"Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed." - Mao Tse-Tung

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fair Game

When I was in third grade, a classmate came in with some very fancy candies, which she gave to her friends and made a point of not sharing with everyone. (This was a long time ago; bring something for everyone in class had never been considered.) I was so hurt and humiliated and angry that when I had to go to the coat room (yeah, back in the Dark Ages, every classroom had a separate room for coats) for a pencil from my bookbag, I stole two pieces of the candy from the girl's bookbag and went back to my desk.

I then agonized over it. I knew what I'd done was very wrong, and at the end of the day I went to my teacher, whom I adored, and confessed. I was so distraught with guilt, she decided there was no need to tell my parents or the principal or the other girl. We talked about it, she reinforced how wrong it was, and I promised I'd never do it again (and I didn't). She tossed the uneaten candy in the trash.

What's the point, you say?

That happened more than five decades ago when I was eight, and I remember it as if it happened yesterday--because I have a conscience. I hated myself for the silly, childish thing I did. Even though I have all those years of good works and public service behind me, I'm still sorry I stole two pieces of candy.

Who remembers that event? Probably no one beyond me. The classmate didn't notice because she didn't raise a ruckus, and, trust me, she would have.

Nicking two pieces of fancy candy doesn't compare to holding a classmate down and cutting his hair with scissors while he cried and screamed for help. It made enough of an impression on five of Mitt Romney's private school classmates that they remember it to this day with little or no variance in the telling. He doesn't or claims he doesn't. Either way, there's something lacking in character that he doesn't remember that specific act or that he's lied about whether he remembered it.

Yes, we all pulled pranks in high school. Actually, I was more on the receiving end of them than a perpetrator, so maybe my thoughts about Romney's antics are biased. But the most serious of the pranks against me was the addition of "Sy" in front of my name, Phyllis, so anything with my name on it in the school, including my own notebooks, read "Sy-Phyllis." Pronounce it, and you'll see what I mean.

I was in high school in the late 1960's, five years after Romney, but, yes, we knew what homosexuals were, except the terms used were never so polite. Either Romney was really sheltered or, again, he's lying when he says discussing homosexuals was something he didn't do. Attitudes then about students who were "other" were pretty universal. Kids at my public high school held down a guy they suspected was gay and wrote "queer" on his forehead in Magic Marker. He was out of school for a week as the word faded from his forehead.

So, how can Mitt Romney not remember what he did to a kid in 1965?

It's easy when you care about nothing and no one except yourself and your image. It's easy when you're a conscienceless bully. Let's face it, it was the first conscienceless act for a man who would become a corporate raider whose ruthlessness was disguised by the term "venture capitalist." I'm sure he doesn't remember the people whose pensions he trashed or those he fired, as he likes to do. Employees, after all, to those of his ilk are negative entries on a spreadsheet, not living, breathing, human beings. To Romney, they were liabilities to the company's bottom line, and his actions toward them are not terribly surprising in light of what he did to a boy with a non-conformist hair style.

Is a high school prank from nearly fifty years ago fair game in today's Presidential race? Romney's supporters say no, but imagine their reaction if President Obama had done something similar. That would be fair game to them; so I say, fair's fair now.

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