There's no Pit thread on the Romney bullying story yet, so . . .

Look, obviously your childhood was hard and I’m sorry about your social ineptness but this really is neither the time nor place. Your childhood difficulty with socialization has nothing at all to due with the assault Mittens Romney committed when he was an adult.

Well, I suppose that satisfied everyone who believes that compliance with the technical meaning-of-“is”-is letter of the law is the highest standard against which anyone may legitimately be judged.

If you find a second person in that category, let us know.

Get in the trash can.

My problem isn’t that Mr. Romney was a bully fifty years ago.
Quite a number of former bullies have grown up to be perfectly normal adults.
But, not remembering being a bully?
Really?
Was it that common to forcibly cut another guy’s hair?
So common that you don’t remember doing it?

I have a very hard time believing that.

I’m not entirely convinced that being an asshole when he was 18 necessarily means Mitt Romney is an asshole today. But this seems like a very poor argument - if we, as a society, have decided that bullying is a bad thing today, then it was still a bad thing when it happened fifty years ago. The fact that the bullies could get away with it with impunity doesn’t make what they were doing okay.

I mean, to take an extreme example, a lot of people fifty years ago straight up murdered black people, and walked. Those people are murderous scumbags, regardless of how society viewed their crimes at the time. If what Romney did merited assault charges today, then it merited assault charges in 1965 - regardless of whether or not any legal entity existed that was willing to press those charges.

Now, I think you can make a pretty good argument that most 18 year olds are sociopaths, and most of them grow out of it, and so we shouldn’t judge Romney to harshly by these incidents. That’s true up to a point - I think there’s some good evidence that Romney is still an asshole as an adult, but of course, I’m predisposed to dislike the guy already.

But to the extent that the presidential election is just a popularity contest, this is a serious blow to Romney’s campaign. He’s now the asshole rich kid in every John Hughes movie ever made. For a guy who’s already struggling with likability issues, that’s bad news.

And he’s spot on because he’s talking about the politics of personality, but he’s not actually saying this is a “genuinely important issue” he’s pointing out what I have already said – it’s fine if you want to make hay out of this, it is valid in the game of politics.

My hope was that people here only cared about this because it could be used to hurt Romney’s candidacy, not because they believed it genuinely was an indicator of whether or not he should be President.

I don’t know when it started, or if it has always been present, but many people practice “personality politics.” They believe that you can determine whether or not someone should be an elected official based on their personality. Are they nice or mean, faithful or scoundrels, liars or honest, lazy or vibrant, smart or dumb, folks or patronizing, elitist or common man, friendly or stand offish etc etc etc.

I reject pretty much all of that, I think if you base your vote on personalities you’re a blithering idiot, and this is nothing more than “personality” issue. It’s a lot less important than the other personality issues brought up about Romney because it was decades ago.

If you actually follow history many great leaders have been vicious, mean, horrific assholes that you’d probably want to punch in the face if you knew them personally. Some of the worst leaders have been great guys. Some of the best leaders have also been great guys, and some of the worst leaders have also been assholes. All that says is fitness to lead isn’t based on personality, and people that go down that avenue are nothing more than part of the “sheep” demographic that sucks the dick of 24/7 cable news networks and buys into the junk food hype style journalism that produces shit-tastic news stories for people to read all day about meaningless bullshit that has nothing to do with issues that actually affect your daily lives or that show the stances a political candidate takes on the issues that would actually affect your daily lives.

Romney’s victim didn’t find it meaningless:

[emphasis mine]

Just because Romney got away with it doesn’t mean it was meaningless.

Right, and that’s 100% valid. All I’m saying is if you think this is anything more than that, like some indicator of whether or not Romney should actually be President–you’re an idiot. You’d be a fool not to realize people get elected President based on the stupid dumb person issues like likability and how pretty you talk and how much you make obese black women lust after you.

Your example about murder in the 60s and assault in the 60s is off base though. Murder is bad since time immemorial and society has treated it as so. Yes, in different situations in history people go away with it due to societal problems, but something like bullying probably would not have been considered assault by most police or prosecutors in the 1960s–or even most parents. My parents had high school kids in the 1960s and I can bet any amount of money you want that their response to one of their sons being victimized like this guy was by Romney would not have been a legal one–in fact they would have outright rejected the idea of the police being involved and considered it madness to even suggest it.

My dad would probably say you need to defend yourself and my mom would probably want to talk to Romney’s mother, but when even the victim’s parents wouldn’t see this as a big deal or a crime it’s not far fetched to realize it was a society in which people were not taught not to bully. Authority figures did not tell you not to bully and didn’t punish you for bullying. Legal authorities did not consider these to be crimes and did not approach them as such. It’s a lot different from whites getting off from killing blacks because of racist all white juries for the simple reason that murder is something everyone should realize is wrong but bullying is a very normal behavior that needs societal correction if you’re to prevent it amongst young adults/teenagers. Without deliberate intervention there will always be bullying among teenage kids. We’re starting to now realize that this bullying can have more serious consequences and so it’s becoming a big issue we’re working to put a stop to in the schools, but it’s normal kid behavior. Establishing a pecking order and all that, I grew up in a big family and I observed how normal it was for that sort of thing to happen. Kids grow out of it naturally, but without any societal or parental guidance it’s ludicrous to expect kids to just naturally not bully other kids, so to me it isn’t the same to say “if it’s immoral then it was immoral back then, just like murder.”

You are arguing about the wrong issue. The subject before us is not who is most adept at playing what used to be called “The Great Game” in which nations might as well be the colors on a “Risk” board, but rather who is most fit to lead a nation guided by basic principles such as a rule of law applicable to the people in power as well as to the common herd. The former is independent of character; the latter is not.

You’ve just demonstrated the perfect aptness of the analogy – the murders cited in the example were not considered “murder” by the authorities or the dominant local culture.

Uh, except, you’d have to be a complete freaking nutbag to think that someone’s past history of committing a violent assault shouldn’t be considered when they’re running for office. Obviously something like that would have to be considered – no one could argue otherwise unless they were desperately clinging to any possible shred of a reason to defend their candidate. Because it’s absurd on its face.

A person’s character matters when they’re running for office, and it should. And committing violent crimes says something about someone’s character. Sure, it’s something that a person could grow past. But only a lunatic could possibly believe that it’s something to be ignored entirely.

Yes, I’m sure you reject many sorts of decisions that involve interpersonal skills and making decisions based on them.

Actually what it says is that you made up a bunch of bullshit rationalizations that have nothing to do with history because you don’t have a real argument.

Yes, what is it about stupid, socially-impaired people that makes them pull out the “sheep” thing at every juncture? Do you understand that, when grownups are listening, saying things like that just underscores your inability to actually understand the discussion?

It’s 100% meaningless because it says nothing about Romney as an adult or about how he would be President.

If everyone on the Straight Dope has nothing they’re deeply ashamed of, and has never done anything to another person they truly regret while in junior through High School then hats off to you–I can’t say that however and I’d say 95-99% of my friends couldn’t say that either.

No one should think those things have shit to do with you as an adult, you’re a developing adult at that point. When you’re a 65 year old man who has lived a long life with lots of things in it since High School I see nothing other than idiocy that could lead someone to think this is a genuine issue speaking to Romney’s character, his aptitude or etc. There’s a fucking Mt. Olympus of material out there to use to make an argument Romney is an aloof asshole and would make a bad President that happened since the invention of the cell phone, those things might actually matter. (I wouldn’t agree with all of them, I’m just saying there is legit stuff out there you could argue that way.) The only legitimate reason to go back this far is, like people have said, it plays into the politics of personality and likability (aka the politics of voters-are-dumber-than-bricks.)

Not even you believe that.

You’re incorrect, I was talking about any type of leader, but it famous military leaders or famous politicians from my lifetime. I never said character doesn’t matter, I said personality doesn’t matter. You can have great character and be an asshole, my dad was that way. Honest to a fault, did everything by the book, gave freely to charities and to the church, never cheated on his wife etc etc. But on a personal level he was a major prick. Character != personality.

Bill Clinton had great personality but shitty character. Bill Gates has barely any personality but, at least in the latter part of his life, has had great character.

I dunno what I think about Romney’s character, but I know at 65 years of age nothing from his High School years can tell anyone with half a brain anything meaningful about his character. At least nothing as mild as bullying. If he had raped and murdered some kids back then, that would show a massive behavioral aberration vastly deviating from the norm of human behavior. Bullying is normal amongst teenagers.

And now the nonsensical rationalizations grow more complex . . .

Huh, yeah I do. Only an idiot would believe otherwise. I know tons of people that picked on other kids viciously and went on to become great adults.

I guess you were (like I guess probably a disproportionate group here) a friendless loser in High School and probably can’t divorce the teenage versions of your high school tormentors from their present day selves, but I’ll bet a lot of them probably grew up just fine too.

Empathy doesn’t develop fully right away in people, and it doesn’t develop at the same speed. Science even suggests we aren’t fully developed mentally until 24 or so, there’s a reason for ages 21 was the age of majority for contracts and voting and etc. It was because minors are recognize as not being fully developed, it is the reason we have juvenile court systems and it’s the reason traditionally school house fights get resolved by educators disciplining the children and sending them home versus calling the police in. (Although I’m sure that has changed.)

Congratulations on the dumbest post in this thread thus far.

I have to laugh just a bit at hearing this from the guy making the hilarious argument that everybody else is BAD AND WRONG if they don’t ignore politicians’ personalities because YOU’RE WRONG AND YOU’RE SHEEP IF YOU JUDGE PEOPLE’S PERSONALITIES AND THIS IS TOTALLY NOT SOMETHING I AM SAYING FOR PERSONAL REASONS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT AT ALL.

Keep on keepin’ on, dude. It’s totally not obvious at all the way you’re responding to your own deficits when you staunchly defend the personality-impaired.

(So much added nonsense; so little time to rebut in five minutes. New post…)

The obvious point on which your argument fails is that Romney’s behavior was unusual even at the time. Many teenagers got into personal scrapes, but most of them were not spending days on end organizing posses to conduct a planned assault on a target.

To quote the Master’s opinion of the notion that the brutality of life in general is reason to give a free pass even to individuals who grossly exceed the norm in that regard:

Good work. Your posts are totally not an incredibly obvious defense mechanism or anything. Totally not.

I grew up in the 60s, maybe 10 years after Romney. This is just what kids did. It’s nothing to be proud of, but lots of what kids do isn’t something to be proud of. I guess that a lot of potentially Romney voters here have suddenly decided not to vote for him, right?