On Sunday, Mitt Romney was on the de rigueur “pivot to video” program, Axios on HBO. In an interview with Mike Allen, Romney was asked about why GOP senators and congressmen were closing ranks behind President Trump despite the efforts of the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC, NPR, MSNBC, CNN, etc, etc. In particular, he addressed the phenomenon that infuriates the media which is that GOP politicians might criticize Trump off the record but no one will go on the record doing so.
- “There’s no upside in going on out and attacking the leader of your party, ’cause that’s just gonna let someone come in and primary you on the right. So people want to hang onto their job.”
- “But there’s another reason, which is more elevated. And that is people … genuinely believe, as I do, that conservative principles are better for our country and for the working people of our country than liberal principles and that if Elizabeth Warren were to become president, for instance, or if we were to lose the Senate, that it would not be good for the American people.”
- “And they don’t want to do something which makes it more likely for Elizabeth Warren to become president or for us to lose the Senate. So they don’t want to go out and criticize the leader of our party because they feel that might have the consequence of hurting our country longer term.”
This is the kind of self-serving smarminess that has always infuriated me about Romney. He takes a completely justifiable impulse and tries to make it sound dirty and uses it to rationalize his own behavior and, in the process, signaling that he’s not one of those gawdawful tribal Republicans. He’s the New Republican Man who can always find good in his political enemies and whose allies have an infinite number of motes in their eyes that he must remove using his Vise-Grips.
The fact is that Elizabeth Warren is the most likely candidate. The Clinton wing of the Democrat party has lined up behind her and they are letting QuidProJoe twist in the howling gale of his own corruption. Warren is only getting manhandled by Tulsi Gabbard and because of that Gabbard has now become a target of the Clinton smear machine. Biden tried to attack Warren but, in the process, managed to make Warren look sympathetic and to highlight his own record of claiming credit for things he had little to do with.
If you really feel that a Warren presidency, or worse yet, a Warren presidency accompanied by Democrat control of the Senate, would be a calamity for the nation and for its people, then only a moron or a pompous, self-righteous ass, or a staff writer a The Bulwark or The Dispatch would do anything to enable one or the other of those things to happen. This is not new. The idea that a movement cannot succeed if it spends time bickering among itself is quite old:
24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him.27But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.
So what’s the big insight here?
The clear implication of Romney’s interview is that he’s not an outlier in criticizing Trump (probably true), but he, alone, is a man possessed of such courage and such amazing principles that he’d rather lose than besmirch those sacred principles and to show you just how amazingly courageous and principled he is, he’s willing to go on a center-left television program and announce them.
We so dodged the bullet in 2008 and 2012.