promised to release her healthcare proposal to the public shortly. Her husband tries to convince gays that they are straight and my guess is her solution to the healthcare crisis will be to convince the sick and injured that they’re felling just fine.
I would add meteorology to biology and history on the list of things she doesn’t know much about. She said that hurricane Irene was a warning to politicians to reduce government spending. Her spokesperson said the candidate made the statement “in jest”. The congresswoman has a sick sense of humor. I don’t think a joke about a disaster that killed dozens of people and caused billion of dollars in damage is very funny. I wonder what other kinds of disasters Representative Bachmann thinks are funny.
The congresswoman from Minnesota is chair of the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives and her statements make her perfect for the job. The Tea Party has a new motto, “Just Say It,” which is why a recent New York Times/CBS News national survey shows the group’s negative has doubled from 18 percent to 40 percent in the last year. The nominee of the Party of Tea, the party formerly known as the GOP will drown with the weight of the Tea Party brand wrapped around him or her like an anchor.
Ever wonder why Americans dislike the Tea Party? Wonder no more. At a recent presidential campaign rally last week in Iowa, Robin Murphy of West Des Moines, Iowa, told Representative Bachmann. “I don’t like what I see in Obama—him being born in Kenya and trying to cover up the birth certificate thing. And him being Muslim and trying to pretend he’s a Christian.”
As she held Ms. Murphy’s hand, Representative Bachmann made no effort to correct the misstatements that the Iowan made about the president. The Minnesotan could have responded to her supporter with a criticism of the president for his economic policies but also reminded her that the president was born in Hawaii and is a Christian. But Representative Bachmann didn’t. If ignorance is bliss, Tea Partyers must be ecstatic.
I lost electricity, Internet, and phones for a day and a half in the aftermath of Irene. It was actually pleasant to be out of touch with the rest of the world for awhile. I knew what it was like being a member of the Tea Party.
Robin Murphy’s statements sound sweet to Tea Partyers and religious conservatives but they taste sour to the independent suburban voters who are sick of right wing rhetoric. As long as Congresswoman Bachmann and her supporters lie about the president’s background, they won’t get any play from the moderate swing voters who will choose the next president in November of 2012. I doubt Tea Partyers will change their rhetoric though because they live in a wonderful world all their own.
By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and World Report, September 1, 2011