Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) Washington Post op-ed this week was presumably intended to be a declaration of moral superiority and political leadership. If this was the goal, Romney’s commentary fell flat. The piece was, however, an effective case study in why Trump won in the first place.
The op-ed offers no concrete examples of which of Trump’s values and policies Romney finds objectionable, instead relying on vagueness and the favorite fallback of the never-Trump crowd: “he’s just offensive”. The term “bad character” is repeatedly used, but never explained. What about President Trump’s character does Romney find so unsuitable? And going beyond the president’s character, why is Romney willfully ignoring all the good Trump has done for the country over his own personal differences with the man?
Romney is not new to the game of politics – he knows he has a chance to help the Republican Party and make a very real impact on our country’s future. Which makes it all the more baffling why he’d attack the president before even being sworn into the Senate.
But in his attacks on the president, Romney inadvertently exposed all of his own weaknesses. An establishment Republican through and through, Sen. Romney is just one of the many swamp-dwellers Trump has readily unmasked and humiliated in his less than two years in office.
Although framed as an attack on the president (“Trump’s character falls short,” the headline reads), the op-ed reads more like Romney giving himself a pat on the back. Highly self-congratulatory, Sen. Romney praises himself for his differences with Trump, all while ignoring the biggest difference: unlike the former Massachusetts governor, Trump actually won his bid for president.
This is common among President Trump’s critics—most show more interest in attacking his perceived weaknesses than they do in accepting their own. Romney has to focus on the differences between himself and Trump, because if he focused on their similarities he’d have to come to terms with his numerous failures. Like Trump, Romney was a businessman and a prominent figure in the American public sphere throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Both had established reputations as competitive, business-minded men and both were portrayed by liberals as ruthless, transactional figures. But of the two men, only one has achieved real results for America.
By criticizing Trump and focusing on their perceived differences, Romney avoids accepting that Donald J. Trump did what he could never do. As the president himself put it in a tweet responding to the op-ed, “I won big and he didn’t.”
Rather than wasting his time trying to build the never-Trump Republican faction in Congress or become some sort of #Resistance icon, Sen. Mitt Romney should spend his time focusing on policy objectives, specifically on issues like border security.
Picking a fight with his own party’s president exposed Mitt Romney’s political weakness and lack of foresight more than anything else. While the mainstream media has already lionized the Utah senator for his commentary, portraying it as heroic and virtuous, it’s important that the rest of America recognizes Romney’s flaccid op-ed for what it really is: the gripes of a sore loser.