Home 2012 races Bullying Story: Mitt Romney’s Macaca Moment?

Bullying Story: Mitt Romney’s Macaca Moment?


Mitt Romney debateGeorge Allen MacacaAs Lowell detailed with in his book Netroots Rising with Nate Wilcox, George Allen’s macaca moment wasn’t just about one use of a bullying racial slur – it fit a pattern of mean-spirited, racially questionable behavior by Allen. The polls didn’t move right away, but kept moving steadily as Allen’s bungled, ever-changing attempts at explanation prompted voters to ask themselves again and again, “Do we really know George Allen?”

As Josh Marshall writes at TalkingPointsMemo today, the Mitt Romney bullying episode may prompt a similar re-examination of Romney’s moral character:

High school for a 65-year-old is a long time ago. I’m 43 and it seems like a long time ago. I was a different person in many ways. What strikes me most about this story is Romney’s intense equivocation. First he didn’t remember the incidents. Then he apologized to anyone who was offended but without saying he remembered anything specific. Then he said that he definitely didn’t know or think the kid they attacked was gay, even though he apparently didn’t remember the attack.

None of that really adds up. And I think this is long enough ago that if Romney just came clean and said it was almost 50 years ago and he regrets it that would be sufficient for most people.

If Romney had immediately copped to the episode & apologized, it could’ve been a chance to show newfound compassion & personal growth. Instead, after getting testy again just yesterday and with his clueless campaign directing reporters to former classmates who actually confirm the bullying, Romney’s prickly flim-flamming non-apologies are reinforcing everyone’s worst impressions of him – a dishonest, untrustworthy jerk.

UPDATE by Lowell: TPM reports that “Mitt Romney clashed with a state commission tasked with helping LGBT youth at risk for bullying and suicide throughout his term as Massachusetts governor over funding and its participation in a pride parade. He eventually abolished the group altogether.” So, how has this guy changed since high school, exactly?  

  • Just like George Allen, who was also a nasty little sadist —

    dragged his sister upstairs by the hair, attacked her boyfriend with a pool cue, threw his brother through a sliding glass door, etc. Willard’s an animal abuser (frequently a prelude to violent crimes against humans) and a sadistic bully, who also happens to be a Coward with a capital C. Why on earth would we let this sociopath anywhere near the White House? That would be insane.

  • Jim B

    Apparently what Romney has is typical of all republicans these days. That dude that beat Luger looks like a serial killer.

  • Mike1987

    In this bazaar world, this will solidify at least 30% of the population who finds nothing wrong with bullying.  Another 10% are meh about it. This perversely will improve his standing among conservatives. Sad, but true.

    This does though, add to the narrative of a blank slate that has been running for President for 7 years. Drip drip drip. He’s being defined and not by his choice, but by the choices he made.

  • aznew

    On the one hand, Allen’s Macaca moment came in the present day, and it was in the context of trying to understand him today that the incident required that we investigate his past.

    This is simply an incident out of Romney’s past, and the truth of the matter is that none of us wants to be, or even ought to be, judged by the stupidest thing we did in high school.

    That said, Romney has shown himself over the course of this campaign to be something of a mystery. Since he seeks to pander to whomever he is talking to at the moment, I don’t think anyone really has a good sense of who he is as a person, or what he truly believes. And that includes his supporters, a large percentage of who back Romney not because of Romney, but because they oppose Obama.

    As a result of that, I think it is plausible that people will latch onto an incident like this in an effort to fill in the blanks on who we might actually elect as president. And what we are seeing is not pretty. And so it can become a macaca moment for him.

  • NotJohnSMosby

    I think one would remember an attack like that, be they the victim or the perpetrator.  But, if one didn’t, they probably wouldn’t try and massage the answer.  They would just say “I don’t remember that” which just makes them a liar.  Or someone with a bad memory, which doesn’t do much to enhance his bona fides to be President.

    What he’s doing right now is typical tap dancing.  He remembers it, he remembers the kid, he remembers what he did and why he did it.  He’s upset that it’s come out after all this time, by they don’t call them “corpses in the closet”, they are skeletons.  They come out, unearthed, decomposed and stripped down after a long time.  And he doesn’t really know how to react.  

    Republicans say that Obama is just a robot, he can’t do anything without a teleprompter.  But Obama has a brain, and the teleprompter is there to keep him on track.  Romney is similar to Bush in that they can’t do anything even with a teleprompter.  It has to be prepared, minimized, edited for consumption.  Sort of the way that sports magazines like Sports Illustrated are written at a 6-th grade reading level.  That’s why he chronically sticks his foot in his mouth, and not in a funny way, when he goes off script.  He can think on his feet, he just doesn’t know how to say it without coming off like a complete snob.

    When Joe Biden sticks his foot in his mouth, it’s usually a “I can’t believe he said that” bit of political incorrectness, or just plain brazen, unadulterated honesty.  With Romney, they’re more of the things that a couple of rich guys sitting in the locker room of a private, restricted country club would say after the caddy forgets to clean their golf cleats.  Or when the maid puts the 600 thread count sheets on the bed instead of the 800 thread count.  

  • http://andrewsullivan.thedaily

    I do not believe Romney has no memory of this. I believe he is lying. His absurd statement that he has no memory of the event but that he didn’t target the boy for being gay is hilarious for its self-contradiction. A boy who routinely snickered “Atta girl!” when one young gay kid in his class spoke up is not just bashing hippies. I went to an all boys high school in the 1970s. What Romney did was a gay-bashing. […]

    And this matters because today these attacks on gay kids drive many to suicide, others to despair; they wreck lives and self-esteem. It matters that we know that one candidate for president was an anti-gay bully in high school, targeting a weak and defenseless kid and humiliating and traumatizing him. Today, he does the same thing in a larger, more abstract way: targeting a small minority as a way to advance his own power. It gives me the chills.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    This stupid behavior reminds me of some of the things that George W. Bush did when he was young. Or, George Allen when he pulled his sister down the stairs by her hair, broke his brother’s arm. Bullies as adolescents show a mean streak and a disregard for others that never completely goes away. “I was young and foolish” is NOT an excuse.

    “Gay bashing” has been a favorite sport of the worst kind of bullies. The hell they bring to their fellow human beings never crosses their self-centered, little minds. The worst thing is that their privileged position means they never have to say, “I’m sorry. I was evil.” Instead, we get the likes of Romney’s “if I made somebody feel bad, I apologize.” Feel bad? Try scaring an innocent kid half to death because of Romney’s prejudice and meanness.

    I shudder to think of Willard Romney in the Oval Office if he confronts a crisis that takes calm resolve and empathetic concern for others. He seems capable of neither. He’s just another spoiled rich brat. Proof that he has changed little is in his stupid remark, “I like to fire people.” Then, there is the one where he said, “I don’t worry about the very poor.” Of course, he doesn’t. He worries about his rich friends and himself. Oh, and his family…just not mine or yours.

  • commentator1

    Romney reminds me of that old saying “The lights are on, but no one is home.” Romney apparently never had to deal with any real adversity when growing up. He has no appreciation or respect for those who are different and he has never really suffered or struggled. It’s the suffering, pain, and struggle that build character, promote reflection, and develop empathy. Unfortunately, Romney skipped that part of development. If you knock on his head you will probably hear a hollow metallic sound. He is like a robot which wears makeup to cover the hinges that allow its jaws to move.