Mitt Romney apologized Thursday for "hijinks and pranks" he pulled nearly 50 years ago at his elite Michigan prep school — episodes dug up by The Washington Post in a lengthy investigative report. In one of the incidents, Romney, then a high school senior, and some of his friends held down a classmate — who some believed to be gay — and forcibly cut his bleached blond hair. "He can't look like that," a Romney friend recalls the future presidential candidate saying. "That's wrong. Just look at him!" Later, the Post reports, the crying boy "screamed for help" as "Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors." Romney's childhood friends — five of them corroborated the tale — described the incident as "senseless," "stupid," "idiotic," and "vicious." Romney himself says he doesn't remember the 1965 encounter, but concedes that he "did some things" in his teens, and is sorry if he offended anyone. Will Romney's apology suffice?
This apology isn't enough: Clearly, nothing has changed, and Romney's apology "isn't an apology at all," says Kaili Joy Gray at Daily Kos. Just like in high school, "he's still going around with his posse — the right-wing extremists — bullying and taunting and attacking the people he doesn't like." Only now he's not cutting the hair of gay people — he's trying to "amend the Constitution to outlaw their relationships." "In almost half a century, Mitt Romney hasn't learned a damn thing."
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Mitt didn't even need to apologize: "This event occurred roughly two to four years before Barack Obama ate a dog," says Jim Geraghty at National Review, "and about a decade before young Barack Obama used cocaine." If Obama doesn't have to apologize for youthful errors, why should Romney? This has the whiff of an exaggerated story dredged up to make Romney look bad while the Left is crowing about Obama's gay marriage evolution. By apologizing, all Romney did was give the story attention it doesn't warrant.
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Now that he's apologized, we should move on: This wasn't just harmless teasing, says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, but "rather vicious bullying." Still, it was a long time ago. "People grow up." Even if Romney was "mostly a jerk at 18, he's mostly a kind and decent fellow at 65." He's wise to come right out and say he's sorry. But none of us should dwell on this.
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