THE NEW SOCCER MOMS


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The American political world is abuzz withhnewsnthat, when Mitt Romney was attending a private preparatory school in Michigan during the time his father was Governor, he lead a mob who chased down a gay boy and held him down while Romney personally used a pair of scissors to cut off the gay boy’s hair.

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Romney first denied the story. When it was corroborated, he said he didn’t remember it happening.  When even more witnesses came forward to support the story, Romney said that he doesn’t remember this particular incident, but that he participated in lots of pranks and engaged in youthful hijinks when he was in high school, he is sorry if he offended anyone, and if it happened he didn’t know the boy was gay.

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The Original Prankster

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Romney supporters have attempted to brush the news story off as a “hit piece” designed to distract the American electorate away from the issue of Obama’s failed presidency and substitute it with the issue of gay rights.  They may be right.  It is an amazing coincidence that, right after Obama publicly declares his support for same sex marriage, it is revealed that Romney was a gay-basher in high school.

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However, despite the very best efforts of the Romney camp to refocus on economic issues, this story just won’t go away.  It is increasingly resonating with the electorate in a way no one could have anticipated. The reason for this resonance is simple: either Romney really doesn’t remember the event or he is lying about it, and either option is troubling to the American voter.

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Let’s not sugarcoat the incident. What Romney did wasn’t a “prank” and it wasn’t “high jinks” (as Romney himself tries to describe it).  Leading a pack of boys that hunted down, subdued and then forcibly cut off the hair of another boy who was “different” with a pair of scissors was an assault, a battery and a hate crime.  This is a graphic example of bullying in its most pure, most evil and most damaging sense. The fact that Romney lead the mob and actually committed the act makes it worse. 

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Imagine it happening to you.  Imagine you running, scared, being knocked down by a gang of boys, held down so you cannot move, while one of them sits on top of your chest and cuts off your hair “in large clumps” as one of the witnesses to the incident describes.  Imagine yelling for help and crying as you look up into the face of a young Mitt Romney grinning down at you and most likely laughing.

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 I’ve imagined this and it is terrifying.  I’ve been bullied when I was younger, but nothing this bad happened to me.

Let’s contrast Romney’s attempt to laugh off the incident with something from Obama’s past that Romney supporters point to as evidence that, if Romney was a bully, that Obama was a bigger bully.  In Obama’s autobiography Dreams of my Father he describes an event from his early childhood when he pushed a girl. Here is what he writes:

 Before my arrival she had been the only black person in our grade. She was plump and dark and didn’t seem to have many friends.  I ran up to Coretta and gave her a slight shove.  She staggered back and looked up at me, but still said nothing.  ‘Leave me alone,’ I shouted again.  And suddenly Coretta was running, faster and faster until she disappeared from sight.  Appreciative laughs rose around me.  For the rest of the afternoon I was haunted by the look on Coretta’s face.

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Any moron can compare what Romney did with what Obama did and see the differences between the two events.  Obama isn’t denying what he did, excusing it or attempting to trivialize it. He is “owning it” and is ashamed.

Romney, on the other hand, attempted to hide it, when discovered tried to deny it, when proven tried to trivialize it as a simple prank not worthy of even remembering.

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This was an event worthy of remembering, so Romney is probably lying when he says he doesn’t remember, and if he is lying, well, Americans don’t like liars. 

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We joke about politicians lying, but we get upset when they get caught doing it. Scooter Libby wasn’t prosecuted for revealing the name of a covert CIA operative; he was prosecuted for lying about doing it. Bill Clinton wasn’t impeached because he had sex with a chubby intern – he was impeached because he lied about it.  If he had come clean when he was caught the odds are the American public would have forgiven him. 

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So Romney is lying about not remembering that he chased down a gay student, held him down and cut off his hair displays a character flaw that troubles the average American voter and only serves to reinforce the uneasy feeling they have about him.  The Democrats say he is willing to change his position and “flip-flop” to get elected, and Romney’s lying about what he remembers only reinforced that perception.

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The average American voter, on the other hand, does not believe the same thing about Obama. Sure, right wing lunatics shout, scream and froth at the mouth about Obama’s duplicity, but the average person doesn’t see it. They view Obama as a basically honesty guy, and his “owning up” to his own bullying incidents reinforce that favorable view – and this means that undecided voters are now more likely to choose Obama over Romney in November.

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But what if Romney really doesn’t remember such a graphic and horrible bullying event that he himself perpetrated?  If that is true, then it is even more troubling than lying about it.

Some bullying experts say that Romney may actually not remember what he did because bullies often lack empathy. They don’t feel any of the pain they are causing, so in their minds the individual acts of bullying really are trivial and not worth remembering.

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Let’s review: Romney did it; he did the horrible thing described above. He was a bully. If he doesn’t remember it is because, at the time, he lacked empathy.

And this is the problem. Lack of empathy is one of the signs of psychopathy.

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Please control your outrage. I am not accusing Romney of being a psychopath in the popular sense – i.e., an insane killer.

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I am, however, suggesting that these recent events place into sharp focus many aspects of Romney’s personality that have troubled millions of Americans, especially conservative Americans.  And the reason why is that Romney may very well be, in a clinical, non dangerous sense, a high functioning emotional/interpersonal psychopath.

Psychopaths possess a general lack of empathy, and this includes deficiencies in comprehension and appreciation of others’ experiences and motivations, and lack of tolerance of differing perspectives.   Emotional/interpersonal psychopaths (as differentiated from socially deviant psychopaths) are often glib and superficial, egocentric and grandiose, lack remorse or guilt, and have shallow emotions. h[1]8  They display a lack empathy with no anxiety along with a predisposition to tell people what they want to hear. h[2]9 

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This describes Mitt Romney. When people complain that he is “wooden” and “boring” they are complaining about his lack of emotions.  When he says the wrong thing or “puts his foot in his mouth” he is being glib and superficial. His regular “flip flopping” is a manifestation of his predisposition to telling people what they want to hear.  He is clearly egocentric and his plans for the nation are undeniably grandiose. When people complain that he is “robotic” they are observing that he never shows any signs of anxiety.  A big complaint about Romney is that he is distant and not in touch with the common person – i.e., he has deficiencies in comprehension and appreciation of others’ experiences and motivations.

The bullying event and his reaction to the public learning about it provide the final pieces for a diagnosis:  he cut off that boy’s hair because it was dyed blond and draped over one eye, causing Romney to openly and loudly complaint that it “isn’t right; he can’t do that” which means that Romney was motivated to organize and lead a lynch mob and to assault and batter that boy because of Romney’s lack of tolerance of different perspectives. Romney cannot remember the event because of his lack of empathy.

A lot of politicians, especially those on the extreme right wing of the political spectrum, are emotional/interpersonal psychopaths. Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich certainly fit the description.

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Romney does, too.  We’ve all felt it, wondered about it, asked ourselves why we cannot support Romney and are still reluctant to do so.

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We are troubled by the inescapable fact that Romney is either lying about remembering his bullying history, or he actually doesn’t remember, and we don’t know which is worse.

Finally, the story about the boy Romney chased down and molested resonates with a brand new demographic:  those who were bullied in school and kept their silence.  They hate bullies, hate their excuses, hate the privilege that keeps bullies safe from any consequences that should result from openly expressed cruelty and sadism.

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You know these victims. They are short. They are fat. They are unattractive. They are weak. They are powerless.  They are poor. They are gay. They are “different.”

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They are Legion, and they all hate Romney.

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Bulling Victims are the new Soccer Moms.  They are a demographic that cuts across social, economic, regional and political boundaries.  And they all know what happened. They all know that Romney lead a lynch mob of rich boys who chased down a gay kid and cut off his hair for expressing  his individuality and difference.  They marked him and humiliated him in a way that neither the victim nor the bullies can ever forget.

And they are going to be the swing vote that gives Obama a second term as President of the United States.

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5 Responses to “THE NEW SOCCER MOMS”

  1. That was a brilliant piece. We are getting the stories about Mr Romney’s behaviour over here in Australia, but I think you have identified why this story won’t go away. Its that group “those who were bullied in school and kept their silence” they will see in Mr Romney every one who ever teased and bullied them. And for everyone who stood by in school and watched the bully but didn’t step up and put a stop to it will see a chance to regain a piece of their soul by voting against him.

    I wonder if our own Mr Tony Abbot on seeing this reaction in the US is worried about some of the things he did at school. He too may not remember.

  2. melbomartin Says:

    Paul, I agree with everything you wrote here. It is strange but I have just had a conversation along very similar lines with another blogger today.

    The type of person who can do something like this and either forget it or trivialise it lacks empathy. This is precisely why it resonates.

    The point you made about Obama owning his actions is a very valid one – anybody is capable of hurting someone or doing something bad. But people who lack a conscience or empathy will not own what they did. They will feel no shame or remorse. If they shed tears, those are only because they were caught out.

    Blaming, excusing, justifying – bullies, sociopaths and abusers are great at that stuff. They are not to be trusted and never to be believed. They cannot change and they are incapable of rehabilitation for that reason. The criminal ones we can lock up, if we’re lucky. The others, we need to get better at detecting so they can never be in a position to harm anyone else.

  3. paulboylan Says:

    Yes, but this sociopath/psychopath may be the next president of the United States. I find that a chilling prospect.

  4. Barnes, I think if Abbott had done something like this his political opponents would have brought it out. I doubt whether Abbott would have had the physical attributes to be a school bully. I think that’s why he tries his tough guy act out on us and lots of us scoff at it. And when it boils down to it he was probably an annoying, weedy little prick who got snotted in the playground.

    Paul, that was a great post.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks! Keep the bullies, psychopaths and cowardly
    warmongers out of the commander-in-chief position!

    We don’t need another religious fanatic on a middle
    east escapade ringing up another Trillion Dollar War.

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