We need an administration that takes our children's lives and educations seriously, not just as a matter of proclaimed policy, painted in broad strokes and useful as a sound bite in a debate, but as an issue that is essentially and deeply personal, as much as it is political.
A humbler Romney would have acknowledged his role in the abuse, indicated his regret, and apologized to the victim in a meaningful way. Most Americans would buy that. Who hasn't done stuff as a teenager that they later wish they hadn't?
Yes, I was a boy. I did stupid, youthful "boys-will-be-boys" things -- drinking, smoking and blowing up dog poop with firecrackers, just to name a few -- but never did I lead a group of boys to hold another boy down against his will and cut off his hair.
Last week, the Washington Post produced a front-page story with the news of Mitt Romney leading fellow preppies in cutting the bleach-blond hair of a student at their school. Okay. Let's say it's relevant. Here are some of the stories the Post did not think relevant.
As I returned home from the movie Bully, I read about Mitt Romney's high school bullying. There are some who say this 37-year-old story is irrelevant, but there are at least three reasons why that's not so.
Like John Lauber, the highly-publicized object of Mitt Romney's teenage scorn, and the victim of a violent assault led by Romney during the end of his high-school years, I wore, as a proud symbol of my outsider status, a distinctly non-normative hairstyle.
Those years, the mid-'60s, were in fact a critical time for the gay-rights movement: It was going to either burst forth or be suppressed by the kind of attitudes that empowered high-school boys of the time to hold down a kid perceived as gay and forcibly cut his hair.
Every time a student hears a sexist joke or a racial slur, every time she hears the words 'faggot' or 'slut' or 'fatso' or 'retard,' she must make a decision. Will I be a perpetrator, a victim, a bystander or a human rights defender?
President Obama knows that in the long run he is on the right side of the issue of gay marriage and I suspect Romney knows he is on the wrong side of this issue. The only uncertainty is how and if its short term impact might influence the November election.
After the Washington Post broke the bullying story, Romney took pains to explain that it's been a long time since prep school, and that he's changed. The problem for voters hunting for a leader who cares about their problems is that it doesn't appear he has.
Our schools must help children learn tolerance and respect for one another, so that no child leaves school with the fear that they will be attacked for their differences, and no child grows up believing it's OK to marginalize or discriminate against others.
Romney went from being the big bully in his high school, to being the cavalier dad who made the family dog ride on top of the car even when it was making him sick, to being the "vulture capitalist" at Bain Capital.
This morning The Washington Post published a disturbing story about Mitt Romney's high-school days at an elite college preparatory school in Michigan. For me, the account brings back painful memories of the anti-gay bullying I endured when I was in school.
Romney admits that what matters to him is giving gay people fewer rights than straight people. Holding onto the "marriage" word is not enough for Romney types; they need to feel superior. Romney's position can be based on no other principle than casting gay people as lesser.