I am in the camp that faults almost everything about this story: its timing–posting it the day after President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage was a thinly veiled effort to link Romney’s opposition to a pattern of bigotry; its placement as a stand-alone piece when the details merited at best inclusion in a longer profile; its strained attempt at making nearly 50 year old events relevant; and its effort to exaggerate the perennial cruelties of adolescence into the systematic brand of bullying that we have become sensitized to today.
That a major newspaper got so many things so wrong is hard to justify as anything other than an agenda. Somewhere along the way, a major section of the press has absorbed the idea that Romney is a hollow kind of character without empathy or conviction, who has sold his soul to a hard-right clique in his party,and whose election would reverse the dawn of a new multi-cultural, tolerant America.
Having convinced itself that Romney is so flawed, much of that press has fed virtually every inspection of his record and past through such an unforgiving filter. The effect is that too much of the coverage of Romney looks exactly like the chain-letter attacks the DNC spits out every day.
Its one thing for a blogger or a columnist to develop a character thesis and dig away at it. Its another thing for an established press organ with a neutral face to go that route.