Thursday, May 10, 2012


After reading the Washington Post article about Mitt Romney's prep school days, I think I have a better idea of why he was able to win the Republican presidential nomination, despite the base's doubts about him. He may not be a dyed-in-the-wool wingnut, but he won because the base can tell that he shares a core belief of theirs: that some people are just unworthy of respect and courtesy and common decency. That's what right-wing politics is all about these days -- sorting the worthy from the unworthy, celebrating the former, and declaring the latter to be somewhat less than human.

I say this not just because of the incident that's getting most of the attention, the one involving a "soft-spoken" classmate with long, bleached-blond hair, whom Romney and some friends physically subdued and gave a forced haircut. It's also this:

One venerable English teacher, Carl G. Wonnberger, [was] nicknamed "the Bat" for his diminished eyesight....

As an underclassman, Romney accompanied Wonnberger and Pierce Getsinger, another student, from the second floor of the main academic building to the library to retrieve a book the two boys needed. According to Getsinger, Romney opened a first set of doors for Wonnberger, but then at the next set, with other students around, he swept his hand forward, bidding the teacher into a closed door. Wonnberger walked right into it and Getsinger said Romney giggled hysterically as the teacher shrugged it off as another of life's indignities.


Romney's party believes that all sorts of people are beneath contempt: union workers, liberals, city-dwellers, gay people, immigrants, people who aren't Christian or Jewish, non-whites who stubbornly refuse to turn right-wing, the uninsured, the (allegedly lazy) unemployed, the underemployed and underpaid, people with underwater mortgages or massive student loan debt, and pretty much anyone (other than a corporate CEO) who ever uses any government program whatsoever (Social Security and Medicare possibly excepted). That's a partial list. The message of conservatism is that some people deserve respect and empathy and some just don't. Some people are "us" -- full members of the community; others are "them" -- parasites and losers.

On a gut level, it's clear that Mitt Romney had already come to that conclusion back in prep school. And I think it became clear to GOP voters during the primaries, from the way he talked about Obama, about Gingrich, about Santorum, about anyone who got in his way, that his view hasn't changed.


BH said...

The child was indeed father to the android bully.

Steve M. said...

Nicely put.