October is National Bullying Prevention Month. And while that may not help us take the bully out of Mitt Romney, it serves as a reminder that we have a chance to vote for a bully-free Oval Office for the next four years.
Romney's attempts to bully both president Obama and moderator Candy Crowley at last week's debate were widely panned -- even conservative Bill Kristol called them "pettily combative." But watching Romney get his comeuppance -- like watching any bully get his -- was at best a fleeting pleasure. Like all bullies, Mitt possesses a shamelessness that permits him to continue his misbehavior without regret.
Nevertheless, the next day, The Hill splashed the news that, "Team Romney won't rein in GOP nominee during third debate." So we can expect to see an even more pettily combative, impulsive Mitt: rude, aggressive, blustery, stuttering, talking over his opponent and the moderator until they eventually give up out of pure exasperation.
Mitt was so amped-up during certain segments of the Hofstra debate, it made me wonder whether the Mormon teetotaler had somehow ingested way too much caffeine. (Watch the body language with the sound off and see if you agree.)
I'm not saying Mitt broke his religious vows to avoid alcohol and hot drinks (including tea!). We know for a fact that he's consumed vast quantities of Koch -- an undeniably poisonous stimulant -- though, in fairness, Mitt's wife Ann assures us it's actually caffeine-free Diet Coke. What's been impossible to cover up is Mitt's passion for coffee ice cream, which, taken in large quantities, delivers more than enough caffeine to knock a bully off his pulpit.
The bully tends to have a sadistic streak, and Mitt as a youngster was apparently no exception. In response to reports that he bullied a gay classmate at the tony Cranbrook prep school, the best Mitt could come up with was that he couldn't remember the incident, but that "If I did stupid things, why, I'm afraid I've got to say sorry for it."
Not long after this, Mitt watched in horror as his father George Romney suffered a career-ending public humiliation as a direct result of acting like a human when he essentially apologized for America's bullying militarism in Southeast Asia.
Mitt's cruel touch reveals itself in his attempts at humor. Recently, he left this note for the press corps on their tour bus-- when he knew they weren't around: "You guys have it way too soft -- nice ride. P.S.-- erased your hard drives."
That Romney didn't teach his boys impulse control -- but did school them on never saying they're sorry -- is unsurprising. Eldest son Tagg's refusal to apologize for telling a radio host that he wanted to "take a swing" at the president is perhaps a projection of Tagg's latent desire to punch out his dad for pushing his kids' (and, apparently, at least one grandkid's) faces into plates of butter after instructing them that, "It's so rotten you have to smell it."
As for Monday's foreign policy debate, Mitt has no big ideas and few policy differences with the president on such key problem areas as Libya, Iran, Israel and Syria. When it comes to China, he does have an overarching platform: bombard America's largest creditor with schoolyard name-calling ("cheater!"). (Irony Alert: Ryan opposed giving Obama the authority to levy precisely the sorts of tariffs against China that Romney says are essential.)
Mitt's foreign policy "vision" amounts to little more than this: America should stop apologizing and get more aggressive, in contrast to president Obama, whom he characterizes as a passive apologizer. (Which is undoubtedly what Osama bin Laden was thinking when he saw the Navy Seals show up outside his room.) In fact, Romney has spent the last several years demanding that the president apologize for "apologizing for America."
Romney's 2010 book is revealing not only for its title -- No Apology -- but also for its subtitle, The Case for American Greatness. For Mitt, America's greatness is defined by blustery aggressiveness without apology, In a word, bullying.
The truth, of course, is that Romney is aggressively on every side of virtually every issue. He was for healthcare for all before he was against it. He was for outsourcing jobs until it became a problem for him. He was against a Mideast two-state solution before he was for it, he favored nuking Iran before he opposed it, he was against a timeline in Afghanistan before he was for it, he opposed tariffs on China before he advocated for them, and on and on. Romnesia, indeed.
Whatever your view on the issues, consider this: whom do we want to have his finger on the nuclear trigger -- a bully prone to bursts of anger/agitation whenever he's challenged, or a cool, collected commander in chief who won't act on impulse?
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