Mitt Romney’s first act of 2019: attack Trump

Mitt Romney is about to be sworn in as the junior Republican senator from Utah. This is a time for him to send important messages to his constituents. For example, he could discuss the failings of the increasingly socialist Democrat party. He could consider concerns about religious liberty. He could talk about the importance of following the Constitution. He could opine on the government shutdown and border security. So many potential things to discuss and Mitt….pens a pointed op-ed lambasting Republican President Trump.

You can read that op-ed here.

Key paragraph:

To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow “our better angels.” A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.

What is going on with Mitt Romney? There have been plenty of conspiracy theories, that Romney is working with insiders to bring down Trump at the behest of the Deep State, for example. I don’t think that’s it.

If you watch the Netflix documentary on Mitt and follow his public career, his behavior is actually quite easy to understand: he went into public service out of a sense of duty and obligation, not because he is power hungry. He is speaking out against Trump because he truly feels Trump’s behavior is repugnant and below the dignity of the presidency.

There are a myriad of problems with this, but the biggest is that Romney simply has no self-awareness.

Romney relentlessly attacked Trump during the 2016 campaign. Then, when Trump got elected Romney went crawling to Trump for a Cabinet position (see the photo above). When Trump turned him down, Romney went back to criticizing him. When Romney decided to run for the Senate, Trump offered an endorsement, and Romney happily accepted it. And now Romney is back in attack mode against Trump.

Does Romney, after all of the charges of flip-flopping during his two unsuccessful presidential campaigns, not see the irony of the master flip-flopper doing his thing regarding Trump?

Romney will always be supported by a majority of Utah voters, but here is how Republicans outside of Utah see Romney’s behavior: self-righteous sore loser. No integrity. More concerned with being loved by the DC establishment than being principled.

But don’t take it from me. Here is the comment from Romney’s own niece, Ronna McDaniel, who heads the Republican National Committee:

Ronna McDaniel on Twitter
POTUS is attacked and obstructed by the MSM media and Democrats 24/7. For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack @realdonaldtrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive.

Even worse for Romney, Trump’s response instead of being the usual full frontal assault was somewhat restrained:

Donald J. Trump on Twitter
Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!

My take: Mitt is a good man. I would love to have him as a bishop or stake president or even a general authority. I do believe his intentions are good. But I don’t think he comes across very well here. You can maintain your integrity while accepting that Trump is president and you need to work with him to get things done. Mike Lee and Rand Paul, both Republican senators who have problems with Trump, have shown the proper path here: be friendly with the president and work with him to get stuff done. Their tactics bore fruit in December with legalization of hemp, criminal justice reform and a less interventionist foreign policy.

Mitt likes to think of himself as the ultimate pragmatist. But he seems completely unaware that he appears to be acting out of emotion, not pragmatism. If there is anything we have learned in the two years of Trump it is that he does not like being attacked. Mitt might end up being the least effective Republican senator in the country. How is that a good thing?

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

20 thoughts on “Mitt Romney’s first act of 2019: attack Trump

  1. It’s pretty easy to understand. When the guy just gets elected you do what you can to help him and the country be successful.

    When he’s gearing up to stay in office another 4 years, you assess if he’s been a good President and pass judgement.

    This whole secstate thing is a misnomer. I’m no pretty sure both Kavanaugh and Gorsuch don’t think good character is befitting of the President even though he nominated them, and they accepted.

    We would not tolerate it in the least if Obama or Hilary was engaging in these kinds of displays.

    That says nothing about whether or not when called to serve your country, that you strongly consider serving.

    Think about Moroni and Mormon, fighting and leading a wicked fallen people.

    Were they flipfloppers? We shouldn’t buy into those characterizations.

    I would like to see Mitt attacking the national socialization of the USA as well. But he might feel it’s best to set the tone that he’s not working for Trump at the outset. Maybe that kind of push back in his own party can actually steer him in the right direction.

  2. In my circles, Romney isn’t being seen as a flip- flopper in his relationship with Trump, but rather as someone smart enough to take advantage of Trump’s offerings (made when Trump knows very well of Romney’s history). It’s Trump who is thought to be somewhat foolish for offerring support to Romney. And I’m not in a highly LDS area where people love Romney all that much.

    It is interesting just how much attention Romney is getting with his statement. I have no doubt it was calculated to do so. We’ll see what he does going forward. Seemed mostly about staking a place to me.

  3. How about addressing issues like the wall, religious freedom or bringing troops home from various adventures? Mike Lee has stood the test so far and I want him to remain as long as he is able. Romney runs the risk of looking like the designated replacement for Flake and McCain. When I lived in Washington DC area and visited the national mall I saw people strolling along in suits looking around with somewhat self important looks to see if people noticed them. I realized at last that they were congressman who felt that they were somehow extra special. Trump has been a celebrity for years and there is no question of his yuge ego. It is a sad thing when someone like Romney takes on the mantle that destroyed my respect for such as McCain and Flake.

  4. Or recognize that Mitt has some semblance of a moral compass. Or see that some people don’t fall for “the wall” trap, or simply rush to say “but conservative judges!!!” and then grant, with impunity, Trump his dishonesty, failure to govern, and complete lack of perspective. Romney stood for something here. Something bigger than smacking down immigrants and engaging in nationalistic tripe. He criticized Trump because he believes a man with such a lack of character should not be leading this great nation like he is.

    Much better than Senator Hatch and his sycophantic reference to people who oppose the current administration “stupid” and “dumbass”

  5. Geoff, I am surprised at Mitt appearing to “be small” by entering the high schoolish facebookish immature bashing. This doesn’t at face value seem like the high road of a diplomatic leader of men. So, I can only conclude that he is stooping low or he may be putting it out there that being president isn’t a joke and having a joker there is not acceptable and it’s time for the right to stand up for high moral and ethical qualifications of any president, even if it means some compromise in conservative near-term objectives. I for one, don’t feel like the means (having a morally bankrupt and inept president setting the tone for national and world politics and diplomacy) justifies the ends (some conservative policies put in place).

  6. I’m heartsick to think of anyone losing respect for Senators Flake and McCain. While neither a Republican nor a Democrat, but a truly independent voter, I believe both those men showed their deep decency, trustworthiness and intelligence in all their dealings. If I regret anything about Senator Flake it is that he did not choose to continue the fight and stay to be a voice of reason in Washington. If Senator Romney rises to the integrity of those men, he can only be an asset to federal governing and the people he is now elected to represent. As for his waffling, yes, I certainly noticed that as well, and was disappointed by it. But I have hopes that he, like all of us, still has the capacity to repent, grow in understanding, and do better, and I believe he is starting out well by taking on the misdeeds of our current president. I’m very sorry that we have this troubling set of affairs to live through right now, where a President has chosen to be President in name only, acting not as a Republican nor even a patriot, but as an adolescent, at turns wheedling, truculent and threatening, who can see nothing around him except through the prism of his own ego. If you think I am being overly harsh, consider these three realities: (1) why has he not released his tax returns, like every other modern president has felt not only obligated to do, but willing without pressure to do? (2) why has he chosen Twitter as his mode of communication, bypassing traditional press statements and press releases — traditional forms which are not stuffy and out-of-mode, as he would have us think, but traditional in providing a continuity of communication on both serious and consequential matters. Name-calling, rumor-spreading, hasty judging and displays of temper do not properly fit in traditional modes of governmental communication (nor should they), but tweeting is easily bent to such low modes of expression. Finally, (3) the whole effort by this President to blackmail the nation into putting enough pressure on the Congress to cough up enough money for a border wall is the best evidence of his inability to think through an issue and come to the end with an intelligent solution at hand. There would be nothing wrong with a wall, if it could work. A border wall cannot achieve what he wants it to for at least two reasons: (a) desperate people, either innocents or drug runners, will simply find a way around it — flying over it, making their way further north or southeast, etc. And (b) so long as American citizens insist on their right to be drug USERS, no wall is going to prevent drug use in this nation. WE are the responsible parties: the way to stop drug invasions into this country is to stop being drug users. These three examples of presidential non-think should have convinced all of us that the present occupant of the White House does not value perspective, responsibility, vision, or truth, nor has he shown any willingness to learn on the job. His mode is to grandstand, pout and shout, and if Mitt Romney is willing to finally and permanently stand up to Mr. Trump and call his bad behavior exactly what it is, then I am thrilled to see someone speaking truth to power, and pray this will not be the only time (or only voice) that does so.

  7. Trump will fall. It’s only a matter of time. The question is whether the Republican party will fall with him.

    From that perspective, I think Romney is showing character and foresight. His op-ed may look like a tactical blunder now, but a lot can happen over the course of a year, and it looks like we’re due for a rough one.

    That, or Romney is just another old-guard neo-con elite trying desperately to hold onto the fractured post-WWII order, and the timing of his op-ed is best explained by Trump’s announced withdrawal from Syria.

    The warfare/welfare state will collapse under the weight of its own decadence, just like Rome, and the only thing that can save it is the fiscal conservatism of another Anastasius. I’d like to think that Romney can see that, but I fear he’s just another “conservative” hypocrite who would blow out the national budget if given the keys to the White House.

  8. Had reasonably high hopes for Romney as a senator but it is hard to have much respect for him after this. It is one thing to oppose Trump in connection with a specific policy or action he is taking or even in response to a specific question but it is quite another to publish an unsolicited target op-ed in a newspaper written by and for liberal Democrats and line up interviews thereafter at liberal CNN to trash the president.

    It would appear he is trying ingratiate himself to the Democrats, in which case someone should remind him they are the ones who kept him out of the white house and are not the ones who got him elected as a senator.

    Alternatively, his actions are just the result of his ongoing temper tantrum at the way Trump treated him even though he was willing to be interviewed and serve in his cabinet if asked.

    Either shows a complete lack of character and it is nice to see his niece letting him know how disappointing it is.

  9. Anyone who is willing to confront our amoral, inept and corrupt president gets points in my book. No good fruit grows from a corrupt or evil tree and Trump is by far the most corrupt and evil president we have had in over a century. Yeah for Romney!

  10. Interesting post. We’re all entitled to our own opinions, and I feel that on some you are quite right, but rather wrong on others.

    Mr. Romney has certainly staked out a position regarding the Donald, but not entirely unexpected. He has clearly stated in the past that he feels that Trump has yuge moral failings. And he isn’t wrong that Trump has not lifted the discourse in this country. Instead he continues to use bullying tactics and incredibly negative language to belittle and try to intimidate those who oppose him in even the least.

    As far as so many people’s call (staunch republicans) that Romney just fall in line and be a “team player”, I believe that they don’t realize that they are enabling the dis-function in Washington and the ensuing gridlock of party over the actual solutions that could be worked out for all our good. How is it that he should somehow get in line with policies that he doesn’t agree with just because some angry guy tweets out some illogical, haranguing idea off the top of his head? Now I am not comparing Trump to Hitler, but conceptually, would the world had the devastation of WWII if there had been some courageous people in leadership fight against that man rather than just fall in line? Take your pick of bad actors in power that have created havoc in the world, unopposed by those who could have made a difference if you don’t like my other analogy. I’m sorry to say this, but what you’re saying is “don’t criticize the leader, even if it’s true”. I don’t buy that.

    Politics is a game of five and take. I am betting that this was a very calculated move by Romney to let Trump know that he is not a deep red republican, but will think for himself and that he won’t be intimidated by a “junior” president who has all of 2 years in politics.

  11. Donald Trump isn’t anywhere near the most corrupt or evil president we’ve had in the last century. That honor still goes to Woodrow Wilson, who gets the lion’s share of the credit for the 20th century’s entire bodycount, and whom I would like to dig up so I can punch him in the bones. Trump’s not doing anything in any arena that hasn’t been done worse by at least one former president, and probably two. The sticking point here is Trump’s penchant for keeping himself squarely center stage. I’ve had many conversations about Trump in the past year that have ended immediately when I asked the simple question “If he didn’t tweet, would any of us really care what he was doing?” Every career politician knows when to go to ground to let the heat die down. Trump loves the heat, though stoking it works to his detriment.

    Romney’s misstep here, such as it might be, is continuing to support the idea that the presidency is something to be lionized.

  12. You say ” You can maintain your integrity while accepting that Trump is president and you need to work with him to get things done.” while also castigating Romney for accepting the results of the election and being willing to take a look and see if he could work with Trump as Sec of State? Everybody was saying “Trump needs to surround himself with competent assistants” and then vilifying anybody competent who showed up to try to mitigate the train wreck. And it is a train wreck. I used to be a lot more Republican-sympathetic than I am now; the last few years have been horrifyingly eye-opening. I’m hopeful that Romney can help steer the GOP in a better direction. (And I don’t live in Utah.)

  13. Lattertarian,
    Thanks for admitting that Trump is in the bottom 2-3 of presidents in multiple categories. I heartily agree!

    You have not complemented a significant LDS figure in nearly a month without simultaneously slashing their character and reputation in your analysis. First Hugh Nibley and now Mitt Romney. Did you have a rough Christmas or something? Here is hoping the two-hour block this Sunday cheers you up!

  14. Old Man, you are forgetting my post on Adam Miller, who is even worse than Nibley and Romney. 🙂

    Just for you, I will compliment many significant LDS figures: President Nelson, all of the rest of the apostles and GAs, my stake president, my bishop and my elder’s quorum president, the relief society president, young women’s president and primary president in my ward — they are all awesome. I had a great Christmas, I just call ’em like I see ’em. Happy New Year!

    It is WAY too early to say anything significant about Trump’s presidency. Let’s wait until a few years after it is over to see how it compares to other historical figures. But we know one thing for sure: Mitt Romney will never be president.

  15. “But we know one thing for sure: Mitt Romney will never be president.

    Whoa. Never say never.

    Just in my days alone, we’ve had a peanut farmer, an actor, a CIA man, a rapist, a son-of-CIA-man, and a red-diaper-baby Marxist weaned on Bernadette Dorn and Bill Ayers (and let’s not forget his influential “Uncle Frank” who got 40 mentions in his book, and was a card-carrying communist, a columnist in a communist newspaper, and sex-club enthusiast), and now a billionaire real estate mogul who ran a so-called “reality” tv show.

    As Yakov Smirnof would often say: “America! What a country!”

    Romney getting elected would surprise me no less than the above list.

  16. Book, I will stand by that prediction. Easily.

    Mitt has completely isolated himself in the Republican party. The only people who like him now are those who are on the sidelines of the Republican party or the Democrats, who will turn on him in a heartbeat if he ever says anything vaguely conservative. He is 71 years old and will be 73 in 2020. He has zero chance in 2020 (except as a third party spoiler candidate like Evan McMullin), and I sincerely doubt he can get together the organization to even run in 2024, much less be elected at 77. And I hate to say it, but anti-Mormonism is alive and well in the conservative movement. I am not going to link it, but there was a Babylon Bee story about how you should not trust Romney because he believes in the obvious fraud Joseph Smith. Horrible stuff.

    So, if there is one thing we can take to the bank, it is that Mitt will never be president. If only he had fought harder in 2012 — I think he actually could have won if he had had the right political instincts then.

  17. Old Man,

    I get that you want to score an easy layup on a stranger on the internet, and I hope it gave you the dopamine hit you craved, but you’re giving me too much credit assuming I think there’s even a top third in presidential quality. The presidents we’ve had that weren’t dirtbags, sociopaths, maniacs, or some combination can be counted on one hand with fingers left over. And even the okay ones had serious flaws. Washington was pretty good. Coolidge was alright. From there? The downhill slope gets steep in a hurry, and they can just about all be interchanged with Trump to one degree or another. If he didn’t tweet, nobody would care.

  18. @ JML
    Please provide proof that Trump is the most amoral, evil and corrupt president in one hundred years.

    @ sw
    Immigrants come to the United States legally, by filing the proper paperwork, and then getting permission to enter.

    People who come into the United States by sneaking across the border, without filing proper paperwork, are ILLEGAL Aliens. Big difference between immigrants and Illegals.
    ” Nationalistic tripe” ….shows you are anti American. And show proof Trump is dishonest, can’t govern, and lacks perspective.

    Romney has no moral compass…..his work with Bain Capital has proven that.

    McCain was never a good person, nor honorable. Neither is Flake.

    It is very disappointing to see so many people who are wilfully obtuse about what is really happening in the country and world.
    It is disturbing that so many obtuse are Mormons and members of other Christian religions, and that so many Mormons are anti American and support Communism.

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