Is Mitt Romney a bully? He may be. He seems to have been one at boarding school, if the accounts are true. Even Mitt doesn’t deny having participated in pranks that may have gone too far. He even issued an apology to those he may have offended. In a clear case of bullying, the Washington Post reported that as a teenager, Romney and a group of boarding school buddies held down a classmate and Romney acting as barber, cut off his bleach blonde hair that did not conform to the prep school look. According to the story, the boy was soft-spoken and presumed to be “homosexual” and an “easy target” for teasing.
The report comes on the heels of President Obama’s “coming out” in support of gay marriage. I say “coming out” because I believe his position has been the same for some time and that his so called “evolution” was simply a political position. Interestingly, the press seems to be making a connection between Mitt’s bullying of a classmate years ago and Obama’s new public support of same-sex marriage, sort of the good guy, bad guy comparison. I don’t think the comparison is fair. I think both guys have some explaining to do. Romney suggests he may have been involved in youthful pranks and couldn’t remember having been the barber of Cranbrook. Obama describes his position on gay marriage as evolving. I think both men are being disingenuous about their previous motivations.
But back to the question of whether Romney’s tendency to prank and bully as a kid is relevant today. I think it is. Mitt says he is a changed man, arguing in much the same way as Obama that he has evolved. Romney does pass for a gentleman in public. His gentility can make him seem civil and almost friendly, but while he can pass for genteel on occasion, his actions as governor and as a businessman tell another story. As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt helped pass a referendum that ended bilingual education which has had horrible consequences for immigrant children. It was mean-spirited, much as his private sector work as a venture, some would say, vulture capitalist has been. For a man who believes that corporations are people and that gays should not have the right to same sex marriage, his evolution has a long way to go.