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A “Pack of Dogs”

Jim Burroway

May 10th, 2012

Another eyewitness to Gov. Mitt Romney’s scissors assault has come forward:

“It’s a haunting memory.  I think it was for everybody that spoke up about it…  because when you see somebody who is simply different taken down that way and is terrified and you see that look in their eye you never forget it.  And that was what we all walked away with,” said Phillip Maxwell, who is now an attorney and still considers Romney an old friend.

“I saw it with my own eyes,” said Maxwell, of the anecdote first reported by the Washington Post.  Maxwell said Romney held the scissors helping to cut the hair of a student, John Lauber, who was presumed to be gay and who had long hair. “It was a hack job… clumps of hair taken off.”

Maxwell said he held the boy’s arm and leg, describing he and his friends as a “pack of dogs.”

…“When I saw the look on his (Lauber’s) face,  it was a look I’ll never forget,” said Maxwell. “When you see a victim, the sense of trust betrayed in this boy who was perfectly innocent for being different.”

“This was bullying supreme,” he said.

I gotta say, Romney must have been a real douchebag in high school for so many of his fellow classmates to be so willing to come forward to describe what happened nearly five decades later. These memories are indelible to them, and yet we’re supposed to believe that Romney doesn’t remember?

As for whether Lauber was assaulted because he was gay:

Maxwell said, “We didn’t know that word in  those days… but there were other words that were used. We weren’t ignorant, we just didn’t use the current names for things.”

The shame is not so much that an eighteen-year-old kid in 1965 organized a “pack of dogs” to go after Lauber. There is shame in that, even then, but the shame now is that a 65 year old grown man running for president would laugh it off — and yes, he laughed when he claimed he didn’t remember pinning a student down and cutting his hair with scissors.



Eric in Oakland
May 10th, 2012 | LINK

I guess he bullied so many people it is difficult for him to remember one particular incident?

May 10th, 2012 | LINK

Let’s not forget how we came to know about the dog incident: he (or maybe it was one of his kids) actually bragged about it.

May 10th, 2012 | LINK

You know… until today, I didn’t think Mittens was a bad person.
Misguided, out of touch, and old-fashioned, yes… but not, at his core, ‘bad’.
I now feel differently.

May 11th, 2012 | LINK

Romney is claiming that he doesn’t remember! Doesn’t he realize that that’s worse? To have so degraded, dehumanized and defiled another human being, and then have it not even register in his consciousness? If, as he matured, his concience had been troubed by the incident, that would be at least understandable. Many people do things in their youth that they later regret. But for it to not even register! That sounds like the behavior of a sociopath.

May 11th, 2012 | LINK

does obama still need to campaign?

May 11th, 2012 | LINK

I think the “Not Evolved” pronouncement for Romney from a few days back applies to more than just his stance on marriage equality. It seems he’s also missed out on the part of the evolution to adulthood that involves feeling remorse for mistakes made earlier in life.

May 11th, 2012 | LINK

Thank you Jim for pointing out the really atrocious part of this story – Romney’s laughter. I totally don’t think a politician should be held accountable for something he did in high school – we were all a-holes as teenagers in some way. But to dismiss what is in all likelihood a felonious assault and battery on an innocent individual as “pranks and hijinks” and to laugh about it as if to say “no I don’t remember it, but damn isn’t that a great joke to play” sickens me.

I’m with Zaylinda, I used to think Romney was a relatively harmless doofus. Now I really can’t stand the man.

Ben in Oakland
May 11th, 2012 | LINK

I had some bullying issues u puntil the time I was about 13. As the obvious gay kid, I had been bullied a lot as a child. When I got into junior high school, I was ready for some payback. Unfortunately, the payees were victims just as I was.

I learned how bad it and I was when the bullying directed at me got worse. I stopped. I’m not proud of it, but I stopped.

And I still remember the two kids I bullied, and I still remember their names– 50 years later.

Sorry mittens, it doesn’t wash.

Timothy Kincaid
May 11th, 2012 | LINK

Not to defend, but it’s also possible he forgot because to him it wasn’t a big deal.

We’ve all done things that we thought were trivial but which mattered a great deal to someone we loved and we’ve all had the “I’m sorry I was just being silly and didn’t know…”

Lauber’s hair was important to him. His sisters mention that he kept it bleached for the rest of his life. And though it’s seems odd today, it is, I suppose, possible that Mitt wasn’t hair conscious and if someone held him down and cut his 18yo hair he would have laughed at the prank. (possible, I said)

I don’t know why the terror of the situation didn’t sink in. I don’t know why so many others were deeply impacted and Mitt forgot.

But let’s remember that we can’t know more than we know and while this should flavor our evaluation, this single incident shouldn’t be perceived as some clear indication of his character.

Priya Lynn
May 11th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy, the thing that makes Romney’s claim to not remember unbelievable is that he also said “I know we weren’t concerned about his sexual orienation”. He can’t know that if he didn’t remember.

Jim Burroway
May 11th, 2012 | LINK

Keeping in mind that Timothy said, “not to defend…” I understand that you’re not defending, and offer this as a my reason why I find it implausible.

The reason I think it’s implausible that Romney doesn’t remember is the very specific violence of the assault itself.

I find it very hard to beleive that Romney doesn’t remember chasing someone down, pinning him to the floor, brandishing scissors and cutting the guy’s hair while he’s screaming and crying.

I find it unfathomable that he doesn’t remember something as physical and as specific as that.

Unless he can’t remember which incident we’re talking about where he chased someone down, pinned him to the floor, brandished scissors and cut the guy’s hair while he’s screaming and crying. Which I also don’t believe.

But if the cruelty that he exhibited that day was so casual that it doesn’t stand out in his mind — and again, I find that highly dubious because of the very specific and very unusual details of this assault — then that means that Romney (like Dharum Ravi) was a horribly dispicable and inhumane eighteen-year-old.

As others in this forum have rightly pointed out, what he did at eighteen years old, by itself, doesn’t say anything about what kind of a person he is today. I agree with that argument 100%.

I say that as someone who joined my classmates in an act of bullying when I was thirteen years old. It is an episode in my life that I have re-lived and regretted ever since. It wasn’t physical bullying like Romney’s, but that’s a distinction without a difference. It was incredibly cruel, and those episodes probably messed that girl up for the rest of her life. Believe me, it is not something I would ever laugh at.

And that’s why this story is important. It’s because Romney is now reacting to the incident as a sixty-five year old man after he has had nearly five decades to reflect on his behavior as an eighteen year old. He could have been a man, a grown-up, and turned the episode into a teachable moment about the horrors of bullying. But his reaction is to dissemble, offer a non-apology apology and laugh it all off — and yes, listen to the audio: he laughed! That does tell us what kind of a man he is today.

And that is 100% relevant.

Joe Beckmann
May 11th, 2012 | LINK

The real difficulty of Romney’s absurd claim to “not remember” is that, if ever he really does a serious apology, it is therefore meaningless.

Don’t ignore that THAT error is not an error of an 18 year old, but, rather, the error of a Presidential Candidate. What does that forecast for a presidency: “Ok, I forgot we were going to test the H-Bomb in Afghanistan.” “Oh, it didn’t occur to me that those showers had gas lines attached.” “Well, it’s not my fault if those people shoot each other.”

THAT particular pattern was typical of his Governorship, and, even more ironically, the reason his current “spokesperson,” Kerry Healey lost her own race for the Governorship when he decided he was too big for Massachusetts.

Timothy Kincaid
May 11th, 2012 | LINK

I agree that it seems like an unlikely thing to forget. But memory is a peculiar thing; things you might recall might not register with someone else.

Personally, my memory is crap.

I once had a conversation with someone who had worked for a time in the same building. He said, “Oh wow. I’ll never forget when you caused the bomb scare”. I just stared at him blankly.

“The bomb scare. When they evacuated the building and the bomb squad came. You know, the BOMB SCARE!”

And it took me a moment until it all came back. I’d completely forgotten.

Jim Burroway
May 11th, 2012 | LINK

It took you a moment, but it all came back to you.

If we’re to believe Romney, from the time he read about it in the Post and the time he and his aides got him onto Fox Radio to talk about it, it never came back to him. If we’re to believe Romney.

If he still doesn’t remember, then we have a MUCH bigger problem, I’d say.

Priya Lynn
May 11th, 2012 | LINK

And once again, its not believable that he didn’t remember when he also said “I know we weren’t concerned about his sexual orienation”. He can’t know that if he didn’t remember.

Rich Poppen
May 11th, 2012 | LINK

I suppose it’s barely possible that someone could forget holding a screaming classmate down and hacking off his hair.

If someone accused me of that, though, my response wouldn’t be “I have no memory of doing that.” It would be “That’s so far out of character for who I was even in my teens that I couldn’t have done that unless I had an episode of insanity that I’ve forgotten.”

If it’s *in* character for who you were in your teens, the adult response is “Though I don’t remember it, regrettably, that’s consistent with who I was then. I did a lot of things I’m ashamed of, and if I did that, that’s something else I’m ashamed of. I hope people will understand that I’ve grown up a lot since then.” To blandly say “I don’t remember” and *chuckle* about the incident is the response of a sociopath.

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

i had a horrible nightmare last night… romney and a bunch of arrogant jocks threw me to the ground, held me down, jeered and called me all sorts of hurtful things as they slapped me around and cut my locks off… nobody responded to my cries for help. i want to cry when i think that this actually happened to someone and that it took years for an apology to be made and that the main bully makes nothing of it all while he runs for president. It was a long time ago, but 18 year olds aren’t kids and his wishy washy “apology” suggests that he’d have fun doing that sort of thing again if he knew he could get away with it.

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