Letting the swells tell their tales: Was Mitt Romney a homophobe during his high school years—during his tenure at Cranbrook, a Detroit-area prep school?
It’s certainly possible! Tomorrow, we’ll look at the way the Washington Post reported this story last week—and we’ll look at the way some people reacted. For today, let’s look in on our smartest magazine.
Let’s visit the hapless New Yorker.
Good lord! As it turns out, the well-known writer Edmund White attended Cranbrook too! (He graduated in 1958, before Romney appeared on the scene.) The New Yorker gave him 1400 words to recall his years as a gay adolescent at Cranbrook, and to speculate about what Romney may or must have been like.
How addled are modern intellectual elites? Before he started making shit up, White shared this puddle of piddle:
WHITE (5/11/12): I was friends with two writers while at Cranbrook, both of them resolutely straight though strangely tolerant of my “tendencies.” One was Thomas McGuane, who turned out to be a talented novelist and a real Montana rancher and cowboy, a man who’s had movie-star lovers (Margot Kidder and Elizabeth Ashley) and who’s now married to Jimmy Buffett’s sister; he’s said in print that he knew I was gay in school and thought it was “funny.” The other one was Raymond Sokolov, who became a preëminent film and later food critic, who’s lived in Paris and worked for Newsweek, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and whose wife is on the curatorial staff of the Metropolitan Museum.Do you have any idea why the highlighted material appeared? We don’t either! But in fairness, it did serve as a warning for what lay ahead.
Soon, White began to muse. More accurately, he started making shit up. This is deeply addled work. Just ponder those highlighted chunks:
WHITE: From what I can gather from the few details that have come out about Romney and his bullying of a student who was perceived as gay (forcefully cutting off his long, bleached-blond hair), a familiar picture emerges. Romney was not a good student nor was he athletic; he was the manager of one of the school teams, a sort of default position for boys who wanted to be athletic and cool and popular—a water boy, in essence. He was considered a class clown, always up to rather cruel pranks. I can picture his situation, though it’s only speculation on my part (I’ve never known any of his friends, though one of his older brothers was a classmate). On the one hand he had an embarrassingly famous father, the governor of Michigan, whom he idolized as the youngest child. On the other he was the sole Mormon, a member of what was definitely seen as a creepy, stigmatized cult in that world of bland Episcopalian Wasps (we had Episcopalian services at chapel three mornings a week). When his father was president of American Motors, he lived at home and was a day student, an envied status. When his father was elected governor and moved to the state capital of Lansing, he became a boarder. Suddenly he was surrounded by other Cranbrook students and the strict “masters,” 24/7. He no longer had the constant support of his tight-knit family. Now he had to win approval from the other boys.In truth, almost everything there has been made up. White doesn’t have the first fragging idea what he’s talking about.
No wonder he became a daring and even violent prankster. He who worried about his own marginal status couldn’t bear the presence of an unapologetic sissy like Lauber, with his long bleached hair (the Mormons, then as now, have insisted on a neat, traditional, conservative appearance, especially in their young missionary men whom they send out all over the world). In scorning and shearing a sissy student and leading a gang of five other boys in this “prank,” Romney may have felt popular and in the right for the first time. According to one of Romney’s repentant accomplices, Lauber was terrified, weeping and begging for help.
At our smartest magazine, such niceties don’t seem to matter. White is allowed to imagine that Romney was embarrassed by his father’s fame. He is allowed to imagine the way Romney’s Mormonism affected him at the school. (In fact, the Washington Post reported Romney having a spirited exchange with a Cranbrook friend about his religion. The paper reported no stigmatization.) According to White’s speculation, Romney “wasn’t a good student,” although there’s no evidence supporting that claim in the Post’s report.
And of course, White paints a vivid picture of Romney’s feelings toward John Lauber, the student whose hair was cut off.
White is inventing the bulk of this story. What is White’s intellectual method? He says he can picture this situation, although “it’s only speculation.” And needless to say:
When White engages in speculation, “a familiar picture emerges!”
Romney’s conduct was quite bad that day—but he was a high school student. By contrast, White is old as the hills, and his conduct is very bad too! That said, this type of novelization is the way a great deal of pseudo-journalism has worked in the past several decades:
Piffle-pushers begin to imagine. And as they engage in this tiring work, “familiar pictures” emerge.
How odd! We ourselves can "picture" White’s situation, though it’s only speculation! And as we picture that situation, another familiar picture emerges:
In our familiar picture, White is perhaps a bit engaged with Buffett’s oldest sister, Margarita. Swept away by Margarita’s charms, he typed this foolish report.
Question: Will the New Yorker give us space to publish our speculation? Obviously, no—they will not. But then, they shouldn’t have let this silly old man publish his puddle of piddle.
Read that piece! (Don’t miss the part about McGuane’s lovers!) As you do, you are staring into the heart of (High Manhattan) dumbness. Progressive interests have suffered beneath this weight for a very long time.
Tomorrow: What Romney did