I’ve done some things in my life that I can’t remember. All of us have. Like a sponge that can only hold so much water, our brains–and memory is included in this–have to purge themselves on a regular basis.
But there are plenty of things that I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget running into the bumper of my parents’ car and breaking my leg when I was seven years old. I’ll never forget learning all the lines for a big role in MASH in three weeks, after the guy who originally had the role quit unexpectedly. And I’ll never forget saying goodbye to my grandma–my last living grandparent–more than a decade ago. There are many other things, too, but the ability to hold onto these things in our memories is a part of what makes us human.
If I ever did something like cutting another person’s hair off, while they cried and pleaded for help, I can imagine that I would never forget it. The humiliation felt by the person who was violated in that way would be devastating, but the person who inflicted this humiliation shouldn’t be able to just block it out from their memory. Doing so would be a grotesquely callous act. And if they remember it, but then deny that memory in the hope of earning what amounts to a mulligan, that’s even worse. Neither situation demonstrates the type of human empathy that I want to see in someone who wants to a leader.
Mitt Romney–who I wouldn’t vote for, even if he held me down and cut my hair off–deserves no benefits, no breaks, and no favors for the revelations that were made in today’s news. He got all those benefits many years ago when, as the son of a sitting governor, he was able to do what he did to another human being and then got away with it. There were no consequences, no punishments, no sense of justice for the one who was assaulted in this way. Until this morning, Mitt Romney had simply gotten away with it.
Anyone who has ever been picked on or assaulted, and anyone who has ever stood by and watched as someone else absorbed abuse, knows what kind of person does this sort of thing. And Mitt Romney, at least on a day back in 1965, was such a person. Can he now claim that he doesn’t remember doing what five separate people claim that he did? That’s the approach he’s trying to take, but he’s not the governor’s son anymore.
Mitt Romney is now trying to become the governor not just of a state, but of the entire country. And we, as those he is seeking to govern, have the right to take this incident into account. If ever he was qualified to be president (and I don’t think he was), this offers a window into who he was in 1965 when he did this, and who he is today when he claims he doesn’t remember the incident. And neither of these Romneys is presidential material, in my view.