Today, the Washington Post ran an egregious hit piece about Mitt Romney … circa 1965. Seriously. They dug up some of his old classmates, who “mostly lean Democratic,” to tell tales of his “vicious” assault on a student, John Lauber, who had been mocked for his “presumed homosexuality.” What happened? Romney saw the student wearing bleach-blonde hair over his eye, and proceeded to lead a “prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. [Fellow classmate Matthew] 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.”
Now, there’s not much to this story. It sounds more like Romney didn’t like Lauber’s hair than that he wanted to bug Lauber for supposedly being gay. In fact, that’s a conclusion drawn by the Post without asking Romney what was going through his head. Why the Post considers certain types of hairstyles evidence of homosexuality is left unsaid.
Beyond that, the timing of the story is obviously designed to protect President Barack Obama, who just yesterday said that he would embrace same-sex marriage. The narrative from the media therefore became: Obama is fine with gays, Romney hates them. Since they had zero evidence that Romney has any antipathy toward homosexuals, they had to dig up an incident nearly 50 years ago, invest it with anti-gay rage, and print it as fact.
This is character assassination of the worst kind. It doesn’t go to Romney’s deeply-held beliefs and positions. It doesn’t show how he was defined as a young man. It’s just an old prank brought up and infused with nastiness, sans evidence, in order to turn Romney into a jerk in the public eye.
But that doesn’t hold water. The assistant headmaster denied that Romney was a behavioral problem:
Ben Snyder, who as an assistant headmaster later spearheaded the school’s effort to recruit inner-city students, said Cranbrook in Romney’s time “had its standards and applied them briskly when needed.” As chairman of a group of faculty members and students who were in charge of discipline, he described a strict school in which offenders could be “dismissed, period.” Snyder could not recall dealing with any transgressions involving Romney. “I wouldn’t expect to see him,” Snyder said of the disciplinary tribunals. “The family was so straight, they don’t do those types of things.”
Lauber, by contrast, was expelled from the school, supposedly for smoking.
Romney was a prankster in high school. But he’s admitted as much. The Post story is so egregiously biased that it turns what were clearly innocent high school pranks into evidence that Romney is a bad fellow. Take this example:
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.”
That Romney. You never know whose life he was going to ruin (subtext: it could be yours!).
Romney, the Post claims, was mean enough that he once dumped a girl:
“The person who wrote the most consistently was Mitt,” said Lyn Moon Shields, who dated Romney in the fall semester of 1964. Gentlemanly and fun, Romney was her best date in her six years at school. He called every evening and picked her up in his powder blue Rambler and drove her up and down Woodward Avenue on weekends, and to school dances where she wore blue-green formal dresses and he a dark suit and tie. “Things were so innocent,” she said. “We kissed each other, I think Mitt would admit to that.” One day, she said, Romney just stopped calling. He had taken an interest in a Kingswood sophomore.
Wow. Back in high school, Romney had the gall to break up with someone. No word from the Post on why a young Barack Obama was sleeping with a girl, refusing to tell her he loved her, then dumping her for racial incompatibility.
The Post is clearly doing rearguard action for Obama on his same-sex marriage blow-up. But they’ve done so by destroying their journalistic credibility.