Other bullies, other victims
posted at 1:25 pm on May 12, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
“The Romney-bully story, perhaps predictably, got you all a little more worked up than my searing post about public-sector job loss (this says something depressing about your priorities, people).” This bit of self-indulgent holier-than-thou finger wagging is the opening salvo in a 700-word post byThe Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky that wades back into—what else?—the Romney-bully story.
Tomasky proceeds to ask and then answer, at least to his own satisfaction, two questions: (1) Has the story been debunked? (2) Does it matter? The first question is a non-starter. Tomasky admits that the Washington Post, which ran the 5,000-word hit piece, revised the copy online and in later print editions, but this Tomasky writes off as correcting “a factual error” that has no “direct bearing at all on whether the Lauber incident happened as the paper described.” Otherbloggers view the Post’s emendations differently, but that’s just the nature of left-vs.-right blogging. For as long as the story continues to have legs, the left will insist on one reading of the facts, the right on another.
On the question of whether the story matters, Tomasky writes:
Yes, we all did things in high school. But that’s a lazy cop-out. We all didn’t pounce on a misfit kid with a pair of scissors in our hands and violently lop off his hair while our friends held him down and jeered (and remember, Romney himself isn’t denying this; just saying he has no memory of it—wingers, ask yourselves how you reacted when Bill Clinton or Barack Obama said they ‘had no memory’ of being alone with Ms. Lewinsky or hearing Rev. Wright say X, and just admit that it’s a standard dodge). Comparatively few people did things like that. It’s unusual and it’s worth examination.
I will leave it to others to take Tomasky to task for the fatuousnesss of his comparisons. Instead, let’s suppose that Romney actually did “pounce on a misfit kid with a pair of scissors” in his hands “and violently lop off his hair” while others held him down and jeered. How does this cruel prank compare with the one described below?
[He] always had an idea.… If their notion of a summer evening’s prank was to put a bag of dogsh*t on old man Schutz’s doorstep, [he] would say, ‘No, here’s what we’ll do. You know behind my house, where they got all those little trees? Get a shovel …’ And they did: they went out with shovels and planted a forest of saplings on Mr. Schutz’s lawn. It was so much more elaborate—all thought out, the way [he] had it figured.
The perpetrator of this hilarious prank was also handy with his dukes:
Once [he] set his mind, it was like he didn’t think at all—he just did. That’s why you didn’t want to fight him. Most guys who got into a fight, they’d square off, there’d be a minute or so of circling around, while they jockeyed for position. [He] didn’t do that. He decided to fight … BANGO—he’d punch the guy in the face. [He]was kind of skinny, and he stuttered, and the kids called him Bye-Bye, for the way he sounded when he tried to say his name. But [he]would never back down, and he knew how to box, when no one else did.…
Even after he left, after [his father] … moved the family away, Charlie Roth would still (in moments of duress) tell guys that his friend … would come back and beat them up, if they didn’t watch out. (When [he] did come back, Charlie always had a list.)
Were you able to figure out from the “Bye-Bye” stuttering reference that the pugilist in this tale was young “Joey” Biden? The quote is from the book What It Takes: The Way to the White House, a story of the 1988 presidential election by reporter Richard Ben Cramer. Commentary’s Alana Goodman quotes this passage in a post titled “Tip for WaPo: Look Into Young Joe Biden.”
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