Wednesday, January 02, 2013
What do you mean, he didn't want to run?
Just before Christmas, a report came out in the Boston Globe that got limited comment, mostly in the form of jokes. But, in the shuffle of the holidays, the contention by Tagg Romney that his father didn't really want to run for president, and didn't really want to win the election, got mostly buried.
Tagg was quoted as saying that his father "wanted to be president less than anyone I've met in my life", and that "he would have been ecstatic to step aside." Tagg also said that he and his mother, Mitt's wife, Ann, had to talk Mitt into running for the 2012 Republican nomination after losing the nomination in 2008 to John McCain.
On one level, this interpretation makes a lot of sense, especially after comments from pundits at certain points in the campaign, when it seemed to many people as if Mitt Romney was actively trying to lose the election. On the other hand, it seems like a convenient excuse for a poorly executed campaign that was littered with gaffes and missteps that seemed tone-deaf at the very least.
But, leaving that excuse-laden smell of, "Oh, he didn't really want to win", aside and assuming that this is true, that Mitt really didn't want to be president, there is a serious question to be asked:
Why, then, did he run?
It seems sort of counterintuitive that someone would take on the exhausting and expensive proposition of running for president just because one's spouse and child wants them to do it. Would you do that? Especially if, as Tagg describes his father, you are essentially a private person, made uncomfortable by the very idea of revealing your personal life to the world, would you do that? Would you spend your own money to do it? Would you feel comfortable going out and asking other people to sink their money into a campaign that you didn't really want to win? I don't think I could do that. I don't think an honest person could do that.
There are a couple of possibilities here. It's possible that Mitt, maybe with some persuasion from his family, decided that God wanted him to be president and, per the conventional attitude in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, one does not turn down a calling, because it is ultimately from God. On the other hand, Mitt could have decided that being president is the ultimate status symbol. Clearly, wealth and status are things that mean a lot to Mitt Romney, so this is a possibility.
As far as I'm concerned, neither one of these reasons are very good reasons to run for an office as important as the presidency, if one doesn't really want to hold that office.
I'm on record, here on this blog, I think, as beleiving that Mitt didn't want to be president so much as he wanted to be able to say he was president. We made a lot of fun of George W. Bush, when he was president, for his continual statements that being president was hard work, considering the fact that he never looked like he was working very hard at all. But the truth is, if you're doing it right, being the President of the United States is hard work. You don't want someone in the office who isn't willing to put in the hard work necessary to run a large and powerful nation. I'm not convinced that, had he won, Mitt would have been willing to put in that work, especially in light of his son's contention that he didn't really want to be president in the first place.
In my opinion, going ahead and running for the office of president under these conditions is an insult to the American people.
Running because "God wants me to be president" isn't any better a reason, I don't think, even if the person running believes it to be true. It might even be a worse reason if the candidate believes that. This is not a theocracy; it is, depending on your political philosophy, a democracy or a republic (or a little of both). I don't want someone running the country who believes that his decisions are endorsed by his God. That attitude could lead to abuses all too easily.
Having said all this, however, I don't believe for a minute that Mitt Romney didn't want to run and didn't want to win. He might not have been interested of doing the hard work a president must do, but he wanted the status of the office, and he wanted to win very, very badly. If he hadn't wanted to win, he wouldn't have gone through that whole charade on election night of having his people raise the possibility of challenging the election results in one or more key states.
The whole question of whether or not Mitt wanted to run does bring up one chilling question, though. What if he had won? Would he have gone the Sarah Palin route and done what she did with the governorship of Alaska? When the charm had worn off of being president, when he realized that he would have had to work at the job, would he have just quit? And where would that have left the country, if he had done that?
I'll tell you where it would have left us. With Paul Ryan as president.
And that is a truly frightening prospect.