The WaPo Romney Bullying Article

by Dave Schuler on May 12, 2012

I haven’t commented on the Washington Post article about Mitt Romney’s holding a classmate down and forcibly cutting his hair 47 years ago when he was in prep school because this isn’t a scandal du jour blog. If there were some pattern of behavior from then to the present day, the story might have some significance. However, the family of the alleged victim of the incident has objected to the factual content of the story, one of the classmates cited in the story has already denied aspects of the reporting, the alleged victim is now deceased and unavailable for comment, and the Post is doing some after-publication editing of the story. We’ll need to see what develops, if anything. Those activities are characteristic of a weak story which re-reporting may cause the Post more embarrassment than Mr. Romney.

However, if (and I emphasize the “if”) the incident took place as reported I think that Joe Gandelman’s take, in which he echoes Andrew Sullivan and Joe Klein, is a good one: if there’s a pattern to Mr. Romney’s behavior it’s one of lying when the truth is potentially politically painful.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

steve May 12, 2012 at 9:13 am

This is getting a bit ridiculous. Next we will be evaluating difficulties during potty training. Gandelman may be correct, but I dont think this is new info about Romney.


Drew May 12, 2012 at 9:34 am

Please. We have the family disputing facts. We have a classmate doing the moonwalk, and we have the Post “editing” which is code for “the credibility of our scam hitpiece is falling to shreds.”

Yet we have the Gandelmans of the world saying “well, you know, if it DID happen, Romney is a no good SOB.”

What a pathetic state of affairs. It used to just be the MSM who lost all cred, now what? We have Dan Rather’s bizarre event rationalized, we have Walter Cronkite admitting to intentionally biased reporting, we have Teddy Kennedy’s “aqua-event” but cannonized, we have Bill Clinton diddling the intern pool and his lies resulting in a plea to give up his law licence – but adored in the media……..and then Romney – as a kid – maybe, sort of, well not really sure………but if he did, what a scoundrel…..and media whores like Dianne Sawyer leading with it in the “news”…..but Barack Obama’s ridiculous lines that might lead to insights into his character or thinking like “In 20 years I never heard Rev Wright talk like that or Bill Ayers was just a guy I passed by on walks in the neighborhood”………passing without even a wink and a smirk or any sense of WTF???…..shall I continue?

There was a time when Pravda was cited as an embarrasment of government control. CBS, NBC, the Post would all have the Pravda-ites blushing…

But the real issue isnt the realpolitik, and the willingness of the dumb to buy in, the real issue that a democracy is lessened in the face of blatant propaganda.

michael reynolds May 12, 2012 at 9:46 am


None of that’s true. Read the comments at OTB — the GOP line on this has been throughly dismantled. And the Post’s ombudsman supports the reporting.

And, this is rather important: MITT ROMNEY DOESN’T DENY IT.

Sorry to go all caps but you have a certain genius for only seeing what you want to see.

Now, why do you suppose Romney didn’t deny it? I’ll give you a hint: he knows it’s true, and he knows there’s more.

michael reynolds May 12, 2012 at 9:46 am


It’s not new info that Romney was a school bully who now has a hard time taking the issue seriously or coming clean? It was news to me.

michael reynolds May 12, 2012 at 11:29 am

From the crazy, business-hating commies at Forbes:

Romney’s reaction not only seems almost certainly dishonest, it also, together with the anecdote itself, adds to his solid reputation as almost reptilian in his lack of warmth and sympathy for anyone unlike himself or in a situation unlike his own. He has fought that problem throughout his candidacy, but he keeps on only making it worse. And so he again raises questions about his character as a person and therefore as a leader.

steve May 12, 2012 at 11:30 am

michael- That Mitt has trouble owning up to stuff. He has held so many different positions, it makes it difficult. Pro-abortions, anti-abortion. Pro-health care mandate, anti-mmandate. Pro-bailout, anti-bailout. Pro-gay adoption, anti-gay adoption. I am really just a common guy like y’all, I have a car elevator. I would never go after bin Laden in Pakistan, I would go after bin Laden in Pakistan.

Not that I am totally unsympathetic. I suspect he is actually a moderate Republican, what I was for most of my life. If I am right, and he is elected I am certainly not going to get upset. However, he keeps trying to get the support of the base which leads to a number of immoderate stances.


steve May 12, 2012 at 11:43 am

” Bill Ayers was just a guy I passed by on walks in the neighborhood”………passing without even a wink and a smirk or any sense of WTF???…..shall I continue?”

Absolutely. I made it a point to read on this quite a bit. Right wing writers tried really hard, and just couldnt find much. If there is anything new, please link.

We have Reagan’s growing senility hidden by the press, we have the press refusing to use the word torture for the torture policies followed by the previous administration, we have incredibly uncritical reporting on the Bush admin’s push for war, we have the press giving us its both sides must be represented in the creationist vs science battle, we have McCain on Sunday TV more than any other politician, we have David Vitter still in office and no reminders from the press, we have the highly edited tapes of Breitbart treated as Holy documentaries by the right, and I could go on, but this is kinda boring.

If you want to deal with every negative assertion about your candidate by blaming it on the MSM, just openly declare you think your candidate is perfect and ignore it all.


PD Shaw May 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I’ve not followed, nor am I interested in following some school day story; I sometimes prioritize. A good scandal du jour needs something extra, usually sex, but the only one lately of any interest was Elizabeth Warren, Indian Princess. It touched on a few items of interest. My wife’s grandmother claims Cherokee descent and one of my projects is to prove/disprove the hypothesis and I’m curious about what evidence is available. Then there is antebellum history; got to love that stuff. I’ve not learned much on the genealogy side, I have learned that liberals can be quite sensitive to the actions of southern militias if they have stake in it.

But I really don’t care who get’s elected to another state’s Senate seat, just this specific set of issues.

Drew May 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm

steve -

Really? They served on a couple non-profit boards together. A fundraiser for him was held at their house.

Call me crazy, that doesn’t sound like two people who just saw their dogs peeing in the heighborhood grass from time to time.

I noted you chose to leave out the esteemed Rev Wright. You know, his 20 year pastor and the guy who married them? That’s an illusion too?

The rest of your post was just tripe.

michael reynolds May 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm

The rest of your post was just tripe.

And there we have the aforementioned genius for seeing only what you want to see.

Icepick May 13, 2012 at 12:36 am

Pro-health care mandate, anti-mmandate.

I’m not exactly certain what Romney has said on this issue, but I believe one can have a consistent position that allows for both statements to be true. It would be possible to think that a mandate is both constitutionally legal and even good for one state while thinking that it is unconstitutional for the US government to have a mandate, as well as a bad idea for the nation as a whole.

On those other issues, though, Romney can’t find his actual opinion with both hands. Who knows what he believes in?

steve May 13, 2012 at 5:58 am

“The rest of your post was just tripe.”

As was yours. I assume you just went to Red State and copied the latest MSM rant. Actually, I bet they have one perma-listed that you can just copy when you want to avoid discussing any issue.

As to Wright, I may have a blind spot, but maybe not. He actually did serve his country, unlike Mitt or any of his brood. That gets him a bit of a free pass as far as I am concerned. He also works at an inner city church. Not that easy. Finally, I grew up in a severely, evangelical church. Falwell was considered too liberal on many issues (not a joke). Every few weeks you would hear someone proclaim that America was going to hell. It is standard, fundamentalist screed. I never really understood the outrage from the right. Maybe for a non-church person, which I would expect applies to you. But from the social conservative base? Please.


Dave Schuler May 13, 2012 at 6:14 am

My wife’s grandmother claims Cherokee descent and one of my projects is to prove/disprove the hypothesis and I’m curious about what evidence is available.

I suggest genetic testing. That would provide a quick lead on whether it’s worth pursuing.

One thing that’s worth mentioning: a far higher proportion of Americans of predominantly European descent claim Indian ancestry than actually have it and a far lower proportion of Americans of predominantly European descent claim sub-Saharan African ancestry than actually have it.

Dave Schuler May 13, 2012 at 6:45 am

He also works at an inner city church. Not that easy.

I think you’re mischaracterizing Rev. Wright’s ministry a trifle. Trinity United is not a poor inner city community church. It’s a very large, well-to-do congregation that draws heavily from Chicago’s black intelligentsia. As a mark of how well-to-do, Rev. Wright is now living in a $1.6 million house that the church community bought for him.

Rev. Wright’s 9/11 remark didn’t trouble me, either, for reasons similar to those you described. But his theology does. Liberation theology isn’t a great deal more than Marxism with Christian overtones. And he’s been called out for his anti-semitic conspiratorialism, not at all dissimilar to Nation of Islam stuff, on more than one occasion.

steve May 13, 2012 at 10:22 am

Thanks. As a non-Chicago resident I have heard several versions of the Wright church.

“Liberation theology isn’t a great deal more than Marxism with Christian overtones.”

Which is fairly similar to traditional Catholic teachings. I think if there is any lesson here, it is that religion should not mix with economics or politics.


Dave Schuler May 13, 2012 at 10:48 am

As a non-Chicago resident I have heard several versions of the Wright church.

Forty years ago it was a small, poor community church. Rev. Wright built it into the largest congregation in its denomination, at least partially via good marketing.

michael reynolds May 13, 2012 at 11:04 am

I do hope we’re in for another round of GOP smear tactics on religion. Democrats are fairly itching for some good old-fashioned religion talk, but they’ll need the Republicans to bring it up. Reverend Wright? Meet Joseph Smith.

jan May 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I couldn’t agree more with Drew, and feel if there are any blinders on they are over Michael’s eyes.

The blank slate that Obama came flying into office on is remarkable. There were so many spotty slices in his personal life (drugs, extremist type associations, lack of childhood stories/friendships, along with even ones from his professor years), as well as political ones dealing with his Teflon rise in politics on the skirts and legislative accomplishmenrs of others (including not taking controversial stances by voting present some 30 times), that it makes the MSM look silly in how they are falling all over themselves with this Romney story. Investigative reporting? Hardly! No, it’s a hit piece, taking up how many front page lines on the Washington Post? It discredits the paper and their reporters more than Romney.

My criticism of Romney is his response. If he truly didn’t remember the incident, why apologize? And, if he did remember it then own up to it and move on. As for the behavior itself —> in these oh so sensitive PC times, it is the stuff that makes PC reporters and pundits gasp for air. But, in the rough and tumble 60′s, before political correctness got a hold of people, it was passed off as more of an insensitive prank that might be attributed to an immature, underdeveloped frontal cortex, rather than some sadistic undercurrrent percolating in the psyche of an individual.

jan May 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Thinking more about Obama, you also have composite characters being revealed in his own personal story about himself. What is true about Obama? The more you scrape the surface, the more he becomes a fabricated image.

Now you have Jeremiah Wright talking about being offered a bribe to keep quiet during the ’08 elections (that’s sleazy behavior that was a mere 4 years ago, compared to 50 years). However, such current day political bribes seem less interesting and applicable when it is directed at Obama, than putting a dynamite story on the front page about a rival having a male primitive brain episode in high school!

jan May 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm

This is how the MSM views Obama. How can such a media deliver unbiased news?

Dave Schuler May 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Michael, if the Illinois Republican Party is any gauge, we can count on their bungling the campaign. However, if the Democrats believe the election can be made into a referendum on Romney, they’re making an even more serious error. The election in November will inevitably be a referendum on the incumbent and the state of the country, generally. If ECRI is right about a recession starting in mid-year, the timing really couldn’t be worse for the president.

michael reynolds May 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Well, good luck with this storyline kids, but it ain’t gonna work. Mr. Obama has been president for almost 4 years and that is how he’ll be judged for better or worse. But feel free to rave on.

Mr. Romney is now on the wrong end of a 2-1 likability gap, the biggest ever for a major candidate. We know he’s a serial liar. We know he is the human Etch-A-Sketch. He is quite clearly painfully unable to connect with voters. Even his own voters don’t like him, and I think there’s a reason for that. I think he’s a dick.

In 1968 we elected a dick (I voted for that dick in 1972) but the difference was that Nixon was at least a serious person. He had actual beliefs and actual positions he could remember for more than 24 hours at a time. No one thought Nixon was weak or blew with the wind. And those were very different times.

Maybe we’ll elect the dick this time but what I note from supporters of Mr. Romney is that they never, ever, have anything good to say about him. His sole qualification seems to be that he’s not Mr. Obama.

michael reynolds May 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm


Oh, I agree the economy will dominate. But it won’t be the only issue. If the GOP were running someone with Mr. Reagan’s skills Mr. Obama would be polling at 40%. I think the referendum theory is overly simplistic. We have a choice, this guy or that guy.

michael reynolds May 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm

By the way, this is Nate Silver on the link between various economic and other factors, models based on them, and their predictive power in presidential elections. He is quite skeptical.

I despise Comcast. I’ve told them several times on Twitter just how much I dislike them. I’m still a subscriber. Why? Because the other “candidates” look worse.

A presidential election is A or B. Occasionally A, B or C. It is never yes/no.

Dave Schuler May 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm

If President Obama portrays his record positively and paints an affirmative picture of his vision of America under another four years of his presidency and all other things being equal, he may well win re-election. If the economy does not tank between now and the end of October and he conducts a positive campaign, I believe he will definitely win. If his campaign is built exclusively on trying to paint Mitt Romney as frightening, I think he’s likely to lose and if he runs a predominantly negative campaign and the economy tanks he will almost certainly lose. You’ve got to remember that, probably, 2/3s or more of the electorate does not share your detestation of Republicans.

michael reynolds May 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm


So far Obama’s done nothing to Romney. It’s all self-inflicted.

michael reynolds May 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Also, it’s not about Republicans, it’s about Romney, who as mentioned above, is polling very poorly on character and likability.

steve May 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm

“(drugs, extremist type associations, lack of childhood stories/friendships, along with even ones from his professor years),”

Bush was an alcoholic and used cocaine. Really, we are past this. His “extremist” associations are BS. He knew Ayres at board meetings. I know people from board meetings. I have no idea what they do in their personal lives or political ones. Besides, Ayres had long ago went to court, and gone on to work. There were plenty of stories, just not the ones the right wanted to hear.

” But, in the rough and tumble 60’s, before political correctness got a hold of people, it was passed off as more of an insensitive prank ”

Nonsense. Take that stupidity to someone who did not live through the 60s. We moved a lot when I was a kid. We were broke. Always being the new kid, wearing crummy clothes, meant confrontation. Every move meant a fight or two. But, it was one on one. What you describe is unusual. I have seen it before, or rather know about it. After boot camp, in corps school, they had a blanket party for someone they thought was gay. Groups ganging up on someone like this was uncommon.


jan May 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm


Bush was called on his abuse of alcohol, frequently by the dems/MSM, inlcuding a last minute election derailment dealing with a DUI. He acknowledged it too, saying he made a choice when he was 40ish, to either continue with drinking or save his marriage. Obama has never really acknowledged any such weakness in his character, and has had cover by the MSM, as they haven’t gone into his drug usage much, as well.

As for Ayers, it was more than just a neighborly relationship. In fact Ayers selected him for an Annenberg educational project, which ended in failure for Obama.

Obama has brushed off the level of his involvement with Ayers but in his book, “Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War-Activist,” Ayers admitted the tie:

“In 2008 there was a lot of chatter on the blogosphere about my relationship with Barack Obama: we had served together on the board of a foundation, knew one another as neighbors and family friends, held an initial fundraiser at my house, where I’d made a small donation to his earliest political campaign.”

It is also worth noting that Ayers’ father Tom is said to have given Obama his first professional break, yet the president claims to have never met him.

Then you have an early mentor, in the form of Frank Marshall Davis, a self-proclaimed communist.

If someone like a Romney, had an early mentor that was a self-proclaimed fascist; if someone like Romney had sat in the pews of a church where the preacher was a white supremist, spewing hatred towards African Americans; if someone like Romney had ties with David Duke and other far, far right extremists, I can promise you the MSM would be having a field day, everyday, with front page stories about these relationships. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the far left relationship exposed, tied with Obama, have held minimum interest for the MSM.

Furthermore, my husband was in the navy and remembers the blanket parties you describe, for anyone who screwed up too much in their duty stations. What happened with Romney, however, was in high school, where you have clicks, all kinds of social groups, and a lots of insensitivity in this growing up process, especially to those who didn’t fit in, for one reason or another. Adolescence has been a gauntlet for most of us. But, most of us outgrow our stupidity, realign ourselves and make better choices later on in life. None of the actions of Romney mirror the immaturity shown in HS.

You, and others, are basically flogging a dead horse for political reasons.

michael reynolds May 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm


Romney was 18. Had he been arrested he’d have been tried as an adult. Had he been convicted he might have done time. It wasn’t just a prank, and it wasn’t a joke.

Likewise, had Obama been arrested for snorting coke, etc. . .

Both are interesting data points. It’s interesting that Mr. Romney was in all likelihood a high school bully. It’s also interesting that Mr. Obama smoked weed, did coke and attended a radical church. (The Ayers thing is boringly irrelevant and you have to be retarded to think what Obama ate when he was 10 matters.)

You know what conclusions I drew from those facts about Obama? That he was not a hardcore stickler at that age for legalities. Pretty much everyone has smoked weed and most of us have done coke, so that didn’t really differentiate Obama, but it’s interesting just the same. Don’t you think it’s interesting? Isn’t it potentially telling data?

The Wright matter I took as evidence that Mr. Obama is a politician, that he was ambitious from fairly early on and was willing to make unsavory connections to further his career. Again: interesting. Not shocking, but revealing.

This story about Romney is likewise interesting. It tells me something about him. It tells me even more that he handled the revelation the way he did. Incompetent would be the least of it — there must be 20 people who’ve written the response he should have given. It ain’t rocket science. For a guy who is supposed to be savvy, it was awfully dumb. But an awful lot of Romney’s campaign has been dumb. So either he’s hiring idiots or the idiots he’s hired can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

You, and others, are basically flogging a dead horse for political reasons.

Did you keep a straight face while writing that, or were you too preoccupied flogging a horse that’s been dead for four years?

michael reynolds May 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I’m curious about something. Has anyone here ever gotten a group of people behind them then ganged up on a single individual, pushed them to the ground, held them down while they cried and hollered for help?

I haven’t. Done lots of things I’m ashamed of, but forming a little mini-mob, dominating someone that way, reducing them to tears? I don’t think I have that in me, thankfully, and I don’t think most people do.

jan May 14, 2012 at 12:36 am


The story was 50 years ago. It involved a group of young males who probably thought it was insanely funny at the time. The fact that these recollections are now being called ‘uncomfortable,’ in the throws of their middle age, during an election year when a former classmate is now running for office under the banner of an opposing party affiliation, just doesn’t wash with me.

There are also conflicting nuances in the story, as well as a different slant on Romney’s character, by one of these same accusers, in another magazine article recently published. Like I said before, this story came out as more of a hit piece by the Washington Post, than real unbiased journalism. Even the family of the supposed victim is angry at the Post for this story, saying it’s purely political, and that their family member (the alleged victim) wasn’t as fragile as the Post made him out to be.

Now If the Post were able to draw correlations from this event to others taking place in Romney’s adult life, then you could call it a legitimate news item, having purpose in showing the blossoming of an undesirable character trait of one of the candidates for POTUS. But, much like polling, this incident appears to be an inflamed ‘outlier,’ as most people in Romney’s business, religious and personal circles, have had mainly praise for his integrity, ethics, treatment of others, business acumen, self-deprecating manner and the like.

As for Obama’s early past and slip-ups, they continue to be subordinated as irrelevant, even though his personal linkages involve people with distinctly radical, controversial ideas/statements/back grounds, and there have been tons of contradictions in the telling of Obama’s own life story. As I stated in my earlier post, I don’t think any republican candidate would get off as lightly should their personal/professional resume have the same kind of people, mentors, pastors strewn along a life path, exemplifying extremes on the far right spectrum. For instance, wasn’t there a relationship between McCain and a prominent right wing minister that the left viewed as intolerable?

But, how it seems to be going, is when Romney changes course it is called a “flip-flop.” When he prevaricates, dances around a sensitive issue, he is called “inauthentic.” When he makes statements which goes against the social progressive’s philosophical grain, he is called “out of touch.”

However, when Obama changes course he is said to be “evolving.” When he prevaricates, dances around a sensitive issue, he is said to be “thoughtful,” and diplomatic. When Obama makes statements going against the philosophical grain of those believing in free enterprise, smaller government, he is deemed by social progressives to be “innovative’ and “courageous.”

Dave Schuler May 14, 2012 at 6:24 am

I’m curious about something. Has anyone here ever gotten a group of people behind them then ganged up on a single individual, pushed them to the ground, held them down while they cried and hollered for help?

Rather the opposite. From 2nd grade through 8th grade I was the biggest kid in my class. I was the kid the smaller, weaker kids came to for protection when they were being bullied. An anti-bully.

However, I did have a bad habit of picking fights with older, bigger kids. That’s why my parents eventually enrolled me in judo classes. They hoped it would teach me to control my anger and aggressions. It worked.

Andy May 14, 2012 at 6:29 am

I’m pretty much with PD Shaw on this one. Didn’t even read the OTB blogs, much less the comments (which I’m sure were entirely predictable). Not really interested in this story and if it has any relevance today it’s small beans compared to the real and serious issues facing this country.

PD Shaw May 14, 2012 at 7:08 am

I was a bully at times and was bullied at times. I saw younger boys get held down in violence and I have seen younger boys lie about such things as well. When I was older I helped stop a lot of the initiation b.s., but didn’t really care about some of the other violence.

I talked with my mom a little about this yesterday. The girl dramas don’t seem to have changed across several generations. I’m not sure my 8 yr-old son has ever seen a fight; it’s like a different world.

Steve May 14, 2012 at 11:43 am

Thiz wbole association stuff is mostly nonsense. Someone does something bad 50 years ago. They go to jail or trial for it. They go on to work and be come accepted in the community. 30 years later you are doing something wrong if you have a work or casual relationship with them. Ayres has never been a close or important adviser. This is just looking at everyone ever known by tbat person and tryinv to smear by association. This is fine for hyper partizans. Not for everyone else.


michael reynolds May 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I was neither bully nor bullied. I was too big to be a natural target, and I was always the new kid so I don’t think anyone was ever quite clear where I fit in the hierarchy. But neither did I step in to protect anyone else — possibly because I didn’t know anyone, possibly because I’m an observer by nature. Neither of which is a sufficient excuse. Later in life I changed this about myself and have stepped in on a few occasions involving women who were being victimized. I came late to morality.

Steve Verdon May 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm

However, if (and I emphasize the “if”) the incident took place as reported I think that Joe Gandelman’s take, in which he echoes Andrew Sullivan and Joe Klein, is a good one: if there’s a pattern to Mr. Romney’s behavior it’s one of lying when the truth is potentially politically painful.

TL;DR Romney is like every other asshat politician.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: