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.
That's more than a kick-me sign surreptitiously clapped onto some nerd's back. That's assault. Here's Romney's apology:
"Back in high school, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that,” Romney said in a live radio interview with Fox News Channel personality Brian Kilmeade. Romney added: “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize.”
He claims to not remember the incident. Let me repeat that: He claims not to remember the incident where he held down a boy who was crying and screaming for help as he cut the boy's hair with a pair of scissors. It's obviously a scene that burned itself in the memories of at least five other participants, but Romney calls it a "prank" and says he doesn't remember it.
Look, everyone does shitty things as kids, it's true. But this kind of violence in response to nonconformity doesn't just wash itself out of someone's system when they turn 30. This is an issue of character. And before you excuse Romney for doing this because it's what any rich white prep school kid would do at that time, you should note that at almost the exact same time Mitt Romney was assaulting and humiliating a student for being effeminate, George W. Bush was defending a gay classmate from his fellow Yale bullies:
It was 1965, I believe — my junior year, his sophomore. We were making our usual sarcastic commentaries on those who walked by us. A little nasty perhaps, but always with a touch of humor. On this occasion, however, someone we all believed to be gay walked by, although the word we used in those days was "queer." Someone, I'm sorry to say, snidely used that word as he walked by.
George heard it and, most uncharacteristically, snapped: "Shut up." Then he said, in words I can remember almost verbatim: "Why don't you try walking in his shoes for a while and see how it feels before you make a comment like that?"
Remember, this was the 1960s — pre-Stonewall, before gay rights became a cause many of us (especially male college students) had thought much about. I remember thinking, "This guy is much deeper than I realized."
When George W. Bush makes you look like a piece of shit, you're doing something wrong.