Some Things You Just Don’t Forget

Mittens was a bully in high school? Who could have guessed that?

And now he’s lying about it? Who could have guessed that?

The Washington Post story of a preppy high schooler named Mitt Romney unable to tolerate the nonconformist behavior of a “presumed homosexual” was verified “by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another.”

John Lauber made the mistake of coming to the elite, all-boys prep school one day, “with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye.” Little did he know that the son of the Michigan governor would take it upon himself to make the world safe for tie-wearing and briefcase-carrying future vulture capitalists everywhere.

The young Romney demonstrated his fledgling leadership skills by leading his prepped posse in an assault against Lauber, tackling him and pinning him to the ground:

As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

Oh, but the story was fifty years ago, says the Romney campaign today. These and other stories “seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents.”

No memory? You don’t remember that you held a kid down and forcibly cut his insubordinate hair?  John Lauber doesn’t remember the incident either. But that’s because he’s dead. Is Romney dead, or is it just his sense of decency that has passed on to the Mormon version of heaven?

Yesterday on The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, I heard Ed Gillespie, senior adviser for the Romney campaign, say this:

Governor Romney doesn’t remember that incident at all. It’s understandable, it was in high school.

You know, come to think of it, I don’t remember all the times I bullied people in high school either. But maybe that’s because I didn’t bully anyone in high school.  I didn’t assault anyone with scissors during a hysterical, homophobic manhunt for my own manhood.

But Gillespie has it exactly wrong. You see, because the incident happened in high school is exactly why it is not understandable that Romney doesn’t remember it. High school has a way of staying with you, for good or for ill.

When I was in Fort Scott Senior High School, most decidedly not a fancy prep school, I had a horrendous case of acne and hair down to my shoulders, curly and fuzzy and culturally defiant, which, of course, was the point. Naturally, with hair like mine, going to school in a rural town of 9,000 folks earned me a lot of attention, almost all of it negative. And I remember, vividly, the few times that I was actually threatened by bullies, amid the normal day-to-day ridicule.

To be fair, I suppose it is possible that bullying has become so commonplace for Romney that the incident involving John Lauber simply blends in with all the rest. I mean, maybe he really doesn’t remember that first, early assault. Romney said yesterday on Romney-friendly Fox radio:

I had no idea that this person might have been gay.

This person.” Is it too much to ask of Romney to give John Lauber a name? But keep that statement, as well as his campaign’s statement that he had “no memory” of the incident, in mind as we go on.

Romney continued:

As the article points out, I participated in a lot of high jinks and pranks during high school, and, uh, some may have gone too far, and for that I apologize.

Okay. So he acknowledges the substance of the Washington Post story and he is sorry that some high jinks and pranks “may have gone too far.” Now, let’s move on to a later interview he did with Neil Cavuto on Fox TV:

I don’t recall the incident myself, but I’ve seen the reports and [I’m] not gonna argue with that. There’s no question but that I did some stupid things when I was in high school.

Clearly, Romney says he doesn’t “recall” the incident involving John Lauber. He doesn’t remember it. If it happened, he’s not going to “argue with that.” Now, the problem with all that is earlier in the day, remember he said,

I had no idea that his person might have been gay.

So, how does Romney not recall the hair-cutting assault but does definitely recall that he “had no idea” that John Lauber “might have been gay”? Huh?

There is little if any doubt that Romney did what the sources for the WaPo story said he did way back in high school.  And there isn’t much doubt that what Romney is really more defensive about today is the reason he did what he did.

He doesn’t really mind all that much that we think of him as some kind of rules enforcer at an elite, leader-making school in Michigan. But he doesn’t want us to think of him as singling out someone who was perceived to be gay, who dared to be different in an environment where rigidity and conformity and ties and briefcases were the norm.

And while I don’t blame him for wanting to hide that dark truth about his high school days, wouldn’t it have served him—and all of us—better if he had just admitted the incident, apologized to the memory of John Lauber, and then used this moment to tell homophobic Americans that, like that young Mitt Romney, they have some growing up to do?



  1. Treeske

     /  May 11, 2012

    Typical elitist arrogant behavior. Another one of his jinks/pranks was guiding a blind teacher into a door, so funny to the class??? Early Mormons were told by Brigham Young “lying and cheating for the Lord” was acceptable, as long they’re gentiles . Maybe still holds?


    • You know, Treeske, I thought about that incident, too. But I came down on the side that to a spoiled high school kid at an elite prep school, it might be crudely funny to make fun of a sight-challenged teacher that way. That incident is slightly more excusable because it didn’t involve a direct, physical assault on the part of Romney, just him obliquely leading the guy into an embarrassing encounter with a closed door.

      As for the “lying and cheating for the Lord,” I find it amazing that even a young Romney didn’t drink alcohol, such was the fealty he had to the letter of the Mormon law in that respect. But, you see, drinking alcohol is not an ambiguous act. It can’t be nuanced. Either you partook or you didn’t. If you broke that rule, you couldn’t explain it away other than by admitting disobedience and rebellion.

      The other things, the parasitic business career, the screwing workers and pensioners, etc., those things can be explained away in a second, especially if there is money involved.



    • Sedate Me

       /  May 12, 2012

      If you’re waiting for an American election to get back to meaningful issues, I have cryogenic chamber available for you to rent. Slightly used, but I think it still works.


      • That would mean he would have to get out of his current cryogenic chamber. I think the door was shut in, oh, about 1956.


  2. hlgaskins

     /  May 11, 2012


    “Just for the sake of “balance” try these links:”

    How does any of your links support “balance?” It certainly doesn’t discredit the original Washington Post story by any means.

    For instance, in the ABC news article its revealed that neither of Lauber’s sisters were present during the assault by Romney and cohorts, but one did say this ““Even if it did happen, John probably wouldn’t have said anything,” Christine Lauber said.” So even his sister admits that she wouldn’t have known if the even actually occurred.

    The other two links are absolutely worthless since they are written by a thoroughly right-wing biased Conservative, Dana Loesch who was once associated with the Tea Party movement. She must be looking to make some of those Limbaugh dollars while at the same time saving on groceries.

    “Dana Loesch (née Eaton, born September 28, 1978) is a conservative talk radio host and blogger, formerly associated with the Tea Party movement.


  3. RDG,

    The WaPo story caught me off guard. It didn’t seem possible that the same guy who safely sequestered the family dog atop his SUV for 12 hours could be capable of such mean-spirited and thoughtless behavior. Mitt’s genuine connection with creatures great and small belies the ugly details of an incident no longer remembered. Even though internet-spread rumors hinted that a pet hamster didn’t survive the trip, Mitt assured Fox and Friends that Wild Bo was carefully stuffed away. The reminiscence took a humorous turn when Mitt recounted how he or she appreciated the uniformity found in blades of Canadian grass once freed from glove compartment confinement. Unless fresh information surfaces to prove Mitt flirted with arson and/or French community organizing while on mission, I doubt physically attacking a fellow classmate for flagrantly flaunting unnatural grooming habits will negatively affect polling numbers with Confederate sympathizers. Perhaps tomorrow Mitt will recall that he was merely trying to help the poor eccentric appear normal. It’s unlikely the presumptive Republican nominee suspected Lauber was gay, as homosexuality was virtually unheard of before the Carter administration.


  4. Duane is right to doubt Romney’s veracity about remembering the haircut. It is a fact that emotion activates memory. At age 75 I have sharp memories of several things that occurred in school, one of which involved a larger, stronger classmate slamming me into a wall in a math classroom just before class. It was 7th or 8th grade. He stuck his nose in my face and said, “Wheeler, I’m going to beat the shit out of you.” He had a reputation. He had me convinced and had me looking behind me for a long time, but he never carried out the threat. Just having a little fun. Boys will be boys. I was picturing broken bones and teeth. The teacher, a man, broke it up with a word, but otherwise took no interest.

    That guy is dead now, of natural causes. He became sheriff of the county we grew up in and after his demise I was told he had been involved in a number of controversies in which arrestees were roughed up.

    Physically constraining Lauber and shearing his hair would be assault if it were adults. To me it’s still assault, kids or not. The incident ought to be emotionally memorable to the Romney perpetuator. If it wasn’t, that tells me he is strangely cold not to remember. If he has normal memory function, he’s lying. Either way, it speaks badly of Romney’s character IMO.


    • Jim,

      Let me repeat your last paragraph for emphasis:

      Physically constraining Lauber and shearing his hair would be assault if it were adults. To me it’s still assault, kids or not. The incident ought to be emotionally memorable to the Romney perpetuator. If it wasn’t, that tells me he is strangely cold not to remember. If he has normal memory function, he’s lying. Either way, it speaks badly of Romney’s character IMO.

      Either Mittens is “strangely cold” or a “liar.” How about a strangely cold liar?



  5. Treeske

     /  May 13, 2012

    Wheeler, I agree with you.


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