Will Mitt Romney be the man to knock out Donald Trump?

In The Atlantic, Sarah Longwell, executive director for something called Republicans for the Rule of Law, an advocacy group run by NeverTrumps still bitter that Jeb Bush was denied his designated shot to lose to Hillary, drafts a plan for Senate Republicans to finally oust Trump from office.  Her man for the job: Senator Romney.

The piece reads like a screenwriter optioning a script.  There's drama, scuttlebutt, the balancing of ambitions, character conflict, palace intrigue, a war of values.  There's even artsy ambiguity, with Longwell unable to provide a satisfying conclusion to her fictional putsch.

To synopsize: Senate Republicans hold in their hands the power to remove Trump once the Democrat-controlled House votes to impeach.  But they face a "collective-action problem": no Republican wants to be the first to convict — except, maybe, the junior senator from Utah.  Romney can lead a silent non-majority to overcome Trump's obloquy and take a principled stand for the republic.

"This all points to Romney as the perfect person to overcome the collective-action problem — he has more stature and political capital than anyone else in the Senate, but he also has the least to lose."  Longwell closes her case thusly, never exploring what a Trump-less future for Republicans looks like. 

The pat ending is probably for the best.  Otherwise, Longwell might be forced to unpack the logical implications of her call to arms, which would, in effect, euthanize the Republican Party.  The GOP's fortunes are now tied to a billionaire president.  Its success is inextricably linked to Trump's fate because its core voters won't have truck with a party that immolates itself at the request of the opposition.

House Republicans understand this.  They voted en bloc against Speaker Pelosi's impeachment inquiry, contradicting reports that the caucus was tottering in its support of Trump.  GOP voters are also not on board with impeachment, opposing it by a wide margin.

How is Mitt Romney, the man who played it too nice to give Barack Obama a worthwhile challenge, supposed to break the feeling among the Republican faithful that Democrats aren't acting on the level?  He can't, and he won't.  Nobody sparks a revolution for niceties, which is the only movement a winsome guy like Romney can lead. 

It's not as if Romney is currently standing athwart his party's leader, yelling "so vile a thing as Trump!"  He votes in line with the president's agenda 80% of the time.  Despite the hosannas he gets from mainstream reporters, the senator hasn't exactly taken up the moderate mantle.  As Matthew Walther writes, "[b]eing a Republican opponent of Trump generally means finding principled-sounding reasons for criticizing things someone does without, in many cases, actually disagreeing with them in order to win praise from people who called you a monster less than a decade ago."

Trump won by not seeking the praise of the same people who maligned Romney as a blithering racist and aspiring plutocrat.  Republican voters aren't about to go back to the days of trying to win the White House hogtied by an imperative to appear nice.  The party also isn't mostly composed of gentle Utahan suburbanites.  Romney needs to understand this new dispensation if he wants to one day hold the Republican reins.

He should keep in mind one more thing: the Washington creatures urging him to take out Trump aren't doing it for his benefit, or the country's.  It's a ploy to break the GOP, guaranteeing Democrat rule.

Like Brutus, Romney would be killing the thing he's trying to save by forcing a premature end to the Trump presidency. That's why the media are encouraging him.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

In The Atlantic, Sarah Longwell, executive director for something called Republicans for the Rule of Law, an advocacy group run by NeverTrumps still bitter that Jeb Bush was denied his designated shot to lose to Hillary, drafts a plan for Senate Republicans to finally oust Trump from office.  Her man for the job: Senator Romney.

The piece reads like a screenwriter optioning a script.  There's drama, scuttlebutt, the balancing of ambitions, character conflict, palace intrigue, a war of values.  There's even artsy ambiguity, with Longwell unable to provide a satisfying conclusion to her fictional putsch.

To synopsize: Senate Republicans hold in their hands the power to remove Trump once the Democrat-controlled House votes to impeach.  But they face a "collective-action problem": no Republican wants to be the first to convict — except, maybe, the junior senator from Utah.  Romney can lead a silent non-majority to overcome Trump's obloquy and take a principled stand for the republic.

"This all points to Romney as the perfect person to overcome the collective-action problem — he has more stature and political capital than anyone else in the Senate, but he also has the least to lose."  Longwell closes her case thusly, never exploring what a Trump-less future for Republicans looks like. 

The pat ending is probably for the best.  Otherwise, Longwell might be forced to unpack the logical implications of her call to arms, which would, in effect, euthanize the Republican Party.  The GOP's fortunes are now tied to a billionaire president.  Its success is inextricably linked to Trump's fate because its core voters won't have truck with a party that immolates itself at the request of the opposition.

House Republicans understand this.  They voted en bloc against Speaker Pelosi's impeachment inquiry, contradicting reports that the caucus was tottering in its support of Trump.  GOP voters are also not on board with impeachment, opposing it by a wide margin.

How is Mitt Romney, the man who played it too nice to give Barack Obama a worthwhile challenge, supposed to break the feeling among the Republican faithful that Democrats aren't acting on the level?  He can't, and he won't.  Nobody sparks a revolution for niceties, which is the only movement a winsome guy like Romney can lead. 

It's not as if Romney is currently standing athwart his party's leader, yelling "so vile a thing as Trump!"  He votes in line with the president's agenda 80% of the time.  Despite the hosannas he gets from mainstream reporters, the senator hasn't exactly taken up the moderate mantle.  As Matthew Walther writes, "[b]eing a Republican opponent of Trump generally means finding principled-sounding reasons for criticizing things someone does without, in many cases, actually disagreeing with them in order to win praise from people who called you a monster less than a decade ago."

Trump won by not seeking the praise of the same people who maligned Romney as a blithering racist and aspiring plutocrat.  Republican voters aren't about to go back to the days of trying to win the White House hogtied by an imperative to appear nice.  The party also isn't mostly composed of gentle Utahan suburbanites.  Romney needs to understand this new dispensation if he wants to one day hold the Republican reins.

He should keep in mind one more thing: the Washington creatures urging him to take out Trump aren't doing it for his benefit, or the country's.  It's a ploy to break the GOP, guaranteeing Democrat rule.

Like Brutus, Romney would be killing the thing he's trying to save by forcing a premature end to the Trump presidency. That's why the media are encouraging him.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.