The Washington Post has a big story of the sort that opposition researchers love, an event from the past that can discredit a candidate with voters. Reportedly, when Mitt Romney was in high school, he and some friends jumped a guy with long hair–someone who was also teased as being gay–and cut his hair.
Romney does not remember the incident, but has apologized anyway. Meanwhile, some bloggers are questioning the story, noting at least one big contradiction in the account.
First of all, is this a legitimate story, or is it biased gotcha journalism with a political purpose?
Second, is it fair to use a person’s childhood or adolescent behavior to discredit him as an adult?
Third, does this incident disclose a character flaw that should disqualify a person from public office?
Fourth, do you think this report could harm Romney’s squeaky-clean image, to the point of making voters–who often care more for image than for issues–think that he’s mean and so refuse to vote for him?
Finally, is this story a portent that journalism, political discourse, and our democratic republic are all doomed?