Well, darn it! For a moment there when I first read the headline, I thought we were finally in for a bodacious instance of youthful rebellion revealing that Romney has a hitherto unknown “cool factor” all his own… but alas, it really wasn’t anything untoward. I do, however, think it was a rather plucky bit of civil disobedience:

It’s a little reported anecdote, but in 1981 presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney was arrested for disorderly conduct. …

According to what Romney told the Boston Globe in 1994, he had taken his family off to Wayland, Mass.’s Lake Cochituate, about an hour outside Boston, for a summer excursion. As Romney prepared to put his family boat into the water, a park officer told Romney not to launch because his license appeared to have been painted over. The officer told Romney if he put his boat into the water he would face a $50 fine. …

“I figured I was at the state park with my kids. My five kids were in the car wondering why we weren’t going out in the boat, so I said I’d launch and pay the fine,” Romney said in 1994.

After Romney put the family boat into the water, the officer reappeared visibly angry and arrested Romney for disorderly conduct. Romney was handcuffed on the scene, taken to the local police station, and booked.

“There I was, dripping wet in a bathing suit,” Romney told the Globe. A magistrate let him go without bail.

The charges were dropped, and this is apparently old news — I really don’t think this could (or should) pose an issue to Romney’s campaign. His detractors of the class-warmongering ilk might point to Romney’s blasé attitude about paying a $50 fine, but really, most of us do this everyday. When you’re driving on the highway and pushing past the speed limit, you’re technically breaking the law, but you’re willingly taking the gamble of getting a speeding ticket. It’s about tradeoffs, and on a day he wanted to spend boating with his family, Romney thought, sure, I’ll just go ahead and pay the price society has decided to place on people who don’t perfectly display their licenses. And while I have nothing but respect for the uniformed men and women who protect our communities on a daily basis, they’re prone to mistakes and power-trips like the rest of us. It sounds like this officer was in the wrong, and should’ve been writing Mitt Romney a ticket instead of arresting him. No biggie.