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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Romney Bully Story May Have Booby Traps

I doubt I’m alone in wondering whether my fellow Dems should be pouncing on the Romney bully story with such incautious glee. There’s the usual caveats: it’s a high school story, for Pete’s sake; Did it really happen that way and how solid can the verification be after all those years? (the alleged victim is deceased); Anyway, who wants to be held accountable for every regrettable thing they did as a teenager?; Does it make Dems look petty when they go that far back to expose character failures of political adversaries?; Isn’t this disturbingly reminiscent of the “Aqua Buddha” story that backfired so devastatingly on Jack Conway’s campaign to defeat Rand Paul in the KY Senate race, (and that was college, not high school)? etc. etc.
On the other hand, what makes the story somewhat compelling, regardless of the aforementioned concerns, is Romney’s evasively funky, deer-caught-in-the headlights responses to questions about it, which add to the impression of a guy who is incapable of straight talk. In addition, Romney’s persona is not only that of the archetypical, Ayn Rand-reading boss who fires workers willy-nilly and justifies it as ‘creative destruction’; it’s all too easy to see him as the emblematic preppy prick you hated in high school.
So, I guess it makes sense for Dems to mine the story for a bit, in that it contributes to the mounting evidence that the GOP is nominating an unusually cold-hearted and double-talking presidential candidate — even for them. But I do think such stories, whether true or exaggerated, have a very limited shelf-life, after which they begin to make the accusers look like tiresome moralists.

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