Utah’s U.S. Senator-elect Mitt Romney cheered the New Year’s cockles of “the resistance” and Trump-haters everywhere with a Washington Post op-ed condemning the President’s character. In substance, Romeny’s argument is indistinguishable from what regularly appeared on “Ethics Alarms” throughout 2016. For example, Mitt writes,
“…To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow “our better angels.” A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Thank you, Senator Obvious! And this observation and frontal insult helps the situation exactly how?
It doesn’t, of course. I cheered and admired Romney for taking the stand he did against Trump before the GOP Convention, writing,
Romney’s timing was superb. On the day of the GOP debate, he provided all of Trump’s opponents with twenty times the ammunition needed to sink most candidacies, and deftly alerted his audience to look for the personal attacks on Romney sure to come. The news media, which is so shameless in pursuit of a storyline, has been relentless characterizing Romney’s speech as “the establishment’s” declaration of war on The Donald. That unfairly minimizes what Romney did. Romney spoke for all Americans—you know, the responsible ones—who don’t want an unstable buffoon succeeding Washington, Lincoln, FDR and Ronald Reagan. He did it with the skill and power, and presenting anyone trying to rebut his points with a daunting, indeed, impossible task.
That speech in March, 2016 needed to be made, and it also needed to be heeded. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. GOP voters preferred the non-politician to the professional variety, and the debates showed why. Chris Christie accepted his metaphorical silver for squishing Marco Rubio to help clear the way for Trump; Marco himself behaved like a juvenile amateur; John Kasich set new highs (lows?) in pandering wishy-washy-ness; Ted Cruz was loathsome as usual, and Ben Carson gave us all new doubts about the validity of assumptions that brilliant surgeons are brilliant anyplace but the operating room. Worst of all, none of the candidates had the guts to deliver in the debates the kind of “Have you no decency?” attack that might have cleared the fog from voters’ eyes and brains. Then the Republican Party declined to act responsibly and refuse to nominate someone who should not have been the nominee of a responsible party, and given the equally unpalatable option of voting for Hillary Clinton, the nation’s voters put Romney’s bete noire in the White House.
Now what? Well, Mitt needs to understand The Julie Principle. By now it should be obvious to all that Trump’s character isn’t going to change. Indeed, we’ve learned some positive aspects about his character, such as the fact that hate and insults don’t slow him down at all. If Romney had displayed 1/100th of Trump’s combativeness when the Democrats, Harry Reid, Barack Obama and the news media were engaged in character assassination against him during the 2012 campaign, Donald Trump might still be hosting “The Apprentice,” and the catastrophic and corrupt Obama second term might not have left the mess that Trump was directed to clean-up. Romney, at this point, is one of the last public figures President Trump is going to take tips from.
What, then, was Romney’s objective, as he used the pages of the all-Trump-hate-all-the-time, full “resistance” Washington Post to emulate Jeff Flake?
He was grandstanding and virtue-signaling, that’s all. Maybe he thinks he can challenge Trump for the nomination. He was also putting wind in the sails of the Democrats who are determined to impeach Trump for beating them, an act that would endanger all future Presidents, Republican and Democratic alike, including Alternate Universe President Romney. Isolating Trump further with personal attacks is not the way to encourage him to play nice with others, while pointing out the accountability of Democrats, “the resistance” and the news media in making the nation “divided, resentful and angry” would be lot more likely to do some good than recycling Mitt’s Greatest Hits for Trump-Haters.