Friday, May 11, 2012

Surprise! Rich White Guy, Privileged From Birth, Is Apparently An Asshole

One of my favorite Vonnegut quotes (and that's saying a lot, because the man cranks out one liners like an erudite Rodney Dangerfield) goes something like "true terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country." I'm especially reminded of it during political campaigns, which typically have even less maturity and decorum than high school student government elections. But in any setting, the point remains that people don't all of sudden grow up and magically become mature and intelligent people. For the most part, the petty bullshit that makes middle school and high school so great for a few people and generally pretty shitty for most people don't ever go away.

Take, for example, the hullabaloo over a recent Washing Post article that revealed, among other things, that Romney once assembled a gang of friends to tackle and cut the hair of a kid they thought was gay. Look, I'm clearly not a Romney defender. His politics and world view are pretty dang far away from mine. And I'm not going to discount how traumatic this event seemed to be John Lauber, the victim of Romney's bullying.

But I'm also pretty surprised at how big of a story this has become for some people. I'm sure part of it is just the bullshit of horserace politics in which each side tries to find even the tiniest defect in the other side to prove they can't be trusted (witness the "Romney was once mean to his dog" vs. "Oh yeah? Obama once ate dog meat" argument that actually happened in the midst of an election full of people who would otherwise appear to be rational, fully-functioning adults).

However, again even though the event in question is pretty shady, I don't think it really tells us anything we don't already know. To begin with, it happened in 1965, so it seems difficult to draw too much in the way of conclusions about someone's character when you're talking about an event that happened nearly 50 years ago.

But the bigger point is that who among us thought Romney held a high opinion of gay people? Or that he wasn't at least kind of an elitist jerk? This is the same man who steadfastly refuses to recognize same-sex couples and has fully embraced the reactionary anti-LGBT policies of the Republican party. This is also a guy who suggests that if you're having a hard time of things, you should borrow $20,000 from your parents so you can start your own company. This is clearly a guy who is not friendly to gay folks and is an out-of-touch rich douchebag.

And that's all that this Post story tells us; something we already clearly knew. And out of the many, many legitimate reasons to dislike and/or not vote for Mitt Romney, the fact that he was once an asshole to some dude he didn't like is probably not the most solid.