We’ve all done things when we were younger that we probably aren’t too proud of. But the danger of running for office is that your life becomes an open book, ready for examination. But should your behavior as a teen have any bearing on whether or not you’re fit to serve as President of the United States?
It’s a question that many are debating after learning about Mitt Romney’s reputation as a bully in prep school. According to the Washington Post, his “pranks” often targeted those who were thought to be homosexual or somehow weak, such as gathering a gang of high school kids to hold down a student and cut his hair. “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.”
Romney claims he doesn’t remember the incidents, but apologizes if he hurt anyone’s feelings. “‘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.”’
Of course, conservatives say that being a bully isn’t that big of a deal, and that it’s just “boys will be boys” hijinks. “Let’s get to work, America. The Obama campaign needs your help. Did Mitt Romney ever point to what he claimed was a stain on your shirt, and when you looked down, he flicked your nose? Did Mitt Romney ever break wind in gym class and blame it on you? Did Mitt Romney ever refuse to be “It” even though you very clearly tagged him? We must stop this monster.”
Maybe these were just pranks (although holding down someone to “hatchet job” him is a lot different from stealing a twinkie from a lunch box), but it’s the lack of serious concern over the allegations that can make a voter pause. With so many recent suicides among the teen and pre-teen population, Romney had a major chance to really help students understand that bullying isn’t just something that all kids do, and everyone goes through as either a bully or a victim.
With so many students afraid to even go to school, what a wonderful opportunity it would have been for him to really apologize, say that what he did was wrong, and that he wished it had never happened, and that no student should have to suffer through what he put his targets through.
He could have stepped up. And he didn’t.
That’s what someone considering their presidential vote should think about.
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