2012 Election | Bullying | Frank Rich | Gay Marriage | Mitt Romney

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Should Mitt Romney's Bullying Past Be Campaign Issue?

MittYoungJournalist Frank Rich addressed a wide array of LGBT-related comments in his latest New York magazine piece, including whether or not Mitt Romney's past as an anti-gay bully will bring him down in the polls and whether addressing it is "fair game."

What is fair game is his strange, chuckling denial of any knowledge of a fairly violent prank that other participants and eyewitnesses remember so vividly. If no other similar incidents turn up, that will be the end of it. How big an “if” that is, I don’t know.

Much of Romney’s past remains a mystery to me, as it does to most Americans. Meanwhile Sondheim aficionados can savor a musical recounting of the bullying incident, “Romney Mitt, the Demon Barber of Wall Street."

I've included video of Roy Zimmerman singing that very song, AFTER THE JUMP.

As for whether President Obama's gay marriage support will cost him votes, Rich is doubtful: "In political terms, I’d say Obama’s move is either a wash or a plus. In the long-term perspective of history, his endorsement of marriage equality is a big plus."

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Comments

  1. Of course it needs to be a campaign issue! If we are to judge people upon the "content of their character" as King said, then one is left to wonder what is the content of Willard Romney?

    Posted by: MiKem | May 17, 2012 9:54:40 AM


  2. I would have to agree and say this one incident is probably not an easy one to make a campaign issue. There are plenty of more recent examples and repeated behaviors by Mitt that are far more troubling .

    Posted by: mark | May 17, 2012 9:54:41 AM


  3. It seems to me that his past behavior is tied to his more recent activities -- once a bully, always a bully. What he did in school set the pattern for how he has behaved ever since...

    Posted by: kit | May 17, 2012 9:59:47 AM


  4. People voting for, or considering voting for Romney are most likely anti-gay already, so i don't see this working.

    Posted by: Emmy | May 17, 2012 10:00:43 AM


  5. Absolutely yes.

    He is not applying for a Middle Management job in an office. This position is for the leader of the FREE WORLD! He needs to have the basic heartfelt understanding of actual FREEDOM and EQUALITY. This is the single most important requirement for the position.

    Think about this one thing: At the very moment American was born, it was stated and written down in the Declaration of Independence, that “ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL”. Mr. Romney rejects this whole sale.

    Not only is he lying when he says he does not remember the bashing assault, he would also have to lie if he took the oath of office that he must uphold the Constitution of the United States. He rejects the Constitution outright.

    His very first action of his presidency would be another lie. Think about the message this would send: Gay bashings are ok if you young?

    News flash!!! About 95% of gay bashings are done by men from the age of 16 to 16 years old.

    Thsi shoudl be a campaign issue for us.

    Posted by: Jacques Rosas | May 17, 2012 10:01:20 AM


  6. At the risk of appearing to be a Romney apologist, I don't understand the interest in or assumed relevance of this story. I like to think that I am not the same person I was in high school, and assume that is true for most of us. Then again, if we start determining who is qualified to be president based on high school behavior, we certainly would speed up the election of the first female president.

    Posted by: KJ | May 17, 2012 10:04:57 AM


  7. Does it really reveal anything new?

    A privileged white kid bullying his way through life... not a lot different than a rich, white man imagining "he" knows better than you what's best for you in your own life.

    The best indicator of future behavior, is past behavior. Believe what you see right in front of you; he's a bullying jack-ass. That's not new.

    Posted by: Pete n SFO | May 17, 2012 10:13:43 AM


  8. As Rich says, it's relevant if it goes to a pattern of behavior. The first thing I thought of when I heard about this was the Seamus incident. So he was a vicious bully in high school and then progressed to torturing his family pet. What else don't we know?

    It also informs the "Romney -- inveterate liar" narrative, inasmuch as he claimed to have no memory of it in the morning, then remembered most every detail by midday. This will end up a major issue in the campaign: how brazenly he lies. I imagine Obama might even directly hit him for it in one of the debates.

    Note to Belonsky: Frank Rich is a political columnist and former theater critic. Not sure I'd describe him as a journalist, aka a reporter. That's not his bag.

    Posted by: scottevill | May 17, 2012 10:14:18 AM


  9. Apparently, if you are a Republican, your high school, grade school past is fair game.

    If you are Obama, who wrote in his book 'Dreams From My Father', how he bullied a girl named Coretta and pushed her, then your school past is not fair game, and should not be a campaign issue.

    Or Obama's confession (in his book) of how he would get through the day: "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it…"

    Not to mention the dude ate a dog.

    So here's how it works: You will silence anyone speaking of Obama's bullying past. You will publish Romney's bullying past on every website, publish in every newspaper, and scream it from the highest mountain top.

    Fair enough?

    Posted by: Alan | May 17, 2012 10:15:34 AM


  10. It is an issue, but the people who are solidly in Romney's side are, as Emmy put it, mostly anti-gay to begin with. So this will have little affect with them. In fact they're denying that Mitt was a bully at all although he essentially admitted to being one publicly.

    Posted by: Francis | May 17, 2012 10:18:13 AM


  11. I agree with Kit and others: if it seems to be part of a pattern that then shaped his current character (self-righteous, smarmy, entitled, thoughtless, unempathetic, looking out for himself and people like him as opposed to caring about everyone, etc.), then it's fair game.

    Did anyone else hear the (confirmed) story about George W. Bush in his youth, and how he would give his younger brothers a running start before he started shooting at them with a pellet gun? Don't tell me that didn't turn out to be prophetic.

    Posted by: Dback | May 17, 2012 10:22:43 AM


  12. The way I try to explain this to someone who views this as some adolescent prank is to imagine it being a woman... Suddenly the thought of holding that person down while they cry & plead seems unconscionable. There is *NO* difference. If it had been a woman no one would be defending him and his chances of Presidency would be nil.

    Posted by: Jim in MN | May 17, 2012 10:23:24 AM


  13. "Hi, I'm Mitt Romney, and one of the things I've learned as a republican is that if you keep the homosexuals around you weak and in constant fear of losing your approval they'll do anything you say, even vote against their own best interests and choose to direct their hatred toward liberals, which is silly, of course, because liberals are the only people who've ever done anything for those wimpy little f@ggots. Like Alan, for example. He's a perfect example of a Stepford Boy, a little automaton that does what we say because we hold what used to be his balls in a place where our hearts are supposed to be. The little homosexual votes against himself, to win our tolerance, and the best part is we don't even give him any!"

    - Mitt Romney, on the GOP's gay stances

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | May 17, 2012 10:26:11 AM


  14. @Alan: Someone's been memorizing his FOX News talking points. Who's silencing the information on Obama you're talking about? Obama himself wrote about them in his book! (That's FOX's big gotcha on this--bringing up stuff from Obama's own book like they're doing some kind of brilliant undercover work.) He's the one who called attention to them. Unlike Mittens, who is so empty-headed he claims not to remember his own past. Slight difference there.

    If someone thinks the bullying incident--and Mitt's giggly dismissal of it--isn't a reflection of his character, so be it, but one wonders about masochistic gay men who go out of their way to defend the man who wants to undo the legal marriages of thousands of gay couples.

    Personally, I find Mitt's memory lapse a reflection of his hollowness, but it's the tip of the anti-gay iceberg with frozen-hearted Mitt, so even if this had never met the open air, there are plenty of other reasons to keep the past-less Mitt out of power.

    Posted by: Ernie | May 17, 2012 10:37:52 AM


  15. Maybe not the actual incident itself but the way he handled should be considered

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | May 17, 2012 10:41:22 AM


  16. Alan keeps repeating the Limbaugh talking points about bullying and is always ignored, so I'm not sure if this is a case of not feeding the trolls. But I'm going to break ranks and feed him anyway. The incident you're referring to took place in middle school, not high school. Obama in no way bullied Coretta, and was in fact bullied along with her. This is in contrast to Romney being the acknowledged ringleader of the bullies at his prep school. Obama ran around the playground with Coretta, the only other black kid in school, and they were laughing together when they were surrounded by the white kids, who started taunting her saying obama was her boyfriend. To his discredit, he didn't stand up to them, denied he was her boyfriend (which he wasnt) gave her a push and said I'm not her boyfriend. She then ran away. Did he cover himself in glory there? No. But he's a little minority kid surrounded by unfriendly white kids, had just met Coretta, and he did what almost all kids would do, look after themselves. And the end result was nothing, she just ran away and the white kids left. So, obama was a black kid in a white school, was bullied along with this girl he just met, and didn't stand up for her. He then wrote about it in a book. Romney was the leader of the bullies in high school, viciously attacked a gay kid and others who were poorer or less strong than him, and lied about remembering it. This is a real comparison, not the stupid fox talking points regurgitated by alan and his ilk.

    Posted by: Brian | May 17, 2012 10:42:54 AM


  17. Alan, the troll: Obama didn't eat a dog!! As a child in Indonesia he was served it one time. My god.

    Posted by: Laurie | May 17, 2012 11:07:01 AM


  18. I think the reason why this is fair game is because of the way Romney handled the issue when it was brought to his attention. We can all agree that bullying is a major problem in this country and has been for a very long time. Personally and as I am sure the most of us on here are choosing to comment, do not really think we can make a correlation between how one acted when they were a child verses how they act as an adult. But what we can look to see is how that person's experiences shaped the type of person they became in their adulthood. Furthermore, we can look to see how those experiences might indicate how that person would govern over others. The problem I have is not so much that he did something in high school that most people would find abhorring, but more so his reconciliation of that event as if it was just some incident of "boys being boys" that may or may not have happened....even though everyone else who was there seems to recall the incident and it disturbs them to this day.

    Posted by: GLAW2014 | May 17, 2012 11:35:56 AM


  19. Alan is your typical gay republican, simply ignore reality and spout out right-wing talking points.

    Posted by: NY2.0 | May 17, 2012 11:36:42 AM


  20. I think that the people this issue might turn are already not going to vote for Romney. I also think that it happened 50 years ago lessens the impact. I think it's interesting and the way he reacted says a lot about him but I don't think this will be an effective issue for swing voters.

    Posted by: Daniel | May 17, 2012 11:49:58 AM


  21. Alan, you never read Obama's book did you? The incident you're talking about played very differently. You got your info from the right wing media and didn't bother to find out the whole story.

    Posted by: Daniel | May 17, 2012 11:51:03 AM


  22. No, and yes.

    Even though I *do* think it says a lot about Mitt Romney you can't really focus too much on this single event. It happened nearly 50 years ago, Romney was 18, etc. etc. If you made an attack ad about it, for instance, you risk looking desperate, like you're scraping the bottom of the barrel for things against him.

    However, both the event and his recent words about it play into a larger narrative of who Mitt Romney is and his lack of empathy for people who aren't Mitt Romney or very much like him. His response to this story demonstrates yet again that he never takes responsibility for anything, cannot admit fault, and his first instinct when called on something is to lie and make up excuses. That and give that creepy laugh, the one he whips out when talking about suffering he might have caused.

    There are only two options for the truth regarding Romney's response to this and neither of them make him look good. Both play into the negative perceptions the public already has of him. Either he really has forgotten it, in which case an event that haunted at least for men for decades for the part they played in it didn't even make an impression on the ring-leader, Mitt Romney. Or, and this is the one I personally favor, he's lying about not remembering, which goes to his character and his inability to admit fault, to take responsibility for anything.

    So I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think it works as a singular event, the primary subject of an attack on Romney, but it does as one piece of a larger puzzle that forms a picture of Romney as a cold, empathy-less, liar. Because if Mitt Romney isn't a sociopath he plays one on TV and that coldness, his robotic "Stepford" quality can and should be exploited.

    Posted by: Caliban | May 17, 2012 12:18:36 PM


  23. As a Republican, he's still a bully, to all gay people he maintains are less than full human beings.

    Posted by: t | May 17, 2012 1:11:43 PM


  24. Sounds like the Neocons don't like it when Mitt gets "swift-boated."

    Posted by: Dan Mc | May 17, 2012 1:13:08 PM


  25. why shouldn't it be the repuks have tried to use everything they could find on the president. so why should mittens be exempt?

    Posted by: walter | May 17, 2012 1:52:08 PM


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