Once a bully…

I was going to follow up my last post about binders full of women with some history about Mitt Romney’s bullying of women as well as his general bullying.  Then I remembered I did a post on his bullying of women politicians in Massachusetts.

Even though everyone, including me, thought that the President lost the first debate, I also thought that Romney looked like a bully.  The problem was President Obama did not look Presidential not standing up to it.   Last night Obama stood up to him.  Let us hope it is not too late.  Let’s look at some of Romney’s history.

Back in May the Washington Post ran a long story about Romney’s prep school years.  I thought at the time it was quite troubling and I still do.  Jason Horowitz wrote

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 teenage 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 identified. 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 was a hack job,” recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. “It was vicious.”

And there were incidents involving at keast one teacher.

One venerable English teacher, Carl G. Wonn­berger, nicknamed “the Bat” for his diminished eyesight, was known to walk into the trophy case and apologize, step into wastepaper baskets and stare blindly as students slipped out the back of the room to smoke by the open windows. Once, several students remembered the time pranksters propped up the back axle of Wonnberger’s Volkswagen Beetle with two-by-fours and watched, laughing from the windows, as the unwitting teacher slammed the gas pedal with his wheels spinning in the air.

As an underclassman, Romney accompanied Wonnberger and Pierce Getsinger, another student, from the second floor of the main academic building to the library to retrieve a book the two boys needed. According to Getsinger, Romney opened a first set of doors for Wonnberger, but then at the next set, with other students around, he swept his hand forward, bidding the teacher into a closed door. Wonnberger walked right into it and Getsinger said Romney giggled hysterically as the teacher shrugged it off as another of life’s indignities.

Is this funny?  I’m not a psychologist but I still see a cruel streak in Romney.  His remarks about the 47% and his liking to fire people are all part of the pattern of dismissing people who don’t fit into his very small world.  I think it is frightening that a man like this can be view as “strong” rather than for what he really is.  It scares me that he could be President.  Is he going to bully world leaders?  And where will that lead us?  People who were interviewed for the Post article said he had mellowed and these were youthful pranks.  I think he has just channeled his aggression in ways that appear to be more acceptable.

Ask yourself if he has really changed.  Ask if you want someone like this to be President of the United States.  I only hope that people wake up in time.

Go vote and vote for Barack Obama.

President Obama at second presidential debate

Romney’s empathy or the lack thereof

I’ve been following closely the stories on the bullying incident at Cranbrook.  I was, like many, horrified at the incident.  But I was more horrified by the fact that no one at Cranbrook thought it necessary to discipline the young men involved.  And I was most horrified by Mitt Romney’s nervous giggle when asked about the incident.  I’ve been groping for an explanation of why he doesn’t remember what happened when the others involved remember it clearly.  Then I read this very interesting article in the Boston Globe this morning.  The story quoted a gentleman named Don Gorton.

While some observers have expressed doubt that anyone could forget such a dramatic episode, one activist who has studied bullying said he believes Romney may, in fact, have no recollection.

Teenagers who bully others often don’t remember the incidents because they weren’t traumatic for them, said Don Gorton, chairman of the Anti-Violence Project of Massachusetts, a nonprofit group that seeks to reduce violence against gays and lesbians.

“Empathy is the critical variable,’’ Gorton said. “If they don’t feel their victims’ pain, the episode won’t stand out. It wasn’t a big deal for them.’’

Empathy.  That is what explains a great deal about Mitt Romney.  He lacks empathy.  People have been saying that he can’t relate to the common person and he has given many examples.  He likes to fire people.  A young person who can’t find a job should get his or her parents to give them a loan to start a business.  He supports the Ryan budget which raises the defense budget at the expense of the middle class and poor.  Plus he certainly was cruel to poor Seamus the dog.

 In the Massachusetts Governor’s Office


More from Gorton

Gorton, however, said he was offended that Romney described the episode as typical high school hijinks, even though an 18-year-old Romney was reportedly using scissors to cut Lauber’s hair as Lauber screamed for help.

“I wish he had said nothing,’’ Gorton said. “The fact is, high school pranks are whoopee cushions and wedgies. This was assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.’’

Gorton and other gay-rights activists in Massachusetts said the episode made them recall how Romney disbanded the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth and the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes – two panels that sought to combat bullying and were created under a previous Republican governor.

“It is relevant to judge him for his record in office and he was lackluster, to put it kindly, in his efforts to fight bullying when he was governor,’’ said Gorton, who was cochairman of the Task Force on Hate Crimes when it was disbanded in 2003.

“It is relevant to judge him for his record in office and he was lackluster, to put it kindly, in his efforts to fight bullying when he was governor,’’ said Gorton, who was cochairman of the Task Force on Hate Crimes when it was disbanded in 2003.

Romney has said the groups were disbanded to save money.

I understand that some people are disappointed that President Obama has not brought about miraculous change.  But ask yourself this question:  Would you rather have a President with the courage to come out in favor of an idea, gay marriage, that, while growing in acceptance, is still viewed in horror by many or a President Romney who lacks any kind of empathy?  The answer for me is clear:  a President without empathy is a dangerous one.