An unpleasant trip down memory lane

Updated
 
There's renewed interest in what kind of young man Mitt Romney was.
There's renewed interest in what kind of young man Mitt Romney was.
Associated Press

Whether one considers Mitt Romney’s actions as a young man relevant or not in 2012, the story took on a life of its own yesterday, as the public got a better sense of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s personal background.

After the Washington Post reported that Romney, as an 18-year-old high-school senior, assaulted a younger classmate believed to be gay, the Romney campaign started reaching out to the school’s alumni to say nice things about the Republican to the media. That didn’t go well – ABC News talked to one former student who said Romney’s behavior was “evil” and “like Lord of the Flies.”

The controversy was made more complicated when, as Rachel explained last night, Romney reflected on the details of incidents he simultaneously claimed not to recall.

But as the day progressed, there was a sharper focus on far more contemporary events, which are clearly more relevant in the presidential race, and whether the Republican has a problem with gay people. The New York Times, for example, reported that Romney, during his Senate campaign, questioned whether gay men would make good Boy Scout leaders, implying that there’s a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia.

More relevant still were Romney’s actions as governor.

Mitt Romney clashed with a state commission tasked with helping LGBT youth at risk for bullying and suicide throughout his term as Massachusetts governor over funding and its participation in a pride parade. He eventually abolished the group altogether. […]

The Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, created by Republican Gov. William Weld in 1992 in response to newly released statistics showing alarmingly high suicide rates among gay and lesbian teens, was designed to combat harassment in schools. It served at the pleasure of the state’s chief executive. The commission funded Gay Straight Alliances in high schools and provided training and information for teachers.

And it’s against this backdrop that the Republican, if elected president, will fight for an anti-gay amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Had Romney taken this opportunity to show some leadership, express sincere regret (instead of laughing his way through a pseudo apology), and take a firm stand against bullying, the day probably would have unfolded quite differently. Instead, it appears likely this will be an issue that lingers and helps define the candidate’s character.

Mitt Romney

An unpleasant trip down memory lane

Updated