Give Mitt a Break on Gays and the Sixties



About 30 hours. That's how long it took from the time President Obama was "outed" on his views on gay marriage until the CBS Evening News was all over Mitt Romney for saying he couldn't remember jumping a prep school classmate who turned out to be gay and cutting his unusually long hair.

Give Romney a break and get over it people. There should be a statute of limitations on stuff we did in our youth, or else no one with any qualifications beyond a beating pulse will run for public office, much less the presidency.

As the Washington Post reported Thursday, as a student at Cranbrook prep school in Michigan in the 1960s, Romney, the son of then-governor of Michigan George Romney, and some of his classmates bullied a classmate. While the classmate was being held down, Romney cut off some of his hair. Although Romney says he did not know it at the time, the classmate was gay. He died eight years ago.

But the "story" came out in the wake of Obama's coming-out statement on gay marriage. And Romney was asked about it Thursday on news programs. He said he didn't remember it, but if it did happen, he said, it was adolescent hijinks.

Romney was in a trap. Of course he remembers. That's why there are high school reunions, memoirs, and novels for crying out loud. But if Romney had said so, he would have been grilled about the particulars and called a bully, gay-basher and homophobe, which he is being called anyway. On the CBS Evening News Thursday night, anchorman Scott Pelley solemnly reported that Romney was in the news not for what he did nearly 50 years ago but for what he said today.

What Romney did was cruel. But it was not that unusual, and it certainly should not be the basis for voting for or against him for president. As someone once said, the whole truth about any of us would shock all the rest of us.

As a member of Romney's generation, this is what flashed through my mind when I watched and read the stories about Romney and Cranbrook: Holden Caulfield, Fanny Hill, Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson, Grove Press, Lolita, tits, ass, assmen, hot girls, ice queens, queen bees, cliques, dicks, fart jokes, bad girls, bras, bra straps, the finger, pubes, gross-out, mooning, drop trow, smear the queer, homos, fags, jocks, face men, second base, third base, all the way, panties, depantsings, supremes, wedgies, atomic wedgies, swirlies, wusses, sissies, racists, dirty limericks, bull daggers, get a haircut you fairy, he looks like a girl, she looks like a guy, jerks, jerk-offs, abortions, beat downs, she went away, preggers, rubbers, doing it, the pill, did you miss your period?

The high school in Michigan that I attended achieved a sort of national notoriety by becoming the model for the movie American Pie (and three sequels), which either set a new standard for gross outs or simply documented, more or less, what actually went on. A couple of months ago I was in Florida and ran into a fellow graduate some years younger than me who was vacationing with his teenage children. We got to talking about American Pie. His son, probably around 14, looked up with a bored expression and said Part Two was a lot better than the original.

So an immature Mitt Romney once did a cruel thing. And Mitt Romney, the son of a governor and a face man if there ever was one, went off on a Mormon missionary trip, married his sweetheart, and raised a bunch of kids who seem normal and decent enough and are as good looking as their parents, made a lot of money, and was governor of Massachusetts. Give him a break.

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