Mitt Romney: Worse than George W. Bush?

One of this country's lesser-known great writers, Edmund White, writes for The New Yorker about the Cranbrook School, where Romney and a gang of followers ritually humiliated a gay classmate in l965. 

White attended the school, just as Mitt Romney did, but a few years earlier, and as a gay person. He speculates about Romney's motivations for his so-called "pranks":

Romney was not a good student nor was he athletic; he was the manager of one of the school teams, a sort of default position for boys who wanted to be athletic and cool and popular—a water boy, in essence. He was considered a class clown, always up to rather cruel pranks. I can picture his situation, though it’s only speculation on my part (I’ve never known any of his friends, though one of his older brothers was a classmate). On the one hand he had an embarrassingly famous father, the governor of Michigan, whom he idolized as the youngest child. On the other he was the sole Mormon, a member of what was definitely seen as a creepy, stigmatized cult in that world of bland Episcopalian Wasps (we had Episcopalian services at chapel three mornings a week). When his father was president of American Motors, he lived at home and was a day student, an envied status. When his father was elected governor and moved to the state capital of Lansing, he became a boarder. Suddenly he was surrounded by other Cranbrook students and the strict “masters,” 24/7. He no longer had the constant support of his tight-knit family. Now he had to win approval from the other boys.

No wonder he became a daring and even violent prankster. He who worried about his own marginal status couldn’t bear the presence of an unapologetic sissy like [John] Lauber, with his long bleached hair (the Mormons, then as now, have insisted on a neat, traditional, conservative appearance, especially in their young missionary men whom they send out all over the world). In scorning and shearing a sissy student and leading a gang of five other boys in this “prank,” Romney may have felt popular and in the right for the first time. According to one of Romney’s repentant accomplices, [his gay victim] Lauber was terrified, weeping and begging for help.

Interestingly, the same year that Romney was cruelly terrifying a "sissy" classmate, George W. Bush, also a cheerleader, was protecting a "sissy" classmate being teased by his friends: 

Lanny Davis, who knew Bush at Yale, and admired him in many ways, despite being on the other side of the fence politically, recalls the incident:

[A student] we all believed to be gay walked by, although the word we used in those days was "queer." Someone, I'm sorry to say, snidely used that word as he walked by.

George heard it and, most uncharacteristically, snapped: "Shut up." Then he said, in words I can remember almost verbatim: "Why don't you try walking in his shoes for a while and see how it feels before you make a comment like that?"

Remember, this was the 1960s — pre-Stonewall, before gay rights became a cause many of us (especially male college students) had thought much about. I remember thinking, "This guy is much deeper than I realized."

George Bush, thoughtful and sensitive, putting Mitt Romney to shame. Who would've thunk? 

One thought on “Mitt Romney: Worse than George W. Bush?

  1. You degrade yourself comparing two incidents about two different people in two different high schools that happened close to 50 years ago recalled by two different people.

    Like

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