When people tell you who they are, listen.
And what the Romney family has told us is that they are singularly unsuited to do anything but take public tours at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
It starts with Mitt Romney, the candidate, but it’s more than that. I have the problems with Romney that one would expect from someone who believes in things like social nets, choice and empowering the middle class. I’m not inclined to believe that people create jobs because they have more money in their pockets, they create jobs when demand makes it profitable to hire another worker. Common sense things.
But the part that keeps me up at night about a Mitt Romney presidency is the idea that the Romney family would hold power and influence they’ve shown no indication of handling gracefully.
This came through on Wednesday when Tagg Romney, one of Mitt’s 5 boys, said during an interview with North Carolina radio host Bill LuMaye that he “wanted to take a swing at” President Barack Obama during Obama’s Tuesday night’s second debate vs. his father.
This wasn’t a Tweet from a private account. It wasn’t a leaked recording. It was a radio interview, accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.
This is unprecedented. George W. Bush never saying anything of the sort when his father, H.W., was in a fight for his political life against Bill Clinton — a fight he would lose.
Even Mitt Romney, then a teenager, said nothing like this about Richard Nixon when his father was fighting for the GOP presidential nomination in 1968. And neither Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon was even president at the time.
This just doesn’t happen. The reason it doesn’t is because the family of a candidate for the White House usually has too much respect to publicly envision physically attacking the President of the United States, too much shame to admit such a thought within miles of a microphone. Tagg Romney has no such shame.
If I had any doubts about The Washington Post’s report that Mitt Romney and his buddies bullied a Cranbrook classmate whose hair was a little too long and a little too blonde for the mid-1960s, Tagg’s violent talk dispelled them.
The Romneys are so privileged that when they see things they don’t like, be it a could-be-gay classmate or an opposition unwilling to praise his father’s vulture capitalism, they get physical. I don’t know much about Mormonism but I don’t think anyone who calls themselves a Judeo-Christian, as the Romneys do, can countenance this behavior. In either instance.
Tagg’s words seem especially tough talk for a boy who has never served America a day in his life. As the Twittersphere caught wind of Tagg’s remarks, a common thought was that if Tagg Romney really wants to fight, he should join one of those wars America has going (remember those?). Of course, the thought likely never crossed his mind; military service is something for other people.
Despite the fact that America has fought wars during Mitt’s prime (Vietnam) and those of his boys (Iraq and Afghanistan), neither Romney nor his 5 boys have ever deigned to serve the country Mitt claims to want to lead.
Tagg’s threat comes comes on the heels of another silly statement by a Romney son, this time Josh, who continued Mitt’s Obama-as-child argument from the first debate. Mitt was able to finesse the line there, never crossing over into outright disrespect. Josh was not nearly as adept, saying that he and his brothers taught Pappa Mitt “how to debate an obstinate child.”
That’s an argument Mitt Romney can make. He’s a grown man. He’s got pelts on his wall. He’s trying to win the highest office in the land and all’s fair when the stakes are that high. But Josh had no place saying it.
Ann Romney, meanwhile, seems angry that us peasants have delayed Mitt’s coronation for this silly election. (Mitt understands it’s an election, but was foolish enough to say, on a conference call with business leaders, that the ‘job creators’ should tell their employees to vote Romney.)
This is why she whined to an Iowa radio host about Republicans showing concerns about whether the man they nominated and invested millions in was up for the task, a common question before Mitt’s bravura performance in the first debate.
“Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” Romney said. “This is hard and, you know, it’s an important thing that we’re doing right now and it’s an important election and it is time for all Americans to realize how significant this election is and how lucky we are to have someone with Mitt’s qualifications and experience and know-how to be able to have the opportunity to run this country.”
Soon thereafter, Ann would tell a Nevada TV station that her biggest fear, if her husband wins, is for Mitt’s “mental well-being.”
“I think my biggest concern obviously would just be for his mental well-being,” Romney said. “I have all the confidence in the world in his ability, in his decisiveness, in his leadership skills, in his understanding of the economy. … So for me I think it would just be the emotional part of it.”
Mitt’s mental well-being, and that of his family, some of the only people who will have his ear, should be a concern for us all. People who bristle at criticism and competition on the campaign trail are particularly ill-suited to face a Middle East full of landmines or a China on the rise.
In the aggregate, these statements reveal a family that expects a crowning rather than the hard-fought contest America deserves.
Tagg Romney’s foolish statement was bad, but many will write it off because it was said about a black male. There will be no one so charitable if he pops off with a similar remark about, say, Vladimir Putin.
The Romneys would clearly rather be somewhere else right now — perhaps resuming work on their car elevator in La Jolla, California.
Let’s do the right thing and let them enjoy their money, unburdened from the weight and the glare of public service.
Sad to say it, but the Romneys are who we thought they were. Fortunately, for the rest of us, come Nov. 6, President Obama won’t be letting them off the hook.