Mitt Romney Tells Us All We Need to Know About the Republican Party
Tomorrow, former Governor and Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney will be sworn into the U.S. Senate. Yesterday, Romney rang in the new year with an op-ed for The Washington Post decrying President Trump’s character as lacking.
“The president shapes the public character of the nation. Trump’s character falls short.”
Without citing specifics, he rightly lambasts Trump for “resentment and name-calling” during the campaign, and for other unspecified character flaws throughout the last two years of the presidency. He goes into detail about how Trump’s boorish incivility has cost us much on the international stage, citing Pew polls which show that European approval of America fell from 84% to 16% in the span of one year.
This censure of the president’s gross discourtesy is certainly important, and we need to see more of it from Republican leaders. Especially in a time when Trump’s approval ratings among Republican voters remain at or near 90% in spite of his uncouth behavior and his many scandals.
But let’s not give Romney more credit than he deserves here.
In the op-ed, he lists several Trump policy decisions he considers admirable. He praises the corporate tax cuts, the stripping of what he calls “excessive” regulations, the trade war with China, and the appointment of conservative judges. No one should be surprised by this. As he rightly tells us, these are policies the Republican party has supported for years.
And that’s the problem.
Romney mentions the importance of balancing the national budget, while failing to mention that it is these same Republican policies which have ballooned the deficit to a six-year high, with expectations that the deficit will top $1 trillion in 2019.
It’s the same old story. Republicans pretending to care about balancing the budget, while their policy decisions tell us something different.
The myth of Republican fiscal conservatism is dead. It’s time we bury it.
Briefly, Romney also takes aim at Russia and China, calling them “autocratic, corrupt and brutal” regimes, and saying that a world led by them, and not the U.S., is a world “with less prosperity, less freedom, less peace.”
This is not the first time Romney has spoken out against Russia. In his 2012 debate with former President Obama, both were asked who they thought presented the biggest geopolitical threat to America and her interests.
Obama’s answer: Al-Qaeda.
Obama responded with a humorous quip that, at the time, earned him points with the audience:
“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
It was one of the highlights of the debate, at the time, a jab from which Romney would not recover.
But as it turns out, Romney was right.
Russia’s interference in the 2016 election is well documented. It was enough to incite Congress to pass a sanctions bill against Russia with near unanimity: 98–2 in the Senate, and 419–3 in the House.
Russia, however, had already retaliated against Romney for his remarks. According to the Steele dossier, it was Russia who nixed Romney’s chances at Secretary of State.
It is curious, then, that Romney, who has been critical of Russia in the past, has nothing to say about Russia in his criticism of Trump.
It brings to mind Mitch McConnell, and his continued refusal to allow any legislation that would protect Mueller from being fired from even being heard on the Senate floor.
Trump’s corruption, his alleged ties to Russia during the campaign and after, Special Counsel Mueller’s investigations and the many indictments that have stemmed from it — none of that is mentioned in Romney’s op-ed.
The entire focus is on Trump’s incivility.
The message, then, seems to be this: Trump’s policies are not the problem. Trump’s corruption is not the problem. Trump’s criminal activity is not the problem. He just needs to be more polite, more civilized, more dignified.
Several Republicans like Romney are attempting to distance themselves from Trump, but what they’re telling us is that the Republican party will not be substantially different once Trump is gone. They’re telling us we can expect more of the same.
They’ll just dress it up better.