It's hard to know what to say about the reports about Mitt Romney's bullying, but a few things come to mind:
- The reports are credible and relate multiple episodes that range from stupid to illegal. That two gays were targeted reminds us that Romney engaged in behavior that is severely condemned in this day and age. True, that was not so back then. I know. I saw similar behavior at my Catholic high school but never so severe.
- Romney's non-denial denials and non-apology apologies, coupled with the nervous laughter that is characteristic of the way he's handled difficult subjects, also coupled with "I don't remember the incident but who knew the kid was gay?" bullshit brings out the worst that we know about Romney: He's a serial liar. As Gail Collins of the NYTimes put it, "The idea that Romney could have absolutely no recollection of this event is way more shocking than the incident itself. Did he engage in this sort of behavior so often that things just sort of ran together? I don’t believe he’s that lacking in feeling. So I propose that we give him the benefit of the doubt and agree that he is lying through his teeth." Yeah, that's about the size of it.
- Sure, we should forget it unless there's a continuing pattern into adult life. Now, many people think that private equity firms engage in legitimate commerce. I've never agreed. Much of the business of private equity, especially in the hostile takeover area, amounts to bullying as a way of doing business. That Mitt the high-school bully chose a profession that inflicts pain on companies for profit indicates to me that a core character defect can be detected here.
- Lastly, Mitt Romney, unless you're deaf, dumb, and blind, clearly has an empathy problem, a sensitivity problem, and, yes, an honesty problem. The fact that he can lie openly and repeatedly as a natural way of doing business tells me that Romney is missing a morality gene.
The most serious indictment of Mitt Romney is how he is handling it. A leader with any sense of conviction would take this opportunity for a teachable moment, one with a clearly embedded mea culpa. That he can't do this, won't do this, or didn't even think to do this, is the clearest marker of who this man is. My takeaway is that I don't like him, don't trust him, am highly suspicious of what makes him tick. Heart clearly plays no part.
Update. Here's a Ron Paul ad -- not a Democratic one -- that speaks to the issue of Mitt Romney's credibility -- or lack thereof.