Yesterday the Washington Post reported that, when he attended prep school, Mitt Romney mocked and assaulted students suspected of being gay. Call me a cynic, but I expect more from America's future sociopaths. When stories come out about non-consensual masturbation or the younger, feminine boys being expected to "do mouth stuff" on the seniors ("But no queer business or nothin'!") then it's a prep school scandal.
That kind of flippant attitude won't satisfy a lot of people, and it shouldn't. All of us should be dismayed to read of any bullying, but there's no comeuppance or restitution on the horizon. When it comes to the GOP base, Mitt Romney's not going to alienate a lot of voters by making some fag's life miserable. Hell, in North Carolina and 28 other states, that's a constitutionally enshrined mandate.
Being a bully is a GOP electoral foundation at this point. In 2004, anti-"gay marriage" amendments cropped up on state ballots as part of Karl Rove's strategy to mobilize the base and assure George W. Bush's reelection. When you're using spooky sodomites to scare the base into the voting booth for you (confined, stall-like spaces: gays will never think to look for you there!), you're acknowledging that your party is essentially a metonym for "no queers."
And it doesn't stop there, because there's no shortage of sex that can be politically demonized. Romney couldn't bring himself to issue a bleat of condemnation of Rush Limbaugh for His Oracular Bloatness' crusade against the existence of Sandra Fluke's vagina. He couldn't even muster the spine enough to correct the flawed narrative: every two-penny Oberleutnant on the Limbaugh-Malkin axis demonized Fluke as a slut who was probably so busy stuffing men's organs in her mouth that she'd have to take IV birth control so as not to interrupt the endless atheistic Black Mass gangbang. Never mind that Fluke spoke not on her own behalf but for a friend's need for birth control to treat ovarian cysts.
Romney said nothing because there was no value in speaking out reasonably, not when multiple states were busy trying to pass legislation whereby government can rape women with a humming wand to shame them for uterine dereliction. (God bless you if you can parse this as "small government" without defining the dimensions of the rape dildo.) Also, subjecting women to a government that's humiliating them likely won't dissuade conservative single-issue women voters, while his economic appeals can still sway women independents who aren't nearly as susceptible to womb-war rhetoric as male pollsters suppose. Meanwhile, there's no shortage of reactionary and churlish voting men who want to frighten their daughters' legs shut, get sex out of the public and safely back onto computers and elect a man like Mitt Marmalard—the kind of fellow who'd be way too busy earnestly plotting how to give haircuts to undesirables to achieve erection from a surgical-gloved handjob anyway.
Lest bullying seem confined to inflicting indignities on women and gays for having functional genitals that can be applied to or receive other consenting adults, there's also its old-fashioned schoolyard definition: outright fear. Romney advocates self-deportation, an idea ginned up by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the Romney campaign's totally unofficial Chief Pogromming Officer.
Kobach's bright idea to mobilize Americans against immigrants even more stridently was to tie their presence to the horror of 9/11. "If only every single government official could be turned into an immigration officer, then we'd have caught all those hijackers and dreams would taste like caramels!" So, since most Americans will balk at paying for a "papers, please" anti-immigrant force—especially as the Obama administration keeps setting deportation records—Kobach realized he could just take existing police and government officers and dragoon them into working as immigration officials as well. Anyone with doubts as to this idea's efficacy can just try to find any Mexican al Qaeda in our midst. (And the Bear Patrol is working like a charm.)
The concept is that immigrants will be so haunted and terrorized that they deport themselves before we can forcibly repatriate them to whatever hellhole they left. It's humane, because they're offered a choice of whether to leave and where to leave for. Choice makes for good outcomes, for small-business entrepreneurs—less so for women, say—and they have that right. I like people being able to fire Mexico as a destination, and I like being able to fire people from America. And the great thing is kids love travel. La correa del perro encima del coche! No hay tiempo!
Sure, you might say, just because that's a policy of his own campaign doesn't mean anything. But in 2008, Romney's Arizona campaign chair was the unbelievably still-unindicted Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who brainstormed dressing inmates in pink to humiliate them while they sit in sweat-tents in the middle of the desert. His Maricopa County department has repeatedly been the subject of justice department investigations for a culture of ethnic hatred and open use of terms like "wetback." Human Rights Watch runs out of toner just printing a summary of the disgusting shit he does as a matter of daily business. He also considers the Mexican culture inherently inferior. Arpaio's attitude is of a piece with self-deportation: get rid of unwanted humans by dehumanizing them to the point of exhaustion.
So it can't matter very much that every other person who went on the record about Mitt Romney holding down a fellow student and forcibly cutting his hair—despite his screaming and weeping—has expressed remorse about what happened.
It's probably of no concern that Romney can't remember the details of an incident he led, except the detail that he didn't know the guy was gay—just like the other gay person he taunted with cries of "Atta girl!" despite apparently not knowing the sexual orientation that would make the taunts relevant.
Pay no heed to the fact that Romney can't recall anything about the incidents, save a mitigating ignorance of his targets' sexual orientation, of which he is certain and unwavering. It's almost the perfect response for someone who can't recall his own convictions from month to month: an apology predicated on a total unawareness of his mental state or motivation, to the degree that his professed ignorance renders his actions both pointlessly cruel and abjectly vacuous.
Seriously, forget all that, because it's irrelevant for the role Mitt Romney has to play until November. The GOP is a big tent bully party: everyone should not only be intimidated by those in the tent, they should be scared shitless about being left outside of it. Besides, making enemies makes friends; it's incredibly easy to create communities by enumerating all the people you're not. You'd never be like them. Women without shy vaginas. Gays with the right to make medical decisions for other people. The bad kinds of brown folks who don't even work for tech support.
It seems like a totally asinine electoral strategy until you realize one thing. Despite polling 20 points lower than Obama amongst women, and despite looking like his vote count among Hispanics will be "Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush's kids and 45 aristocratic Cuban emigrés," Romney is currently only three points behind Obama in the latest Gallup poll. Mitt Romney's being a bully not only might not be a liability, it might work.
What he calls his teen "hijinks" seems inconsequential.
"Mobutu Sese Seko" is founder of the blog Et tu, Mr. Destructo?
Image by Jim Cooke