OK, here goes:

Back in the sixth grade, at the end of a school day, I tried to get a cheap laugh from the rest of the class by pulling away a friend’s chair while he tried to sit down. I wasn’t trying to be mean, but yeah, it was really mean, and dumb. It’s not like I’d cleared it with him before I did it. And is it ever possible to look cool after you’ve just fallen on your butt? I feel a serious twinge of guilt every time I remember that event.

There! That wasn’t difficult, was it? And I should point out that the preceding paragraph was a DIY job written by someone without the benefit of highly-paid staff. Why, then, is the Romney campaign having so much trouble dealing with an ancient story about high school bullying?

I find the process of a national campaign fascinating. Most candidates keep plugging away until they find themselves (though circumstance or careful management) with a specific opportunity to break away from the pack and make America stop thinking of him or her only as a candidate for a party nomination. If you want to win, at some point you have to do something to make people think of you as someone who could be a President. Obama had That Moment when a ranty video surfaced of his pastor giving a screechy and angry sermon. Out of context, the video played to some people like a call for racial violence.

The video went viral and it became a major distraction. The campaign could have ignored it or parried it off. Instead, they recognized it as opportunity for Obama to stand behind a podium, say some important basic things about who he is and what he believes, and in doing so, demonstrate the world that he was fully qualified and prepared to occupy the Oval Office.

If you haven’t the time to watch the speech, then download it to your phone or read/Instapaper the transcript. It’s gripping stuff; I listened to it several times over the course of that week. In 45 minutes, he convinced America that he was one of those rare people who are intellectually and emotionally capable of leading the world’s dominant nation.

I want every credible candidate from any party to have That Moment. I want to feel as though no matter what happens, my next President isn’t going to be the political equivalent of an “American Idol” winner. I want to know that this is a serious person who’s committed to a life of public service, and that they’re seeking this office because they have an earnest plan to improve the condition of all Americans. I won’t waste my time and attention on a candidate who seems to be in the race because they saw someone on TV in a spotlight surrounded by fireworks and confetti cannons and madly-cheering people and thought “That could be ME up there!”

This week, as the result of either Circumstance or “Careful Management” on the part of Romney’s opponents, the campaign is dealing with its own distraction: stories of the cruel bullying or dumb pranks (pick one) that he instigated when he was in high school. And yeah, the fact that people are dredging up something from his teen years and claiming it has relevance on how a President will fight our wars and fix our economy is pretty damned silly. What I’m actually paying attention to is how Romney reacts. For now, Romney seems to be content to parry it all off with an “acknowledgment apology” (ie, “I acknowledge that some people feel as though an apology is called for, and therefore, to those people who do feel that way, I apologize”) accompanied by the sort of chuckle that seems to represent nostalgic reverie as much as any actual regret for the stupid actions of one’s youth.

I imagine that a national political campaign is disorienting for anyone who’s spent his or her entire adult life as a successful CEO. It can be the first time in decades that he or she is actually being held personally accountable for their actions. An oil-industry CEO directs and enacts a plan to cut costs wherever possible or impossible, reasonable or unreasonable. The capos under his command are told to ignore a law if costs of compliance are greater than the cost of fines and litigation. The CEO funnels gargantuan amounts of lobbying money towards the elimination of any governmental oversight at all.

And then, after 4.9 billion gallons of oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico, who gets the blame? The tip of the spear. Never the hand that threw it.

After decades in such a low-gravity world, is it any wonder that a guy like Mitt has trouble finding his footing? Under the circumstances, I’m not terribly surprised that he doesn’t clearly remember this incident and doesn’t see the need to show personal accountability. I’m not even surprised that he doesn’t see this bullying brouhaha as an opportunity to define himself as a candidate.

What surprises me is the fact that with national election just six months away, the presumptive nominee of the opposition party is still getting such awful advice from his campaign managers. I mean, at some point, a campaign acquires enough momentum, support, and money that there’s someone there at the candidate’s elbow to tell him or her “When we get to the county fair, do not, do not, do not allow yourself to be photographed eating a corn dog, or indeed inserting any sort of shaftlike object into your eager, wide-open mouth.”

When a candidate passes that simple test, it fills me with some small bit of extra confidence about his or her abilities. “Thanks, but no. Oh, boy, my spouse will never let me hear the end of it if I get mustard all over my one clean jacket” isn’t up there with Obama’s 45-minute speech on race in America, but isn’t it an impressive display of common sense and mental agility? It indicates that this person can connect an immediate choice with a future undesirable outcome. Or, in the absence of the candidate’s own common sense, doesn’t it indicate that he acknowledges his own failings and is at least smart enough to hire smart advisors?

Yes, I’m thinking specifically of “That Photo” of Michele Bachmann:

I never thought she was clever enough to be President (for the record: neither am I). And after seeing that photo, I wasn’t even sure that she was clever enough to operate one of those restroom sinks that turns the water on when you wave your hands near a sensor (for the record: I usually get it on the first or second try).

So this is how Romney responds to allegations that he bullied a long-haired kid in high school. He says he doesn’t remember the incident, even though it definitely happened. He’s not talking about it, and that absence of data from a candidate leaves a big void that a voter backfills with Worry. I worry that maybe he’s lying about his recollection. Why lie about something that he did more than 40 years ago, when “I did a lot of stupid things when I was a kid that I’ll regret for the rest of my life” is one of those common touchstones that all humans can relate to, and would readily forgive? I worry that maybe he genuinely categorizes that incident as just Jolly Hijinks. Something that merits a laugh over a gin-and-tonic during a high school reunion. Even though it seems like it was a terrifying incident that might have haunted the victim for the rest of his life.

And I worry that maybe he genuinely doesn’t care about how the incident and his reactions to it appear to the rest of the country. I worry that he knows that his supporters are his supporters, that the other members of the party will support him as soon as he officially wins the nomination, and that once he’s elected, the opinions of the people who didn’t vote for him don’t matter at all. This was a massive opportunity for Romney to show the country that he connects to people, that he has a sense of empathy, and that he believes that our country is beset by social problems that at times appear to be just as troubling as our economic ones. But the campaign let that pitch buzz right past him.

When Obama gave his “More Perfect Union” speech, it became important to me that he become the next President. There’s another kind of Moment in a candidacy. When John McCain nominated Sarah Palin as his running mate, and it became clear how unprepared she was for the campaign, let alone the office of the President, I stopped thinking of him as the guy I wasn’t going to vote for and I started thinking him as the guy I wanted to vote against. I honestly think that McCain, plucked from the right phase of his political career, could have been quite a successful President. And while I’m no fan of Sarah Palin, I will eagerly defend her against those idiots who refuse to acknowledge her as a human being worthy of a certain non-negotiable amount of dignity and respect.

That said: if we had elected the McCain/Palin ticket, the British would have declared us a society in a state of chaos, incapable of self-rule. Parliament would have annexed us back into the Empire and appointed a colonial governor. “Thank God. And God save the Queen!” I would have cheered, as I watched the Royal Marines curtly re-raising the Union Jack over the Old State House after their little 237-year setback.

I feel as though I’m experiencing that same sort of transition regarding my perception of Mitt Romney. I might vote for someone despite the fact that he or she was kind of a **** in high school. I might vote against someone who doesn’t care how much of a **** he was, or who doesn’t care about the people he hurt.

And Marty, if you’re reading this: I’m sorry about the thing with the chair. Let me buy you a drink sometime.

[Updated to note: Be civil in the comments, please. I don’t have the time to police the comment thread and if things turn ugly, I’m just going to delete all comments and disable the dialogue forever. Agree with me, disagree with me, agree with what other people say, disagree with what other people say. It’s all good…until “I don’t have time to police the comment thread” becomes “I’m ashamed by the tone of the comments.”]

52 thoughts on “Haircut

  1. Patrick Murphy

    A marvelous piece! Your talent is being wasted on tech journalism. You would be perfect for the Washington Post “Style” section in its heyday, or whatever the 2012 equivalent is of incisive, creatively written Pulitzer-worthy journalism.

  2. Pam

    I agree with Patrick. This is one of the best pieces I’ve read on this subject. Especially your insights about CEOs running for President. It’s clear that Mitt would be a disaster for this country. And that President Obama is unusually well-qualified.

  3. Dave

    Wow, what a slanted view of the US. So a speech spoken by Obama, written by someone else, is enough to sway you that he is can lead the free world? How about after three years when he has a track record?

    About the Mitt hit piece, the fact that the Post changed the story a day later /without admitting it/ doesn’t bother you? Or the Post citing one of the main antagonists as saying that the incident haunted him through his life, just doesn’t happen remember it? Sloppy “hit journalism” doesn’t strike me as true.

    Nice slam on Bachman as well. So you don’t like a pic of her eating a corndog. Big deal. She was and is eminently more qualified to be President than Obama. Look at what Obama has done so far. Over 5 trillion dollars in additional debt and he has set up the same deficits for at least the next 5 years due to huge increases in baseline budgeting. Obamacare’s costs have only risen since it was signed. Obama hasn’t even signed a budget in well over 1,000 days. The Senate does and always has has the votes to pass a budget but as long as the press doesn’t push them, they have no need.

    I think McCain was a terrible choice. However, Palin was and is more qualified than Obama to lead this country. Did she freeze when asked a simple question like which publications did she read? Sure. Big deal. Obama has made just as many unforced gaffs as well. The press just doesn’t push them with the same amount of zeal, ink, and video.

    You may think you are clever by writing an incredibly slanted political hack piece by sandwiching it in a self deprecating anecdote, but you’re not.

  4. George

    Nice writeup Andy – too bad some of your commenters have blinders on. As much as I don’t like the current President, to insist that a housewife with a bachelor’s degree from Idaho who quit as governor is more qualified than a Harvard Law School degree is ludicrous. Michelle Bachman is Sarah Palin light, so claiming she’s better is not a valid argument either. I do agree with Dave only that you were overly impressed by how he reads a speech from a TelePromTer – which is his primary strength. You are certainly valid that Romney seems to repeatedly step in piles of crap for no good reason. That said, I will vote for Romney just to vote against Obama for one of Dave’s very valid points – the hideous amount of debt the Democrats are stacking up (not that the Bush administration was any better).

  5. Ed Ever

    wow that didn’t take long, did it

    “You may think you are clever by writing an incredibly slanted political hack piece…”

  6. Scott

    It’s easy to rationalize your feelings about someone when you already agree/disagree with their politics.

  7. Drew

    I enjoyed reading this piece, I also enjoyed reading all the comments. As an overseas observer it appears to us Europeans that Obama hasn’t really achieved much, save for running up costs and blaming the previous administration for the mess he inherited: But don’t they all do that?

    Maybe there should be a 1 term limit, or maybe the house / senate / executive branch system doesn’t work and needs re-thinking, or maybe i’ll just get my coat.

    Nice article regardless Andy, and I forgive you for the chair prank, we’ve all been there / done that, I’ll certainly share a beer with you to show there’s no hard feelings if you’re ever Stockholm way…

  8. Bill Goggin

    I liked this except that I don’t see how eating a corn dog disqualifies Bachman. I don’t think she’d make a good President because her views on social issues are so far from those of the majority. I am one who disagrees with her on almost every issue, but she does seem to be articulate.

    I don’t understand the obsession with debt oh the part of those opposed to Obama. Most of it was caused by putting the Iraq war back on budget and by the stimulus plan which, while it didn’t work as well as promised, did pull us out of the economic nose dive we were in when Obama took office. The economy is actually growing now, if not as fast as promised. How is it fair to say nothing was accomplished? Do you remember what the economy was like when he took office?

    Further, while large, the debt seems surmountable with reasonable tax increases. It only balloons into infinity if you take any tax increase whatsoever off the table. We had a balanced budget in the 90’s and we could again given some flexibility on increases.

  9. Mike

    I planned on not making a comment unless I could say some that would add to the conversation, rather than just another ‘I admire your work’ comment.

    Though, I tend to believe you and I would probably disagree, politically speaking, I agree (80%) with what you’re saying. America needs a figure who can and will stand up and speak what’s on their mind. Say what they mean, and do what they say. I fear, however, that the whole political process is so corrupted by special interest, and the attempt by politicians to do what’s ‘popular’ rather than what’s right. It’s never going to be the 1900’s again. We are not going to have that kind of unbridled American enthusiasm again (sadly). But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try, does it? Republican / Democrat…whatever. Who cares. We’re all on the same boat. Let’s paddle in the same direction, ok?

    Oh, and I totally admire your work.

  10. Seventh Samurai

    Marty, YOU aren’t biased? This is Andy’s personal blog. He can write what he wants. Sheesh.

  11. Mary

    Thanks so much; that was a very well-written and interesing blog. The insight into the difference between being a CEO and a candidate was excellent. This is only going to become a bigger problem for Romney as the campaign heats up. I also enjoyed the “not-voting-for to voting-against” shift. I have already shifted in Romney’s case. It amazes me that people, such as some of your commenters, cannot or will not give President Obama credit for being the intelligent, compassionate person he is despite the fact that they dislike his policies. Nor do they acknowledge his many accomplishments, even if they don’t agree with them.

  12. William

    Wow, Andy! You put into words what’s been nagging at me since I heard about this incident. It’s not Mitt needs to apologize for his 18 year old self, but I want to hear that the current person acknowledge that it was a horribly jerktastic thing to do.

    Whether it was acceptable or not back then, society’s values have evolved. I was hoping for a statement like, “I recognize what I did was wrong, and I’m truly sorry. Kids don’t bully your classmates for being different; I know this from experience.” With a statement like that Mitt would be back on my radar as a real human I could empathize with.

    As it is, his response seems inadequate and almost creepy in his level of defensiveness or denial.

    But thank you Andy for helping me put my finger on just what was bugging me about this 40+ year old assault incident.

  13. STrRedWolf

    I remember an earlier report that quoted Romney as being vehimitely against gay marriage in any form, even civil unions.

    Then the attack during high school came to light… and Romney’s non-apology.

    That’s when I say “No, this guy’s ideology is clouding his judgement. He’s not anti-gay marriage, he’s just plain homophobic, and that’s something that can’t be allowed in a President.”

  14. Scott R

    Well said, Andy. The point I believe you are trying to make is not political, but very personal. What happens when we are faced with regretful actions long since passed? Do we pass them off as immature actions of a former self, or do we step up to the plate to accept responsibility and either offer a heartfelt apology or explain the context if we feel we were, to some degree, justified to do what we did.

  15. Cha

    Thanks Andy Ihnatko for your brilliant piece on the “haircut”. I found the link on The Obama Diary and so glad I clicked on.

    I see you have a few low information voters espousing in the’s really sad for our country there are those who will let themselves be brainwashed by the corporatemedia. They take it as the facts and don’t do any investigating on their own.

    Speaking of facts..they tend to have a Liberal bias. Someone accusing you of being biased when all you did was report and give your opinion on whether you would own up to something stupid you did years ago or say you forgot about it.

    Romney has a history of lying so who knows if he really forgot the charge he led or he’s lying again. My educated guess is that it’s just another example of Mendacious Mitt.

  16. Pingback: Haircut [Link] « Macdrifter

  17. chris

    Andy – typical liberal city writer putting out a puff piece on obama. How is the air with your head so far up it?

    Obama is a hack president who makes jimmy carter look good.

  18. Bruce

    Excellent piece Andy. In particular your insight to John McCain. As a Republican I voted for McCain in the 2000 NJ primary even though Bush had already sown up the nomination. I feel he would have done a much better job after 9/11 than Bush. That said, there was no way I could vote for him in the 2008 election when he started moving from his center-right positions to the far right and nominated Palin. There was no way I could have justified putting her within a heart attack of the White House.

    A popular radio host in NY always likes to bring up his definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We’ve generally been cutting taxes since 1980 and I’ve watched things get steadily worse for the country as a whole. We don’t need an ex-CEO running the US, especially Mitt. The president should do what he thinks is good for the country as a whole. Mitt would only do what is good for his people (i.e. corporations, billionaires). While Obama hasn’t done all I expected of him, his is trying to do what is good for ALL of the US.

    When I was younger I always felt that having a Republican Congress would be good for the country. The mid-90’s Congress has proven me wrong about that. While I don’t agree with all Democratic platform ideals I have come to believe that the Republican platform of never raising taxes and cutting social programs cannot be condoned.

    Sorry for the rant.

  19. George

    As a social moderate and a fiscal conservative, I don’t like what either party is doing – but I have to ask those who say we should raise taxes – isn’t the doubling of spending in just the last 11 years the real issue? We don’t have a tax problem, we have a spending problem. The Democrats want the government to be the solution to all the problems, and the Republicans seem to only want to spend on the military (do we really need to spend 6x what the Chinese do?) and cut the wrong things.
    Source on spending increase:

  20. Noel

    Thank’s for the post Andy,
    I always enjoy your perspective both on your blog and on MacBreakWeekly. I think that it is astonishing how thin-skinned people can be and many of the comments above reflect this. I think your points are valid and I think you made the effort to make them in a respectful and fair way.
    People should take responsibility for their actions past and present, make things right as best as they can, and move on having learned from the experience. I long for the days when men (and women) valued their honor to such a degree that they would do whatever it took to restore it. If any candidate would behave with dignity and honor I think that they could gain respect from both sides of the aisle, perhaps not friends but at least respect which has been lacking for too long.
    Keep writing Andy!

  21. Dan Curry

    Andy is one of my favorite tech writers. He’s borderline brilliant. And he does a great job on tech podcasts. Been listening for years.

    As a political commentator, ugh, let’s just say he’s a borderline brilliant tech writer.

    It amazes me that almost the entire tech community is so enamored with Obama it barely can see straight and so ideologically blind that is must criticize any credible Republican.

    That Obama race speech was not particularly well-done or ground breaking. It was only delivered as damage control over Rev. Wright. And it was premised on a huge lie—that Obama was a faithful member of Wright’s church for years and never heard some of his inflammatory rhetoric. Hell, before the Wright tape surfaced, Rolling Stone wrote a huge piece on Wright-Obama titled “The Radical Roots of Barack Obama” that included other inflammatory quotes from Wright.

    Obama knew a speech on race would send the liberal media in a swoon no matter what the words. Liberal journalists love any discussion on race that scolds white people. Not so much when you debate the merit of affirmative action, etc.

    As for the Romney story, Ihnatko is ignoring recent history that many national press exposes on GOP figures have proven to be false or seriously embellished. When you boil down the “bullying” story, it all is coming from Democratic former classmates. The larger point is that the national media never scrutinized Obama’s high school years to this degree–and certainly not with a similar eye for negative incidents.

    I assume all tech writers are liberal Obama supporters so Andy’s political views don’t surprise me.

    I will continue to faithfully read and enjoy his tech writings. He’s one of the very best.

  22. Jan Landy

    If you want to create friction, talk about religion or politics. There are 3 sides to every story (Your, Mine & The Truth), but when you talk about the above mentioned subjects, you are sure to bring out the passion of one’s feelings regardless of the truth or lack there of.

    I am amazed that the media, felt that this story was worth reporting, but it did. I agree with Andy, when he says we all did things we regret in high school. That does not make us who we are today. And I agree with Andy, when de disputes the fact that Mitt does not remember the incident.

    To quote the immortal Dr. House “Everyone lies.” The problem for Mitt is that no one can believe that he cannot remember such a dramatic moment in his life. He held another human being down against his will and cut his hair off. How can someone not remember that?

    Boys will be boys, but adults need to learn from their actions and learn what works and what does not and keep what works and not repeat what doesn’t.

  23. Mike Tonge

    Andy, you can rest assured that after seeing what you Golgafrinchans have done with the New World, the British will certainly not be coming back.

    Not even for a friendly frisk by your TSA.

  24. Noah

    5 quick factual points.

    1) democrats enjoy personal welfare
    2) republicans enjoy corporate welfare
    3) they both spend too much
    4) they both bailed out corporations based on old promises and donations.
    5) Any business that doubled its costs then blamed its losses on lack of revenue would be laughed at.

  25. Stacy Jones

    I wonder why it is, that things like gay marriage, are the center of media attention when families are going hungry, people are losing their homes and the economy is not really improving all that much. This from a guy who said he was going to bring us “change you can believe in.” My life hasn’t changed in the last three years and the people I know, who have had major changes in their lives, have all had those changes be for the worse.

    I am all for having a president that connects with people as human beings, but if he’s completely ineffective at fixing the problems that he was put into office to repair I’m not going to vote for him a second time. I’m just not. There is so much more to that job than just being a nice, sympathetic guy. This job requires a man to make tough decisions, decisions that may be painful for some human beings, but a president has to be able to rise above that. He has to be able to make choices that will make things better and he has to be able to set aside his party line in order to do what’s right.

    I’m concerned that Obama is running on his ideals and the party line and he’s not even talking about his track record. The truth that he’s hiding from everyone is that he doesn’t have much to shout about.

    I’m not saying you should vote for Romney, vote for the Communist party for all I care, but don’t vote for a guy that didn’t do the job that he set out to do. I agree, he is a nice guy. I like him. That doesn’t make him a great president.

    How did this president make your life better than it was four years ago? That is the question you should always be asking yourself in an election, not “Is he a nice guy?”

  26. Gary Rogers

    For me I think it comes down to something simpler. Maybe it’s contrite to get your life wisdom from a movie, (worse a movie based on a comic book) but it really boils down to “I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.”

    Mitt Romney was a bully. In refusing to stand up and appoligize in a meaningful way he shows that he’s still a bully.

  27. Bill Golden

    I just wish your political leanings could be as balanced as your tech reporting. Are the corn dog stories the way we should elect a President?

  28. Sanho Tree

    Remember that Mitt was 18 when he assaulted that kid. He was was old enough to kill in Vietnam. If a Latino “posse” in a public school had committed that act, is there a prosecutor in the country that wouldn’t have made a gang violence case out of it? If Mitt had killed someone through his “hijinks” he would be old enough to suffer the death penalty today (a policy he supports). I’m not suggesting 18 year olds are mature enough to be held fully accountable for those acts, but shouldn’t Mitt’s defenders soften their stance on juvenile justice and the death penalty? Or is this just another spectacular illustration of white privilege?

  29. Mark S.

    I think Ihnatko’s post is the second part to the great piece by Doug Mataconis over at Outside the Beltway.

    Mataconis has two relevant points: the changes the Post made to the original story did not substantively change the crux of the piece. Changing one interviewee’s statement does not discount those given by several other witnesses. His second point, the one I think is most important, is that the Post piece lacked relevance. At no point did the Post relate how the prick Mitt Romney of high school relates to the man he is today. However, that’s where Ihnatko picks up.

    Though somewhat buried in his piece, I think Ihnatko makes a very valid, and non-partisan, point that integrity matters. In this case, it’s not about whether a 65-year old man was a prick in high school. It’s about whether that 65-year old man can admit to his wrongs and demonstrate unequivocal remorse for those cringe-inducing wrongs.

    His apology was forced and had the kind of ambiguity we expect from someone looking to avoid liability, not from the future leader of the free world. By hedging the apology (“If someone was hurt…”) Romney ensures the story lives on for at least another few cycles. Like Ihnatko, I too expect more sophistication from a major candidate.

  30. Rabid Badger

    George said: “isn’t the doubling of spending in just the last 11 years the real issue? We don’t have a tax problem, we have a spending problem.”

    We had neither. We have a War(s) problem.

  31. paul r kesselman

    To: All those who think Andy is Biased

    He is- so are you.

    He is entitled to his opinion whether you agree with him or not. His was not a political post but rather a post about decision making- both on his part and that of Mr Romney.

    There is something off about our civilization-when it is no longer possible to state an opinion without being attacked. This is my opinion and I am entitled to utter it whether any one wants to agree with it or not!

  32. Mike

    Well written Andy – I enjoyed getting a glimpse of your thoughts in an arena outside of tech, movies, and photo. The point about those who you surround yourself with is huge – you have to be prepared if you want to actually be president.

    This bullying incident has brought back some tough memories for me of dickhead things I’ve done and that were done to me. I really wish we could have a larger conversation about bullying in this country. Unfortunately too many people do just write it off as a juvenile thing and laugh about it over drinks later in life.

  33. Kevin

    Why are we talking about something that happened 46 years ago?! Our nation is in terrible trouble, minority unemployment over 25% forty six million Americans having to use food stamps, one in four children in our country going hungry, no budget , middle east and most of EU failing and I can go on and on. I guess my point is a bullying incident forty five years ago is the last think we should be talking about. The true measure of a man In my mind doesn’t start until you reach adulthood. We have all done stupid shit growing up, me included. Just one question – Do you think and feel the same as when you were in high school? I’m forty eight and I don’t.
    P.S. at 17 I blew off my prom date and hung out with my friends and couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal! Point is at that age your still a child!!

  34. Maya

    Thanks Andy brilliant. I am truly addicted to your sense of humour. What a guy, drives with his dog on the car roof, bullies a classmate and doesnot think feel much of either of these dumb actions. Just bright enough to lead the most dominant nation in the world which believes against all evidence that it is the best place on earth to live.

  35. Jed

    When I was younger, my grandfather and I were having a conversation about religion, and I used the word “apologetics.” As the conversation continued, I realized that my grandfather thought that it meant people who apologize for their religion (which is what the word sounds like) rather than people who defend their religion (which is what the word means). I had always considered my grandfather to be incredibly intelligent, and this incident made me question that. How could he not know that simple fact?

    A couple of days later, I realized that I was being a moron. I probably had had thousands of conversations with my grandfather in which he had proven his intelligence beyond any doubt. And there was his extremely successful career and civic life that also stood as a testament to the man’s intelligence. This was a blip. It was meaningless. So he didn’t know the word. Who cares?

    This incident with Romney and the way he is handling it is like that. It happened 50 years ago. He says he doesn’t remember it. Maybe he doesn’t. I don’t remember all sorts of stupid terrible things that I did when I was younger. Heck, I was just reminded of a humorous incident that apparently took place in my life a year ago, which I don’t recall at all, even after being reminded of it.

    If this incident makes you question Romney’s character, go read all of the accounts by people close to him of how he has acted in the last forty or fifty years. The reason you don’t hear about them is because they are pretty much all positive.

    If the way he is handling this situation has any bearing on how you will vote, then you aren’t thinking straight. This has almost zero to do with whether he will make a good president. Look at the way he acted as a governor, and look at his policies, and if you like what you see in comparison to Obama’s performance and policies, vote for him. If you don’t, don’t.

  36. Jared

    Boehner: “I got 98 percent of what I wanted!” (regarding having the Republican demands met for a debt deal)

    S&P downgrade occurs: “We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues” – S&P

    Romney: “America’s creditworthiness just became the latest casualty in President Obama’s failed record of leadership on the economy.”


    And for those who can’t remember the past 30 years, let’s look back at a timeline of fiscal history:

  37. joey.

    Obama can’t get anything done because the Boehner and GOP decided to split the Congress to stalemate anything the President wanted to do. They did this so that they could campaign this season that Obama can’t get anything done. How interesting.

    Go Andy!

  38. Kevin

    If you remember the Dems had the house and senate for over two years and didn’t get anything done!

  39. Bryan

    Andy – I disagree with you. Keep writing about anything you want to write about, as the address bar of my browser says “”. I will keep reading because no political party/ideology has the market cornered on intelligence. To your point, I believe it was the great philosopher Penn Jillete who said that all government is institutionalized bullying. We have the luxury in this country of picking the people that pick on us. It sounds cynical, but it is rooted in the belief that Andy can make better choices about his life and pusuit of happiness than people in a marbled chamber miles away.

  40. Jim Edwards

    I want to thank you Andy. You’ve just revolutionized my view of American politics. I’ve been sickened by scandal and the muck of politics, but after reading this… I realized that it’s through the muck that we learn how they handle diversity, how they handle difficult issues.
    Thanks for that, and your tech work. Your skills as a writer are only matched by your mutton chops.

  41. Steven

    Thanks for writing this. It was better than anything else I have read on the topic.

    In sixth grade one of my best friends came to school with a really short crew cut, I teased him with a taunt I had heard one of my older brother’s friends use. I thought I was being funny and cool, but it hurt my friend. I still feel horrible about it and just writing this is making me feel sweaty and uncomfortable.

    I am not sure which would be worse someone not remembering or not admitting that he remembers.

  42. Christopher Crowl

    Andy I am disappointed in your feelings on Romney. I really think something that happened 40 years ago has no relevance in the 2012 race. The areas of discussion should have more to do with what each man has done.

    I realizes clearly the press is Obama’s friend, but honestly where has that gotten us? Sadly saying the emperor has no clothes is what the press can’t deal with. Surprised that you would “go along.”

    As some others have said tech is your field and your opinions are important but you might do better than continuing 40 year old stories.

    Think about it.

  43. Kurt Bauer

    Andy, I am quite surprised that the Lies from the president in hand would sway you except to the negative. I am retired at 49 and do nothing but invest and the market being what it is I can only bet against the lies that come from the Whitehouse. Even laws are being passed so we can not talk with our opinions as we are here today. Not much longer thanks to this administration. As a man i have had many mistakes and foibles. At least i have always been able to say yep I did that bad or good and admit to them. This man couldn’t tell the truth if it bit him. A finger is pointed to that administration and a quote of inheritance. This is true with any President but at least admit just once he screwed up it won’t happen even though he spent 5 Trillion that he blames on someone else. And the blockades are the others faults. I just wish that someone I respect as much as I do you would use your skills and open the box and show the truth. The media is broken and under the thumb. Shame I have always considered our home our country something special, but when I have a leader, that bows to all others and lies out both sides of his face I lose that feeling.

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