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William C. Altreuter
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Friday, May 11, 2012

The take-away from the Mittens was a prep school bully story shouldn't be that Mittens was a prep school bully; it should be that Mittens is an idiot.

Most people, I suspect, have successfully suppressed most of their high school memories. We are capable of recalling the slights, and some of the actual highlights, but the day-to-day is largely lost, and thank goodness. We all know that children can be cruel, but we forget that we ourselves were often the perpetrators of cruelty. Decent, responsible parents are capable of recalling this fact sufficiently well to endeavor to teach it out of our own children, and evolving standards of conduct mean that a lot of behavior that used to be routine schoolyard stuff is now recognized for what it actually was all along-- abusive bullying.

To be blunt about it, there were times when I was a kid when I was an absolute asshole, and I cringe when I think about those times. If I ever saw any of the people I was mean to I promise I would apologize. The sole solace I take from this self-knowledge is that I am really sorry now. I've represented children who were the victims of bullying, and maybe there is some karmic balancing there; I have raised daughters who are better people than I am-- true champions for the oppressed-- and that is balm for a guilty conscience as well.

Which brings me back to Romney. When the story about his Cranbrook days broke the smart thing to have done would have been to have taken the opportunity to say, "I am sorry. I feel bad about it, and I want everyone who is thinking of voting for me to know that I believe there is no place for cruelty or bullying in the American character. That's not who I am, and it is not who I believe we are as a nation."

Instead, the guy who strapped his dog to the top of his car laughed it off and made a non-apology. Dude, when there are stories about George W. Bush at prep school that show him off in a better light than you that's a problem.

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