When Mitt Romney was elected as a U.S. senator in Utah, I naively said to myself he will try to build a strong relationship with President Donald Trump in order to make more of a listener out of him.
At the same time, he will try to build understandings with both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate so they could see ways in which respectful negotiating tactics could advance some of their causes.
Getting the temperature down just a few degrees could serve the nation mightily, I thought. But no sooner had Romney arrived in Washington than he began slamming Trump, even writing an op-ed reiterating faults advertised daily. He didn’t seem the least bit eager to mesh with fellow Republicans. And I therefore began reviewing my thoughts about him.
He is an extremely bright man who graduated near the top of a Harvard University program that handed out both an MBA and a law degree.
He rose in the equity business to be just about the best executive it had ever known, although leftists would never forgive its profits. He was a governor in Massachusetts and a man who gave his inheritance to charity and started a foundation. He would go out on weekends to personally help people in need.
Then he was a Republican presidential candidate facing Barack Obama.
He was at first fierce and fine and a winner in the first debate, but lost the second when Obama blindly said Russians were no longer our enemy and a CNN moderator entered the debate on Obama’s side.
Being a Mormon probably cost him votes of bigots on both the left and the right. The main thing, however, was that he did not seem authentic. You were not sure he believed what he said.
The left absurdly made him out to be as heartless as he was rich, and then he aided their cause by saying that about 49% of Americans were just trying to live off others. This was akin to Hillary Clinton talking of some Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” condescension thrown the way of people already living in hurtful degradation.
Right now, Romney won’t say whether he thinks the Democratic impeachment movement is right or wrong, when this business has been an abomination from Mueller until now.
It has been a partisan, deceptive concoction of hooey that shows zero respect for our Constitution or our democracy. That’s true by my reckoning even if Trump is irredeemably unfit for the office. Let the voters decide. Don’t make up collusion stories. Don’t hide whistleblowers. Find Democratic presidential candidates whose policies are not absurd.
Romney also attacked Trump on the Syria decision, and I am with him on the awfulness of deserting the Kurds, empowering Turkey and possibly reinvigorating ISIS.
But he went so far as to say this was a “blood stain on American history” when there are far worse instances of us leaving allies undefended after the fighting is done. Criticize Trump, yes, but leave the hyperbole where it belongs, in the mouths of partisans.
It’s interesting to learn in all of this that, before Trump’s political days, he and Romney were occasional buddies. In Trump’s run for the presidency, Romney was horrified. Then Trump considered him for secretary of state and they seemed friends again.
The current Romney fervor is aimed more at getting the man than elevating the situation, a signal of that being a Romney Twitter account in which he calls himself Pierre Delecto and calls Trump something else.
I think there are players in the game right now – Attorney General William Barr is one – who are wise and strong enough to bend events in better directions. I wish there were more.
Tribune News Service columnist Jay Ambrose can be reached at email@example.com.
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