You ever look at a person and try to figure out which iconic character from an '80s-era teen-themed movie they were back in school? Because we all were one of them. Some of us were Lane Meyer from Better Off Dead. Some of us were John Bender from The Breakfast Club. Some small few of us were Ferris Bueller. Some of us were Ducky. (Actually a lot of us were Ducky.)
Mitt Romney — as an 18-year-old senior at Cranbrook prep school on Bloomfield Hills, Michigan — just so happens to have been "Sweep the Leg Johnny" from The Karate Kid…
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 teenaged 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.
Okay, so, that is a… Well, it's a shitty story, to say the least. And I suppose I'd rather not have stories like that circulating about potential presidents of our country. And, while an 18-years-old is technically an adult, the fact that he was also a millionaire sitting-governor's son in a cushy prep school pushes the adult-line far enough backward that I'm willing to write this off to the idiocies of testosterone-confused youth. Mostly.
What's more irksome, to my mind, is that — despite the forced make-over incident being "recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another" — Mitt Romney supposedly does not remember it…
"Anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body," Andrea Saul said in a statement. "The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents."
Which, I suppose, means this kind of occurrence was so common for him back then that it's hard to distinguish one gay-bashing incident from another (I mean, really, how do you keep track?). Either that or that he's running for president. Both of which are somewhat disturbing.
To his credit, though, Romney did offer an almost sincere-sounding apology for an incident he supposedly doesn't remember. And he's coming out with the new revised edition of his autobiography…
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Moviepix/Getty Images
Tags: Education, Homophobia, Mitt Romney, Movies