Case Studies (3)
Mitt Romney’s trajectory as a Never Trumper is distinct from those of Mr. Kristol and Mr. Boot. While they walked away from the Republican Party Senator Romney not only remained, but apparently sees himself as the only viable alternative to a Trump transformed party. Yet this surface dissimilarity hides a deeper connection.
You might think that Senator Romney is a good fit to the “better” response discussed in this series’ first post. After all, he has decided to stay and fight rather than leave. However, it is the underlying nature of his opposition that exposes the existence of a fundamental political divorce.
I have no quarrel with a man who stands and fights for an alternative philosophical position within an institution. However, what I and others do quarrel with is an opposition that is nakedly opportunistic and brazenly hypocritical. Sadly, this description is a direct hit to Senator Romney’s opposition. And it was all laid bare in Senator Romney’s vote to convict President Trump and remove him from office.
When he made his play for the Secretary of State slot and later, sought President Trump’s support for his Senate bid, I took it to mean that he’d reconsidered his adamant opposition and thought he could work WITH the President to common purpose.
I don’t have a problem with people setting aside their differences to work with former adversaries for a good cause. What I DO have a problem with is people asserting they have principled, conscientious reasons for those differences and then conveniently and cravenly glossing over them in order to seek something of value from that former adversary. And THEN, when it’s no longer necessary, ducking back behind those so-called principles and claiming that their conscience commands them to do so.
In the statement justifying his impeachment vote Senator Romney was long on virtue signaling and defense of the Bidens, but pathetically short on explaining his reasons for being the only elected Republican to vote with the Democrats. As a consequence Senator Romney has achieved the perfect mixture of prestige and irrelevance that he appears too crave.
Let’s be clear about exactly what happened here. Romney voted to remove the sitting Republican president of the United States from office for delaying and then releasing military aid to Ukraine that his Democratic predecessor wouldn’t even give. And let’s face it, Romney probably wouldn’t have given it either. Why make trouble?
And what is Romneyism after all? What does he stand for? From his flopped presidential campaign we gather it is some pastiche of tired neoliberal globalism. A warmed-over post-Cold War vision of status quo and mediocrity. That is Romney, champion of meh.
There are no close calls when removing a president. If it’s a close call, you don’t remove him. If it’s a slam-dunk? Maybe. But Romney thinks otherwise. Somehow he, like the Democrats, found his way to deciding that the president’s approach to Ukraine was enough to overturn an election.
In a way, all of this is perfect. Never Trump was always an assemblage of Romney acolytes. He was the big hot air balloon in their parade, the Northeastish moderate Republican who can very nicely tell us all what to do. The boss who seems friendly and fine.
But Mitt Romney’s failure goes far deeper than this. Consider the fact that he in 2012 ran against a sitting President with a record of incompetence, scandal and dishonesty who had pledged to “fundamentally transform” America. After having clearly won the first Presidential Debate, candidate Romney went on to cravenly submit to humiliation at the hands of the President, his party and the mainstream media; resulting in electoral defeat.
Were you are a political party with proto-totalitarian inclinations, how but with utter contempt could you respond to this level of cowardice and knavery? Would you fear any retribution should you turn the nation’s justice, revenue and intelligence agencies into proto-secret police? No, you wouldn’t.
Let’s pray that Mitt Romney’s play to ingratiate himself with the very people who gleefully destroyed him is the final act of the Republican “kick me” brigade.