Friday, May 11, 2012

Mitt Romney, Prep School Bully

Hey folks, this item about the young teenage presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared in the Washington Post today.  Young Romney, son of American Motors President George Romney, who also ran for the Republican nomination for president back in 1968 before he blew up his campaign by announcing he was brainwashed by the American generals in Vietnam into believing the U. S. could win that war, was (of course) a prep school student. 

Young Mitt noticed a fellow classmate who many assumed was gay because he was soft spoken and dyed his hair blonde and styled his hair over his eye a la Veronica Lake, decided to jump his fellow classmate and cut his hair because he didn't like "the style." 

Is anyone suprised by this bullying action of young Mitt?  I'm not.  Haven't we all known at one time in our lives someone of privilege who didn't like us and considered us the "other" and had to be dealt with?  I know, that's the way I grew up.  I was fortunate in that I fought back.  I attribute that to my Mother's Hadfield genes.  You attack me and I attack you right back.  You throw something in my face and I throw it right back in your face.  Of course this hasn't won me a whole lot of friends over the years but it is what it is and kept the

Read this article about the young bullying Mitt Romney.  Of couse I know I'm not going to win over any of the die hard conservative, right wing tea baggers  because they have their horse blinders on and hate Obama
so much that no matter what truths are revealed about Mitt Romeny (or any Republican candidate) they will blindly vote for him (or her).  However, the question remains:  do you to vote for a bully as president of the United States?  Oh, excuse me, we had one for eight years, his name was George W. Bush. 

Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents

By Jason Horowitz, Updated: Thursday, May 10, 12:07 PM

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. — Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be named. The men have differing political affiliations, although they mostly lean Democratic. Buford volunteered for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. Seed, a registered independent, has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan. All of them said that politics in no way colored their recollections.

“It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said. “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”

“It was a hack job,” recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. “It was vicious.”

“He was just easy pickins,” said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.

The incident transpired in a flash, and Friedemann said Romney then led his cheering schoolmates back to his bay-windowed room in Stevens Hall.

Friedemann, guilt ridden, made a point of not talking about it with his friend and waited to see what form of discipline would befall Romney at the famously strict institution. Nothing happened.

(What’s your opinion: Are Romney’s high school actions relevant to his campaign?)

Romney is now the presumed Republican presidential nominee. In a radio interview Thursday morning, Romney said he didn’t remember the incident but apologized for pranks he helped orchestrate that he said “might have gone too far.”

His campaign spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said in a statement that “anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body. The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents.”

Campaign officials denied a request for an interview with Romney. They also declined to comment further about his years at Cranbrook.

After the incident, Lauber seemed to disappear. He returned days later with his shortened hair back to its natural brown. He finished the year, but ultimately left the school before graduation — thrown out for smoking a cigarette.

Sometime in the mid-1990s, David Seed noticed a familiar face at the end of a bar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

“Hey, you’re John Lauber,” Seed recalled saying at the start of a brief conversation. Seed, also among those who witnessed the Romney-led incident, had gone on to a career as a teacher and principal. Now he had something to get off his chest.

“I’m sorry that I didn’t do more to help in the situation,” he said.

Lauber paused, then responded, “It was horrible.” He went on to explain how frightened he was during the incident, and acknowledged to Seed, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.”

Lauber died in 2004, according to his three sisters.

Romney came of age during his six years at Cranbrook. First as a day student and later as a full-time boarder, he embraced and became emblematic of the Cranbrook way — a strict disciplinary code and academic rigor that governed the school by day and a free-wheeling unofficial boys code of “Crannies” at night. Wherever the action was, so was Romney. He wrote the most letters to the girls at the sister school across the lake and successfully petitioned to get placed in the top classes. He was not a natural athlete, but found his place among the jocks by managing the hockey team and leading megaphone cheers for the football team. Although a devout Mormon, one of the few at the school, he was less defined by his faith than at any other time in his life. He was a member of 11 school organizations, including the Spectator’s Club and the homecoming committee, and started the school’s booster outfit, the Blue Key Club.

It was at Cranbrook where he first lived on his own, found his future wife and made his own decisions. One can see the institution’s influence on his demeanor and actions during those years, but also how it helped form the clubbiness and earnestness, the sense of leadership and enthusiasm, apparent in his careers as a businessman and a politician. “He strongly bought in to community service,” said Richard Moon, a schoolmate at the time. “That hard work was its own reward.” What is less visible today is what was most apparent to his prep-school peers: his jocularity.

Now, nearly half a century later, Romney’s presidential campaign has turned to the candidate’s youthful antics as evidence of his capacity for harmless, humanizing pranks and as an indication of his looser, less wooden self.

“There’s a wild and crazy man inside of there just waiting to come out,” Romney’s wife, Ann — a graduate of Cranbrook’s sister school, Kingswood — attested in a television interview this month, evoking what she saw as his endearing and fun-loving prep-school persona. Many of Romney’s peers from his high school days echo that version of the candidate, describing him as the humble son of an automobile executive-turned-governor who volunteered at the nearby mental hospital. They recall an infectious laugh, a characterization first documented in his senior yearbook.

“If you should ever by chance be walking down the [Stevens Hall] corridor at 2:00 a.m. and hear rising tones of boisterous, exuberant laughter, you are almost sure to find its source is Mitt Romney,” the yearbook reported. “A quiet joke, a panicky laughter and another of the Friedemann-Romney all-night marathon contests has begun.”

But Friedemann and several people closest to Romney in those formative years say there was a sharp edge to him. In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, “Atta girl!” In the culture of that time and place, that was not entirely out of the norm. Hummel recalled some teachers using similar language.

Saul, Romney’s campaign spokeswoman, said the candidate has no recollection of the incident.

Teachers were also the butt of Romney’s brand of humor.

One venerable English teacher, Carl G. Wonnberger, nicknamed “the Bat” for his diminished eyesight, was known to walk into the trophy case and apologize, step into wastepaper baskets and stare blindly as students slipped out the back of the room to smoke by the open windows. Once, several students remembered the time pranksters propped up the back axle of Wonnberger’s Volkswagen Beetle with two-by-fours and watched, laughing from the windows, as the unwitting teacher slammed the gas pedal with his wheels spinning in the air.

As an underclassman, Romney accompanied Wonnberger and Pierce Getsinger, another student, from the second floor of the main academic building to the library to retrieve a book the two boys needed. According to Getsinger, Romney opened a first set of doors for Wonnberger, but then at the next set, with other students around, he swept his hand forward, bidding the teacher into a closed door. Wonnberger walked right into it and Getsinger said Romney giggled hysterically as the teacher shrugged it off as another of life’s indignities.

“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and has long been bothered by the Lauber incident. “But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks.”

In later years, after Romney went on a Mormon mission, married and raised five sons, he seemed a different person to some old classmates. “Mitt began to change as a person when he met Ann Davies. He gradually became a more serious person. She was part of the process of him maturing and becoming more of the person he is today,” said Jim Bailey, who was a classmate of Romney’s at Cranbrook and later at Harvard.

* * *


  1. anne marie in philly9:06 AM

    between this and the dog incident, I don't know how anyone with a conscience could vote for this jerkoff.

    granted, obama isn't perfect, but dammit, compassion for others is ALWAYS the correct choice!

    1. Anne Marie,

      Romney is a major league douche. I didn't like him before now I really don't like him. How anyone can vote for this moral coward makes me sad. Do they really hate Obama that much that they would vote for a hateful, empty suit like this....person?


  2. Here's my take: we've all done things in our pasts that we regret doing, and maybe wish we'd never done, and Mitt Romney probably feels some of that.
    But what galls me is that he calls the attack on that student a "prank" or "hijinks" and kind of giggles about it.
    It's not funny, Mittsy. Not now. Not then.

    1. Yes Bob, we have all done things in our past that if we had the opportunity to do it over again, we wouldn't. I stood up a girl for her Senior Prom because I couldn't borrow my father's car (he beat me when I asked and I had a bruised face and I was just too embarrassed). Now I wish I would have at least called her and said I couldn't take her. But I never, NEVER bullied anyone let alone assaulted someone by pinning them down and cutting their hair or worse. NEVER. Okay, so Romney did this and he gets a pass, again. What gets me is that he's still lying about it. He says he "can't remember." Bullshit. He remembers but he's such a moral coward he just can't man up and apologize and say he did a stupid and hurtful thing and he's a changed man now (which I doubt). Romney is a person who has had everything handed to him his whole life and now he thinks he deserves to be president because of his "success." Romney is morally bankrupt. This is a man we want as the leader of the free world?


  3. Ron - Very thought provoking what you have to say. As a Republican I am at a huge cross road... Nothing ever seems to be black and white anymore - just lots of grey.... I didn't like him before and now even less...

    1. Melissa,

      I was a life long Republican until 2000. The first person I voted for president was Barry Goldwater. George Bush and his lies to get this country into a unnecessary war with Iraq is when I began to change. The Tea Baggers completed my metamorphosis. I am now a progressive liberal Independent, leaning heavily to Democrat. When the real Republican conservatives come back, then I may change but not now. This version of the Republicans want to keep gays as second class citizens, take away my earned Social Security and veterans benefits, and run this economy into a ditch with ever increasing tax cuts for the rich and the hell with everyone else. They are evil, simple as that. Romney's past proves that he is well suited to be the standard bearer for the new "Lord of the Flies" Republican brand.


  4. Holly8:39 PM

    I know guys who did some really stupid, thoughtless stuff when they were young, who are now good and solid citizens, spouses, fathers, workers etc. Without wanting to get too personal, I know guys who, uninvited and unwelomed, grabbed my ass in school, although now they'd be charged as a sex offender. But I also would think more highly of him if he had said "I did it. I admit it and I regret it. I will always carry the shame of my thoughtless, cruel behavior and I have wished many times that I could apologize personally." But I wouldn't believe any such apology either.

    1. Holly,

      The first person who bullied me, Jack Swarner in first grade, is now my friend. He says he doesn't remember bullying me, I never forgot it. However, I believe him now that he has changed. In fact I owe him a phone call.
      The problem I have with Romney is how he is handling this situation now. Of course most of us did things when we were young that we are ashamed of now and would never do now. We mature. However, I never bullied anybody nor did I want to. Romney says he "doesn't remember." I don't believe him. And then he gives one of those non-apologies "if I offended anybody". I just don't see any character in this empty suit who wants to be president just because he wants to become president. Being president takes more than looking like a president, one has to have a good moral character and courage of which Romney has shown none so far.


  5. If you can't stomach the Demos and the Repubs there is always the Libertarian candidate.

    1. Oh no slugmama, I"m not throwing away my vote on some nutty Libertarian candidate. I vote Democratic unless there is a reasonable Republican on the ticket who isn't a homophobe. That's my litmus test, if they're a homophobe, they don't get my vote no matter what party.

  6. Anonymous2:09 PM

    It is not so much that he did this in prep school, as that he doesn't recall it. Perhaps bullies don't remember. Republicans don't seem to remember a lot of things and yet their logo is an Elephant that never forgets. Curious. So would I vote for this prankster who once tied his dog to the roof of his car? Not even if he posed in his sacred underwear! This country has been screwed enough.


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