December 3, 2012

Phil Rucker’s Sunday article in The Post about the post-election life of Mitt Romney was rich in behind-the-scenes color.

The defeated Republican presidential nominee has been seen tooling around La Jolla, Calif., in a “new black Audi Q7, a luxury sport-utility vehicle manufactured in Slovakia.” He will spend the winter months at his mansion there (and the summer months at his compound on Lake Winnipesaukee). The massive renovation that will add another 8,000


Mitt and Ann Romney(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

square feet and will include a car elevator has not yet begun. As a result, over Thanksgiving the Romney clan stuffed themselves into the current 3,000 square-foot oceanfront home. Rucker reports that Boston Market was the provider of the turkey dinner because it was pell-mell around the house with all the kids running around.

But the detail in the story that caught my attention was the tidbit about how Romney’s wife, Ann, is reportedly dealing with the loss.

By all accounts, the past month has been most difficult on Romney’s wife, Ann, who friends said believed up until the end that ascending to the White House was their destiny. They said she has been crying in private and trying to get back to riding her horses. 

Okay, let’s be clear here. Friends of the Romneys are saying this “ascending” and “destiny” about Ann, not Ann herself. Still, the mindset displayed in that paragraph is in line with what we’ve come to expect of the aspiring first lady.

In April, when ABC News’s Diane Sawyer asked the Romneys what they would say to President and Mrs. Obama, Mitt began with “Start packing.” If what he said was ungracious then what his wife had to say was presumptuous.   

I believe it’s Mitt’s time. I believe that the country needs the kind of leadership that he is going to be able to offer and I believe he is the person that can turn around this economy. So I think it is, it’s our turn now.

In September, Ann Romney took on the many Republican critics of her husband’s presidential campaign during an Iowa radio interview. Her tone was one of understandable exasperation. But there was also an imperious whiff to what she had to say.

Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring. 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.

Another example might be her July interview with ABC News’s Robin Roberts where she was questioned about the campaign’s reluctance to release more tax returns. Romney reportedly said, “We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life.” But I’ve watched the video a gazillion times by now and my ears swear to me they hear “all people need to know.” Perhaps I’m being overly generous in my interpretation.

Given her past remarks, and some disdainful ones by her husband, it’s easy to understand why folks would think the worst. Still, what is not in doubt to me is Ann Romney’s strong belief that not only was she going to be first lady but also she deserved to be first lady. The presidency and the role of first lady are earned. They are neither a matter of whose turn it is nor destiny. Like so many others, Ann Romney apparently had to learn this the hard way.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.