There’s no explaining, much less excusing, an unprovoked attack on a “presumed” gay classmate, but Alec MacGillis’s article in The New Republic late last year may provide some insight into the mind of a man (for Romney was 18 by the time he and his “posse” reportedly attacked John Lauber with a pair of scissors) who can so easily “forget” an incident which caused lasting emotional scars.
Yes, it’s important. As John M. Becker wrote yesterday, “you can tell a lot about the content of a person’s character by how he or she treats the vulnerable” — whether it’s a trusting, helpless dog or a boy who, in the words of Cliff Weathers, “was physically assaulted for being different, for being subhuman, for being on a lower social stratus than a scion of wealth and affluence.”
Phillip Maxwell, an attorney in Michigan, confirmed to CBS News that the incident with John Lauber is accurately described in The Washington Post piece. Maxwell was one of the Post’s four on-the-record sources. A fifth asked not to be named. Maxwell says the only thing not accurate is that the Post reporter said the incident occurred in a dorm room, but it happened in a common room.
“Mitt was a prankster, there’s no doubt about it. This thing with Lauber wasn’t a prank. This was, well, as a lawyer, it was an assault. It was an assault and a battery. And I’m sure that John Lauber carried it with him for the rest of his life,” Maxwell told CBS News.
— “Romney apologizes for
hurtful high school pranks”
CBS News, May 10, 2012
Do read the entire article; MacGillis covers numerous displays of Romney’s temper, from his school days to his 1981 arrest for disorderly conduct to cussing out a cop (after getting impatient with a traffic jam and taking it on himself to start directing traffic) to a physical confrontation with rapper Sky Blu to his unprovoked explosion at Rick Perry during a 2011 Republican debate:
The confrontation [between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry] hinted that perhaps there was more to Romney’s emotional makeup than the reserved, overly programmed manner that is usually ascribed to him in the press. Indeed, there is considerable evidence that Romney has a genuine temper. … Romney himself has acknowledged as much. In a June interview on CNN, he said his sons had come up with a name for any flare-up involving their father: They call it a “Mitt-frontation.” …
As i asked around about Romney’s temperament, I heard a few different theories as to from where it might come. One centered around his adolescence. … If he got noticed for anything, it was for his practical jokes: He clowned around with a bunch of fellow jesters that went by “Romney and the gang,” and his yearbook entry features a photo of him grinning maniacally in oversized fake glasses and fake Groucho Marx eyebrows. …
Another school of thought centers around Romney’s fixation on decorum. One longtime Romney associate told me that his flare-ups reflected nothing more than Romney’s contempt for people who are failing to adhere to the rules of proper discourse. …
[Tom Birmingham, a Democrat who was leader of the Massachusetts Senate just prior to Romney's governorship] and others also point to another theory: the entitlement of an executive. Romney, they say, simply does not like having his authority challenged by people he considers less than his equal. “He has a very corporatist approach to governing, and, in corporations, they’re not democracies,” Birmingham says. “Leaders give orders and they’re expected to be followed. He’s very accustomed to having his way obeyed.” …
Whatever the roots of Romney’s temper, we are seeing more of it this campaign season than four years ago. (One opposing campaign official has even come up with a name for the outbursts, calling them “Mitt-fits.”) … There was the moment at the Iowa State Fair in August when Romney, provoked by a heckler, fired right back, producing his memorable line, “Corporations are people, my friend.” That same month, he raised his voice to a bellow when a woman at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire kept interrupting his response to her question. “You had your turn, madam,” he declared. “Let me have mine.” …
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