I'm still sort of amazed that this story about Mitt Romney's creepy and weird cop impersonation hasn't gotten more traction. Conservatives whip up a frenzy to the point of Hannity running a series on "The Vetting of Barack Obama" over stupid things like a speech in college, or those nefarious missing transcripts or the insane and ongoing birther controversy, but if a Republican candidate impersonates a cop, and goes so far as to use that phony authority to frighten and abandon a couple of girls on the side of the road, then...crickets.
Unlike so much of the conservative manufactured fauxtrage, Romney's penchant for impersonating cops has implications that shouldn't be ignored, because they point to an authoritarian world view that would permeate how he approaches the office of President.
Lest you think otherwise, here is a story of some other cop impersonators who just happened to be Romney staffers. Joe Conason:
If Mitt Romney had a penchant in his youth for masquerading as a state police officer — and there is reason to believe he did – then he seems to have attracted staffers with that same peculiar fantasy over the years. During the summer of 2007, months before the general public paid much attention to the Republican presidential candidates, Romney’s 2008 campaign stumbled into a scandal that led to the resignation of a top staffer accused of impersonating a state trooper, and allegations of similar misconduct by at least two others.
A former gubernatorial aide to Romney at the Massachusetts state house who served as his “body man” in the early stages of the 2008 primary campaign, Jay Garrity provoked several reporters with thuggish behavior that led to investigations of his conduct in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich accused Garrity of waving his car over and ordering him to “veer off” from a campaign motorcade, claiming that he had “run” the license plate of Leibovich’s car.
And then there's this in 2007, from the Boston Herald, hardly a bastion of liberal journalism:
In an apparent violation of the law, a controversial aide to ex-Gov. Mitt Romney created phony law enforcement badges that he and other staffers used on the campaign trail to strong-arm reporters, avoid paying tolls and trick security guards into giving them immediate access to campaign venues, sources told the Herald.
The bogus badges were part of the bizarre security tactics allegedly employed by Jay Garrity, the director of operations for Romney who is under investigation for impersonating a law enforcement officer in two states. Garrity is on a leave of absence from the campaign while the probe is ongoing.
And this from Boston.com:
State Police are investigating one of Mitt Romney's top campaign aides for allegedly impersonating a trooper by calling a Wilmington company and threatening to cite the driver of a company van for erratic driving, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the probe.
Also, The Politico in 2007:
Boston's Fox affiliate has their hands on the tape of somebody calling themselves "Trooper Garrity," as the owner of the plumbing company in question claims the culprit was also faking his conversation with the state police barracks.
Just two days after Garrity's resignation, the Herald reported that Romney's event planner, Will Ritter, had uploaded a MySpace page painting himself as a "Jason Bourne-esque" figure in the description of the newspaper whose duties include "very secretive work" in "special ops."
Police impersonation seems to be a tactic Mitt Romney is perfectly comfortable with. I don't know about you, but to me this is not just one of those stories that we should shrug off as a smear. It's part and parcel of how Romney and Republicans view authority and its role in our government. On the one hand, they believe themselves to be above the law, and on the other, use the cover of authority to intimidate and bully their way toward whatever goal they may have.
Are there any investigative reporters left out there? If so, I'd like to suggest the names Jay Garrity, Mark Glanville and William Ritter as a place to start.