I’m with Mitt Romney. I would never want to be judged by the stupid stuff I did as a teenager. But if I were Romney, I wouldn’t want to be judged by any of the things he says or does these days.
My embarrassing juvenile past was highlighted by horrifying episodes of debauchery, depravity and peril. It was the 1970s. It was all about beer, hormones and cars. I was stupendously adolescent right down to the Rooney-Ranch-Southern-Comfort-bonfire-and-body painting-episode. Don’t ask.
But as I shudder and think back to all the fabulously stupid and dangerous stunts I pulled as a kid — and which are indelibly chiseled into my ever-dwindling store of synapse — I can’t ever remember being cruel or bullying.
That doesn’t included numerous incidents of exquisite cruelty I inflicted on my brother during our “spirited” life at home together, which included, but were not limited to, BB gun wars, more than one kicked-in door, falsified graffiti in the basement, and a long list of ghastly things released into his bed at night.
Anyway, of all the horrible things I did to myself and with other self-abusing pals, there were no episodes like the hair-chopping one that only mildly haunts Mitt Romney.
It’s the story of how as a 16-year-old private-school student he plotted an assault against another student with long hair. This was the 1960s, when mad men were gearing up for Barry Goldwater. Romney, as retold through the Washington Post, essentially stalked a kid who was suspected of being gay, and with the help of friends who tackled and held him down, hacked off his offending hair with scissors. The incident was so bizarre and so unnerving, that his accomplices said it has bothered them ever since.
Romney told reporters he didn’t recall it, and that it was probably just teenage high jinx.
He assaulted a kid, someone he probably referred to as a sissy. He assaulted him because he was different, and he didn’t like that. And then he forgot about it. Or so he said.
Even if I’d been roaring drunk, I doubt I could ever forget holding someone down and cutting off their hair.
The hair-cutting episode came and went with other political news about Romney. But I couldn’t get past it. It begged the question: Was Romney so cold, so mean and such a bully that he could do such a thing and then forget about it? Or was he a liar?
Like much of the rest of the country, I moved past it, and figured that even if he was such a thug, he grew up. He changed and is no longer such an callous menace as an adult.
This week’s news made it clear that I and much of the rest of the country were wrong.
With the release of the Mother Jones video Monday, Romney made it clear he was still that intolerant and contemptuous teenager. While pandering to fellow millionaires for donations a few months ago, Romney shared his feelings about the 47 percent of Americans he thinks have no interest in him because they’re lazy, hopeless, dole-sucking socialists who “believe they’re victims.”
What’s creepier than the videotaped remarks is his impromptu explanation late Monday night.
“Those who are reliant on government are not as attracted to my message of slimming down the size of government,” Romney said in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Man, that’s just sick. He honestly believes that the working poor and struggling middle class are “reliant” on the government. He said he could never persuade hundreds of millions of Americans to become “responsible” for themselves. Like vets? Like seniors? Like families with kids in college?
He said that as a candidate for president, “my job is not to worry about those people.”
I can’t imagine anything that better defines the contempt a bully feels for another human. Just like the contempt that Romney felt for a long-haired, gay kid in a private school filled with privileged, intolerant adolescents.
So here’s the deal. If you support this guy for president, you’ve got to figure out where you stand among those he doesn’t have contempt for. If you have a lot of money, are overtly religious, want to end abortion rights, and don’t act gay or associate with gays, you just might do OK by a Romney presidency.
But you might not. If you’re planning on getting that Social Security check some day. If you really need that college and mortgage deduction to keep it together. If you don’t understand why your gay friends and family members can’t have rights like you do, if you encourage the government to force the health-care industry to increase services and lower rates, you could easily be Romney’s next hair-cut.