Already, the report has prompted some serious buzz, and it's sure to be affirmational for many who see a troubling lack of compassion in Romney's conservatism. But should it be?
First, a few details. The incident happened 46 years ago at the prestigious Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Writes reporter Jason Horowitz:
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.Romney, through a spokesman, initially said he didn't remember the incident. Five classmates, including one who has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan, say it happened, and moments ago Romney offered an apology for doing "dumb things" in high school.
“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.
Does it matter? The story is emblematic of a time where society's attitudes about bullying and homosexuals were starkly different than today. That certainly doesn't excuse an incident that clearly traumatized the victim, as the story goes on to say.
But is it a window into Romney's soul - or the ugly immaturity of a teenage boy? Considering our teen years, we'd be inclined to lean toward the latter, but Romney nevertheless was smart to take another sweep through his memory and find some regret.
Peter St. Onge