(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
The more we learn about Mitt Romney, the more it makes sense that his defining physical characteristic is his hair.
Since 2004, pundits have insisted that Mitt’s helmet, tinted silver at the sides just so, is “perfect” and “presidential.” His hair is one of his few natural political gifts—it is not dyed (as far as we know), any more than it ever gets mussed or hangs in his eyes. And now we know from period photos that his current do is the lineal descendant of his hair in prep school, where, in his senior year, Mitt attacked a fellow student for his defining physical characteristic: his hair.
As Jason Horowitz tells it in the Washington Post, in 1965, when Romney returned to Cranbrook School after spring break,
he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.
“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenage son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.
A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.
Lauber’s hair wasn’t just long and free, like a woman’s, and bleached as only a woman’s would be in 1965; it also covered one eye. A person was hiding under there, peeking out at the others, keeping a secret—maybe he was winking—and this made the hair on the back of young Mitt’s neck stand to attention. “He can’t look like that! That’s wrong. Just look at him!”
Maybe none of the boys who attacked Lauber felt even a momentary attraction stirring in that repulsion, the kind of repressed homoerotic feelings that Colbert weaves into his standard parody of right-wing homophobia. Romney now claims that he, apparently unlike almost everyone else at Cranbrook, hadn’t a clue that Lauber was gay (which he was).He also says he doesn’t remember anything about the incident—which he nevertheless doesn’t deny and ever so weakly apologizes for.