The revelations about Obama's school years come from Clinton biographer David Maraniss' new book, Barack Obama: The Story. College classmates claim that young Barack was a copious user of the "sticky-green," and invented novel ways in which to smoke it, including, "chooming a doobie." I had never heard that expression, but for the uninitiated, I would assume it's synonymous with "burning a fatty," or the "smoking of a marijuana cigarette." "Barry" was also known to invent some smoking trends; one called "T.A." short for "total absorption." Another was called "roof hits," where a bunch of guys smoked pot in a car with all the windows sealed, until they tilted their heads back and inhaled the remaining smoke from the cloud in the ceiling above. Obama also had the tendency to leap forward in a pot circle shouting, "Intercepted," and take a hit out of turn, but one schoolmate said, "No one seemed to mind." I appreciate an imaginative leader that takes the initiative. If Barack had hung around some of my crazy friends, they could have taught him "the shotgun," and "inside the paper bag." The major outcry over these stories has come not so much from social conservatives as from pot smokers who object to Obama allowing the DEA to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries in California, Colorado, Montana, and Washington.
The stories about Mitt Romney's prep school days at the Cranbrook School, first reported in The Washington Post, are far more troubling. Mitt is my same age, so when I say that I know guys like Romney, I mean I know guys exactly like Romney. When long-hair first came to Knoxville, there was an unexpected reaction from the locals. Rather than correctly assume that these were the same students as before who had just grown their hair out over summer vacation, some of the citizenry reacted as if they were under alien attack. There were accounts of roving Melungeons harassing the hippies, always in groups, including reports of malicious hair-cuttings similar to the Romney incident. Ultimately, there were areas of town that long-hairs learned to avoid. The single one-on-one confrontation I witnessed between a redneck and a hippie occurred when the former asked the latter if he was "a boy or a girl," which evoked a response of an anatomical nature that started a brawl in the Vol Market. Similarly, many students were disturbed that their college was changing from the drunken party school of renown into a haven for pot smokers and sandal wearers. The line of demarcation seemed to strike right in the middle of my age group, half succumbing to the hippie ethos, and half stubbornly clutching to their bottles of Jack Daniels. There was a lot of abuse and plenty of resistance from bullies like Romney, who could not accept the changes.
Among the students who accompanied Romney on his hair-cutting foray, one recently recounted the events for the record and said, "When you see somebody who is simply different taken down that way and is terrified and you see that look in their eye, you never forget it." Although Romney claims to have forgotten it, the remorseful rabble with him that night remembered returning to their rooms shouting in triumph. A witness claimed the event has "haunted him," and referred to it as "assault and battery." Confronting the accusations on Fox News, Romney explained, "As to pranks that were played back then, I don't remember them all, but again, high school days, I did stupid things...And if anyone was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologise for that" Later, he expounded that some of his pranks "might have gone too far." I did stupid things in high school too, but that never included leading an assault on a hapless, helpless victim of non-conformity. I just did things like grow my hair long. Obama has publicly taken responsibility for his cocaine and pot use as a young man, yet Romney's the one who can't seem to remember anything.
Admittedly, Romney became an honor student at Brigham Young University where everyone looked like him: finely-coiffed, well-groomed, and white. No one to bully in Provo. In fact, the university had an honor code that included: no bad language, alcohol, tobacco, tea, or coffee, and to "observe dress and grooming standards, and live a chaste and virtuous life." The Mormon college also encouraged "undergraduate marriages," so Mitt married young. Nothing wrong with any of that, but here I had always thought that college was for raising hell and indulging in the pursuit of happiness, along with all those books and such. I believe that my college experience is more typical than Mitt Romney's. So is Barack Obama's, whose indulgences did potential harm only to himself and no one else. While Obama was doing "roof hits," Romney was doing post-mortem Mormon baptisms in Salt Lake City. Remember back when George Bush was running against Al Gore in 2000, and alot of people decided to vote for Bush because, "he was the kind of guy that you could sit down and have a beer with?" Well, Bush didn't drink beer, and neither does Mitt Romney, but if presidential preferences are determined by such inane attributes, I'd rather choom a doobie with Barack than be part of a hair-hacking posse led by the pampered and privileged son of a governor.