On 'Boyish Pranks' And Half-Assed Apologies: Mitt, You Have No Empathy

Isn't it amazing? This incident was so brutal that it still haunts the memories of most of the participants -- just not Mitt Romney. Apparently it just slipped his mind, just one more "boyish prank." I could do some armchair analysis of the

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Isn't it amazing? This incident was so brutal that it still haunts the memories of most of the participants -- just not Mitt Romney. Apparently it just slipped his mind, just one more "boyish prank." I could do some armchair analysis of the type of personality that is so lacking in empathy at such an early age, but it would only be conjecture. So I'll let the incident speak for itself.

We've all known Golden Boys who felt entitled to do whatever they wanted, and so rarely suffered consequences. We've also known their enablers, who were often just as scared of these bullies as their victims were, and who carry the weight of their inaction with them.

Phillip Maxwell, an attorney in Michigan, confirmed to CBS News that the incident with John Lauber is accurately described in The Washington Post piece. Maxwell was one of the Post's four on-the-record sources. A fifth asked not to be named. Maxwell says the only thing not accurate is that the Post reporter said the incident occurred in a dorm room, but it happened in a common room.

"Mitt was a prankster, there's no doubt about it. This thing with Lauber wasn't a prank. This was, well, as a lawyer, it was an assault. It was an assault and a battery. And I'm sure that John Lauber carried it with him for the rest of his life," Maxwell told CBS News.

The Post's article details Romney's teen-age years spent at Cranbrook, a prestigious prep school in Michigan, and focuses on the many pranks played by the future presidential contender. Several were harmless but others are remembered as cruel, insensitive or frightening to the victims.

Maxwell, who is not a Republican and wasn't planning to vote for Romney, says "this isn't a politically motivated thing for me. I got asked questions by [Post reporter] Jason Horowitz and I responded honestly to him. I didn't decide to bring this thing up. But I think it probably is relevant."

"I've carried this story with me a long time. It was very disturbing. I think that view is shared by everyone involved in it," Maxwell says. "It just was a black mark on my character that I didn't stop it."

The hair-cutting incident, according to The Washington Post, was confirmed by five of Romney's classmates who described the event as "senseless, stupid, idiotic" and "vicious." Candy Porter was the victim of a well-known prank in which Romney and his Cranbrook friends posed as cops, complete with fake siren and badges, and pretended to bust some friends and their dates. Porter told the Post she was "terrified."

Romney was also remembered as having shouted "Atta girl!" when another closeted gay student tried to speak up in the classroom.

Romney said he did not recall that incident. "You know there are a lot of times, my guess is at a boys' school when one of the boys do something and people say 'hey atta girl,'... I had no idea that he was gay," Romney explained when asked about the comment. He again apologized for having offended anyone, saying no harm was intended.

When Kilmeade asked if The Post's article was meant to show that he grew up in an intolerant environment, Romney was quick to say during Thursday's interview with Brian Kilmeade that he did not, and he pointed out that the sexual orientation of the people referenced in the story was not known when they were all in high school. "I had no idea that this person might have been gay," Romney said, "and the article points out I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks in high school and some may have gone too far and for that I apologize."

"I had no idea this person might have been gay." Really, Mittens? First of all, I don't believe it. Nope. A group of adolescent boys who didn't notice that another boy committed the crime of being "different"? Second, even if I did believe it (which I don't), I'd point out that your reaction to someone's harmless differences was to impose your own values on them.

You're not a nice person, Mitt Romney. You're mean, you lack empathy, you don't seem to care about anything unless it affects people who are Just Like You.

That's not what we need in the White House. Not now, not ever.

About Susie Madrak

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