I’ve never been tall, big or strong. I’d describe myself as having been the famed 98-pound weakling when I was a kid, but I am not sure that I even made it to 98 pounds all that often. As a consequence, from time to time, I got bullied.
It wasn’t the world’s biggest deal, though when it happened, it was annoying. I never got beat up; just picked on, and if memory serves, I was entirely willing to talk back to my would-be tormentors and tell them precisely what I thought of them. In exquisite French at times. So I don’t walk around with psychic wounds, or massive amounts of emotional trauma.
This doesn’t mean that I look back fondly on the times when I was picked on. Far from it; at best, those moments were an inconvenience, and at worst . . . well, I wondered what I did to have to put up with nonsense from people who at the time struck me as mouthbreathers and knuckle-draggers. And of course, I wouldn’t go out of my way to try to reconnect with bullies–actual or aspiring–from my past. I have seen a few of their profiles on Facebook, and have not issued friend requests their way.
But I would like to think that if one of my past would-be tormentors contacted me and sought to reconnect in some way, I might spare him a kind thought and act on the presumption that he might have changed in the years since we confronted one another. It wouldn’t be the most extraordinary thing if he did; after all, it has been some decades since schoolkids tried to bully me.
I write all of this, of course, because Mitt Romney has been accused of having engaged in “pranks” and “troubling incidents” nearly 50 years ago, back when he was a high school student. The story alleges that sometimes-mean kids did what sometimes-mean kids do, and that Romney was a sometimes-mean kid. Romney has been forced to apologize for any pranks or acts of bullying that ever got out of hand, and predictably, Obamaphiles have decided to collectively get the vapors over occasional juvenile acts from almost half a century ago.
Of course, assuming that the charges are true, it would behoove even the hacks who are using this story to try to keep everyone else from talking about the economy to admit that in the course of nearly 50 years, Mitt Romney may have changed and grown up as a person. It is acknowledged by some that it is possible that Romney has indeed matured (thank Heaven for small favors), but many of the hacks pushing this story are trying to pretend that it is relevant to 2012, since Romney is a Republican, and since all bullies grow up to be Republicans, and since all Republicans are bullies, and since Romney’s policies, which are Republican, are indistinguishable from bullying. Or something like that; not a lot of mental rigor goes into the construction of these charges, but the Obamaphile hacks pushing them are perfectly willing to be wrong, just as long as they can be loud in making the charges–loud enough to make you forget about anemic GDP growth, the unemployment rate, and how hard it is for people these days to make ends meet.
It is smart of Romney to apologize, since failing to do so means perpetuating the story, but there are plenty of holes in the story. See here and here for a discussion of those inconsistencies. And hey, guess what, the media is behaving unethically. What a stunner.
Oh, and also, the family of the bully-ee is outraged about this story:
Christine Lauber, older sister of John Lauber, who died in 2004, told ABC News she had ”no knowledge” of the incident involving her brother and Romney. But she said she was at college at the time of the incident, so at the time the brother and sister were “doing our own thing.”
“Even if it did happen, John probably wouldn’t have said anything,” she said.
“If he were still alive today, he would be furious [about the story],” she added with tears in her eyes. ”It’s two 16-year-old kids at school. And it was 40 years ago!”
47 years ago, to be precise. But the passage of time does not matter to Obamaphile hacks. There is an election to win, and the use of no weapon, no matter how tedious its employment, will be forsworn in winning that election.
And it goes without saying that positive stories about Romney–which are more recent, and therefore give us a better sense of his character as an adult–will not receive the same kind of exacting scrutiny from Obamaphile hacks as these nearly-half century old allegations will, since . . . well . . . they paint Romney in a good light. Neither will reports–straight from the president’s pen–that he too was a bully. You can call that “hypocrisy,” “double standards” and “rank dishonesty” all you want; Team Obama just does not care. For them, the ends justify the means, and all means are justified in the service of this president’s re-election, no matter how much they debase the public discourse.
Make no mistake, the discourse is indeed being debased and degraded. There are a host of important issues to talk about–including and especially the fact that our economy stinks on ice–and instead of discussing those issues, Obamaphiles are busy trying to pretend that Mitt Romney is some kind of secret hate crime perpetrator. Bob Krumm has the right idea here; every time the Obama campaign and its hacks try to bring up ancillary issues, Romney and his side should respond by asking where the jobs are, where the economic growth is, where the economic security is, etc.
The economy is the last issue Barack Obama and the hacks in service to him want to talk about. So they talk instead about Romney the high schooler, and what a meanie he supposedly was. Romney should respond by asking Americans what any of this has to do with their pocketbooks. He should ask it repeatedly, and he should emphasize that the reason the Obamaphiles are fixated on these stories is because they have run out of ideas on jobs, on economic growth, and on bringing about a sense of financial stability and security for Americans. Team Obama can only win if this campaign is not about the issues. Bringing the campaign back to the issues is not just good for policy discourse. It is also good for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.