The news came out yesterday that in high school, Mitt Romney was a bully. He was outed by five of his former prep school buddies, who painted a horrifying picture of young Willard terrorizing at least two underclassmen, both of whom were closeted homosexuals. One of the boys had bleached his hair blonde, which offended young Willard, so he and his posse chased down and tackled the student. Then they held him down while Mitt took his scissors and cut off the boy’s offensive blonde hair. Mitt regularly harassed the other boy when he spoke up in class by hollering “Atta girl!!” at him. There was also a tale of Mitt walking a blind teacher directly into a door.
When he was asked about the truth of these allegations, after the initial denial, Mitt laughed. Just like he laughed when Chris Wallace told him that in Massachusetts, putting a dog in a kennel strapped to the roof of a speeding car was considered animal cruelty, and as he laughed when he told his side-splittingly funny story about his father closing down a factory in Michigan and moving it to Wisconsin. He also laughed about those 7-11 bakery cookies that were just too… common… to eat. Yeah, that’s some funny shit, all right.
Maybe it’s funny when your daddy is really, really rich and you are the young heir apparent to the Lord of the Manor. Maybe it’s funny when you are raised to believe that you are a member of the ruling class, and most other people only exist to serve you. It must be funny to see the common folk scrabbling for a living when your every wish is instantly gratified, from your first silver spoon to your first Mustang convertible.
But when you’re one of those common folk scrabbling for your living? It isn’t funny at all. It’s life or death.
When I was a kid, my family was poor. I wore rummage sale and hand-me-down clothes and my stepfather regularly scrounged in the dumpster at the back of our local grocery store for the least rotten and still edible fruit and vegetables to feed our two goats – and to put on our family dinner table. I was also neglected and abused by my parents, so I regularly went to school dirty and rumpled, with flea bites on my legs and arms. The cherry on top of my personal shit sundae was my thick, Coke-bottle-bottomed glasses, which, along with the goats and my rummage sale clothes, sealed my fate as a target.
I lived in a small town, and, inevitably, I was the chosen target of all the bullies from the fourth grade until I graduated from high school, and I can tell you first hand: it isn’t funny. It isn’t funny at all. I was always afraid, because big boys like Mitt – if they caught me – would hit and kick me. The girls were cruel as well, but their cruelty wasn’t physical; it was more subtle and left far deeper scars than the simple pushing, shoving and hitting from the boys. I was ostracized, taunted, pushed, shoved, called ugly names – and this went on without letup for at least seven years, until I got old enough to do something about it. I learned to shower every day and to carry a chip on my shoulder the size of a Volkswagen. My motto became “Go ahead…make my day” long before Clint Eastwood ever said it.
So, when I received an invitation to my 40th high school reunion this week, I thought about those kids I went to school with all those years ago, and I tried to decide if I actually have any reason to want to see any of them. It has been forty years, and I carry those scars to this day.
So, Mitt? Bullying isn’t funny. It isn’t funny at all. And I do not want a president who is a bully. I’ve had enough bullying to last a lifetime.