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Obama Endorses Same-Sex Marriage, the Defining Issue of Our Time

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Endorsing gay marriage unequivocally, President Obama has ceased “evolving” and delivered an important social issue into the masticating jaws of 2012’s cutthroat political campaigns. We should recognize two things about this.obama

First, it’s a political master-stroke. Energizing a big chunk of his base while likely “turning off” very few, Obama has distinguished himself markedly from his anti-gay-marriage Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. And he’s done this at exactly the right time, just when the main campaign is starting to gear up, as millions of Americans who took little interest in the primaries are starting to pay attention, and just as the pundits were settling into an easy assumption that all voters cared about this time around was the economy. Easing into his announcement after similar statements by Joe Biden and Arne Duncan, the President and his campaign team seem to have orchestrated this most carefully.

Second, to use a hackneyed but in this case accurate phrase, the President has put himself on the right side of history. Gay marriage is the defining civil rights issue of our time. It’s true that while a number of states have explicitly legalized same-sex marriage, 30 others have forbidden it in their constitutions. But while this might look like an imbalance, in the United States the bend has always historically gone towards affirming rather than restricting civil rights. When a minority and its supporters rise up to demand equal rights, and when the cause is fundamentally just, all the old-thinkers and reactionary pundits and politicians in the country can’t hold the line against it indefinitely.

This doesn’t mean the end of anti-gay prejudice, of course – not now, and maybe not ever. The legal and societal victories of the 20th-century Civil Rights movement did not end racial prejudice and discrimination, which continue in some walks of life even in the Obama Age. No one knows what lies ahead – federal court cases? slow decades of state-by-state acceptance? violence? But today’s announcement by the President has served notice on the forces of discrimination – for that’s what they are, even when cloaked in religious or moralistic affirmations, and even when entirely sincere and well-meaning: As the great philosopher MC Hammer once said, You can’t touch this. And ultimately, you can’t stop it.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.
  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    I have a strong suspicion that Obama has supported marriage equality all along, so in that light his failure to speak out before now has a hint of cowardice about it. That said, it was the right thing to do and he should be commended for taking a stand.

    It was calculated though. He risked losing a sizeable chunk of support by continuing to oppose gay marriage, and the one block of Democratic supporters who will be pissed off about it – conservative Christian African-Americans – aren’t going to not vote for him just over that.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    (BTW, I don’t know this McHammer. Is he a fictional Scottish private eye of the hardboiled school who, after the grand tradition of his countrymen, philosophizes in his spare time?)

  • John Lake

    The Obama administration has specifically called attention to the evolution that takes place within society, and the role of the government in adapting to change. It is unlikely that any thoughtful person in twenty-first century America would deny basic rights to couples of whatever combination. Yes, this is a defining moment; the world is polarizing and approaching a breaking point as Muslims and Christians and Jews with differing views must share the planet. The Muslim community still seems to embrace standards from the distant past. There is some question whether this is hypocrisy, or deeply held belief. It seems odd that Americans are on the one hand moving to an Evangelical resurgence, while the pragmatic among us are searching for a solid system to espouse. The media might take the blame for the accelerated change. Had we not allowed our children to watch “Mr. Rogers” change his shoes for five or six minutes every morning, this whole sordid matter might have been avoided.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Hard as this is to believe, I knew Fred Rogers, John; he’s from Pittsburgh where I grew up and was an ordained Presbyterian Minister.

    When our minister went on vacation, he would actually come and stand in for him and Fred was a very nice man.

    Our high school choir won a state competition and and before we performed for the governor and went on a statewide tour, we got to perform on Joe Negri’s talent show on Channel 13 WQED (he is also known as “handyman Negri” the guy that was always demonstrating musical instruments, and his show is taped next to Fred’s, so I actually got to walk through Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

    His politics were quite liberal for his time and when I wanted to go into the Presbyterian seminary, he happened to be visiting our church when I was discussing it with our reverend.

    He told me I’d lead a hard road as a gay teen, but didn’t discourage me. Actually between Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell, I gave up early.

    John, I respect you, but don’t speak ill of ones you don’t know.

    ——-
    As for Obama, he is taking advantage of the voter’s short memory by doing this now, instead of near November. People will remember him for allowing gays to serve openly in the military more than this, and with many soldiers coming home having served with gays and somehow never got molested in the showers, or had their heads shot off because some queer was trying to feel him up in the heat of battle, I’m sure more and more military families will respect Obama for his stand than reject him.

    Also older soldiers from World War II have stories of lonely nights with straight army “buddies” that would curl Rick Santorum and Pat Robertson’s hair. It is one thing to talk the hate, but when you’ve experienced a gay man as a soldier/friend that just shot a sniper that was trying to kill you, or has just treated you for an injury in a field hospital, you get a whole new perspective… whether you like it or not.

    Nearly everyone in America knows or has a gay relative, coworker or neighbor, whether they want to admit it or not too,

    The point being that gays don’t match the horrible degenerate monstors that the religious right paint them/us as and more and more they’re making fools of themselves for running their mouths off about something they know nothing about, and the public is coming to the realzation the priests they’re listening to resemble “The Emporer that has no clothes.”

    What I find really fascinatting is that Democratic scandals all seem to be about men having affairs with women, while Republican scandals are mostly about a gay congressman or senator.

    Romney was exposed as a hypocrit. He hired an openly gay spokesman/advisor for his campaign that he liked and respected, and then almost immediately fired him after the far-right faction of the GOP started having shit-fits.

    The majority of the people of this country don’t go to church more than once a month… if that, but they can’t seem to get the time to vote, where on the other hand the GOP ships in rabid right wing teabaggers in in loaded church busses.

    Hell, my local voting place is IN a church!

    The business owners, who are mostly republican around here in the midwest. The biggest complaint is that they can’t get out of work to go vote, and by the time they finish their shift, they are too tired to face the lines at the polls.

    it sucks, but it’s true.

    ————-
    Just for fun I looked for a right biased source and found this…

    …from the Christian Science Monitor

    …[Romney] faced an internal issue this month when his openly gay national security spokesman, Richard Grenell, resigned after his support for gay marriage drew intense criticism from conservatives.

    Grenell, who served as spokesman for then-U.N. Ambassador John Bolton during the Bush administration, said in a statement that Obama is on the “the right side of history,” though he suggested the president is playing politics with civil rights.

    A new Associated Press-GfK poll shows independent voters trust Obama over Romney to handle social issues “such as abortion and same-sex marriage,” with 39 percent favoring Obama and 22 percent favoring Romney. A majority of voters trust Obama over Romney in every age group except senior citizens.

  • John Lake

    Re: Mr. Rogers: I was merely pointing out that Rogers was a high profile role model and icon at a time when mores were less open. I do feel he had strong influence on children growing up at that time. Is this widening of social possibilities for the better or for the worse — who is to say?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    I grew up 3000 miles away from any television set on which Mr Rogers might have been pontificating, but as I understand it, his show placed great emphasis on neighbourliness.

    And I would have thought that a principal attribute of a good neighbour was in knowing the limits of one’s business, and in particular being well aware that one of those limits was the bedroom door.

  • http://jonsobel.com/ Jon Sobel

    Neighbourliness indeed. Well said, Dr. D.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    How could the widening of social possibilities be worse?

  • Jordan Richardson

    What the hell does any of this have to do with Mr. Rogers?

  • Clavos

    That would depend on how widely they are widened, EB.

    What NAMBLA might perceive as OK might not sit well with more conservative types.

  • Clavos

    The majority of the people of this country don’t go to church more than once a month

    Even that’s too often.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Yup. Waste of a perfectly good Sunday morning.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Re #9… see #3 Jordan last sentence

  • Cannonshop

    And I see that I have some common ground with the President, after all…

    Why shouldn’t Gay people get to experience the joys of Divorce proceedings?

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    “I see that I have some common ground with the President, after all…

    It’s… it’s… it’s the apocolypse!

  • roger nowosielski

    Come on, Cannon. Gays are immune to the usual travails of the human heart.

    They have transcended such foolishness and surely must live in the Kingdom.

  • roger nowosielski

    I see you’re not biting, Mr. Gardner.

    Good for you!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Why shouldn’t Gay people get to experience the joys of Divorce proceedings?

    Oh, but they do, Cannon.

    They’ve been doing so for at least three-quarters of a century.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Roger, I think Jet saves the biting for Saturday nights. I know that’s how it works in my house.

    Clavos, I must have missed that episode of Mr. Rogers (though King Friday XIII did seem a bit odd), but once all adults get treated equally, then I’ll worry about the slippery slope that leads to NAMBLA’s desires.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Re #9… see #3 Jordan last sentence

    I restate my #9, this time with more confusion and another question mark.

  • Igor

    For anyone who is unaware of it, here’s the young Mitt Romney gay bashing highschool report from the Washington Post: WaPo.


    By Jason Horowitz, Published: May 10 | Updated: Friday, May 11, 11:00 AM

    BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

    “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenage son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

    A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

    The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them , Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal , spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be identified. The men have differing political affiliations, although they mostly lean Democratic. Buford volunteered for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. Seed, a registered independent, has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan. All of them said that politics in no way colored their recollections.

    “It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said. “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”

    “It was a hack job,” recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. “It was vicious.”

    “He was just easy pickin’s,” said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.

    The incident transpired in a flash, and Friedemann said Romney then led his cheering schoolmates back to his bay-windowed room in Stevens Hall.

    Friedemann, guilt ridden, made a point of not talking about it with his friend and waited to see what form of discipline would befall Romney at the famously strict institution. Nothing happened.

    (What’s your opinion: Are Romney’s high school actions relevant to his campaign?)

    Romney is now the presumed Republican presidential nominee. His campaign spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said in a statement that “anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body. The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents.”

    Say what you will, this article and subsequent comments portray Romney as a harsh brute with no conscience and no recognition of his own excesses.

    Psychiatrists have a word for that.

  • http://jonsobel.com/ Jon Sobel

    The problem with this kind of story is, even assuming it is all true, if we prevented everyone who was a high school bully from running for office, there’d be hardly anybody around to run for office. Kids are vicious, plain and simple. Not every kid acts on such feelings, but almost everyone has it in them, and given the opportunity, it comes out, as it surely will with an alpha-male type like young Romney.

  • Cannonshop

    #18, I salute you sir, better joke than mine, which was basically tinged with nastiness from my ugly, shriveled soul.

    But seriously-I don’t understand the problem with allowing homosexual couples to chain themselves into relationships that are so fundamentally difficult and expensive to sever as Marriage. Seriously, if the State is going to make it so that heterosexual couples have to spend money on lawyers to end their rotten relationships, I think it’s fair and right that Gay couples should be permitted to experience the same level of ugliness, expense, and meddling from the State in severing THEIR bad relationships-it’s only fair and right that everyone be burdened roughly equally until such time as someone gets the bright idea that Marriage is something that the State should have no interest or business in condoning or denying.

    On a purely humanitarian level, it’s a no-brainer really-often Gays whom are open about their condition/lifestyle/whateveryoucallit are ostracized by their own families, and in the case of medical emergency, it may be that the only person COMPETENT to make those decisions is their life-partner. Banning it for spiritual grounds when God hasn’t spoken to anyone (well, anyone that didn’t immediately go about killing lots of other people, anyhow) for well over a thousand years (assuming he/she/it even really exists) is kind of pointless-if you believe in god, your best bet of salvation is to conduct your OWN life, not try to buy your way into heaven by claiming to be his agent on earth.

    iirc, the Church doesn’t sell Indulgences any more, and a person’s sin is their own problem-as is their salvation, and no amount of passing laws is going to either save a sinner’s skin, or damn them any further in the hereafter-though it MIGHT damn the person passing those restrictive laws in the name of a God, when their own slate is far from clean.

    It’s okay to disapprove, this (remains) a relatively free country, but enacting your disapproval in the form of legislation is, frankly, edging on the sin of excessive pride.

  • Igor

    @22-Jon Sobel: this comment is really horrible!

    First of all:

    “…even assuming it is all true…”

    There can hardly be any doubt that it is true since so many reasonable and reputable people have attested to it and gone on record.

    “…if we prevented everyone who was a high school bully from running for office, there’d be hardly anybody around to run for office.”

    You must be joking! Do you really think that is true? Is bullying now becoming a requirement for candidates? Along, perhaps, with an inclination toward torture?

    Did Washington beat and torture his classmates? Did Lincoln?

    Should we look down on presidents reluctant to bully, who had a skimpy record of bullying? Should we celebrate bullying so that our children are prepared for the harsh world they face?

    “Kids are vicious, plain and simple.”

    Nonsense.

  • roger nowosielski

    Glad you said it first, Igor. Yes, I share your sentiment.

    Also, Sobel’s account of human nature is rather mystifying, to say the least. Not to deny the many foolish things we do when growing up, one can’t help but wonder whether the author is projecting.

    At the very least, he offers a lame excuse.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Now I’ve gotta stick up for Romney.

    I remember doing some bad things when I was a high-school student, and some others (at least as bad as what Romney allegedly did) when I was a young sailor and supposedly an adult. I have learned much since then and I know how wrong I was and do my best to guide young people away from making the same breathtakingly stupid mistakes (willful acts every one) that I made.

    So I will NOT judge Romney on what he did in high school, and I admonish the other readers here to also refrain from doing so. Men can learn, men can change, men can grow. If we preach tolerance for LGBTs, we can also preach tolerance for the follies of youth. Whatever I may think of or say about Romney, I will defend him on this issue. Good night, y’all.

  • Igor

    Glenn, you may have repented, but it appears that Romney has not, since he still denies any recollection of doing such a thing, and he appears to once again be embarking on a gay-bashing crusade with his political policies.

    I think you’ve made a bad choice in defending Romney.

    Romneys attempts to trivialise his brutality are contemptible and just emphasise his rude nature.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Have to agree with Glenn here: attacking Romney over something he did as an immature 18 year old is petty in the extreme.

    Romney’s problem is that while he’s good at the management and glossy brochure side of politics, he just doesn’t have the common touch as Reagan, Clinton and even Dub Jr did. He’s a fish out of water when he interacts with the Great Unwashed, as I observed a few weeks ago in my article on “Cookiegate“.

  • troll

    glad to hear it doesn’t matter…I guess that period when he was 8 or 9 and got into lighting cats on fire doesn’t much matter either

    well that’s what I heard

  • roger nowosielski

    I don’t think attacking Romney for what he had done as a teen is at issue. Sobel’s characterization of it, though, as normal or perfectly acceptable behavior — i.e., all children are vicious — is.

    Again, one gets a distinct impression that Mr. Sobel was exposed to some such behavior either on the giving or the receiving end, which is why he considers it “normal.” In short, he’s universalizing from a rather small sample of particulars.

  • Igor

    Romney has done NOTHING to indictate that he has changed his contempt for people he regards as inferiors.

    He is glad to fire people, and he doesn’t worry about the poor because they have safety nets.

    He’s a monster. He’d be glad to push inferiors into the gas chambers.

  • http://jonsobel.com/ Jon Sobel

    Romney is not a monster, he reflects a normal mindset among a large number of privileged people in this country. As for me personally, yes, I experienced some bullying as a child and witnessed a good deal more. 9 out of 10 of the bullies I knew (or more) grew up to be “normal” people who wouldn’t behave that way as adults. That tells me kids ARE by nature vicious, and most grow out of it. I stand by that characterization.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    My experiences were similar to Jon’s, by the sound of things, and his conclusions seem about right. I personally made very little effort to keep in touch with anybody after leaving high school, so my sample size is smaller, but the few bullies I did later run into at one time or another made no effort to continue the bullying, and seemed to prefer to pretend that nothing had happened and that we’d all been great pals back then.

    Then the question is: is Romney the one in ten? I’ve seen nothing to suggest that he’s anything worse than a snob, and since Obama often gets accused of snobbery as well (with some justification), I can’t see that as a disqualifier.

  • roger nowosielski

    Got to hold your ground, Jon, the best defense against bullying. But that doesn’t make kids “vicious,” just part of the process of growing up.

  • Igor

    @28-Dr D: This is absurd! To claim that such brutal violence is normal in some way is to slander every child who doesn’t violate others!

    Are you all mad? Do you REALLY believe that violence and torture is ‘normal’?

    Should we now punish children who do NOT do these things?

    If violence, torture and personal violation are now ‘normal’ how about rape?

    What about murder?

    As for how this reflects on the adult Romney I refer you to Wordsworth:

    MY heart leaps up when I behold
    A rainbow in the sky:
    So was it when my life began,
    So is it now I am a man,
    So be it when I shall grow old
    Or let me die!
    The child is father of the man:
    And I could wish my days to be
    Bound each to each by natural piety.

    Indeed, the child IS father to the man, and so that character is the father of Romney and his propensity for brutality still courses through his veins. Especially since, like Judas, he denies it.

    It disqualifies Romney from the presidency, IMO.

  • Igor

    @26-Glenn:

    This is the most egotistically vain thing you’ve ever said. You just want to forgive Romney so that others may forgive you. Do you really think that you can layoff your own crime by magnanimously forgiving Romney?

    Should the bank robber throw open the prison gates when seeking absolution for his crimes?

    So I will NOT judge Romney on what he did in high school, and I admonish the other readers here to also refrain from doing so.

    Who do you think you are, Glenn, the Pope? Handing out indulgences?

    Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    For fuck’s sake, Igor, of course bullying is not sodding acceptable. But punish the kid for bullying, not the 65-year-old man. What next? Are we going to find out he regularly truanted two days a week and ding him for that as well? That he cheated on his SATs?

    It’s not like he was a guard at fucking Auschwitz.

    And he didn’t exactly deny it, he apologized for it but said he couldn’t remember doing it.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    And Igor, by “the child is father to the man” Wordsworth meant that our experiences as a child are part of our lifelong learning and development, not that the child and the man are the same person.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I think Igor’s point is that Mitt the adult doesn’t appear to have grown too much from Mitt the younger, so how the younger Mitt behaved did seem to have some bearing on how the older Mitt now behaves.

    As for #38, I think that’s exactly the point. And that’s exactly why Mitt’s bullying is relevant.

  • Igor

    @37-Dr D continues the futile and flimsy attempts at defending Romney:

    For fuck’s sake, Igor, of course bullying is not sodding acceptable.

    Then why the fuck are you apologising for it?

    But punish the kid for bullying, not the 65-year-old man.

    Conveniently impossible, of course. Anyway, I’m not advocating sending him to detention hall, I’m saying that his propensity for unreflecting violent brutality disqualifies him from the vote of any sentient human.

    It’s not like he was a guard at fucking Auschwitz.

    It’s worse! He wants to be president of the US fucking A! have you learned NOTHING in the last ten years? Do you yearn for fucking atomic war with fucking Iran?

    And he didn’t exactly deny it, he apologized for it but said he couldn’t remember doing it.

    Thus proving what a weasel he is!

    How could he forget his biggest achievement in high-school? Driving a fucking fag out of school! And NOT being punished by the fucking school or his fucking family! What green lights this must have given him!

    No wonder he is contemptuous of Lower Life forms like mere US citizens. He likes to fire them. He doesn’t care about them because they have safety nets.

    Why do you defend him? Are you one of the fucking plutocrats that he respects? Do you think he will be favorably inclined to YOUR needs?

    Bah! Your arguments are so flimsy I can blow them away with the merest wisp of breath!

  • Igor

    @38-Dr D now poses as an expert on Wordsworth. Perhaps the result of some séance, he arrives at this drivel

    …by “the child is father to the man” Wordsworth meant that our experiences as a child are part of our lifelong learning and development, not that the child and the man are the same person.

    Which is exactly wrong by Wordsworths own words and thoughts. The child IS father to the man! Not his experiences.

    The child that harassed, humiliated and violated that fucking fag IS the man.

    Dr. D should go back to his Quiet Place and contemplate Wordsworth. Not some exculpatory crap.

  • Igor

    @26-Glenn offers the most bizarre excuse yet for Romneys aberrant behaviour:

    If we preach tolerance for LGBTs, we can also preach tolerance for the follies of youth.

    Unbelievable! Now you are saying that being LBGT is a crime on the scale of violent physical aggression and humiliation.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Igor, I take it that you never did anything in your youth of which you are ashamed, in which case I humbly kiss your pixels.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    I remember a guy cutting another guy’s ponytail off when I was in high school. How someone could do it and forget about seems a little hard to believe.

    Now I don’t hold it against Romney if he did do it, but please don’t try and pass off his apology as anything more than trying to get people to shut up about the topic.

  • Jordan Richardson

    It also pays to remember Romney’s reaction to the news now. Not only did he not really apologize, he laughed about it.

    Romney demonstrated a lack of integrity with his chuckling and non-apologies, further illuminating his cowardice.

    He could well regret his actions from way back when, but he has yet to demonstrate anything close to resembling real remorse.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Why does everything have to be either-this-or-that with these people? I’m no fan of Romney and the best that can be said about him is that the Repubs have managed to pick the least inept of a terrible bunch.

    Yet I defend him on one point and suddenly I’m Karl fucking Rove.

    I suspect the reason he laughed about it was that he couldn’t believe somebody was bringing it up after all this time.

    Personally I can’t remember 99% of what I did at school, and some of what I do remember cannot, with hindsight, possibly have happened.

    There is a plethora of reasons why Romney would make a terrible president, but fixating on something he did half a century ago is a bit like suing your husband for divorce after 50 years of marriage and citing as the principal cause that he was a bully at school.

  • http://indyboomer46.blogspot.com baritone

    I DO think Romney shows signs of not having matured a great deal since his callow days. In his capacity at Bain Capital I would guess that he rarely was questioned or seriously challenged. He doesn’t appear to handle being challenged by people during some of his stump appearances. He still has the base nature of a bully, as does Chris Christy.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Why does everything have to be either-this-or-that with these people?

    Who are “these people?”

    I can’t remember 99% of what I did at school

    Seriously? How old are you?

    fixating on something he did half a century ago is a bit like suing your husband for divorce after 50 years of marriage and citing as the principal cause that he was a bully at school.

    No. Romney’s past is a “fixation” because it outlines a pattern in his behaviour and therefore proves illuminating.

    Using your analogy: If said husband was a bully in high school, a bully in college, a bully in business, and so forth, one would imagine that at least one “cause” as to the dissolving of a relationship could have its roots in what is clearly a history of bullying.

    Romney, in his dismissal and his non-apology in a time where bullying is a serious issue, exhibits said history of bullying and domineering behaviour. It is, as baritone stated above, his “base nature.”

  • Jordan Richardson

    And really, if you (generally speaking) “can’t remember” cruelly tormenting another human being, something might be wrong with you.

    As Tom Junod points out, “a bully never forgets.”

    Junod writes: “…I can only wonder what kind of person I’d be if I tried to beat the rap of conscience on a technicality. I can only wonder what kind of person I’d be if instead of confronting the past I tried to forget it or, worse, tried to say it wasn’t really that bad.”

  • zingzing

    i’d like to watch romney burn for this… it’s a terrible thing he did, especially if his target was chosen because he was gay. but…

    say someone was a baseball star in high school, and then expected everyone to hold him in high esteem because of his high school accomplishments throughout the rest of his life… and people actually did. that would be kind of ridiculous. one shouldn’t do the opposite either.

    jordan’s extension of doc’s analogy is rather apt, however. romney certainly doesn’t seem too interested in helping those he considers inferior to himself in any way. and romney pussed out on apologizing with real sincerity. his dismissive attitude about it suggests he hasn’t learned his lesson.

    but, it is a political attack. it’s like the whole obama/church/david ayers thing. it’s not as meaningful as people are making it out to be. and of course, the right has turned around and pointed towards not so sparkly bits of obama’s distant past as well. it’s mostly bullshit. and it’s not going to change that many voter’s minds. yes, romney may be a nasty bigot who thinks certain people are fair targets to people like him, but what does it really matter? the right will circle the wagons on this one and the left will look like a bunch of school marms. it’s something to put in the back of your mind, and it’s something that fair-minded undecided voters should consider, but other than that… it’s high school bullshit.

    there’s a reason why youthful transgressions rarely go on the permanent public record. if they did, we’d all be damned.

    i just wish romney actually regretted it. and maybe he will.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Who are “these people?”

    Those who can’t cope with an individual having a suite of opinions that doesn’t align rigidly with one political position. (Americans, mostly. I blames the two party system.) Specifically those who, completely disregarding my entire previous body of commentary on this website, assume I’m a Romney shill because I express scepticism about a single Democratic talking point.

    Seriously? How old are you?

    45. High school was not a happy time for me.

    Romney’s past is a “fixation” because it outlines a pattern in his behaviour and therefore proves illuminating.

    If Romney has not outgrown his bullying then this should manifest itself in his current behaviour, which is what we ought to be looking at.

    Any resolution of the high school incident should be between Romney and the victim, if he’s still alive.

    At no point have I excused school bullying itself, which is rightly treated nowadays as a serious issue. Sadly, in young Mitt’s day (and in mine), it wasn’t.

  • Jordan Richardson

    If Romney has not outgrown his bullying then this should manifest itself in his current behaviour, which is what we ought to be looking at.

    It does. I see no logical or ethical reason to ignore past behaviour, however, especially considering its relevance to modern issues. If a presidential candidate bullied a homosexual relentlessly in his formative years and subsequently takes on further homophobic stances in his “adult” years, his past is relevant because it speaks to unchanged attitudes.

    Another issue is whether this was a prank/isolated incident or a pattern of behaviour. Some high school douche bugging a guy or smoking a joint or whatever is par for the course, but a pattern of behaviour that is couched in this sort of prep school bullying is something else altogether. It proves revelatory to the building blocks of Romney’s ideology and therefore shouldn’t just be swept into the “boys will be boys” dustbin. After all, this is the cad that essentially said “I like to fire people.” This is the guy that strapped his dog to the roof of the car. Empathy, based on his past AND present, does not appear to be his strong suit. In tough economic times, that’s a problem – and it damn well should be a problem.

    It’s a problem because his policy decisions intersect with his behaviour patterns. When Romney trots out a “gay voice” to select a dreaded pink tie, it reveals something. No, the incident – like the high school bullshit – shouldn’t be isolated and picked over. But it shouldn’t be ignored; it should be filed away and used as evidence to illuminate what is an obvious pattern.

    Because of this pattern of behaviour, I don’t “absolve” Romney’s abusive high school behaviour. It set the bar that he’s been living up to ever since and shouldn’t be ignored by reasonable people.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Given the right circumstances children will be cannibals, nazis, rapists, and/or murderers. That we are capable of socially adapting to a toxic culture does not make any particular toxicity ‘human nature’. There are humans whose children do not bully–and within whom bullying and violence is absent.

    We seem to have been taught to equate ‘normal’ with something positive. Why do people believe that normality is a good thing? There is something very wrong with the idea of ‘normality’ as an excuse for behavior in a culture so chock full pathology as this one is.

    It seems when people say this or that behavior is ‘normal’, they are saying it is ‘natural’. That mistake may be the result of examining the normative behavior that exists within the dominating so-called ‘civilized’ cultures and seeing what the inhabitants do as ‘natural’.

    Raise your children in a snake pit and you will discover the ‘natural’ behavior of children is to act like snakes.

  • roger nowosielski

    I surely remember all the misdeeds I’ve done when younger. How could I forget?

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I am with you, Roger. It goes along with having a conscience. I remember things I did that were mean when I was in 2nd grade. To imagine Romney can’t remember holding down a boy at 18? It’s absurd.

    As the excellent article in the New Yorker stated, everyone else involved, who is known, has never been able to forget the incident “The one person who says he has not thought about it a lot is Mitt Romney.”

    Aside from excusing his behavior, I think there is a second issue. How are people seemingly able to shrug off and fail to hold him accountable for lying to benefit himself? Where is the outcry against that?

  • zingzing

    “To imagine Romney can’t remember holding down a boy at 18? It’s absurd.”

    i suppose that if it was a common occurrence for him, he might have forgotten that particular incident. of course, that’s far more disturbing. according to the new yorker article cindy linked, it wasn’t the only noted homophobic episode for romney during high school.

    the money quote from new yorker: “1965 was different; but memory and empathy are not qualities that have only been invented since then.”

    he needs to deal with this in a more direct and sincere manner (as much as he can, given that his victim is dead). such is the nature of modern politics that contrition might do him more harm than good, and the more he’s harped on for this, the more good it will do him.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Which brings us back to how spineless Romney is on the issue of Gays.

    He enthusiastically hired Richard Grenell, a respected and well-qualified gay friend and welcomed him onto his staff as his national security spokesman… then MItt’s religious rightwing teabaggers had a fit and Grennel was forced to resign after his support for gay marriage drew intense criticism from conservatives.

    Grenell also served as spokesman for then-U.N. Ambassador John Bolton under the Bush administration.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Igor –

    This is the most egotistically vain thing you’ve ever said. You just want to forgive Romney so that others may forgive you. Do you really think that you can layoff your own crime by magnanimously forgiving Romney?

    (I would have replied earlier, but the train just pulled into Chicago)

    ‘SCUSE YOU, Igor. I ask for no one’s forgiveness this side of Heaven, for I am my own worst critic. I know what I’ve done wrong, and I’ve got to live with that – no amount of so-called “forgiveness” will ever erase the things I’ve done wrong. What I said is not vanity, nor is it reaching out for sympathy or empathy or forgiveness or anything else having to do with one’s emotional foibles.

    What it IS, sir, is a simple freaking fact. I think I’m a pretty decent individual these days, and when I compare what Romney did to what I did, it would be foolish of me to assume that he isn’t at least as decent as I try to be since we’ve both (and you, IIRC) put several decades of not-so-easy maturing between what we are now and what we were then.

    Next time, please be more careful with making judgmental statements, for such judgment sometimes says more about the judge than about the individual in question. But in this particular instance I don’t think that applies to you, for you’ve normally shown yourself to be a fairly level-headed individual. I just think that either you assigned the wrong tone to what you saw in my comment, or I did not provide the proper context as I wrote that comment.

    Lastly, you should know that I really don’t like Romney, that I went through my fair share of bullying (as have my sons, which of course angered me all the more) and that I hate bullies and bullying, particularly since such bullying often works its way into their marriages. But I’m simply not going to judge one middle-aged man for what he did thirty or forty years ago. It’s not up to me to forgive him, but it’s also not my place to judge him.

    Please consider that last sentence.

  • Clavos

    Igor says, in #31 that Romney, [Is] a monster. He’d be glad to push inferiors into the gas chambers.

    And of course, that’s true. We all know it is because Romney himself brags about that in every one of his campaign speeches.

    Igor, you are a detestable, small minded, bitter old man.

  • Clavos

    It disqualifies Romney from the presidency, IMO.

    Good thing your opinion counts for nothing, Igor.

    You, who are so concerned about America would violate the most basic principles of law and judge and condemn Mr. Romney without benefit of the law.

    How unAmerican.

  • Zingzing

    Hey, do you remember when Obama was a fascist who wanted to destroy white America (among many other very frightening things)? It’s not just the right that can throw around ridiculous hyperbole, I suppose. I hope you detest them as well, clavos… Igor went well over the top there, but I’m pretty sure you’re guilty of just the same from time to time, as are many of us.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I guess Clavos is playing an American today.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “Igor, you are a detestable, small minded, bitter old man.”

    It’s not like there’s a limit on how many BC can have. By the way, “small-minded” is missing a hyphen.

  • Zingzing

    Omg, so cumming over clavos’ lack of grammatical corr… ectness. Oh damn. Today is the day. Such a splooge….thank you el b. You are eternally blessed for this. Who knew it would be the hyphen that would trip the nazi up? Who knew? It’s the small things, I guess, but here we are. It’s Capone and the taxes all over again. They set themselves up like they’re above it all, but then the most ridiculous little thing, a bit of hubris, knocks them over. Oo-de-lally, golly what a day. Take a round of applause, el b, and clavos, please please let the rest of us alone. You are prone to error as the rest of us are, and we won’t call you on totally unnecessary bullshit if you won’t. Let us all praise the day the beast was banished from the land. Clavos’ nazi bit is done, if he’ll just give it up!

  • Clavos

    Clavos’ nazi bit is done, if he’ll just give it up!

    Whistling past the graveyard again…

    Now you’ve challenged me, zing.

  • Clavos

    I guess Clavos is playing an American today.

    That’s the advantage to having dual citizenship, Jordan.

  • Clavos

    It’s not like there’s a limit on how many BC can have.

    Never said (or even implied) there was, did I, EB?

    However, I do think Igor and I are the only two. The difference is that Igor isn’t deliberately detestable.

  • Igor

    @60-Clavos: my opinion counts for exactly the same as yours: one voice, one vote.

    Romney was excused before: neither school nor parents confronted him. And now you want to forgive him again. I suppose that if he becomes president you will forgive his every action.

    How do I join this new class of people for whom ALL is forgiven?

  • Igor

    Here’s a hypothetical: suppose that candidate Mitt Romney is attacked by a gang of Gay Bikers and his head shaved bald. Should they be pursued and prosecuted? Or is it just “hi-jinks”?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    How do I join this new class of people for whom ALL is forgiven?

    There was a fellow who lived in the Middle East about two thousand years ago who had some ideas about that, Igor.

  • roger nowosielski

    He who is free of sin, let him cast the first stone.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Or should that be He who would be free of his gall bladder, let him pass the first stone?

  • Clavos

    Should they be pursued and prosecuted? Or is it just “hi-jinks”?

    At most, they should be scolded or have a token fine imposed, and only because they are adults and should know better. The government already prosecutes too many people foolishly for non- “crimes” in this benighted country. Since WWII the US has gone from world leader to a near third world state, culturally.

  • zingzing

    “Since WWII the US has gone from world leader to a near third world state, culturally.”

    ha! old people…

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    I haven’t heard that scolding and token fines are typical punishments in Third World countries. By most accounts execution, imprisonment without trial, disappearance, blackmail and the chopping off of various bits seem to feature more prominently in the legal systems of those regions.

  • Igor

    So nobody thinks that it’s a case of violent assault?

    How magnanimous!

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Glad I could help push you over the edge, zing.

  • Lord Igor

    Too bad that guy John Lauber didn’t have a 9MM with him that day, then he could have Stood His Ground and plugged Romney in the chest and we wouldn’t have to deal with the psycho now.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Just read an article by the BBC’s North America editor, Mark Mardell, which supports my hypothesis that Obama’s declaration of support for gay marriage won’t change the outcome of the election much.

    A major question was whether the President’s declaration would lose him the support of one of his key constituencies: African-American Christians. My feeling is that black people aren’t going to not vote for Obama just because of that.

    Mardell concludes the article with a summary of his interview with the pastor of a black megachurch in Tennessee:

    “On his desk, among the souvenirs and religious texts, there is a picture of President Obama set in crystal. I ask him if [Obama’s support for gay marriage] will cost the president his vote, or that of members of his flock.

    ‘I think people will set aside the issue and vote for the man,’ he says.

    I press him if it is a fundamental point. Not as much as Mr Romney’s Mormon faith, he adds.”

    Yup. Pretty much.

  • roger nowosielski

    I don’t see why Romney’s Mormon faith should be a fundamental issue with the African-American churchgoers either.

    The Mormons aren’t exactly regarded as belonging to some anti-Christ sect.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Early Mormon theology held that black people were descended from Cain, and that their dark skin was the mark placed on him by God to identify him and his crime. This is why many African-Americans regard the LDS Church with suspicion.

  • roger nowosielski

    Wasn’t aware of that, Dreadful.