Hair Hacking: In 1965, Mitt Romney Hazed A Person Presumed To Be Gay By Holding Him Down And Cutting His Hair

This is in the Washington Post today. Disturbing, to say the least:

Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, 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.

Mitt Romney was eighteen years old at the time. What a dull and authoritarian conformist he was!

Is this the real Mitt Romney? This incident, now that it has been made public, is an existential moment for Romney. He needs to speak to this. Does he regret what happened? Has he ever apologized to this person? Mitt Romney’s cut-throat cruelty and callousness here are striking. Absent a serious expression of sincere and utter regret, I certainly do not want such a character to be President of the United States.

If he tries to rationalize, deny, or minimalize this incident, it will speak volumes about him.

Would you ever do such a thing, taking from another person their freedom and dignity?

Here’s how the grotesque incident concluded:

[T]o this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said. “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”

“It was a hack job,” recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. “It was vicious.”

“He was just easy pickins,” said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.

The incident transpired in a flash, and Friedemann said Romney then led his cheering schoolmates back to his bay-windowed room in Stevens Hall.

Friedemann, guilt ridden, made a point of not talking about it with his friend and waited to see what form of discipline would befall Romney at the famously strict institution. Nothing happened.

Maybe something will now. This is the return of the repressed.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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54 Responses to Hair Hacking: In 1965, Mitt Romney Hazed A Person Presumed To Be Gay By Holding Him Down And Cutting His Hair

  1. David Yates says:

    Romney needs to address something that happened 47 years ago as a student?!? My goodness, a local politician once called me a “fatty-fat fathead” and kicked me in the crotch, and that was only 40 years ago. Does that really make him now unfit for political office? This is just silly.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      No, David. This isn’t silly, and this wasn’t an incident of name calling. Gay hazing is not good fun. This was Mitt Romney, as an adult (he was 18 in 1965), holding down a fellow student, restraining him forcibly, shaming him before others, and physically defacing his appearance (hacking off his hair). It’s a wonder this didn’t result in the student committing suicide.

      And, frankly, it says a lot about you that you would defend Romney’s behavior.

      Worst of all, it says a lot about Romney that he’s already in bullshit mode on this, claiming he can’t recall such a brutal and psychologically warped action. If he doesn’t remember, it’s creepy. If he does remember—which he obviously does—it’s creepy how he’s responding.

      This is the return of the repressed.

      —Santi

      • David Yates says:

        I was also kicked in the crotch remember. And we don’t know if this guy was homosexual; he was reportedly only “presumably” gay. For all we know, very little of this is presented accurately.
        I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here before, but I used to be a fairly renowned, very minor athlete here in Calgary, Canada — nothing big, I assure you, but enough where I had my name in the local papers on several occasions. Every single time, there was at least some aspect of the story where the reporter got it wrong — albeit usually some small detail, but occasionally a significant one also. Nevertheless, the important thing is that these were contemporary events that the reporter had witnessed himself, not events that had happened years earlier (nevermind 47 years earlier) where he was relying on the sketchy memories of others. And what’s more, these were events the outcome of which the reporter really couldn’t care less, and by that I mean that he wouldn’t have felt any personal obligation or emotional compunction toward making me look good and my opponent bad or vice versa — no passion at all in slanting the results either this way or that. Obviously, the same cannot be said when it comes to this Romney story as written by this Washington Post reporter.

  2. David Yates says:

    And of course, it’s still no big deal that Obama ate dogs, since he did that as a kid. And it’s still no matter that he counts unrepentant domestic terrorists as his friends and launched his political career from their living room, since that was several years ago, and they were actually mere acquaintances who just happened to live down the street. And no one should care that he was a 20-yr member of the congregation of an America-hating, radical church leader, since he just never happened to be in attendance during any of those anti-American, conspiracy-spewing sermons. And we should certainly excuse his past cocaine and other drug-use, since that was mere youthful indiscretion. And we really shouldn’t bother with his mysterious college transcripts or other communist or race-baiting friends, since none of that is really any of our business. But it is seriously horrible and genuinely unforgivable that Mitt Romney cut the hair of a hippie nearly five decades ago, based on the “crystal clear” memories of the event from a couple people who are probably Obama-supporters today — a hippie who, it turns out was later kicked out of the school for smoking ONE cigarette (but I’m sure no disciplinary action was ever taken against Romney, who was obviously a serial high school bully), but had never, ever, ever so much as mentioned this to anybody else, including family members, and who died in 2004 and so obviously cannot testify to the veracity of this event. This man seriously has the gall to run for president today, a mere 47 years later? I mean, really.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      David,

      Please answer these questions. Would you ever, against someone’s will, come at them with scissors, pin them to the ground, and cut off his or her hair? And if you did so, would you remember the incident? And would you apologize to that person and make restitution?

      —Santi

      • David Yates says:

        ‘No’ to the first question, ‘Probably’ to the second one (providing it actually happened, of course, otherwise I’d likely be rather hazy about it — but to be perfectly honest, Santi, I engaged in so many pranks back in college, I know I don’t remember them all), and ‘Maybe’ to the last question (it would depend on the situation and, given that in this one the alleged victim is no longer with us, there’s is now no one to apologize to — IF it actually happened, which I have my doubts).

  3. David Yates says:

    Curious that this should come out the very next day after Obama committed himself to the cause of same-sex marriage, wouldn’t you say? (Assuming this unfortunate, put-upon hippie actually was gay, of course, and not merely a “presumed homosexual.”)

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Oh, so this is Obama’s fault. Got it.

      Maybe this is Romney’s fault. He’s the one who hazed a presumed gay person, and is now lying about it.

      • David Yates says:

        Where do I blame Obama?!? Rather, my contention is that this is yet another example of the mainstream media being in the tank for Obama, and will to do practically anything to protect him, make him look good, and otherwise get him re-elected. Because let’s face it, that ain’t going to happen if he runs on his record.
        But that said, re: Romney. Santi, what happened to being innocent until proven guilty?

    • kmstyf says:

      Troll much?

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        KMSTYF:

        I don’t like the word “troll.” People have opinions, and just because they don’t agree with the author of a post, it doesn’t mean they’re “trolling” in saying so (or even saying so in ways that you might regard as inciting emotional debate).

        Adults can hear things. No need for conformity of opinion.

        —Santi

      • kmstyf says:

        The dictionary definition of “trolling” is to “fish by trailing a baited line along behind a boat”, i.e. “we trolled for mackerel”. David Yates identifies and agrees with Romney’s behavior by using such language as “this unfortunate, put-upon hippie”, to bait others into a conversation in which he hopes to win, not converse. His opinion will not change, as he is clearly an idiot and past seeing nuances. Thus, troll.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        KMSTYF:

        Isn’t it then fair to say that you clearly aren’t interested in noticing the nuances, viscitudes, and complexities of David as a human being?

        Most discussions don’t change minds, left, right, or center. That doesn’t mean that discourse isn’t valuable. I find it valuable for me. I like to know how other people think and argue and make their best arguments, especially people who strongly disagree with me. In conversation, I may not change someone’s mind, but that’s not the mind I’m most interested in changing. I’m interested in changing my mind. Our very discussion of “trolling” might deepen or add some nuance to my thought about the subject (without necessarily changing, deepening, or adding the least bit of nuance to what you think about it).

        I hope that others get something from their conversations with me, but that’s their existential decision and responsibility (to be an open and vulnerable listener, or not). And I’m not going to second-guess an individual’s motives for conversation for the simple fact that people are complex and have multiple motivations for the things that they do, and those motivations shift.

        To label someone a “troll,” therefore, is to disrespect their humanity.

        —Santi

      • David Yates says:

        By the way, Santi, thanks for having my back here. But nevertheless, as far as I’m concerned, personally, it’s really not necessary. What do I care if some young fellow who has never met me — and likely never will — calls me a name? IF I’m being a ‘troll’ then I don’t mind being called one. And if I’m not, then… most often when somebody resorts to name-calling it’s simply because they have little else to contribute to the discussion.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Well, you’ve got a thicker skin than I do. I don’t like being called a troll—it’s happened to me before at sites I’ve entered threads on—and it gave me a chance to vent on the subject. When the term is used, it’s usually just an indication that someone has veered outside the realm of some conformist’s idea of what constitutes a tolerable opinion.

        —Santi : )

  4. Alice says:

    Unfortunately for the country we can’t have access to Obama’s school records. They are forever sealed. About this, big deal. I did some stupid things I’m not proud of when I was in high school. I remember telling a fat kid once in 7th grade that his face looked like a booger. It hurt the kid’s feelings. I can still see his face. If I could have a redo I would have been nicer to that kid. Now lets move on. If this is all the Obama administration can dig up on Romney then that tells me they are running scared and they are grasping at straws.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      This was hazing of a presumed gay person, Alice, not calling someone a booger. And how Romney reacts now is telling. He’s already goofing this up. As are you in your callous response.

    • Gordon Truesdale says:

      You were in 7th grade, not 18; and you still have remorse. You are shielding your eyes because you don’t want to see.

  5. Gordon Truesdale says:

    It is amazing how we will justify what we want to believe. David and Alice clearly want to forgive Romney’s past , but to bring up Obama’s past as something discreditable. It is one or the other, not ‘one way for my guy, another for yours’. We all do stupid things as children, and some of us grow up more slowly; but our behaviour as youth does reflect on our basic character. Romney may have learned how to act like he’s not mean ( though his detractors will quarrel with that) , but this incident declares his inner response to discomfort. It is not pretty. On the other hand the jibes at Obama speak to a different response, one of questing, and learning; a plastic rather than rigid approach. If you choose to vote for Romney, never say you had no idea how he will treat you if he decides you are “just wrong”.

  6. concerned christian says:

    I maybe repeating some of previous posts but if that’s all the dirt diggers could throw at Romney, that’s good news for his campaign.
    Now for the real story, can some one ask Obama, since he spent his early years in a Muslim family in Indonesia, at what age did he discover that he is not a Muslim and when did he start to be proud of his American heritage. How close was he to anarchists and communists in his early years, how did he get into an Ivy League college, has he ever claimed to be a foreign student to get some special aids, where is his thesis and what was its subject?
    Do you think that any of these questions need to be asked since we are now down to the silly details of the irresponsible actions of teenagers.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Would a Muslim support gay marriage? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. It’s amusing how some say, on the one hand, “I always knew he secretly supported gay marriage,” while also suspecting he’s Muslim.

      • David Yates says:

        What?!? Clearly Obama is not a Muslim.
        He’s an atheist.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        That would be refreshing (if he were)!

        —Santi

      • brooklynite says:

        And what if he is? as far as I now the requirements for being president does not include one’s personal faith – and to answer your question, Yes, you can be a muslim and support the gay marriage but that is not the point. it sounds hypocritical to support xenophobia and oppose gay marriage

  7. concerned christian says:

    And here’s a detailed discussion of What Did Obama Do when he was in High School

    While the Washington Post has been diligently digging into relatively innocent high school pranks by Mitt Romney, they’ve spent the last few years diligently ignoring President Obama’s far more controversial high school days.

    Obama, by all accounts, was a habitual drug user in high school. He tried cocaine, he admits in Dreams From My Father; he “tried drugs enthusiastically.” The Chicago Tribune reported back in 2007 that Obama thanked the “Choom Gang” in his high school yearbook; “chooming” was Hawaiian slang for smoking pot. The Honolulu Advertiser reported that Obama’s senior portrait “prominently displayed … A package of ‘Zig-Zag’ rolling papers and a matchbook.” One of Obama’s close friends was arrested for drug possession during high school.
    In his memoir, Obama talked about routinely getting high. “Junkie. Pothead,” he wrote. “That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man.” But, according to Obama, he only got high because he was contemplating deep matters: drugs could “push questions of who I was out of my mind.”
    Obama told students in 2007 that this activity constituted “goofing off” and “wasting time”:
    “I will confess to you that I was kind of a goof off in high school as my mom reminded me,” Obama said. “I went to high school in Hawaii, so there’s a lot of opportunity to goof off because the weather is really good all the time …
    “You know, I made some bad decisions …. You know, got into drinking and experimenting with drugs. There was a whole stretch of time where I didn’t apply myself. It wasn’t until I got out of … high school, and went to college that I started realizing, man, I wasted a lot of time.”
    The New York Times, however, went out of its way to find Obama’s classmates to testify that drugs played only a “bit part” in Obama’s youth. Yet Obama would later brag on the campaign trail that he “inhaled frequently … that was the point.”
    During his high school years, Obama hung out with communist radical Frank Marshall Davis; in 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that during his high school days, “he felt the first stirrings of anger toward whites. He says he also delved into black nationalism.” He was “offended or even enraged when white classmates adopted black street slang or revealed their underlying consciousness of his race by going out of their way to tell him how much they admired a black musician or athlete.”
    This activity is certainly more reflective of Obama’s ideological history than Mitt Romney’s pranks on teachers and fellow students. And as for the drug use – well, that seems just a bit more serious than walking a teacher into a door or cutting a student’s hair. But leave it to the Post to ignore or downplay all of that in favor of continuing stories about Romney’s dog, his high school hijinks, and whatever other nonsense they can use to protect President Obama from his own incompetence.
    Ben Shapiro is Breitbart News Editor-at-Large. Follow him on twitter @benshapiro.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Why is drug experimentation bad? I agree that drug addiction is bad, but why is experimentation bad? Allen Ginsberg wrote some amazing poetry on LSD. Was that a bad thing for him to do?

      Steve Jobs was an enthusiast of psychedelic mushrooms. Again, was he being naughty?

      Lots of thoughtful and creative people think drug experimentation is an important aspect of getting to know their own consciousness.

      Reading a book that (in Emily Dickinson’s phrase) “takes you lands away” alters consciousness too. As does entering a dark theatre and coming under the spell of a movie screen. The reason you darken a theatre is to focus attention on the manipulations provided by a director.

      So ban books and films as well?

      —Santi

      • concerned christian says:

        Santi, actually what I did not like about this story is that it is:
        First, a silly distraction from real campaign issues, imagine if someone from another country, or an alien planet found that the American Public is making critical political decisions based on a bullying incident committed by one of the candidates many years ago.
        Second, the biggest hole in this story is that if it was such a troubling incident to some of the witnesses, why it was not brought up during any of his previous campaigns for the Governor and the Senator offices? was someone sitting on it for all these years to cash it in the right moment? Would we have heard about it if Rick Santorum won the primaries? I guess in that case the headlines would have been “Rick harassed a gay kid while he was in Kindergarten!!!!”

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Concerned,

        There’s nothing “silly” about taking gay-bashing seriously. And the way that Mitt Romney responds to this issue from his youth says a great deal about him TODAY, and what kind of president he would make.

        This is an existential moment for Mitt Romney. He can handle this impressively, with honesty, vulnerability, and maturity. Or he can flub it, concealing and dodging.

        Unfortunately, he’s doing the latter.

        —Santi

  8. Pimm van der Donk says:

    A typical closet case!

  9. mhasegawa says:

    I don’t think one can compare the President at 7 eating dog meat in a society where it was very common. We are obsessed with our pets in ways other societies have not been. Plus he never pretended to forget it. We know he ate dog because he is the one who told us just as he told us about his drug use and his brush with black nationalism. The President has used his past experiences to grow as a person the way many of us do, but, unforturnately, Romney often appears to still be that prep school bully only now he likes to fire people.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      All Romney has to do is be honest about the incident, express sincere regret for it, and tell us what he learned from it. This story would then bolster his credibility (at least with me).

      But he won’t own it. And that’s disturbing.

  10. concerned christian says:

    Santi, you are talking about 1965, many things have changed since that time.
    At that time, many who became leaders in the Democratic party had racist views about blacks. Do you remember what was the last Senator Byrd’s views on that issue at that time?
    Are we going to look for every politicians’ actions since puberty and judge them accordingly?

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Concerned,

      Sensibilities have changed surrounding gay bashing, and I want to hear Romney speak honestly to his regret and repentance concerning his 18 year old behavior (if he, in fact, feels it). I want him to stop lying and dodging.

      And since you bring up race, Romney was peddling his Mormonism at a time when it was the official doctrine of his church that blacks and Native Americans are the inferiors of whites, and accursed of God. Surely, in the 1960s, the young Mormon must have been repeatedly asked to respond to the church’s grotesque positions on race. I want to know what he said in response and why he said it.

      Romney was an adult at the time, not a child. Many of his contemporaries were fighting in Vietnam. Others were marching and organizing on behalf of civil rights for blacks and women. Still others were taking up professions in the fields of science. He was displaying himself to be a narrow and bigoted irrationalist peddling cultism.

      I want to hear Romney explain how, at the age of 20, he could have bicycled into neighborhoods, knocking from door-to-door, defending, not just ridiculous claims, but racism, racist ideas, and a racist institution, and in what sense he now regrets that.

      The more I think about Romney’s early adulthood, the more troubled I am by it (and the more troubled I am by the way he now talks about it, and the way conservatives are rationalizing on his behalf).

      —Santi

      • concerned christian says:

        Ultimately Santi you will have your wish when we have the debates between the two candidates. I am waiting to see the real Obama and the real Mitt going one-on-one without the benefits of teleprompters, and hopefully with neutral moderators.
        Honestly, I can not predict the outcome of these debates, but if you want a fair game, there should be some questions about teenage indiscretion for both candidates.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Concerned,

        You won’t ever see the “real Mitt.” And do you mean to imply that a black man cannot speak coherently absent a teleprompter? I would have thought that this sort of Rush Limbaugh-style, racist trope was something you wouldn’t take seriously.

        The country’s first African American president is not stupid. In fact, he’s a hell of a lot smarter (and more decent) than the vast majority of white conservatives who have an irrational, visceral, and satanic hatred of him.

        —Santi

  11. David Yates says:

    It didn’t take long but much of this story is now falling apart. That WaPo article states that the alleged victim, John Lauber, later “came out” and admitted to his family and friends that he was indeed gay. However, John’s surviving family members — specifically his sisters — are now objecting to this, saying that he did no such thing. They’re also objecting to the general tenor of the whole story, claiming that it’s highly “inaccurate” and “factually incorrect” in its depiction of their late brother and that they’re considerably unhappy amd even “frustrated” with the fact that any of this is being used to push a “political agenda.”
    “The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda,” John’s sister, Betsy said. “There will be no more comments from the family.”
    Also, several of the supposed “witnesses” to this apparently heinous act of homophobia are now testifying that they didn’t even know anything about this alleged incident until just recently when being asked about it by reporters. Yet, they’re depicted in the WaPo article has feeling distinctly unsettled and even guilty about it ever since it’s supposed to have happened 47 years ago!
    One of the primary sources for the supposed event is an old friend and schoolmate of Romney named Stu White. The article states that he has “long been bothered by the Lauber incident.” Yet, according to ABC News, White was not only “not present for the prank,” he “was not aware of it until this year when he was contacted by the Washington Post.”
    Whatever may have happened 47 years ago, it’s, at the very least, exceedingly murky. But the fact that the Washington Post would report the ostensible event as it has says tons — none of it very good. Personally, I find such a callous and blatant smear job repugnant in the extreme.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      David,

      Indulge in wishful thinking, as you please. The story is not “falling apart.” That’s a Drudge smear itself. The Post article is thoroughly reported, and Romney will be forced, as the year proceeds, to deal with it. If he hides behind the blue pipe smoke cast up by right wing websites, and fails to deal with this directly and honestly, it will reflect badly on him.

      —Santi

      • David Yates says:

        It’s not wishful thinking, Santi. As I’ve already noted, I’m not even an American. Obviously I’m ideologically conservative and so would prefer to see a fellow conservative occupy what is still at the present moment the most powerful office on the planet, but I’m hardly what one would call an ardent Romney supporter.
        And incidentally, I didn’t get my information from the Drudge Report (in fact, I can state in all honestly that I’ve only been to the Drudge Report website once, and that was probably over a decade ago). I got it from ABC News. I don’t think anyone can seriously refer to ABC as a “right wing” source for news.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        You’re missing the forest for the trees here. The Washington Post would not run this story on sloppy reporting. It’s simply too large. The substantial facts of the incident, backed by numerous credible eye-witnesses and participants, will continue to present themselves throughout this election year, and Romney will have to decide how to deal with them. If he goes the route of obfuscation and pretending a lack of recall, it will say a great deal about him.

  12. concerned christian says:

    Santi, my referral to the Teleprompter was based on the fact that Obama had used it in many earlier speeches, including one at an elementary school. So this is a fact not a smear, but anyway as I said before, we will have an opportunity to see an interesting contrast in personalty when these two candidates debate each other. Right now I don’t have a clew about which one will come out as a winner in this future debates, but these debates should have a great weight in clarifying the positions of each candidate and shedding lights on their real personality.

    • concerned christian says:

      Typo “clew” should have been “clue”

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      You’re being coy. Of course it’s a smear. A racist smear. At least be honest about it. Teleprompters are useful for presidents. All presidents in the modern era have used them, and will continue to use them.

      And the “debates,” because of their restricted and hyper-managed formats, will probably be little more than side-by-side speechifying, not the give and take characterized by, say, the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

      • concerned christian says:

        Forget the Teleprompters, Obama’s speeches are more like some Professors lectures, well prepared but not inspiring. Can you give me a single line in any of his speeches that stands out, the same way some of FDR, JFK, and Reagan’s phrases are.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        I cannot. Not a single one. I think that part of the reason for this is that President Obama has not wanted to play the demagogue card. He knows that he’s got a lot of charisma, but he thinks he can be more effective not abusing it, not incurring the backlash that would invariably come from being too much of a peacock.

        Lincoln’s eloquence was extraordinary and came from him. Obama can write, but he’s not putting his energies in that direction as president. When he leaves office, I look forward to his memoirs.

        —Santi

  13. Pingback: Gay-Bashing? Mitt Romney Laughs At The Accusation And Says, “I Don’t Remember That Incident” | Prometheus Unbound

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  15. concerned christian says:

    Santi, since you tried to put words in my mouth when I said Teleprompters and you considered it to be part of Rush’ smear campaign; I will return the favor and ask you if phrases like “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” , ” Ask not what your country can do for you …”, and may I include “Mr Gorbachev turn down this wall” were forms of demagoguery?

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      I think the cult of personality—Kennedy’s or Reagan’s—is dangerous for democracy, yes. Those are nice sentences, and are necessary to deploy at choice moments. But I prefer reason to pithiness, and it would be ideal, in a democracy, if the citizenry was so well educated and mature in its deliberations that pithiness (either in the form of 15 second ads or speech lines) took on the importance it deserves (that is, very little). Pithiness also gets deployed, long after a leader has departed the political scene, in the service of nostalgia, which is then subversive of memory.

      I like Obama’s glamour. Don’t get me wrong. But I would hate his glamour if he was an irrationalist. I like Obama because he is intellectual; because he is rational; because he displays a moderation in temperament that is in keeping with his being the leader of (what should be) a rational and Enlightenment-informed democratic republic.

      • mhasegawa says:

        It is true that some have faulted the President for not using catch phrases but I think the Democratic/progressive positions are complicated and not really subject to them. Also, catch phrases tend to be used out of context.

      • concerned christian says:

        Santi, now we are really getting to the important issues, beyond the smear campaign and the sound bytes. If you want to be consistently fair to both sides you should disregard silly anecdotes such as the one that started this discussion and focus on what really counts. Applying this rule, you should have said, that it really does not matter what Mitt or Obama, or any other politician,have done when he was a teenager, or what sound bites, or even full speeches, his speech writer can put together, what counts are
        1. Who is he today, has he matured over the years, is he now an honest person, is he sincere in his beliefs and actions, is he looking for the best interest of his people?
        2. Is he the right person for the current conditions we are facing? Example; would you rather have Churchill or Chamberlain leading UK in 1939?
        3. How much I agree or disagree with that person on the major issues?
        4. How much weight, if any, should I give to his past, remote and recent? Would I like to be judged by what I did ten. or twenty, or even forty years ago?
        You could add more to this list, but as you add the questions you should apply them to yourself and decide if you think that you would not mind if some one ask you the same questions and that you can answer them honestly with pride.
        Today as I follow up on the elections of Egyptian President, the selection of a new Coptic Pope, and in November the American President, I believe that this is the kind of issues that need to be addressed.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        I’m happy to concede all of your points, but the problem here is that Romney flubbed the explanation. This is a one day story (to my mind) if Romney simply states the obvious (yes, he did it and he remembers it) and shows genuine regret. These things go to his character today, to the man he is now. And how he is responding now is telling (and disturbing).

        —Santi

  16. concerned christian says:

    Santi, trying to turn this lemon into lemonade, here’s a suggestion. How about if you open a continuous discussion until November, where people can post their opinion about
    1. Whom they want to be the president and why?
    2. What is the most important characters they demand of this person, and close their choice met these characteristics?
    3. What is the most important issues they care about, and how close their candidate is to these positions?
    It will be interesting to watch how both candidates behave under pressure, and most importantly to watch them debating the issues and stating their positions. BTW, the reason I am defending Mitt is his moderate-to-conservative positions on many issues, as for his personality, I will borrow a famous closing line from a movie NO BODY IS PERFECT

  17. Heather says:

    No body is perfect and I can only say one thing. This far into the election, Mitt has shown his true colors. 47% of Americans don’t matter? My favorite though is the fact that he said he’d have a better chance at winning this election were he “Mexican.” He’s not someone I would want for my president. Mitt grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, no matter what he says, I know he’ll never know what it’s like to live in the middle class.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser

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