Posted by Brad @ 7:00 pm on May 11th 2012

I Don’t Care About…Youthful Indiscretions

Be they Aqua Buddha or George W. Bush snorting coke cutting off a swishy dude’s hair, although I’ll readily admit that the latter has some merit to it as a question of character. Just much less than, you know, everything else. I find it hard to believe that Mitt Romney is a closet violent anti-gay psychopath and has been for 50 years and only once elected to the office of the President will he unleash that on America (straw man alert!). I do certainly believe that his “prank” was a white-bread Alpha Male in the early 60s unleashing a display of prep school dominance on a kid because he was a sissy, and I’ll even allow, to a very very limited degree, that there is a question of empathy, in terms of “have a hard time walking a mile in another person’s shoes”, sort of in play with it. But on balance, I just have a real hard time believing that a probably-true-on-the-basics-but-still-second-hand-account of an antisocial episode in a teenager’s life tells us much about a 65-year-old man’s character, and I have an even harder time believing that that’s somehow a divining rod for potential policy or real-world impact. Mostly, I think it’s just a matter of confirmation bias—a way for people to sound convinced on a data point for a conclusion they already whole-heartedly believe, and did before well before the data point.

In Romney’s case, I believe the story, and I think it was a reprehensible act. And as I said I even allow that maybe it provides an insight into the kind of young man Romney was and the milieu he comes from. But, I’m also sure anybody reading this can dig deep and come up with an awful thing they did as a child or teenager (hell, or adult) that runs counter to most of the moral principles they have since organized their life around (and I’m also sure, as with coke use or Aqua Buddha, that we can come up with many many more things we don’t regret at all but would make us look pretty bad if it came up on the front page of the New York Times). (I even bet that, if we felt compelled to admit to some youthful indiscretion (say, to buy cred), we’d have another far worse one in our back pocket that we’ll take to the grave). The difference is, we aren’t famous enough to have people out there in the world tuned in enough to our every present-day activity to trot those things out whenever we’re up for a promotion. Be hard to find glass-house-stone-throwers if we all were though, I bet.


  1. How ’bout this?

    Comment by KipEsquire — 5/11/2012 @ 7:39 pm

  2. That seems much more relevant, Kip. As for Brads list, if I were to rank them in terms of markers of personality and tendencies, it would be something like:
    1. Bush and coke use (for I believe it was regular and frequent, and only part of what he did, and despite this he was happy to continue to prosecute a ridiculous drug war that targeted those doing the same things as he did.
    2. Romney’s assault, a distant second, but at the very least a marker of empathy that i see no significant indication that he grew much of it later.
    3. Rand Paul and aquabudda, for gods sake that was a joke with a compliant “victim” that was not selected for her difference and minority status.

    But taking the cake, and way above even the Bush example, has to be George Allen’s long standing fixation with the Confederacy despite having grown up in fucking California. Lost Causer Douche.

    Comment by Jack — 5/11/2012 @ 9:21 pm

  3. I guess I care more about the Romney bit. But I’ll say this: after the level of outrage raised here, we had better not hear any instances of Obama having bullied anyone. And I don’t really know how many human beings older than 19 have a perfectly clean record in that area.

    Comment by Rojas — 5/11/2012 @ 10:07 pm

  4. Kip! Where the f have you been? Your site sucks now.

    But since you ask: no, that doesn’t really bother me either. Two reasons:

    1. Romney, unlike, say, Cheney, isn’t a guy who has made his career on war, and his political career has never been defined by it. Frankly, he’s not a guy that seems to get off on his hawkishness in the same way the very few people I’d call chickenhawks do. He just isn’t a guy I feel the need to hold to some higher standard than I would a garden variety pro-war Republican. Obama, Clinton, and Biden are all pro-war and never served either.

    2. I don’t really consider a Mormon doing missionary work followed by routine deferments to be draft-dodging. What’s more, I’ve gotten a little weirded out that for the last 10 years it’s been anti-war folks keeping the concept of “draft-dodging” in the public discourse as a toxic concept and character stain, which struck me as maybe appropriate very selectively dispatched (say, Bush/Cheney), but now that it’s clearly a blanket partisan attach and value judgment being proliferated, comes off, to me, as sort of perverse.

    So yeah, I don’t really care about that either.

    Comment by Brad — 5/11/2012 @ 11:57 pm

  5. As for Jack’s post – agree with you on #3, but sort of surprised on your 1 and 2. If I were forced to order them, like Rojas I think Romney’s would be the worst of them. For the record, if you had to throw Obama’s previous drug use in the mix, would it tie for #1 or make it to #3?

    Comment by Brad — 5/11/2012 @ 11:58 pm

  6. For whatever it’s worth, I don’t give a rat’s ass about any of this juvenile shit. And I don’t mean the 1, 2, or 3, but rather the attention such stuff, the stuff the rest of us call our youth, garners among those not mature enough to see the real shit storms headed our way.

    Comment by James — 5/12/2012 @ 8:41 pm

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