Romney son's anti-Obama vent is no hit

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Tagg "Big Man, Big Talk" Romney says he wanted to "take a swing" at President Barack Obama for standing up to his father during their contentious debate this week.

A few weeks ago when Mr. Obama barely registered a pulse during their first debate, Tagg held his anger in check.

Back then, it was hard for Tagg to get mad at a guy whose opening gambit was to assume a fetal position against his dad. Whether Mr. Obama accused his father of being untruthful took a back seat to the awful optics of the situation -- a sitting president refusing to make eye contact with his energized challenger.

Such complacency might as well have been a lifetime ago.

Mr. Obama showed up for the second debate with Mr. Romney this week genuinely incensed that lies and obfuscation had been so handsomely rewarded by the polls. Consequently, Mr. Obama did what he should've done weeks ago -- he called his opponent a liar, in the most polite way possible.

This didn't sit well with Taggart "Tagg" Romney, Mr. Romney's eldest son. When asked during a radio interview about the president's refusal to resume his role as a punching bag, the 42-year-old showed his slightly hyperventilating, gosh-gee-whiz Alpha Male side.

The interviewer asked how it made him feel to hear the president call his father a liar, as if that were some unique statement in the annals of Romney put-downs after two bruising primary runs.

"Well, you want to jump out of your seat and rush down to the debate stage and take a swing at him," the candidate's son said with a laugh. "But you know you can't do that because, well, first because there's a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because this is the nature of the process. They're gonna try to do everything they can do to try to make my dad into someone he's not."

So, if not for his fear of the Secret Service, Tagg Romney would've taken a swing at the president? Somehow I doubt it.

I don't see this guy rushing up to anyone under any circumstances to take an unprovoked swing, especially if his intended target is someone who knows his way around a gym.

And let's address the elephant in the room: Tagg Romney was in no hurry to rush the stage when primary opponents this year and in 2008 questioned Mitt Romney's integrity. He wouldn't have had to worry about the Secret Service intervening when Gov. Rick Perry was mocking his father. Why didn't he take a swing at the Texas governor? Because Mr. Perry would have stomped him silly and then stomped his dad for good measure.

When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich explicitly called Mitt Romney a liar, somehow Tagg Romney kept his composure. Former Sen. Rick Santorum insisted that Gov. Romney was the worst possible nominee the GOP could run against Barack Obama. Tagg smiled through Mr. Santorum's withering assessment and kept his violent thoughts to himself. There were no goofy threats giggled into radio microphones back then, despite ample opportunities.

The fact that Tagg Romney could vent to his fantasies about taking a swing at the first black president is a testament to his broad-mindedness in a way. He's another Republican who "doesn't see color." All Tagg Romney sees is someone taking a shot at his dad, and it makes him mad now in a way that didn't make him quite as mad before.

Still, the idea of a middle-aged white Mormon guy rushing a stage, even in his fantasy, to attack a black man of any stature certainly has a whiff of the 19th century about it.

I wonder how smoothly the assault went in his fevered imagination. The way Mr. Obama was pacing the stage during the second debate, it wouldn't have gone in real life quite the way Tagg planned it.

The president was listless during his first debate with Mitt Romney, but even at his least engaged, he wouldn't have turned the other cheek for Tagg Romney. He wouldn't have needed the Secret Service to take care of business on that front, either.

This is one of the nastiest presidential contests ever because there's a subtext that a lot of Americans refuse to acknowledge -- much of the opposition to Mr. Obama is rooted in racial resentment. People feel free to say things to and about this president they would never have dreamed of saying about any other recent president.

As much as liberals hated President George W. Bush, I never heard the son of a Democratic rival or critic say he wanted to take a swing at him.

Different strokes for different folks? Ask Tagg Romney.

tonynorman

Tony Norman: tnorman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1631. Twitter: @TonyNormanPG.


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