Well, There Were Those Rumors About Perry…

Jim Burroway

May 11th, 2012

The Hill:

An adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign defended the candidate’s “kind impulses” on Friday, pointing to his treatment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry during recent GOP debates as proof.

I really hate to use an overworked cliché of saying they just don’t get it, but it looks to me that they don’t even care what the issue is all about. Except that it somehow looks bad. The problem is they’re making it worse:

“The real question here is is Mitt Romney a bully? And the answer is no,” (Romney advisor Kerry Healy) said. “Mitt Romney is absolutely, as his other friend from high school said, he doesn’t have a vicious bone in his body.”

Friend, singular. As opposed to seven who have come forward to talk about the assault.


May 11th, 2012

Keep harping on it if you want. It’s not going to matter because it’s not relevant. Whatever he was in high school he is, like every one of us, a different person now.

Perhaps they’re not making it go away because they don’t want it to go away. The longer this stays in the press the more foolish the press looks. And the boogeyman Librual Press conspiracy narrative is great for energizing the base without tasteless pandering to social conservatives.

Priya Lynn

May 11th, 2012

Blake said “it’s not relevant. Whatever he was in high school he is, like every one of us, a different person now.”.

That might be believable if Romney had come clean and acknowledged what he had done and said “I’m sorry for doing that” but the issue is his response to it now, not who he was then.

The other participants in the incident remember it vividly and were haunted by the wrongness of what they had done. This was a highly significant event and for Romney to claim he doesn’t remember isn’t at all believable especially considering he then went on to say “I know we didn’t think about his orientation.” – how could he know that if he didn’t remember the incident? He couldn’t, he is lying. Particularly troubling is that he laughed about the incident when first asked about it. Instead of saying “I’m sorry for what I did.”, he gave a notpology of “If anyone was hurt I apologize.” intentionally implying its questionable whether or not this happened or he was responsible.

No, Romney hasn’t changed and that’s the issue today. He’s still the same person he was then, entitled, thinking himself superior, getting pleasure out of bullying those he sees as weaker and different, and taking no responsibility for the harm he caused to innocent people.

When I was in the fourth grade I bullied a sweet innocent girl. I recall I didn’t have the slightest consideration for her feelings and pain or her being a person. Today I feel terrible about it and think about the injustice I inflicted all the time. I’d give anything to be able to undo that and I will never have peace over it because I can’t undo it – Romney today is not the kind of person I am now.


May 11th, 2012

Dear Blake:
The more the campaign fumbles this, the more we understand how bad Romney will be as president. They are beginning to look like the gang who can’t shoot straight. Incompetence is revealed in campaigns, see Palin.

Regan DuCasse

May 11th, 2012

@Blake: WRONG!

Had Romney done this to a black kid attending a school where likely none might, and he supported Jim Crow or any other discriminatory policies that aversely affected blacks, he’d be looked askance as someone who harbored some serious prejudices contra to Constitutional values.
Mormon already have a racist legacy.

Regardless that his took place in his teens, he’s indifferent to the harmful laws inflicted on gay citizens. Citizens he tried to court through the appointment of a gay man to his staff.
Who he, in short order, threw to the wolves.
Romney may not physically hold down people he knows are gay. But he’s willing to do it through the power of gov’t, the office of the President and enshrining it in the Constitution.

Apparently redefining the Constitution as an instrument of discrimination, redefining the laws to solely harm ONE vulnerable group, and redefining the laws regarding enforcement of religious ideology isn’t scaring the shit out of as many people as it should.

Yeah, it matters what Romney did as a teen. He’s still indifferent to the pain he can inflict and who is already in pain from policies he supports. Sociopaths don’t change their stripes, just the way they can get away with what they do.


May 11th, 2012

I’ve often mused, as a therapist, that if an adult doesn’t have a conscience, I don’t know how to give them one. And it appears that “conscience” in the sense of being able to make decisions based on reason, empathy, and values is something Romney was already lacking at 18 and continues to lack.

Adherence to strict rules doesn’t require much of a conscience. A parrot can say them. And a robot can obey them.

But for all around conscience, I think right now the LCWR nuns are our best exemplars. And throw in many unsung lay people too!

I spent a few years teaching young children. And I can assure you that by age 8 there were a few boys who were bullies (thankfully, just a few). And there were also boys who had empathy. Lots of the little girls had empathy too.

Bullies usually terrorize some peers into joining them, so as to “spread the blame”. But as we see, most of those who “followed” Romney at the time have later admitted serious pangs of conscience. And perhaps they welcome the opportunity to publicly repent.

A lack of empathy is a cardinal symptom of narcissism and its worse cousin, sociopathy. Sadly, there are many adults whom we term “successful sociopaths” – and by that we mean that the same personality features which can land some people in jail land others predatory corporate activity.

Lindoro Almaviva

May 11th, 2012

so are we to understand that not only was Romney a bully then but now he is in the outing business?


May 11th, 2012

The apology’s fine for a prank. If we granted him the benefit of the doubt & were honest with ourselves we’d have to admit that we don’t know what happened. How it happened or how it was perceived by the two most important parties directly involved. If Romney thought it was a childish prank I doubt he would dwell on it long enough to see that it wasn’t.

But that’s what all this hullabaloo hinges on Prank v. Assault. An assault is a serious charge, one I hope you have more to back up than hearsay and dated recollections. Because if you don’t, and you continue to harp on this in the news media, than you are showing your bias. At worst you are exacting a double-standard & at best you are feeding the perception that the media has double standards.

It’s time to let this go.

Finally, it doesn’t matter what we think. Obama’s already got the vast majority of our votes. Our analysis of the situation is shrill and pointless. This is what it looks like we’re saying:

1. Romney is a terrible person bordering on a psychopath.
2. He assaulted that child.
3. This is more evidence of his psychopathic tendencies.
4. Therefore, Romney is a terrible person bordering on a psychopath.

But to the vast majority of the American voting public this doesn’t matter. If they thought it was a prank they’re probably voting anti-Obama no matter what. If they think its an assault they’re probably voting Obama no matter what. And if they think this is a distracting sideshow and pointless pontificating, than they’re undecided.


May 11th, 2012

If Romney thought it was a childish prank I doubt he would dwell on it long enough to see that it wasn’t.

And you don’t see this as a problem??????

Do you know the kinds of things that get passed off as “just a prank,” “boys will be boys,” and so on? Things like assault and rape. (And yes, those are serious charges, but they’re serious charges that people try to downplay every single day.) It’s because we allow people to just shrug such things off as “pranks” that people continue to do so. It’s time to say enough is enough. And who better to start with than a man who is trying to become a head of state?

Priya Lynn

May 11th, 2012

This was no prank Blake. You’re trying to trivialize this just like Romney and that doesn’t play. And there’s no hearsay involved in this. We have first hand independent statments from several people directly involved in it who are tormented by the roles they played in this assault so to suggest their memories are faulty doesn’t hold any water.

Blake said “This is what it looks like we’re saying:

1. Romney is a terrible person bordering on a psychopath.
2. He assaulted that child.
3. This is more evidence of his psychopathic tendencies.
4. Therefore, Romney is a terrible person bordering on a psychopath.”.

No, that is NOT what it “looks like” we are saying. We’ve all been VERY clear, the most anyone is saying is:

2. There are several independently corroborated accounts that show he assaulted that child.
3. This is more evidence of his psychopathic tendencies.
4. Therefore, Romney is a terrible person bordering on a psychopath.”.

Jim Burroway

May 11th, 2012

But that’s what all this hullabaloo hinges on Prank v. Assault. An assault is a serious charge, one I hope you have more to back up than hearsay and dated recollections. Because if you don’t, and you continue to harp on this in the news media, than you are showing your bias. At worst you are exacting a double-standard & at best you are feeding the perception that the media has double standards.

Assault it is, according to SEVEN eyewitnesses who have come forward to describe what happened.

Look, it you don’t want to acknowledge the obvious, there’s no amount of eyewitness accounts that will ever change your mind

But if you think for one nanosecond that the outrage would be any different towards anyone else based on a third as many eyewitnesses, then you are seriously mistaken.

Priya Lynn

May 11th, 2012

Blake said “But to the vast majority of the American voting public this doesn’t matter.”.

Not only do you not know what the vast majority of the voting public thinks about this, you don’t speak for the vast majority of the voting public.


May 11th, 2012

Look, I’m not saying what allegedly happened was moral. I’m certainly not saying that it was justified. I’m saying that time plays tricks on memories. People have been accused of a lot worse and then exonerated when eye-witnesses recanted or DNA evidence proved otherwise. Anyone remember the travesty that was Troy Davis? Truth is a lot harder to get at than y’all seem to realize.

Multiple accounts of the same incident can convey very different meanings. And the two most important accounts, the victem and the alleged ringleader, are not available. Rightly or wrongly from one angle what looks like a prank is an assault; but it is impossible for us to make that distinction at this point. We can rely on the statements of others, but memories can be unreliable. Consider too that these former prep-school classmates may have other reasons to dislike Romney/throw him under the bus. Perhaps they’re misremembering. Perhaps they’re casting blame to the lightning-rod to save their own skin/assuage their own conscience. We aren’t privy to their motivations & they don’t have to justify themselves or be cross-examined. They just have to say: “I was there”.

Also, personal narratives in attempting to assign guilt aren’t really helpful(ie HE thought it was meaningful, why don’t YOU!) because we’re all unique individuals & we all experience life uniquely. The difference in perspective is enough to change meaning. For example: http://vimeo.com/1279354

The truth of the Lichtenstein house also applies to personal experience: if I had committed a prank that was in fact an assault I doubt cognitive dissonance would allow me to see it as so unless I was directly confronted within a short period of time or reprimanded by authority. But I’m quite open to direct confrontation and self-examination. Not all of us are as open to direct confrontation. Some people are defensive by nature. Or allow themselves to be caught up tribalism thinking or give into the group-mentality and cede personal responsibility to a Charismatic leader. Not everyone takes the time to walk around the sculpture. Not everyone sees how real it can look.

Another example, I almost got into a fist fight last weekend at softball. I didn’t realize it until yesterday. I was having fun. But to my potential pugilist I was “picking on him” so he decided to try to hurt me. I didn’t realize he tried on purpose to hurt me until yesterday. Perspective changes personal meaning too.

Finally, Was/Is Romney a spoiled, entitled, little shit? Sure. I think he admits as much (indirectly; he is running for office after-all). Does that fact that Romney is/was a spoiled, entitled, little shit really matter to the American Public?

Well, considering the number of spoiled, entitled, little shits in Congress and amongst former presidents, I’d say no.

Priya Lynn

May 11th, 2012

Blake, no one claimed you said this was moral or justified.

Seven people independently came forward and told the same story, the idea that they all lied/distorted/didn’t remember correctly isn’t at all credible.

Sure some people change who they are over time but some people do not.

Once again, you are not in a position to say whether or not this matters to the American public, you do not speak for the American public.

To say all democrats believe he did this, all Republicans believe he didn’t and independents don’t care is no more plausible than saying all Democrats support marriage equality, all Republicans oppose marriage equality, and independents don’t care – its simply not true.


May 11th, 2012

What is relevant is that he has to be either lying or his memory is shot. I am 75 years old and remember my high school years vividly. What a tool of the conservative, religious right.


May 11th, 2012

Priya, I know. I was feeling cornered and outnumbered so I made an appeal to emotion. Foolish and not well thought out, I admit. Although I certainly didn’t set out to do so. It just kind of happened and is only becoming apparent to me now.

Perhaps I was so blinded by my biases that I put words in others’ mouths. It certainly makes me feel like a fool; I understand why others avoid looking critically at their own arguments. I hope it didn’t distract from my other points.

I just simply don’t trust the press as much as you do. It has been my experience that while there are fine individuals, for the most part the professional world is full of incompetence/unethical behavior. Color me pessimist/jaded.

It has also been my experience that such incompetence seems to clump but, as likes draw to likes, every once in a while a great group of competent professionals gets together and does something amazing; say in reinventing the MP3 player or breaking the Watergate Scandal. I don’t think that the Washington Post is that group anymore.

Yes, you’re right. It is an absurd statement. But it was a humorously intended jab at what I perceive to be the double barreled echo chamber in our country. I grew up in the right wing echo chamber. I comment in a blog in the left wing echo chamber. And I hate echo chambers. No matter how much you harp on this its not going to be an issue any more than Obama’s birth certificate was.

Yes your crazy is less crazy, it’s probably not even fair to call it crazy, but the point is your not going to convince one soul to vote for or against Romney by politicizing bullying.

Priya Lynn

May 11th, 2012

Blake, I don’t think you put words in anyone’s mouth or that you’re a fool.

Timothy Kincaid

May 11th, 2012


BTB writers try very hard not to be an echo chamber of either the right or left.

I know we don’t always succeed, but that is not because we just repeat what “our side” expects us to repeat, but rather that because we can fall for hype or be fed mistruth or sometimes even hear what we want to hear.

Overall, I think we do a pretty good job. And I think the evidence of that is in the fact that we are, from time to time, trusted to be the vehicle by which someone who is on “their side” can make an honest appeal for their case.

We decidedly have a slant and a perspective, but we’d far rather present an honest portrayal – good or bad – of events than to mortgage our integrity for some political goals.

Timothy Kincaid

May 11th, 2012


What is relevant is that he has to be either lying or his memory is shot. I am 75 years old and remember my high school years vividly.

Not all memory works alike.

I have the kind of memory that comes back in pieces (they sort of float up like the answers in a magic 8 ball). I can tell you detail of some things, but other things really requires time. Once there, it may be extremely detailed but it may not be an immediate thing.

I went to my 10 year high school anniversary a bit nervous. I knew I’d forgotten names and didn’t want to offend.

But it was worse than I imagined. A group of guys rushed up and said, “Oh my god, Tim, we all were wondering if you would show up! It’s so great to see you. We were talking about how we used to hang out at lunch together.”

Not only had I forgotten their names, I had no idea who they were. It had only been ten years.

I left my hometown out of high school, went to college, moved to LA and had changed so much from the person I had been that I had not thought of them in years. It took me a while to even recognize my friends.

There has been more than one time when I stood chatting away with someone hoping that I would remember who they were and why I knew them before it became obvious. I almost always do, but if you asked me about something I did at 18, the odds are that I wouldn’t immediately know what you were talking about.


May 11th, 2012

Comparing having lunch with a group of people to a vicious attack really isn’t accurate. One is humdrum the other traumatic. Attacking someone and hacking their hair off while sitting on their chest is a hell of a lot different from forgetting a person’s name! I remember the kid who sat in back of me and stuck pins into my back and if he told me he forgot doing it to me I’d call him a liar, and so is Romney.


May 15th, 2012

Does his lack of memory excuse his responsibility for his past actions? No. Does it speak to his character? Yes. And that’s the point. If a person has the capacity to be a merciless bully, they’re lacking some fundamental humanity.

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