Family of Alleged Romney Bullying Victim Denies Knowledge of Incident

There may be reason to doubt reports alleging that Mitt Romney engaged in vicious bullying of a gay classmate as an 18-year-old prepster.

Yesterday’s news cycle was dominated by a front page story in the Washington Post alleging that Mitt Romney engaged in vicious bullying of a gay classmate as an 18-year-old prepster. But the family of the alleged victim denies knowledge of the incident and has lashed out at the report, declaring the “portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda.”*

ABC News (“Sister of Alleged Romney Target Has ‘No Knowledge’ of Any Bullying Incident“):

The older sister of Mitt Romney’s former high school classmate said she has no knowledge of any bullying incident involving her brother and the GOP presidential candidate.

Christine Lauber of South Bend, Ind., had not seen the Washington Post’s story that described an incident when Mitt Romney bullied her brother, but said she was aware of the story. The incident centered around Romney allegedly holding the scissors to help cut the hair of John Lauber, who was presumed to be gay and who had long hair.

[…]

Christine Lauber, who is a few years older than John Lauber, was at college when the alleged incident happened, and said the brother and sister were “doing our own thing” at the time.

When ABC News showed her the story, Christine Lauber’s eyes welled up with tears and she became agitated. She also corrected the story, saying her brother was a boarder, not a day student. She described her brother as a “very unusual person.” “He didn’t care about running with the peer group,” Christine Lauber said. “What’s wrong with that?”

Betsy Lauber, one of John Lauber’s three sisters, spoke with ABC News Tuesday night regarding the accuracy of the story. “The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family,” she said.

Romney has since apologized for what he said were “pranks” in high school but has said he doesn’t remember the specific event.

It’s interesting to note that the original WaPo story indicates that they talked to the sisters for the report—“Lauber died in 2004, according to his three sisters”—but didn’t mention that the sisters denied any knowledge of the story until the fifth page of the web version and the third continuation page of a story that put the charges on page A1.*

The funny thing about these stories is that our tendency is to treat denials as a failure to fess up to wrongdoing rather than as the natural reaction of someone who actually isn’t guilty of the offenses of which they’re accused. Now, it’s quite possible that the incident occurred John Lauber simply never told his family about it.  I was an only child but certainly there were all manner of things that happened in high school that I never told my parents about. But the bar has certainly been raised on this story: Romney now deserves the benefit of the doubt absent substantially more corroboration.

*CORRECTIONS: I’ve rewritten two sentences to clarify the post. 

The original second sentence said that “the family says the incident never happened,” which was my interpretation of their saying that they were unaware of a story that supposedly traumatized their brother severely and that the ”portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda.” The headline–that they deny knowledge of the incident–is all that we know for sure from their statements. As noted in the back-and-forth in the comments, the two are not synonymous. While I noted in the original analysis that it’s possible that Lauber, who was purportedly struggling with his sexuality at a much less tolerant time, simply didn’t tell his family, it struck me as odd that they wouldn’t have known about such a formative incident even all these years later.

Additionally, the first analytic sentence of the post stated that “the original WaPo story indicates that they talked to the sisters for the report—“Lauber died in 2004, according to his three sisters”—but didn’t mention that the sisters denied any knowledge of the story.” In fact, as Teresa Kopec pointed out to me on Twitter, this is indeed mentioned–on the 5th page of the web version of the story. While this is burying a crucial piece of information at a place where most readers would likely have given up (indeed, I myself didn’t make it that far) they did at least mention it. I appended an update to acknowledge this within five minutes of the original post but several readers apparently stopped reading before getting to it, so I’ve taken the unusual step of correcting the post inline and appending this correction instead. 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. This has the stink of a Swift Boat.




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  2. Hey Norm says:

    He got his a$$ kicked by a gang of homophobic preppie wanna-be thugs…and didn’t tell his older sister.
    I’m shocked, shocked.




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  3. anjin-san says:

    But the family of the alleged victim says the incident never happened.

    Where did they say “it never happened”? There is a big difference between not knowing about an incident and flatly saying something never happened.

    Is “it never happened” something the family actually said, or did you just toss that in on your own?




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  4. James Joyner says:

    @anjin-san: “The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda.”




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  5. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    The “didn’t tell sister” certainly does not balance, what was it, 3 or 4 participants and witnesses?

    I’m not going to say we know, or will ever know, exactly what happened, but certainly there are millions of people who were not told in any given bullying incident.

    Geez, if a woman is attacked in a forest and does not tell, did it never happen?




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  6. anjin-san says:

    This has the stink of a Swift Boat.

    You must mean aside from the highly credible witnesses that confirm the story.




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  7. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @James Joyner:

    Reading comprehension FAIL.




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  8. Dave says:

    @James Joyner: So far, that is NOT the same thing as saying the incident never happened. As mentioned in the story, the sister made clear her brother was actually a boarder, not a day student. James, I realize you play for team R, but in light of the statements by the other men actually involved and the sister’s statement that she was away at college at the time of the incident I’d hold off giving much credence to the “never happened” response.




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  9. James Joyner says:

    @Rufus T. Firefly: @Dave: “The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda.”




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  10. @James Joyner:

    It will be interesting to see where they can see incorrect facts, as opposed to facts beyond their vision.

    Should this have a back-link to your “death of facts” article?

    (I hope no terrible things have happened to my sister, but I wouldn’t take her not telling me as proof they never happened.)




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  11. Rob in CT says:

    The plot thickens. We’ll see, I guess.




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  12. I’m wondering if Lauber’s sexuality was fully accepted by his family? When I read the story there, all the quotes from his sisters seem more concerned with how the attention the family is getting than whether something bad happened to their brother.




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  13. Hey Norm says:

    Of course the fact that the incident is so out of charachter for Romney is the tip-off.
    Here’s a guy that has stood up for what is right at every turn.
    Grenell, the lady on the rope line accusing Obama of treason,Seamus, SuperPACS attacking GIngrich…all telling incidents where Romney did the unpopular thing, the right thing, and stood up for the vulnerable.
    For him now to be tarred with this incident seems ludicrous when we all know that inside Mitt is nothing but a wild and crazy man just waiting to get out.




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  14. eileen flynn says:

    gee I think I’ll vote or not vote for someone for some stupid thing they may or may not have done what 40+ yrs ago…. sheesh. who friggin cares. Maybe someone might want to report the ties this admin. has w/the Muslim Brotherhood, u know the ones running egypt now that just passed a law that a spouse can screw their DEAD partner up to 6 hrs after they died.




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  15. Franklin says:

    “The portrayal of John is factually incorrect” … it doesn’t really say anything about the *incident*, though. Perhaps they don’t think he acted effeminately, or don’t think his hair was “long”. It doesn’t say what part of John’s portrayal is incorrect, but it doesn’t say the incident didn’t happen.




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  16. anjin-san says:

    But the family of the alleged victim says the incident never happened.

    is different from:

    The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda

    How did you get “the family of the alleged victim says the incident never happened” from a statement that has apparently not even been released yet? Again, did you simply make “the incident never happened” up?




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  17. Alanmt says:

    This doesn’t raise the bar at all.

    You either believe the direct first hand testimony of the other ashamed perpetrators, which Mr. Romney himself does not dispute, or you do not.

    There is nothing in this “revelation” which affects the reliability of the testimony of Mr. Romney’s friends, while there are at least several possible explanations for his refusal to tell his sisters.

    As a practicing attorney, let me just say that independent cooroborating admissions of 4-5 out of 6 perpetrators in a joint assault is as substantial and reliable of corroboration as anyone interested in truth and justice could wish for.




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  18. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m reasonably confident that, regardless of whether he was mostly a jerk at 18, he’s a mostly a kind and decent fellow at 65.

    Any actual examples of it?

    Because the Romney campaign seems to have serious problems finding any.

    “The real question here is, is Mitt Romney a bully? And the answer is no,” she said. “Mitt Romney is absolutely, as his other friend from high school said — he doesn’t have a vicious bone in his body.”

    In defending Romney as “deeply compassionate” and “unfailingly kind,” she pointed to moments during the GOP primary when Romney was “being attacked from every side.”

    “His response was always professional, calm, civil,” she pointed out. “In fact, he even intervened on behalf [of] — to try to help — Gov. Perry when he was stumbling [in attempting to remember a talking point during a debate]. His impulses are very kind impulses and there should be no debate about whether or not Gov. Romney is a bully.”

    But maybe Romney was kind when he fired people thus giving them the shove that made them go out a get that new job they were always talking about?

    Or the kindness he showed Seamus? Not every dog gets to experience the joy of riding on the roof of a car.




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  19. Gustopher says:

    If it never happened, wouldn’t you expect Romney’s response to the accusations to be much stronger than “Heh, Heh, I don’t remember that but if my actions assaulted and humiliated anyone then I am sorry”

    Or is that how spineless Romney is?

    And the sister’s statement makes it pretty clear that she wasn’t a daily part of her brother’s life at the time. Closeted gay kid at boarding school gets picked on for being gay and hides it from his family? Seems way more plausible to hide it (along with the need to answer questions like “why?”) then it would be to tell the family.




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  20. Jeremy R says:

    There’s a reason why the Romney campaign first responded with an Anthony-Wiener-esque “no recollection” (instead of a full denial) and then with an apology, and it’s obviously not because the alleged incident was invented.




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  21. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @James Joyner: Sorry, but as a gay guy of a certain age, I’ve run into plenty of gay men with families that were aggrieved by any notion that their son was anything other than Mr. All-American.




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  22. anjin-san says:

    he doesn’t have a vicious bone in his body

    I think most of the people that know me would say the same thing about me. I have a picture of Gandhi on my desk and I have a “catch and release” policy for insects that get in the house. I am a vegetarian partly because I cannot bear the thought of killing an animal so I can eat.

    Yet I was involved in bullying once upon a time, because it was a cool thing to do at school and I was too weak to take a stand against it. A person does not have to have a vicious character to be involved in a vicious act. The heard mentality is powerful.




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  23. jan says:

    @eileen flynn:

    Eileen, it’s all about starting small distracting fires (social issues) everywhere, creating so much smoke, that people don’t see the actual destruction in the economy caused by this president. Hopefully, Romney will continue to shug these minor hits off, focusing his attention on jobs and the economy, critiquing what Obama has been really able to accomplish on both of these fronts.




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  24. Jeremy R says:

    It also sounds like the family is buying into the Right-Wing blog spin that the whole thing is part of a swift-boat oppo dump from the Dems designed to coincide with the President’s gay marriage statement (which is obviously contradicted by WaPo’s account of how long they’ve been developing the story).

    … we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda.




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  25. PJ says:

    @anjin-san:

    Yet I was involved in bullying once upon a time, because it was a cool thing to do at school and I was too weak to take a stand against it. A person does not have to have a vicious character to be involved in a vicious act. The heard mentality is powerful.

    From the story it seems that Romney wasn’t part of a heard, he lead the heard.
    Which is a big difference to me.

    And a lot of those who were part of the heard feel remorse about it.
    As obviously you do.

    Romney on the other hand…




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  26. michael reynolds says:

    It’s absolutely absurd to assume that a family knows of bullying incidents. Really, James, come on. A gay kid in the 60’s doesn’t tell his family he was targeted for gay-bashing? They still aren’t telling their families today.

    You are way, way off-base on this, and the family is most likely in denial.




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  27. LaurenceB says:

    I rarely disagree with James, but this post is just remarkably bad. Not only is it not true that “the family of the alleged victim says the incident never happened”, it’s also not true that what they did say was not reported in the original WaPo piece. Ouch.




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  28. Franklin says:

    herd, not heard




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  29. James Joyner says:

    @LaurenceB: The family says the report is erroneous. And WaPo buried the fact at the end of a very, very long story–the damning part of which was highlighted on Page 1 of the paper.




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  30. Nick says:

    “Romney now deserves the benefit of the doubt absent substantially more corroboration.”

    You must be kidding me. We have admissions by other perps on this, but you think there’s a doubt for which Romney deserves the benefit?

    This falls under “believes what he wants to believe.”




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  31. Hey Norm says:

    HOORAY…Jan is here to explain to us how 26 straight months of private sector job creation, lower taxes for almost everyone, a swing of 11% in GDP growth, and an increase of 5000 points on the DOW is destroying the economy!!!
    The last time I saw here name was at A.J.Stratas collection of far-right-wing-nut-jobs…so I’m sure she has some great theories to cut and paste!!!




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  32. LaurenceB says:

    @James

    Two True/False questions:

    1. The family of the alleged victim says the incident never happened. (T/F)
    2. The original WaPo story didn’t mention that the sisters denied any knowledge of the story. (T/F)

    Those are both direct quotes from what you wrote.

    Eagerly awaiting your answers.




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  33. James Joyner says:

    @Nick: As noted in my initial posting on this, I had exactly the same reaction to the Swift Boaters, despite not much carrying for John Kerry and voting for the other guy for president. I’m very, very skeptical of charges which come to light more than four decades after an event–especially when the individual in question has been a public figure for twenty years. Romney ran for the US Senate, successfully for governor, unsuccessfully for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, and now successfully for the 2012 nomination. And yet the charges are JUST NOW being made. That’s highly dubious.




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  34. Jeremy R says:

    @James Joyner:

    They say it’s factually incorrect, won’t say what part is incorrect, and then admit to never having been told of the incident and consequently possessing no actual knowledge of it. You don’t see a logical inconstancy there (unless they’re objecting to something like the articles description of their brother’s appearance at the time or something)?




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  35. Jeremy R says:

    @Jeremy R:

    Actually, I take it back. Is this the the “factually incorrect” part the family identifies?

    She also corrected the story, saying her brother was a boarder, not a day student.




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  36. Moderate Mom says:

    I find one of the most interesting parts of this drama is Stuart White. In the original Post story, Mr. White is quoted as saying that he has long been troubled by the incident. Then Mr. White tells ABC News that not only was he not present when this incident occurred, but that he didn’t know anything about it until the Post reporter contacted him and told him about it. The post then slightly changes the story, saying that Mr. White is has been troubled by it since he heard about it months ago, once again not saying that the Post itself was the source for Mr. White’s knowledge of the incident. They also do not note that the story has been changed, but multiple sites have screen grabs of the paragraph in question, in both iterations.

    Shoddy, shoddy journalism. I would have expected better of the Post.




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  37. MBunge says:

    Uh, James? Is there any reason you’re not dealing at all with some of the very obvious reasons the family might be issuing a “non-denial denial”?

    You know, like…@Stormy Dragon: “I’m wondering if Lauber’s sexuality was fully accepted by his family?”

    Mike




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  38. R. Dave says:

    I have to say, I’m kind of shocked by your response to this story, Prof. Joyner. It really does seem like you’re grasping at straws to debunk or at least minimize it.




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  39. the Q says:

    james, sorry old man, but “factually incorrect” does not conflate to “it did not happen.”

    Why cling tenaciously to your point which is demonstrably false?

    BTW, GWB ran for public office several times before his 2nd DUI arrest was made public in 2000, so your point of “it looks suspicious” is dubious. This is the big leagues so don’t be surprised when the other team plays hardball and throws one high and inside.




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  40. Buzz Buzz says:

    Just checking in to watch all the angry OTB drones buzzing around the hive as they Rage, Rage! against the dying of the lie.

    Dan Rather and the forged documents all over again.




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  41. PogueMahone says:

    @Jeremy R: The Anthony Weiner story is exactly what Romney’s “no recollection” reminded me of.

    Remember, Weiner at first denied ever sending the photo, but when asked if the photo was of him, he said that he “wasn’t sure.” I knew right then and there that at least the photo was of him. Whether or not he sent it, I wasn’t sure at the time. Why?

    Because if there was a photo of your junk like that, you would remember it. You would remember either taking the photo, or someone taking the photo of you.

    I don’t remember every stupid thing I did as a teenager. Recently, an old friend of mine told me that I insulted his sister one night as we were drinking beer. I have no recollection of insulting his sister.
    Is it plausible that I insulted his sister while under the influence? Sure.
    Is it plausible that I don’t remember that? Sure.
    Would it be plausible that I wouldn’t remember chasing his sister down, holding her down against her will, cutting her hair against her will? NO. I would definitely remember that, under the influence or not.

    If my friend would have told me, “Hey, don’t you remember chasing my sister down and cutting her hair?”
    I would have responded, “no, that wasn’t me. You are mistaken. I would definitely remember doing that.”

    I don’t remember every time I acted like a jerk when I was a teenager. I do remember every single time I got into a physical altercation with someone – be it my fault or not. Thankfully, I don’t have to remember anything remotely as disgusting as what Romney is accused of, because it never happened. And I would say so if accused.

    When Romney said he had no memory of it, no matter how long ago it happened, I knew something wasn’t right. You would remember if you did something like that.

    The only other explanation is, that you did things similar to that so often, that this particular incident just got lost amongst the many other times you bullied somebody.

    Cheers.




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  42. Franklin says:

    @Jeremy R: Oops, forgot about that. That would indeed be a factually incorrect portrayal of John.




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  43. jukeboxgrad says:

    James, a bunch of people have explained your mistake, but no one has mentioned that you made essentially the same mistake yesterday. And you’re repeating your mistake even though I already pointed it out when you did it the first time.

    Yesterday you said this:

    the Romney campaign denies the incident

    Today you said this:

    the family of the alleged victim says the incident never happened

    Both those claims are false, and in essentially the same way. Consider these statements:

    A) X never happened
    B) I can’t remember if X happened
    C) I never heard before that X happened

    Only one of those (A) is an actual denial. Trouble is, Romney did not say A, and neither did the family. Romney said B, and the family said C.

    Romney did not deliver a denial. He delivered a non-denial (and in much the same way, he delivered a non-apology). B is not a denial. B is what a weasel says when he knows X has been proven, and he knows he can’t actually deny it, but he also wants to avoid responsibility for X, and also wants to avoid being caught in a plain lie.

    We have 5 witnesses reporting X. Therefore X has been proven. A real denial from Mitt would be an obvious lie (and an invitation for these multiple witnesses to report even more details exposing Mitt’s lie). That’s why he said B. While it’s possible to prove X, it’s never possible to prove what someone else is able to remember. Therefore no one can prove that B is a lie.

    The problem is not just what Mitt did when he was 18. It’s what he’s doing now. He has delivered a non-denial and a non-apology, which is consistent with everything else we know about him: he’s a spineless coward with no sense of empathy, no sense of personal responsibility, and no capacity for real leadership.




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  44. Scott O. says:

    @James Joyner:

    the portrayal of John is factually incorrect

    I suspect they are objecting to the last paragraph of the WaPo article where it says, amongst other things, Mr. Lauber “led a vagabond life”. We’ll see when the family releases their statement. I’m willing to change my mind if some serious holes in this story come to light but so far 4 named witnesses seems to weigh in favor of the incident having actually occurred.




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  45. michael reynolds says:

    @jukeboxgrad:
    Most excellent comment, dude. Or dudette, as the case may be.




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  46. Noreita Carriere says:

    And no one noticed that his hair had been hacked off!!?? You’re kidding, of course!




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  47. Billy says:

    Seriously, James, what happened to you? This post is not at all up to your usual standards. Are you pandering to the magical thinking set on the right wing to up your cred because this blog has been dealing in reasonableness and logic for too long?




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  48. Scott O. says:

    @jan: The correct response to
    @eileen flynn: is:
    Please don’t post crazy rumors on this site.




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  49. anjin-san says:

    James,

    It really is time to step up – these are your words:

    But the family of the alleged victim says the incident never happened.

    You should support that statement or retract it. Because it is looking like part of an effort to create a “the Romney bullying story has been debunked” meme, without actually going to the trouble of debunking the story.

    This is clearly a story that damages Romney – are you part of a smoke & mirrors attempt to make it go away? You responses here have been a little weak. For one, you need to own and support your statement. And, as another poster pointed out, the GW Bush drunk driving story came out very late in the game, and it turned out to be true. He was a Presidential candiate, son of a former President, and former governor and MLB owner. To claim that the Romney story would have obviously come out sooner if true is obvious nonsense. History shows otherwise.




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  50. Dave says:

    I think Andrew Sullivan has this right:

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/05/the-right-panics.html

    It’s a shame that James is letting his political preferences affect his blogging. I had expected more from him.




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  51. Hey Norm says:

    @ Jukebox…
    Funny…Mitt doesn’t deny it…but all his advocates do!!!




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  52. Tillman says:

    @James Joyner:

    Romney ran for the US Senate, successfully for governor, unsuccessfully for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, and now successfully for the 2012 nomination. And yet the charges are JUST NOW being made. That’s highly dubious.

    It is dubious, and you are correct to be suspicious. I disagree with jukeboxgrad above concerning whether “X is proven” on the testimony of five people (I agree in general otherwise), but your rationale here leaves off a couple caveats:
    1) The public has only recently, and in a very short amount of time, taken to gay marriage. Those past races, the issue either didn’t exist or was outside the bounds of acceptable political discourse.
    2) Romney’s reaction, as PogueMahone already went over in detail, is not the proper one. Even if the story is ultimately making a mountain out of a molehill, Romney’s reaction, while under suspicion, was too suspicious in itself.
    3) So, you believe someone vetted by one state’s press for the position of one state’s governor qualifies him for the nation’s presidency? I do think most people expect a higher degree of scrutiny for a higher office, and this seems both intuitive and natural to me.

    My biggest reason to doubt the story is that it falls too easily into a politically-convenient narrative for the Democrats, but that’s a suspicion of Democrats.




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  53. LaurenceB says:

    @anjin-san

    James should really just retract the whole post. He’s already added an Update that should have been a Correction and he needs to add at least one more Correction at this point.

    This is one of those times (rare on OTB) where I think those who read the post but not the comments are leaving OTB misinformed.




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  54. Ken says:

    “it occured to me during a Twitter back-and-forth on this that, even if it’s unremarkable that Lauber wouldn’t have told his sisters of his humiliation, it is remarkable that, half a century later, they’d never gotten wind of it.”

    Oh, horseshit.

    I was bullied mercilessly during my first year of high school. To this day, almost thirty years later, none of my siblings have the slightest inkling that it ever happened. The only way his sister might have “gotten wind of it” is from him, and your presumption that he would have mentioned it in the intervening years is supported by nothing but your own wishful thinking.




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  55. James Joyner says:

    @LaurenceB: The headline frames this as the family denying knowledge; they introductory sentence is my natural conclusion from that and their terse statement about an erroneous portrayal and partisan attacks. That there are other possible explanations for their not knowing is interesting–and I note it very early in a short post–but I still find it bizarre that something that was supposedly so formative was completely unknown to the siblings.

    I appended the correction that the Post in fact mentioned but buried this story within 5 minutes of the posting. The fact that it appeared on page 5 of a 5 page web story that had the damning charges on page 1 doesn’t really change the point I was making. While I sometimes rewrite sentences for clarity, the tradition of the blogosphere–which is very different from that of the mainstream press–is to leave up the original text and append updates with additional/corrective information.




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  56. jukeboxgrad says:

    James:

    The funny thing about these stories is that our tendency is to treat denials as a failure to fess up to wrongdoing rather than as the natural reaction of someone who actually isn’t guilty of the offenses of which they’re accused.

    “The funny thing about these stories” is “[your] tendency … to treat denials” and non-denials as if they are the same thing.

    the natural reaction of someone who actually isn’t guilty of the offenses of which they’re accused

    “The natural reaction of someone who actually isn’t guilty of the offenses of which they’re accused” is to issue an actual denial (as Pogue has explained). It’s important to notice that Mitt has pointedly refrained from issuing an actual denial. It’s also important to notice that you seem highly motivated to avoid noticing this thing that is important to notice.

    Also, a person “who actually isn’t guilty of the offenses” does not issue a non-apology, and they don’t issue an apology. They issue an actual denial, period. Instead Mitt has given us a non-denial and a non-apology. People not in denial understand what this means.




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  57. michael reynolds says:

    I still find it bizarre that something that was supposedly so formative was completely unknown to the siblings.

    This may be the dumbest thing a very smart writer ever wrote. The degree of cluelessness in that statement is jaw-dropping.




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  58. al-Ameda says:

    A better question is:

    Why didn’t Mitt Romney assert that it never happened?




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  59. jukeboxgrad says:

    Scott:

    4 named witnesses seems to weigh in favor of the incident having actually occurred

    I said there were 5 witnesses. My statement and yours both could use some clarification.

    The article originally referenced 5 witnesses, 4 named and 1 unnamed, but an update is being issued regarding one of the 4 named witnesses (White). So the proper tally is 4 witnesses: 3 named and 1 unnamed.

    Regarding White it’s not clear if the reporter made an error or if White decided to backpedal because he’s been pressured by Romney.

    Breitbart (and various other people) are now saying the story “has totally imploded,” and they reference the problem with White, as if he’s the only witness. Trouble is, there are 4 others. Of course they don’t mention that.

    The same dishonesty is on display at Hotair, which posted this headline: “Source for WaPo’s Romney hit piece: Actually, I wasn’t present during the prank.” Both that headline and the article under it falsely imply that White is the only source.

    ==============
    Tillman:

    I disagree with jukeboxgrad above concerning whether “X is proven” on the testimony of five people

    If four witnesses are not enough for an incident like this (especially noticing the pointed absence of an actual denial by Mitt), then the word “proven” has no meaning.




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  60. jukeboxgrad says:

    Michael, thanks for the compliment. You set a high bar for quality comments.




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  61. anjin-san says:

    James,

    So now you are arguing about what the meaning of “is” is?

    But the family of the alleged victim says the incident never happened

    Words mean things. I think you know that, and the above is a flat declaration of fact, not an interpetation.

    Where did they say “the incident never happend”? Please be specific. Failing that, I think you owe your readers a clear retraction of this statement. The right does indeed seem to be in a panic over this, yourself included – you have a lot of trust with your audience, and it is at risk here.




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  62. Nick S. says:

    Prof. Joyner is willfully misreading this supposed “denial”. The sister “welled up” and became agitated and said that she didn’t know about the incident. She was away at college and not close to her brother at that time. Rather than “deny” the incident, her emotional reaction shows that it’s very plausible based on the arc of her brother’s life. This is the common reaction of family members who often find out 20-50 yrs after the trauma. Additionally, several perps and direct witnesses have admitted to the incident.




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  63. george says:

    Definitely can’t say if it happened or not.

    What’s troubling is that the current theme is “guilty until proven innocent”, rather than the reverse. That is, the assumption is that without proof to the contrary, it happened.

    That’s not just here, or even just in politics. In sports, the basic assumption is that athletes are using PED’s (steroids etc), and if they pass tests it just means they haven’t been caught. Police are all on the take, some just haven’t been caught. Everyone cheats on their taxes and spouses, some just don’t get caught etc.

    Of course, the GOP is as quick to do this as the Democrats – the whole birther thing was based on this kind of nonsense; if Obama didn’t show his birth certificate, it could only mean he was born in Kenya etc. Guilty until proven innocent.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Romney did do it. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t. By the same token, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Romney drove drunk as a teenager, or that he didn’t. People do stupid things, especially when young. But I wonder why the default is now guilty rather than not-guilty.




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  64. MBunge says:

    I have to say, this is the oddest post I’ve ever read from James Joyner and his continued inability to recognize it gets odder and odder.

    Mike




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  65. Scott O. says:

    @jukeboxgrad:
    Mr. White was not one of the 4 named witnesses. From the original article:

    “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.”

    The update concerns whether Mr. White knew about the incident previously.




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  66. @James Joyner:

    The headline frames this as the family denying knowledge

    As you’ve noted several times in your own work, writers generally do not get to pick their headlines, so the precise wording should not be considered as fully reflecting the conclusions that should be drawn from the article.




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  67. jukeboxgrad says:

    the family of the alleged victim says the incident never happened

    Many people have pointed out that you are putting words in their mouth. They did not say the thing that you are claiming they said.

    But there’s also another problem. Let’s say they did say “the incident never happened.” Trouble is, this would not be a credible claim. How could they possibly know? They weren’t there. What could they possibly offer as a basis for making that claim?

    As various people have mentioned, this family seems to be in denial about Lauber’s sexuality. They denied it then, which would explain why he had no urge to tell them and get their support. And they’re still denying it now, which would explain why the article offends them.




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  68. george says:

    Or put it this way: anything someone does as a teenager that is serious enough to be indicative of his life half a century later should be brought up in court. There are a lot of reasons not to vote for Romney (the GOP general fiscal irresponsiblity and love of foreign wars for a start), but this kind of thing done as a teenager is not one of them. There probably isn’t a candidate out there who hasn’t done very regretable things in their youth.




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  69. jukeboxgrad says:

    Scott:

    Mr. White was not one of the 4 named witnesses.

    You’re right, I’m wrong. Thanks for clarifying my erroneous “clarification.”




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  70. PJ says:

    The reason why Romney, or Weiner for that matter, didn’t offer an actual denial is the chance that some evidence may show up that categorically will prove that they did it.

    But considering how easily and frequently Romney lies, it’s rather baffling that he can’t muster to give an actual denial (truthful or not) this time.




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  71. michael reynolds says:

    @george:
    It’s pretty well-known that serial killers and violent psychopaths demonstrate behaviors in childhood such as torturing animals. Am I equating that with Mr. Romney’s past? No, of course not. Just pointing out that early behavior very often does point to adult behavior.

    But set that aside. This is about how Mitt Romney is dealing with this story. As I said up-thread, I believe in redemption. But that’s not the direction Mr. Romney went.

    I’ll let Joe Klein say it for me:

    I’m still waiting for the moment when Romney actually tells the truth about something difficult. He could have said, “You know, I’ve been troubled by the Cranbrook episode for most of my life, and I feel relieved, in a way, that it’s come out now. I did a really stupid and terrible thing. Teenage boys sometimes do such things and deserve to be punished for them. What I most regret is that I never apologized to John and won’t be able to now that he’s gone, but let me apologize to his family and friends. Bullying is unacceptable under any circumstances. It is especially unacceptable when prejudice — against one’s race, ethnicity or sexual orientation — is involved. If elected President, I will try to atone for my teenage behavior by campaigning against bullying all across this country. What I did back then should be an example of how not to behave. I hope we can all learn from this. I know I have.”

    A bully who won’t admit what he’s done and won’t sincerely apologize is still a bully. Redemption requires contrition. And a leader who does not see in this an opportunity to lead, is no leader.




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  72. jukeboxgrad says:

    george:

    But I wonder why the default is now guilty rather than not-guilty.

    Ever hear of Occam’s Razor? If multiple credible witnesses accuse you of doing X, and you respond by not actually denying that you did X, this is the most parsimonious interpretation of those facts: you did X.

    If he didn’t do it, why hasn’t he issued an actual denial? Instead, we have a bunch of people like James pretending that a non-denial and a denial are the same thing.

    There probably isn’t a candidate out there who hasn’t done very regretable things in their youth.

    As has been explained many times, the problem is not just what he did then. The problem is what he’s doing now. And it’s worth repeating what Michael said yesterday:

    We can’t vote for Romney on his principles since he has none, or on his positions, which he changes every hour on the hour. Which leaves character.

    PJ:

    But considering how easily and frequently Romney lies, it’s rather baffling that he can’t muster to give an actual denial (truthful or not) this time.

    It’s because there are too many witnesses, and they are too credible. And he knows them personally, and he knows they are the kind of people who won’t sit on their hands while he essentially claims they are lying. An actual denial from Mitt would be an invitation for them to offer more details. It would also be an invitation for more witnesses to appear.

    We saw the same dynamic with Cain. New witnesses came forward because they were offended by denials he issued regarding earlier witnesses.




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  73. PogueMahone says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Yeah. I could tell you everything my older sister doesn’t know about me, but that’s just about everything.

    My older sister was wise to everything about me until I was about 11 years old. After that, nothing. Hell, you guys – the complete strangers that I exchange comments with on a blog – know more about me than my older sister does.




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  74. Gustopher says:

    @Noreita Carriere:

    And no one noticed that his hair had been hacked off!!?? You’re kidding, of course!

    No one in his family noticed, because he was at boarding school.




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  75. jukeboxgrad says:

    And what you would probably do right after that attack is get a really short haircut because it would look at least slightly better than the result produced by Mitt the Barber(ian).




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  76. jukeboxgrad says:

    James, thank you for your correction, which I just noticed.




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  77. anjin-san says:

    From ABC News:

    “The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family,” she said.

    She did not say specifically how the Washington Post story was incorrect.

    “Even if it did happen, John probably wouldn’t have said anything,” Christine Lauber said.

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/05/sister-of-alleged-romney-target-has-no-knowledge-of-any-bullying-incident/




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  78. Lola says:

    @Christopher Bowen: @Christopher Bowen:
    How so??? The swift boat accusations were pure fiction, there was factual evidence to prove Kerry was indeed Captain of a swift boat.
    Romney on the other hand hasn’t denied the bullying event, and in fact, several of his classmates witness the bullying incident. There is nothing to substantiate this story was fabricated. Only that Romney doesnt specifically remember it. This is nothing like the Swift Boat accusations.




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  79. Lola says:

    @Christopher Bowen: @Christopher Bowen: @Christopher Bowen:
    How so??? The swift boat accusations were pure fiction, there was factual evidence to prove Kerry was indeed Captain of a swift boat.
    Romney on the other hand hasn’t denied the bullying event, and in fact, several of his classmates witness the bullying incident. There is nothing to substantiate this story was fabricated. Only that Romney doesnt specifically remember it. This is nothing like the Swift Boat accusations.




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  80. LaurenceB says:

    Thanks for the corrections.




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  81. Aruz says:

    @PJ: Firing people in order to keep a business going is not an inherently mean thing to do. If you believe that it is, you haven’t a clue as to how business works.




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  82. PJ says:

    @Aruz:
    My question was if it was an example of Romney’s kindness, not his meanness.
    What do you think?




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  83. jukeboxgrad says:

    Firing people in order to keep a business going is not an inherently mean thing to do.

    We’re not talking about an isolated and/or truly unavoidable instance of “firing people in order to keep a business going.” We’re talking about an entire industry (‘private equity’) that’s based on the concept of looting companies so that a handful of people like Mitt can become exceptionally rich, exceptionally quickly, and with exceptionally low risk. The term Gingrich and Perry used to describe this is correct: vulture capitalism.

    If you believe that it is, you haven’t a clue as to how business works.

    I suspect you haven’t a clue as to how ‘private equity’ works. Most people don’t, and that’s exactly what’s intended. It’s called “private” for a reason. Gingrich did a good job of starting to educate people about this, and over the next few months that process of education will probably resume.




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  84. Lisa says:

    Ok people here is your fact! IF this had happened do you not think the family would have seen he had a new haircut? STOP!!!!




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  85. jukeboxgrad says:

    If he cut his hair short right after Mitt butchered it (which is what we would expect him to do), and then he saw his family at some later date, how would they know Mitt had butchered it?

    Consider these two statements:

    A) I see you have a new haircut.
    B) I see your hair has been butchered by a homophobic mob.

    Can you grasp that there is a difference? Can you grasp that the family might have been in a position to think A, but that does not indicate that they were also in a position to think B?

    Also. we haven’t heard from his entire “family.” We’ve heard from two sisters. How often did he see them, during this period? Where were they living? What were their circumstances, and what was the nature of their relationship with him? Were they close? Not close? Estranged?

    You apparently know, so please tell us. And then tell us how you know.




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  86. jukeboxgrad says:

    It occurs to me that maybe you don’t grasp that Lauber was a boarder, not a day student.

    How often did he go home? Do you know?




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  87. MarkedMan says:

    James, I suspect you are done with this thread, but assuming you are still reading, what is your response that four witness have independently verified that this happened? Do you think they colluded on this before the Post reporters contacted them?




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  88. george says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So getting a number of people to comment to reporters (as opposed to a court of law) is conclusive? Is that the standard you’re advocating? It was disgusting when turned against Kerry, can’t say I like it any better this time.

    The whole point of having a youth justice system (like the one in Canada) is the realization that kids do things without thinking through the consequences. Its typically conservatives who argue that crimes committed by youth should be treated the same as those committed by adults – that character is set and doesn’t change over the years, that rehabilitation is impossible.

    The chances are Romney, like most of us, did some rotten things and some good things as a youth. I think its irrelevant to him as a Presidential candidate – my feeling is that he’d be a very poor President, but not because of what he did as a youth.

    And I don’t think I put much trust in what people say to the press outside a court of law – Kerry would probably explain why.




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  89. jukeboxgrad says:

    So getting a number of people to comment to reporters (as opposed to a court of law) is conclusive?

    That depends what you mean by “conclusive.” Sufficiently “conclusive” to send someone to jail? No. Sufficiently “conclusive” to reach reasonable conclusions about Romney’s character? Yes. Especially because Romney has pointedly refrained from actually issuing an actual denial.

    that character is set and doesn’t change over the years, that rehabilitation is impossible

    This was a nice opportunity for Romney to show that he did indeed “change over the years,” but what he showed was the opposite.

    The chances are Romney, like most of us, did some rotten things and some good things as a youth.

    You are conveniently ignoring what has been explained multiple times: the issue is not just what he did “as a youth.” The issue is what he’s doing now; i.e., the way he’s responding to this matter.

    I don’t think I put much trust in what people say to the press outside a court of law

    The vast majority of things that “people say to the press” are said “outside a court of law.” That information needs to be evaluated critically, but when you choose to ignore it just because you don’t like it, you’re simply choosing to be ignorant.




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  90. jan says:

    …much ado about nothing, that is what political conversations like this have boiled down to.

    Pretty soon a reporter is going to do an up close and personal examination of Romney’s proclivities as an infant. Did he spit up much on his mom’s shoulder? How old was he when he was potty-trained? Did he sleep through the night, or was he a ‘bad’ little boy and get his parents up frequently?

    I’m sure there are some ominous traits to be derived, some 64 years ago, that can be molded to and applied to an explosive revelation of Romney’s real and evil side.




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  91. jukeboxgrad says:

    Did he spit up much on his mom’s shoulder?

    Most people understand that “spit up much on his mom’s shoulder” is normal (and also says nothing about character, even if it’s not). Holding down a screaming, crying person while you hack their hair off is not. But thanks for reminding everyone that Romney’s fans are people like him: they have a weird concept of what’s normal.




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  92. jukeboxgrad says:

    ABC News (“Sister of Alleged Romney Target Has ‘No Knowledge’ of Any Bullying Incident“)

    Lots of people (including James) are talking about this article, but I don’t think anyone has noticed how incoherent it is. For example:

    Betsy Lauber [said] “the family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family”

    Huh? What? If they are going to be “releasing a statement,” how does it make sense to say “there will be no more comments?” Does that mean there will no more “comments” other than the forthcoming “statement?” Or does it mean that there will be no forthcoming “statement,” because “releasing a statement” is a reference to this “statement” itself? After all, that’s what implied by the use of present tense (“is releasing”).

    But if there will be no forthcoming statement, we need to notice this:

    She did not say specifically how the Washington Post story was incorrect.

    Here’s my prediction: she’s never going to tell us. After all, she said “there will be no more comments.”

    And then there’s this:

    “Even if it did happen, John probably wouldn’t have said anything,” Christine Lauber said.

    Huh? What? If “John probably wouldn’t have said anything,” that seems to mean ‘he wouldn’t have said anything to anyone, including us.’ Which means that the sisters having “No Knowledge” means nothing, and is not an indication that the attack didn’t happen. But of course this is contrary to the way James and lots of other people are trying to use this article.

    So what these two said (at least as cited in this article) is quite incoherent and meaningless.

    Looking around in various places, I can’t find anyone even raising these issues, let alone addressing them. I just see a lot of people citing this article without dealing with the details of what it actually says.




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  93. Scott O. says:

    @george:
    I agree that what Romney did at age 18 doesn’t matter a whole lot. I would guess that since he was the governor’s son everybody wanted to suck up to him. And I think that would make anybody, and a teenager even more so, tend towards arrogance. But as others have said it’s how he’s handling it now.




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  94. Jeremy R says:

    ABC Affiliate WSOC – Romney’s response to critics who say he was a bully (@~2:05):

    http://www.wsoctv.com/videos/news/raw-mitt-romney-discusses-amendment-1-high-school/vHFfZ/

    Report Q: “A lot of people talking this morning about the incident from high-school, back in ’65. Some people going as far as to say, maybe you were a bully in school. What do you say to those critics this morning?”

    Romney: “Well I think ah-ah-ah, I-I was one who did some stupid things in high-school, ah, and if anyone feels aah, that they were, aah, offended by that I certainly apologize for that.”




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  95. jibbs41 says:

    @michael reynolds: @Hey Norm: I was bullied many time as a kid growing up, and I can’t remember telling my parents or siblings even once about the events. I think it very plausible that that is the case in this incident. Also, as many others have mentioned, if he were indeed gay, then the consequences for him might be fearful.




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  96. anjin-san says:

    @ jukeboxgrad

    I think Republicans are going with “the bully story has been debunked, move along, nothing to see here” line regardless of what the family statement actually says, which, as you point out is essentially nothing.

    What else can they do? You have a credible story that is very damaging to Romney, and a mealy mouthed response by Romney himself, one that certainly makes it appear that he both was a bully and still feels no remorse.

    At the moment, he does not look like he should be president of the PTA, much less the country. You have to wonder about the level of buyers remorse in the GOP. As it was noted above, the right seems to be in a panic about the whole thing.




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  97. anjin-san says:

    Pretty soon a reporter is going to do an up close and personal examination of Romney’s proclivities as an infant.

    Jan – perhaps you can point us to all of your posts calling the right out on its obsession about Obama’s birth, Obama’s dining habits as nine year old, and so on…




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  98. jukeboxgrad says:

    I just noticed some important words from Romney that have not been mentioned in any of the threads at OTB, and have also not been mentioned on any major right-wing blogs, and have also not been mentioned in most of the major news articles. Here’s what he said:

    Well, first of all, I had no idea what that individual’s sexual orientation might be. Going back to the 1960s, that wasn’t something that we all discussed or considered. So, that’s simply just not accurate. I don’t recall the incident myself, but I’ve seen the reports, and not going to argue with that. There’s no question but that I did some stupid things when I was in high school. And obviously, if I hurt anyone by virtue of that, I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it.

    I highlighted some important words that have been cited almost nowhere. “[I’m] not going to argue with that” is quite close to this: ‘I’m admitting that the story is true.’ So it’s not just that he has pointedly refrained from issuing an actual denial. It’s that his statement is practically a confession.




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  99. jukeboxgrad says:

    anjin-san:

    the right seems to be in a panic about the whole thing … What else can they do?

    That’s a good way to summarize the entire situation. “Panic” is the right word. They know the story is a problem, especially because Romney has essentially told us it’s true. So they can’t ignore it, but they also have no decent answer. So instead they are presenting arguments that are astonishingly pathetic.

    Take Limbaugh, who yesterday presented an argument that has also appeared at NR and lots of other places. He said “Obama admits to bullying a young girl.” Based on what? Because in his book Obama says he gave a girl “a slight shove.” Apparently when he was about 10. So now “a slight shove” from one child is comparable to a bunch of 18-year olds holding down a person and hacking his hair off while he screams and cries. Wow.

    This bit from Rush is also priceless:

    But I’m still struck by the fact that’s it’s such a pathetic, I mean, really, is this all they’ve got? No, I’m serious. I’m sitting here, correct me if I’m wrong, and I probably am on this, I’m sitting here, I can’t imagine this being effective with one person who’s undecided about anything. I know I’m wrong. I know that this country’s full of people who, hell, want to ban football, for crying out loud. Cutting off a blond kid’s hair is probably worse than anything that happens on the football field with some people, I can imagine.

    Uh, not just “with some people.” With anyone who has a brain and is able to grasp the concept of consent. Everyone on a football field is there by consent. Mitt did not ask Lauber for his consent. The problem was not “cutting off a blond kid’s hair.” It was doing it without his consent, while he was being held down, crying and screaming. I suppose Rush and his listeners also have trouble understanding the difference between consensual intercourse and rape.

    And of course Limbaugh presented the same falsehood that James originally had in his post:

    The only thing that’s gone wrong here is that the family member of this classmate that Romney allegedly bullied is now saying it didn’t happen.

    Yet another example of Rush feeding his audience baloney.




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  100. jukeboxgrad says:

    There was a malicious streak at the core of the high-school boy in these accounts. Romney’s muddled and confusing explanation and half-apologies only reinforce concerns that there is also something missing from the core of the man: sincerity and sensitivity.

    Targeting the vulnerable is an act of cowardice. The only way to vanquish cowardice is to brandish courage. Romney refused to do so. This is an amazing missed opportunity to exhibit a needed bit of humanity by a man who seems to lack it.

    People understand regret. Romney may have been applauded if he had chosen to express some to redeem himself, but he didn’t. He chose obfuscation and obliviousness. Romney has an uncanny ability to turn a bad thing into a worse thing by failing to be forthright.

    Americans want to know that the boy from that prep school grew up in knowledge and wisdom and grew deep in compassion and empathy. We want to know that his shoulders are now wide enough to bear blame and his heart is big enough to seek contrition. … That is what courage looks like.

    Link.

    One more time: the problem is not just what he did years ago. The problem is that his reaction is yet more proof of what we already know about him: he’s a weak, spineless coward.




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  101. george says:

    @Scott O.:

    I agree that what’s important is how he’s handling things now. But I’m not sure that how he’s handling the memory of that event tells us much. Its quite possible he doesn’t remember, or remembers it as “good fun”. If you’ve ever worked with young offenders, you’ll find their recollections of even very serious events (such as murder) can be very fuzzy, especially if drugs or alcohol are involved. Sometimes it takes a video (such a survelliance video) of what happened to open their eyes, or a family impact statement … their perceptions at the time are often extremely filtered.

    In Romney’s case, the policy’s he’s suggesting, his flip flopping on issues, his promise to increase the military without raising taxes to pay for it are pretty indicative of how he’d be as a President. Or things like his saying he basically enjoyed firing people (as an adult). What he did at 18, and his memory of it, strikes me as irrelevant as the issue of Reverend Wright’s sermons on Obama – if these things have importance, it should come up in their current lives, and those current actions should be considered on their own merits.




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  102. jukeboxgrad says:

    I’m not sure that how he’s handling the memory of that event tells us much. Its quite possible he doesn’t remember, or remembers it as “good fun”.

    What you’re overlooking is that multiple friends who helped him are reacting quite differently. In contrast with Mitt’s amnesia, they remember it vividly. And they remember it as “vicious,” not “good fun.” Why would his reaction be so different from theirs? Here’s the most parsimonious explanation: because they possess core human traits of honesty, empathy and remorse, and he doesn’t. And this just happens to be fully consistent with what we already know about him.

    In Romney’s case, the policy’s he’s suggesting …

    As Michael has explained, his policy statements are worthless. They will change depending on which way the wind blows. What’s not going to change is his lack of character.




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  103. jukeboxgrad says:

    Forbes:

    Why Romney’s Teenage Bullying Actually Matters

    … Almost every teenage boy is a jerk. We all do things in adolescence that we can be ashamed of. The problem is that the story doesn’t end there. In the hours since the story came out, Romney has made it worse, in characteristic fashion. He has laughed it off. He has also insisted he doesn’t remember it. Five of his classmates all remembered it.

    … Romney’s reaction not only seems almost certainly dishonest, it also, together with the anecdote itself, adds to his solid reputation as almost reptilian in his lack of warmth and sympathy for anyone unlike himself or in a situation unlike his own. He has fought that problem throughout his candidacy, but he keeps on only making it worse. And so he again raises questions about his character as a person and therefore as a leader.

    … Romney has a near-perfect record of cowardice, obfuscation and downright lies. It shows enormous disrespect for the intelligence of the public.

    … beyond whatever a damage an isolated incident so long ago can do on its own, Romney himself has certainly made it worse.




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  104. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    A red hering comment, as I haven’t dealt with that obsession. If I did, though, I think the matter of validating one’s birthplace is a more important matter than ‘obsessing’ about a high school incident, that has been vastly distorted and over-reported.




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  105. jan says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    You have no sense of satirical humor, do you? But, then I guess if there is little to go on, then it’s normal to just pick around at threads, and make serious issues out of them.




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  106. jukeboxgrad says:

    I think the matter of validating one’s birthplace is a more important matter

    I guess that’s why this many presidents (prior to Obama) ever presented a birth certificate: zero. (We ultimately saw Reagan’s, but not until after he left office.)

    Also, please let us know when Mitt shows his. His daddy was born in Mexico, so I think Mitt was an anchor baby. Let’s see his papers. I also want his transcripts. Why is he hiding all this?

    vastly distorted

    What’s “vastly distorted” is your claim of “vastly distorted.” Mitt himself said he’s “not going to argue with” what was reported. Those words of his are practically a confession and sufficient to demonstrate that the incident has not been “vastly distorted.” Here’s an idea: try to stick with talking points that aren’t contradicted by Mitt’s own statements. Also, the sister who said the article is “factually incorrect … did not say specifically how the Washington Post story was incorrect.” Let us know if she ever decides to tell us.

    You have no sense of satirical humor

    The phony comparison you made (“did he spit up much on his mom’s shoulder”) wasn’t funny. It was just phony.




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  107. anjin-san says:

    I think the matter of validating one’s birthplace is a more important

    Of course. Now if you will kindly show us where the last 5 or 6 Republican Presidents “validated their birthplaces”, we can perhaps call this matter closed. Obama has, after all, validated his birthplace.

    Then you can give us the specifics of how the Romney bullying incident has been “distorted”. Then perhaps you can go back, reread the comments on this thread, and note where most of the commenters have remarked that what is important about this story is not what Romney did as a boy, but how he is reacting now as the story comes out and what that tells us about him as a man and as a leader.

    Or you can continue to blow smoke, something you seem to have an endless supply of…




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  108. jukeboxgrad says:

    I’m going to summarize the Stu White situation, since a bunch of people are still trying to turn it into a big deal, and the details are confusing. (Above you can see I got confused myself, and then Scott provided a helpful correction.)

    The WP article says this:

    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.

    That is, there are 5 witnesses who were interviewed: 4 named and 1 unnamed.

    The article also said this (originally):

    “I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and has long been bothered by the Lauber incident. “But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks.”

    Notice that White is not one of the 5 witnesses. He is not being described as a witness. He is just being described as someone who heard the story, at some point (although it would have been better writing to make this explicit).

    Then a lot of people got excited when ABC reported this:

    While the Post reports White as having “long been bothered” by the haircutting incident,” he told ABC News he was not present for the prank, in which Romney is said to have forcefully cut a student’s long hair and was not aware of it until this year when he was contacted by the Washington Post.

    That writing is poor, because the language used (“while the Post reports … he told ABC News he was not present for the prank”) implies that WP stated he was “present for the prank.” But WP never said that. WP presented 5 witnesses, and White was not one of them.

    WP then updated their story. It now says this:

    “I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and said he has been “disturbed” by the Lauber incident since hearing about it several weeks ago, before being contacted by The Washington Post. “But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks.”

    And this has been appended:

    Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story reported that White “has long been bothered” by the Lauber incident. White later clarified in a subsequent interview that he has been disturbed by the incident since he learned of it several weeks ago from a former classmate, before being contacted by The Washington Post.

    Notice that there is still a minor discrepancy. According to ABC, White heard about it “when he was contacted by the Washington Post.” According to WP, White heard about it “several weeks ago from a former classmate, before being contacted by The Washington Post.”

    A lot of people are treating this as proof that WP said something wrong (and is still saying something wrong), even though this requires them to assume that White and/or ABC couldn’t have made a mistake. Trouble is, it’s entirely possible that the mistake is entirely the responsibility of White and/or ABC. White may have expressed himself poorly to WP and ABC, and ABC may have done a poor job of reporting what White said.

    Anyway, the key point is that a bunch of people are pretending that White is presented by WP as a witness, and as the only witness, even though the story doesn’t present White as a witness. The story references five witnesses, and White is not one of those five.

    Steve Doocy on Fox said “The Source For The Story, Stu White … Wasn’t Actually There.” Megyn Kelly said “The Key Guy On Whose Testimony This Is Based Now Admits He Wasn’t There.” Hannity said “That Person Has Rescinded The Story — His Story.” Hotair said “Source for WaPo’s Romney hit piece: Actually, I wasn’t present during the prank.”

    All these people are trying to create the impression that White is the only witness presented by WP, even though WP did not present White as a witness, and even though WP referenced five witnesses who are not White. The dishonesty is breathtaking.

    White is just quoted as someone who had heard the story, at some point. All that happened is WP changed what they said regarding when White heard the story, and this could simply indicate that White made a change in his statement to WP. There is nothing here proving that WP ever made a mistake.

    All this reminds me of what Karl Popper said:

    Always remember that it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood: there will always be some who misunderstand you.

    It is impossible to speak in such a way that Fox et al can’t use your words to manufacture wingnut bullshit.

    All the relevant links can be found via here (except for the Hotair link, which I provided earlier).




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  109. sickoflosers says:

    @James Joyner: Thank you for this article, and to those who have supported your commentary.

    All I can say about those who continue to hark on about how OH SO TERRIBLE Romney is, is: once a hater, always a hater! Have u noticed that these Romney haters will go to whatever lengths they can to make him look bad; to discredit him? They have to go back 50 years to rake up the likes of this accusation? Give’s a break!! It’s high time they researched and scrutinized their God Obama. They may just find out he aint all that they believe he is cracked up to be. How’s this for starters?

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/part-one-the-fiction-and-non-fiction-of-obama/

    From my observation of the many comments on the internet by anti Romney poor-excuses-for-human beings, I find they are one-eyed, ignorant, intolerant, hateful, biased, arrogant, my-way-or-the-highway types of people. They will find any excuse to justify their delusions. Even in this thread, some are even turning on the family of the supposed victim and questioning their comments. No surprise, of course. It’s just what they do.

    I also notice, that more times than not, they revert to using expletives (altho not too many on this page), which I guess they can’t be excused for using as I suspect many have not gone to school and spend all their days reading the Washington Post or watching tv.

    Sadly, they probably wouldn’t even recognize, or worse still, wouldn’t accept help to find work and improve their lot, if it fell into their laps. I suspect they would think themselves clever staying at home and continuing to receive hand outs and food stamps that they feel they are entitled to at the expense of their neighbors who are similarly struggling to make ends meet, but who value hard work, go to work, and have to pay for the scum who spend all their days on the internet searching for anything to discredit the one who will clearly given them a more meaningful existence.

    Thank you to many, clearly pro Romney supporters, who remain calm, cool and collected, and who see the pointlessness in trying to talk sense into those who comment against MR on these pages. Even though you guys don’t comment, I know you’re there, quietly being the kind, intelligent, understanding, non-confrontational, dignified people that I know you are – the silent majority – biding your time until November. Hold strong, people. Keep that fire burning and make your vote count – Mitt Romney for President 2012. President Romney. Hmmmm, that has a very nice ring to it, don’t you think?




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  110. sickoflosers says:

    @Moderate Mom: Not sure about the Post anymore MM, but agree with your comments. Thx.




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  111. Seamus says:

    @PJ:

    I heard it’s spelled herd.




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