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|Bullying in the Presidential Campaign|
May. 11th, 2012 at 10:03 pm
Perhaps you don’t remember me well enough in the bloggernaccle to recall that I am politically liberal. I am. Very. And I just want to be up front about that.
There have been a number of political stories this week that will last longer and almost all of them are more important, but the story that caught me this week was the one about Mitt Romney reportedly bullying a classmate in high school by cutting off his long hair. I know! So Amish! The presentation of this information seems very Swiftboatesque; this is something that happened a long time ago and is peppered with quotes from classmates who, frankly, seem to have a really old ax to grind. Importantly, this story seems to have a permanent addendum attached questioning the relevance of a presidential candidate’s high school behavior. I suggest that, the very inclusion of this question should be proof enough that, well, no. Who among us wants to be judged as their high school self? Whether we were bullied or nerdy or thoughtless or lazy, can we not agree that high school was not the prime of our lives? Can we not forget it entirely?
Please forgive me for my high school idiocy.
While I have NO interest in disqualifying any presidential candidate from earning my vote based on one childish incident, I have every intention of not voting for people based on their pattern of behavior which may be demonstrated in numerous childish incidents. And their reactions thereto. That’s just me–that stuff matters to me. Because they are journalists, people have attempted to “balance” this story by reporting on an incident in which the 10-year-old Barrack Obama was also unkind to a classmate. There is a HUGE difference in these two incidents, though: the reporter who drudged up this seedy side of Obama was…Obama. He remembers his poor behavior, demonstrated reflectiveness, and went so far as publicizing it in his own book. That is such a different reaction from the uncomfortable guffawing and loss of memory Romney demonstrated when confronted with his (alleged) childishness.
Of course, it is impossible to guess what an Ivy League kind of student remembers about his own life–perhaps Romney really has no idea what these guys are talking about. Heck, maybe this incident is made up out of whole cloth. But apparently the kind of behavior is not so out-of-character for High School Mitt that he could dismiss or deny it out of hand. Bummer. Because even though I have NO interest in actually voting for Romney the candidate, I would love for Romney the Mormon to have a better reputation than this. When you just don’t remember cruelty that surrounds you, even if you didn’t participate, it seems to denote a certain kind of entitlement. The very kind of entitlement you might expect from a rich kid of a politically-connected family. But surely entitlement cannot easily coexist with empathy, and clearly a disciple of Christ seeks more after one than the other.
I admit that I have a personal bias against entitled people: I don’t socialize with them, I try not to work for them, it’s a major bummer when one ends up as my bishop, but I certainly have no interest in making one my president. Maybe you think policy is more important, and if Romney’s policy is evident to you and suits your vision for the country, more power to you both. I think I’ll stick with the underdogs, the struggling, and those of us who have misbehaved, regretted it, and can admit we were wrong. If only people like us ran for office! Ha!