Let’s get this straight right up front: What someone does as a teen is not necessarily a reflection of how they are 50-60 years later. there may be clues, but to flat out extrapolate from one to the other is just plain silly. That’s what folks are trying to do with this latest Mitt Romney flap. As written in a Washington Post article, Romney was apparently part of a bullying incident during high school where he and others pinned down another student and cut his hair, ostensibly because they believed he was effeminate and didn’t fit in. They were going to teach him a lesson.
This behavior is, without a doubt, reprehensible. But making the case that since he did it then, he’d do the same now – or even have similar tendencies – is simply ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Romney fan. But fair is fair.
If you want to see how the man’s character has developed, you need to look at more than just his high school years. He protested in favor of the Vietnam War, then got himself moved to France to avoid the draft. His time at Bain Capital, where he made his money buying, then dismantling businesses, pocketing the profits while moving jobs offshore and putting Americans out of work. Or his battle with and elimination of a Massachusetts state-sponsored group that worked to educate against gay bullying. You can look at his current focus at cutting the taxes on the wealthy, while increasing them on the poor. There are plenty of things you can point to that show where his thinking has “evolved”. You don’t need to extrapolate it from his behavior as a teen.
But there is a pattern here. And in that sense, there is some value to knowing about this incident. Romney has always been couched in privilege. And from that privilege comes arrogance and a sense of entitlement. It comes with the perception that those who are different must be made to toe the line. And that getting ahead, getting your own way, takes precedence over the welfare of others. In other words, he acts like a bully.
Today, that bullying is in the form of money. He will spend as much as it takes to get himself the nomination, and if he can, the Presidency. It doesn’t matter how awful things in his past might be, nor what the consequence to the average person is. This isn’t about class warfare, because Romney doesn’t recognize a different class. You can tell by his speeches, his statements – he truly believes that he is average, that everyone has the same opportunities he did. So he believes he is doing the best. And anyone who doesn’t have what he has is just lazy, doesn’t need help. Remember his statement about not being worried about the very poor? He thinks they’re ok. He thinks the fact that they have fallen into a safety net shows that the system works. Never mind the fact that they need a safety net is a prime example that the system isn’t working, and that he is supportive of removing that safety net and letting them fall. Same attitude as “Let Detroit Fail”. If it doesn’t affect him or his cronies directly, he really doesn’t care. But take away a penny of their income in taxes, and they scream of lost freedoms and war on the rich.
It’s the entitlement of bullies. They’ll bash everything around them if they are allowed. It gives them a sense of power, a sense of control. It’s the GOP brand. Case in point – today’s vote in the House on a Republican measure to restore military funding that they gave up in the debt ceiling deal. You’ll remember that in the deal, Republicans agreed that if a debt reduction deal was not passed by November of last year, there would be automatic cuts to the military. They agreed to that because Democrats agreed to cuts on the programs they favor as well.
Now, however, Republicans want to renege. They want to turn back the clock and not cut a penny out of the military. Instead, they want to make further cuts to social programs, like school lunches, health care subsidies, child tax credits and food stamps, on top of the cuts already agreed to. Typical bully behavior. Make the deal, then try to bash your way out of it when it starts going south.
Of course, this deal has no chance in the Senate, and even if it did, it would not get past the President. They made a deal, and they’re going to have to stick to it. But the reality is, they don’t care. How could they? Politically, in an election year, do you really want to pit the poor, children and the elderly against military spending? Do you want to remind folks that you made a deal, in an effort to reduce spending, and that you don’t want to keep your word?
Bullies don’t care.
Again, this isn’t about class warfare. This is about entitlement. They have the money, they want to keep it, and they don’t intend to give any of it away. So they’ll beat up whoever they have to toward that end.
So, no, Romney’s high school activities aren’t indicative of what he would do today. But they are a piece of a puzzle that shows that his sense of entitlement, his willingness to bully those he doesn’t agree with, has a clear progression from then until now.