December 24, 2012

Mitt and Ann Romney
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Tagg Romney, you know, the eldest son of Mitt Romney who wanted to “take a swing” at President Obama after the second debate, made an unbelievable revelation in an interview with the Boston Globe. Turns out, his dad never really wanted to be president.

“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,” Tagg told Michael Kranish of the Globe. “If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside.” Kranish also noted that “Tagg … worked with his mother, Ann, to persuade his father to seek the presidency.”

On the one hand, I am inclined to believe Tagg. His father ran one of the worst presidential campaigns in modern memory. Perhaps it’s a former Massachusetts governor thing. Mike Dukakis didn’t do so hot as the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988. Also, Romney never offered a credible rationale for why he wanted to sit in the Oval Office other than he wanted to sit in the Oval Office.

On the other hand, I say horse hockey to Tagg’s assertion. His father spent the better part of six years running for the White House. And he did so in a manner that led to frequent charges of ideological promiscuity and a deep-seated mistrust among conservatives. Have we already forgotten how “anybody but Mitt” was the GOP mantra until there was nobody but Mitt left to take the nomination? Also, for a man who didn’t want to be president, he sure had no problem burying his competition under an avalanche of negative ads or tacking to the right of them on whatever issue when it was necessary to get the job done.

The one thing I believe fully is that Ann was totally behind the effort to get her husband to run again. The Post’s Philip Rucker reported that friends of the Romneys said that the would-be first lady was taking her husband’s loss especially hard because she “believed up until the end that ascending to the White House was their destiny.” Romney had to learn a life lesson the hard way: The White House is earned.

Another lesson learned the hard way is that the American people don’t like to feel like the person running for president is doing them a favor. That we should be so “lucky” to have someone like them in the White House, as Ann said of her husband during a September radio interview in Iowa. But it worked out in the end. The man who had “no desire to run” learned that the American people had no desire to have him in the White House.

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