The story began on the front page of the Washington Post, jumped inside to a spread on two pages and got more or less the play that might have been given a plane crash that had killed 200 people.
Its thrust? The story told the tale of a teenage Mitt Romney in 1965, while a student at a ritzy prep school in Michigan, deciding that one of the other kids in that school projected the wrong image in a school where all the students wore ties and carried briefcases to class. Romney didn’t like the kid’s longish, bleached blond hair.
So Romney marched out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut the guy’s hair. In a nearby room, they came upon the guy with the objectionable hair, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As the victim, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors. Later, as an adult, the kid who’d been given the crude haircut said that the event had been among the most traumatic of his life. Romney’s story to the Washington Post was that he doesn’t recall the incident but that he apologizes for it.
And just what are we supposed to make of this? Well, we can reasonably conclude that:
A) Romney suffers from some memory gaps. I would have remembered that; you would have remembered it, too, I think.
B) This story was fed to the Washington Post by Barack Obama partisans, who’ve inspected every conceivable aspect of Romney’s life and couldn’t come up with anything more salacious;
C) A major aspect of this story is that the victim later came out of the closet as a gay man, the implication being that Romney was a youthful gay basher. Romney said that he remembers the guy, but that he didn’t know that he was gay.
Bottom line? What does this have to do with a presidential campaign? What does a bit of youthful idiocy on the part of a 16- or 17-year-old kid have to do with his suitability almost a half century later to run the country? This is roughly equivalent to the story about Obama, as a little kid, dining on a dog in Indonesia. The statute of limitations on that long ago expired. Who cares?
Well, some people, apparently – the intense partisans. They care deeply about anything that might make the candidate of the party they oppose look bad, and the relevance of the issue at hand is incidental to them. Now, I have no plans to run for President or any other political office. Been there, done that; didn’t like it. The experience gave me far too vivid a display of human frailty to ever consider doing it again. Nonetheless, if anybody were to dig through my junior high school and high school years, they would find a few incidents that I should apologize for.
So, let me extend my most sincere apologies to Mr. Looney, the study hall teacher who wore a bulky hearing aid that went wild every time somebody rolled a penny across the floor of the classroom. I was the study hall’s leading penny-roller. I just loved watching Mr. Looney leap to his feet with his face red and both hands jammed over his ears. Sorry, Mr. Looney. That wasn’t nice at all.
Apologies also to Mr. Klausner, the young, ineffectual Spanish teacher; to the white rats in the biology lab, to Linda – hey, I really am sorry, Linda – to Gayle (it truly was an accident) and to little Steve with the big mouth. I should have just let it go, Steve; sorry about that.
My apologies to Tommy Hilfiger, who’s now a big-deal fashion designer. He and his brothers were little kids in the neighborhood who liked to throw snowballs at the bigger kids, like me, who would then run them down and wash their faces in the snow. Sorry, Tommy, although none of that seemed to keep you from becoming a skillionaire.
My apologies to Kathy, who never had the sense to close her bedroom curtains; to Mary Jane, who deserved to be treated more respectfully and to Mrs. Bode, whom I never expected would ever see that pencil drawing I did of her in my ring notebook. I apologize to Freddie, to Alan, to Janice and to Mr. Tripp. I apologize to Mrs. Ball. I apologize to Claudette. That was a bit later, but even so.
I think that’s about it, although I’m sure I’m leaving out a lot, purely by accident – things that were stupid or hurtful that I didn’t even realize at the time. I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall each and every moment of my life, nor do I want to. Nor do I think it’s fair or reasonable to demand that anybody, even a presidential candidate, to be called to account for each and every moment of his life – especially for actions that occurred a half century ago.
Meanwhile, we have about 13 million people out of work in this country, so let’s get on with this presidential campaign, okay? And I couldn’t care less about whose bra Mitt Romney unhooked in 11th grade or what Barack Obama had for dinner when he was 8 years old.
Be sure to visit my Web site at forpeoplewhothink.com.