IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

It's not a race for sixth-grade class president

Associated Press

I sometimes think about something President Obama said in his inaugural address: "We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things."

If someone could let Obama's opponent know, I'd appreciate it.

For the second time in as many weeks, Mitt Romney's campaign taunted President Barack Obama outside a speech.

Romney's campaign bus circled Obama's fundraiser at Boston Symphony Hall Monday night several times, according to Romney deputy press secretary Ryan Williams and verified by several onlookers who said it was honking its horn as it passed.

Williams told BuzzFeed that the bus made "a few" laps before local police closed the roads around the venue before Obama's arrival. They plan on bringing the bus back after Obama leaves to attend another fundraiser.

Did the bus laps and honking disrupt the event? Actually, no -- the president's appearance was indoors and attendees couldn't see or hear the Romney campaign's antics. As Kevin Drum noted, "[T]he bus didn't interrupt anyone trying to speak, it didn't block any entrances, and it didn't harass anyone trying to get in."

So what was the point? Kevin thinks this is about the Romney campaign sending a signal to the Republican Party's right-wing base, which apparently revels in nonsense like this, that the GOP nominee hates the president every bit as much as they do. That's certainly plausible.

I also wonder, though, whether the Romney campaign is simply run by overgrown children who think the race for the presidency of the United States during a time of global crisis is qualitatively similar to a race for sixth-grade class president.

Indeed, as we discussed last week, the Romney campaign keeps doing this. Team Romney has a set of standard tactics, which include sending press releases, giving speeches, putting together ads, raising money, and apparently heckling. And instead of distancing himself from childish antics, the candidate himself has personally taken ownership of the tactics. Romney seems rather proud of the heckling.

I realize that efforts to disrupt opponents' campaigns aren't new -- they're about as old as elections themselves -- and that Democrats and their allies are hardly angels. No one side or ideology has a monopoly on virtue or vice.

But that's not really what I'm getting at here. Rather, the point is Romney is the first major-party nominee I can think who's claimed credit for obnoxious hecklers on purpose.

Is it too much to ask that the Republican candidate bring at least some degree of maturity to the national debate?