By John Ballard
Today, the day following the president's endorsement of marriage equality for gays, this story made footnote status on the national network news. Those who would accuse the media of pandering to the president should reflect on how much more juicy the story could have been with little or no tweaking. That's why we have blogs. And I'm here to twist the handle of the knife to make certain it hit the mark. This is how I was about to connect the dots before watching NBC.
This morning the Washington Post published a detailed account of an incident that happened in 1965 when Mitt Romney was still in high school.
Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. 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.�
�He was just easy pickins,� said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.
The incident transpired in a flash, and Friedemann said Romney then led his cheering schoolmates back to his bay-windowed room in Stevens Hall.
Friedemann, guilt ridden, made a point of not talking about it with his friend and waited to see what form of discipline would befall Romney at the famously strict institution. Nothing happened.
In less than half a day there are already over five thousand comments at the site. From the 1500 "top comments" the mood seems less than charitable.
Romney's response is that he doesn't remember the incident.
Like several of the commenters I don't think that response passes the smell test. If he's telling the truth the man's even more unfeeling than I thought.
As I�m reading and pondering this, I�m marveling at the political strategery of Davids Axelrod and Plouffe. Think about it:
On Sunday, Vice-President Biden comes out in favor of same sex marriage.
On Wednesday, President Obama comes out in favor of same-sex marriage, leaving some to speculate that he was backed into a corner, or that he should have done it sooner, or later, or whatever it is that people complain about when they simply can�t shake the need to be outraged about something, like, all of the time. (asiangrrlMN already covered this, but long story short, Obama�s record on LGBT rights is second to none; and he announced his support for the Respect Marriage Act last year, legislation which would repeal DOMA, so can we all calm down for a minute, please?)
Then today � Thursday, a front-page article drops in The Washington Post about how Romney was a big ol� gay-hating gay-basher.
Back when President Obama was a young man, trying to figure out who he was and writing pensive letters to his girlfriend about T.S. Eliot and other philosophical shit, Romney was picking on and assaulting gay people.
Face? Meet brick.
And here�s the kicker � here�s the dark chocolate inside this croissant d�awesome: Romney�s behavior most assuredly would have constituted a hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act which President Obama signed in 2009, if such a law had existed at the time and had Romney been prosecuted under that law. (The Hate Crimes Prevention Act expanded the existing hate crime law to include crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and is the first federal law to extend protections to transgendered persons.)
You cannot convince me that this was not planned. At the very least, the Obama campaign knew the article was going to drop and decided to announce sooner rather than later that President Obama supports same-sex marriage (he had already planned to announce it at some point before the convention.)
This is how it�s done, folks.
Mr. Romney, sir? I do believe you have been served.