Mitt Romney bids to become Trump's Senate nemesis now that Flake and Corker are leaving
Mitt Romney wants America to know that he is a much better person than that icky fellow in the White House. Taking to the pages of the Trump-hating Washington Post, he kicks off the year he joins the Senate with an attack on his party's leader:
The Trump presidency made a deep descent in December. The departures of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, the appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside us, and the president's thoughtless claim that America has long been a "sucker" in world affairs all defined his presidency down.
It is well known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination. After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not. When he won the election, I hoped he would rise to the occasion. His early appointments of Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Nikki Haley, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster, Kelly and Mattis were encouraging. But, on balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.
While allowing that Trump has done some good things as well, it is Trump's character that is at issue:
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.
The president who most visibly embodied the criteria Mitt represents as key was Jimmy Carter, a religious man who, by all accounts, was so faithful to his wife that he regarded "lust in my heart" (that was not acted upon) as a sin.
How did Jimmy Carter work out for us?
Well, he was of such upstanding character that he let that nice exiled imam return to Tehran from Paris and throw out that nasty shah, who was America's ally, and who was keeping fundamentalist Islam at bay in the largest Shia-majority nation. Iran has been in the throes of tyranny ever since.
Carter's appeal to our better angels didn't do much better with the economy, where the term "stagflation" had to be invented to describe his achievement of combining low growth with virulent inflation – a phenomenon never before seen in known economic history.
All other things being equal, it would be nice to have a president who is an inspiring moral leader. But in the swamp of D.C., people may praise such a person while slipping the stiletto in the back. It takes a street fighter to keep one's back safe. And get things done.
I fear that the favorable attention Utah's Senator Mitt Romney will receive in the media is only going to encourage him in his disparagement of President Trump.
I fear that as he joins the Senate, Mitt Romney is going to adopt the role of NeverTrump scold. I'd ask him to think clearly about what a defeat for President Trump in the 2020 election would mean for the United States. Whomever the Democrats choose as their nominee, it will be someone who wants a bigger government, higher taxes, limits on the Second Amendment, CO2 regulation and taxes, and more racial favoritism by entities under the sway of the federal government.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.