Seems that Mitt Romney may be suddenly suffering from a disturbing bout of selective amnesia, apparently he can’t remember having led an attack on another student at his prep school, one John Lauber, where Romney himself cut off the poor soul’s hair. You see Lauber was a nonconformist who apparently marched to his own drummer and this was something Romney and his crew couldn’t abide. Quoting a recent Washington Post article, “Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents”: “[Matthew] Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. 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. The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be identified.”

It goes without saying that the above account hardly paints Mitt Romney in a favorable or noble light and even though the incident took place so many years ago and could legitimately be considered to be out of character behavior, the real issue here isn’t whether or not it happened but Romney’s claim that he couldn’t recall the incident. In the ensuing fallout of this revelation Romney, appearing on Fox News, said “As to pranks that were played back then, I don’t remember them all, but again, high school days, if I did stupid things, why, I’m afraid I’ve got to say sorry for it”

First of all it’s highly unlikely that one could ever forget having engaged in such behavior unless, of course, this behavior was ongoing and common in which case Mitt Romney might forget one among many haircuts administered to offbeat class mates as there would be too many to remember in the first place. Also, the fact that five of those who were involved or witnessed the incident possess specific and vivid recollections to this day of the of the attack on Lauber pretty much renders Mitt Romney’s claim that he can’t remember the incident to be suspect prima facie.

So what we’re left to consider is two very unsettling questions related to Mitt Romney’s character. First, is he so driven by ambition as to totally disregard the truth in an attempt to skirt clear of this issue? What about the presumption of honesty that the voter is to have when assessing the qualifications of a candidate for president? Are we to assume in the final analysis that Mitt Romney is no more honest than the guy running a 3 Card Monty game on the street even though he’s got better credentials and wears well tailored suits? Secondly if Romney really and truly couldn’t recall an event as brazenly bold and dramatic as attacking another student and cutting off his hair, how can we rely on him to remember those important facts about economics, foreign and domestic policy, national security and military matters that are the daily bread of the president of the United States?

I’ll be the first to admit that I was no saint in high school or immediately thereafter and I myself pulled off a few bold and brazen stunts, some of which were truly stupid if not physically reckless, one or two which could have been considered borderline criminal. However, it doesn’t take too much of an effort to summon up memories of each and every one of them. I for the life of me can’t believe that Romney could, as if by magic, fail to remember an incident so searing in its boldness as the attack on John Lauber. Prior to this story the rap on Romney was that he was too rich to relate or too socially inept to come across as the proverbial “guy you’d like to have a beer with.” However this disturbing story from the past doesn’t bode well for Romney and only serves, along with others, to further keep him from getting back to the one topic where can actually take Barack Obama to task and that’s talking about the economy. In a campaign where negative attacks have already begun and will only intensify, Mitt Romney’s prep school past has just yielded up another negative image that belies his squeaky clean persona and will surely be used against him somewhere along the road to the 6th of November.

Steven J. Gulitti

5/11/12

Sources:

Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents; http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mitt-romneys-prep-school-classmates-recall-pranks-but-also-troubling-incidents/2012/05/10/gIQA3WOKFU_story.html

Bullying Story Spurs Apology From Romney; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/us/politics/years-later-a-prep-school-bullying-case-snares-romney.html?_r=1&ref=politics

Apology Tour; http://thepage.time.com/2012/05/10/apology-tour/?xid=thepage_newsletter