Explaining why Mitt Romney really voted to convict Trump

Mitt Romney didn't just shoot inside the Grand Old Party's tent by voting for one article of impeachment against President Trump.  The Utah senator became a heretic to the very people who once supported him, financially and electorally.

The vote for conviction goes beyond mere policy disagreement, such as the proper tax rate for depreciation recapture.  It goes beyond refusing to defend your party head.  What Romney did was lob a M67 into the center of the Republican Party, intended for everyone from Ted Cruz to Susan Collins to lifelong GOP member Ethel Grannysmith in Boca Raton, before retreating to the warm fastness of media approbation.

In some sense, Romney's yea for constitutional extraction wasn't a surprise.  Despite auditioning for the role of Foggy Bottom chief and petitioning for a presidential imprimatur for his Senate run, Romney hasn't been quiet about his disapproval of Trump.  He has openly denounced the president's behavior on more than one occasion, including calling Trump's actions on Ukraine "wrong and appalling" last fall.

Hating the president doesn't warrant impeachment.  So why did Romney join with Democrats to oust a popular leader in his party?

It's true that in lifestyle and appearance, the two couldn't be more different.  Trump is a twice-divorced former celeb and erstwhile tabloid fixture.  Romney is a square-toed financier whose extended family photo looks as if it was cribbed from a how-to Puritan handbook circa 1638.  Trump can't properly cite verses from Corinthians; Romney can extemporaneously give a step-by-step account of Christ's chiliastic return.

But even the personal abysm between Trump and Romney doesn't fully explain why the Mormon senator, who is so moderate and risk-averse that he probably wouldn't put chocolate milk in his cereal for fear of breaking convention, voted for the Democrat-drawn impeachment article.  No, Romney's support for conviction wasn't an indictment of the president at all, and not just because Trump was formally acquitted.

Like his fellow Trump critic on the right, Rep. Justin Amash, Romney's ire isn't about the man occupying the Oval Office.  It's not about presidential misconduct, inappropriate behavior, abuse of power, degrading the office, or any other euphemism for gauche etiquette the Acela-riding media like to fill their reporting with.

It's about the unconscionable act of voters: electing Donald Trump.  Mitt Romney regards the presidency as a rarefied space, where only the best, brightest, and most articulate men may enter.  Trump got there while boasting about his libidinousness.  He insulted the political class by calling them stupid, incompetent, venal, and wholly self-interested.  He mocked his presidential rivals with belittling nicknames, many quite clever and deserved.

And voters accepted it, some begrudgingly, putting the WWE Hall of Famer in the White House.  Mitt Romney wasn't voting for Trump's impeachment as much as he was voting to obviate the electoral will of millions.

The Romney-Amash comparison many journalists are now making is fitting.  Rep. Amash, who left the Republican Party in a huff last 4th of July, joined House Democrats in voting for Trump's impeachment.  "Mitt Romney — and Justin Amash — deserve a lot of respect for doing the right thing when it was hard," declared Vox founder Ezra Klein.  "Every Republican in Congress knows that Donald Trump is guilty," professed CNN's Keith Boyken.  "Only one (Justin Amash) was willing to say that in the House, and Trump forced him to leave the party.  Now one (Mitt Romney) has said that in the Senate, and history will judge the rest for their cowardice."

Even Max Boot, another former Republican, recognized Romney's and Amash's synchronistic Trump enmity.  But, as with Romney, the source of Amash's angst isn't Trump — it's Republican voters who don't share his love of Hayek and the untrammeled flow of people and capital across borders.  "It's been disheartening because the first few years while I was in Congress, I did feel like we were making progress in shifting the dialogue toward limited government and economic freedom and individual liberty," Amash lamented in an interview last summer.

Trump's focus on illegal immigration, more reciprocal trade, and cultural pugilism doesn't jibe with the classical liberalism of Milton Friedman.  But,it did with Republican voters in 2016.  Amash can't forgive their libertarian impiety.

Likewise, Romney tries to hide his contempt for the average GOP voter behind a veneer of salt-and-peppered elder statesmanship.  But he's just as petty and small as those he gets on his tiptoes to look down upon.

Former staffers on the Romney campaign are rebuking their former boss, saying he's "motivated by bitterness and jealously."  That's somewhat true, but it's not the full story.  As much as Romney craves hero status among the Georgetown set, he hates that the very people who backed his presidential run also stood behind a vulgar reality TV host.

The difference is that Trump won.  Romney will never forgive Republicans for making that happen.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Mitt Romney didn't just shoot inside the Grand Old Party's tent by voting for one article of impeachment against President Trump.  The Utah senator became a heretic to the very people who once supported him, financially and electorally.

The vote for conviction goes beyond mere policy disagreement, such as the proper tax rate for depreciation recapture.  It goes beyond refusing to defend your party head.  What Romney did was lob a M67 into the center of the Republican Party, intended for everyone from Ted Cruz to Susan Collins to lifelong GOP member Ethel Grannysmith in Boca Raton, before retreating to the warm fastness of media approbation.

In some sense, Romney's yea for constitutional extraction wasn't a surprise.  Despite auditioning for the role of Foggy Bottom chief and petitioning for a presidential imprimatur for his Senate run, Romney hasn't been quiet about his disapproval of Trump.  He has openly denounced the president's behavior on more than one occasion, including calling Trump's actions on Ukraine "wrong and appalling" last fall.

Hating the president doesn't warrant impeachment.  So why did Romney join with Democrats to oust a popular leader in his party?

It's true that in lifestyle and appearance, the two couldn't be more different.  Trump is a twice-divorced former celeb and erstwhile tabloid fixture.  Romney is a square-toed financier whose extended family photo looks as if it was cribbed from a how-to Puritan handbook circa 1638.  Trump can't properly cite verses from Corinthians; Romney can extemporaneously give a step-by-step account of Christ's chiliastic return.

But even the personal abysm between Trump and Romney doesn't fully explain why the Mormon senator, who is so moderate and risk-averse that he probably wouldn't put chocolate milk in his cereal for fear of breaking convention, voted for the Democrat-drawn impeachment article.  No, Romney's support for conviction wasn't an indictment of the president at all, and not just because Trump was formally acquitted.

Like his fellow Trump critic on the right, Rep. Justin Amash, Romney's ire isn't about the man occupying the Oval Office.  It's not about presidential misconduct, inappropriate behavior, abuse of power, degrading the office, or any other euphemism for gauche etiquette the Acela-riding media like to fill their reporting with.

It's about the unconscionable act of voters: electing Donald Trump.  Mitt Romney regards the presidency as a rarefied space, where only the best, brightest, and most articulate men may enter.  Trump got there while boasting about his libidinousness.  He insulted the political class by calling them stupid, incompetent, venal, and wholly self-interested.  He mocked his presidential rivals with belittling nicknames, many quite clever and deserved.

And voters accepted it, some begrudgingly, putting the WWE Hall of Famer in the White House.  Mitt Romney wasn't voting for Trump's impeachment as much as he was voting to obviate the electoral will of millions.

The Romney-Amash comparison many journalists are now making is fitting.  Rep. Amash, who left the Republican Party in a huff last 4th of July, joined House Democrats in voting for Trump's impeachment.  "Mitt Romney — and Justin Amash — deserve a lot of respect for doing the right thing when it was hard," declared Vox founder Ezra Klein.  "Every Republican in Congress knows that Donald Trump is guilty," professed CNN's Keith Boyken.  "Only one (Justin Amash) was willing to say that in the House, and Trump forced him to leave the party.  Now one (Mitt Romney) has said that in the Senate, and history will judge the rest for their cowardice."

Even Max Boot, another former Republican, recognized Romney's and Amash's synchronistic Trump enmity.  But, as with Romney, the source of Amash's angst isn't Trump — it's Republican voters who don't share his love of Hayek and the untrammeled flow of people and capital across borders.  "It's been disheartening because the first few years while I was in Congress, I did feel like we were making progress in shifting the dialogue toward limited government and economic freedom and individual liberty," Amash lamented in an interview last summer.

Trump's focus on illegal immigration, more reciprocal trade, and cultural pugilism doesn't jibe with the classical liberalism of Milton Friedman.  But,it did with Republican voters in 2016.  Amash can't forgive their libertarian impiety.

Likewise, Romney tries to hide his contempt for the average GOP voter behind a veneer of salt-and-peppered elder statesmanship.  But he's just as petty and small as those he gets on his tiptoes to look down upon.

Former staffers on the Romney campaign are rebuking their former boss, saying he's "motivated by bitterness and jealously."  That's somewhat true, but it's not the full story.  As much as Romney craves hero status among the Georgetown set, he hates that the very people who backed his presidential run also stood behind a vulgar reality TV host.

The difference is that Trump won.  Romney will never forgive Republicans for making that happen.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.