The worst week ever for an LDS senator?

Mitt Romney apparently wants to be known as the worst LDS senator ever.

Over the weekend he accused former congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of spreading “treasonous lies” regarding Russia. And then yesterday he was the only Republican senator to vote to continue to force everybody — including two-year-olds — to wear masks. The Utah senator voted against lifting an HHS mandate, and as another senator said:

“Really, what we’re doing is just punishing children,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said. “The rest of America is insulted by you telling them that their kids who are not at risk from dying from this disease, are not spreading it, that somehow we’re going to force these kids to keep wearing masks. It’s unscientific, it’s inhumane and it stunting their learning.”

Despite urgings from other Republicans, the amendment ultimately failed. Even though swing Republicans such as Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted to unmask the children, Romney crossed the aisle and helped doom two-year-olds to wearing face coverings even though most adults in cities, schools, and workplaces don’t have to any longer.

Romney voted to continue to force your children to wear masks

Just a few days ago, Romney sent out an embarrassing tweet that received nationwide scorn:

What was Tulsi Gabbard’s supposed treason?

Gabbard’s crime was that she echoed twenty years of statements by U.S. officials and scholars across the spectrum by arguing that NATO expansion up to the Russian borders, and particularly the prospect of membership for Ukraine, was genuinely threatening to Moscow; thus, she argued, the U.S. and NATO, in order to attempt to diplomatically avert a horrific war, should formalize its intent not to offer NATO membership to the country occupying the most sensitive and vulnerable part of the border with Russia…..

On Sunday night, Gabbard posted a two-minute video online in which she said something completely indisputable: “indisputable” in the sense that the U.S. Government itself admits it and nobody contests it. She did not say that there are bio weapons labs in Ukraine: either ones funded by the U.S. or anyone else. What she did say — in her characteristically clear and blunt manner — is that there are labs in Ukraine in which dangerous pathogens are being cultivated and stored, and that it is reckless in the extreme for the U.S. and/or Ukraine not to have secured or disposed of them when Russian troops were massed on the Ukrainian border, indicating the high possibility of an invasion that could result in these pathogens being accidentally released during war.

Gabbard’s warning is scarcely different from what U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said when testifying last Monday in the Senate, in response to Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) question of whether “Ukraine has biological or chemical weapons” (we examined Nuland’s response here); what U.S. officials themselves claimed in response to questions about Nuland’s comments; and what Reuters reported were the warnings from the World Health Organization about the dangers of Ukrainian labs. A separate Reuters article designed to debunk Russian accusations about bioweapons labs in Ukraine noted that Ukraine’s “laboratories have received support from the United States, European Union and World Health Organization.”

And as we documented in a video report broadcast this week, the distinction between a “bioweapons lab” and what Nuland described as Ukraine’s “biological research facilities” is often mere semantics in U.S. jargon. The U.S. indisputably develops biological weapons (the 2001 attack using highly sophisticated weaponized anthrax strains came from a U.S. Army lab, according to the FBI, and the U.S. has funded the work of Chinese scientists to manipulate coronaviruses to make them more contagious and lethal), yet nonetheless insists they are not “biological weapons” because the motive in developing those weapons is to study, not deploy, them. Thus, if Ukraine’s labs had weaponized biological pathogens but the U.S. believed they were developed for the purpose of studying rather than unleashing them, the U.S. would insist that there are no “biological weapons” in these labs even though they are identical to what one would manufacture with a more nefarious intention.

So, to sum up: Tulsi Gabbard said things that are common knowledge among foreign policy experts and state department bureaucrats. And somehow Mitt believes these are “treasonous lies?”

Does Mitt Romney know that the United States is not at war with Russia and does he know that the U.S. Constitution has a specific definition of treason?

Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution states:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

One of the reasons treason is the only crime specifically outlined in the Constitution is that the Founders wanted to prevent using claims of “treason” to prevent political speech. It is not treason to say something that another person disagrees with politically, which is what Mitt Romney is claiming. Treason against the United States has a specific political meaning only involving clear support of a country in which the United States is engaged in active combat. And the United States is not in combat against Russia, despite such a combat being the apparent goal of warmongers like Mitt Romney.

The claim is especially rich given that Lt. Col. Gabbard is an Iraq war veteran with years of military service, and Romney avoided the draft in the 1960s. (Mitt’s route to avoid the draft included serving as a missionary, which is obviously an honorable and godly pursuit — my point is that it is a bit much for a man who has never served in the military to accuse somebody who has served of “treasonous lies.”)

I would like to also point out that we have been hearing for years now from LDS intellectuals that President Trump’s rhetoric was out of line and unbecoming of a politician. I agree. Will the same people who condemned Trump come out against Romney’s completely unnecessary attack on a former U.S. congresswoman? And, again, this attack involves literally the most heinous crime of which you can accuse a person in the United States, ie treason.

I agree with Tulsi Gabbard’s defense of herself:

“Romney, please provide evidence that what I said is untrue and treasonous. If you cannot, you should do the honorable thing: apologize and resign from the Senate,” she said.

There is no evidence that anything Tulsi Gabbard said is a lie, and there is certainly no evidence it is treason. Mitt Romney is an embarrassment and should resign immediately.

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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.

24 thoughts on “The worst week ever for an LDS senator?

  1. It’s pretty awful he is Utah’s senator. Truly an embarrassment. He’s definitely got a virtue-signalling ego problem that makes it hard to be associated with him.

    I think he’s just not cut out for politics. And unfortunately he doesn’t have the self-awareness to understand that he’s become totally corrupt. It’s really too bad. He should just go back to doing what he did well, and what allowed him to not be so corrupt.

  2. Article III Section 3 says nothing about active combat, but it does say: “or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Russia is undeniably an enemy of the United States (as Romney himself pointed out during his presidental campaign). Therefore those who side with Russia, or attempt to justify its unjustifiable aggression/invasion, do actually provide aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States. And in doing so may tick off one of the Constitutional requirements for treason (but one statement in isolation likely doesn’t tell the whole tale).

    Gabbard likely did not overtly lie (in the sense that biological specimen exist – although their capabilities, nor the control on their use, likely are not fully known to her) and but she may well have significantly harmed US interests by implicitly justifying Russia’s invasion. In any event her words likely did not fully reach the level of treason.

    In my opinion, Romney should apologize for the treason remark, but he should also expound on why providing justification for Putin/Russia’s invasion and paranoia harms the US (and the free world) long term.

  3. Despite many in the US (hopefully most?) believing Russia’s actions to be unjust, evil, immoral or illegal, that does not make Russia an enemy of the United States in a Constitutional sense. Lots of countries routinely do things that we in the US believe are wrong. Fellow citizens are not committing treason, for instance, when they do business with China, despite China’s horrendous human rights abuses.

    The only legal “enemy” of the United States is one with whom we are at war. Expanding the definition of treason to include anyone who doesn’t sufficiently denounce a country you disagree with, tortures the word treason beyond what the Constitution means by that word.

  4. The_Archduke, do you not think the Soviet Union was an enemy of the United States during the “Cold War” (never a formal declaration of war there)? Putin has made the same two basic threats against the United States that the Soviet Union did. Namely, to use nuclear weapons if the US did not back down and let it do what it wants, and to forcibly remove/replace democratically elected governments around the world (particularly in its neighborhood). Putin has publicly committed to rebuilding the Soviet empire and threatened the United States with nuclear war if it takes direct action to stop that from happening.

  5. There have only been a handful of actual cases of treason tried in the entire history of the United States. They are astonishingly rare, because the legal threshold is so high. And difficult to prove in a court of law.

    What Romney said wasn’t just wrong. It is flat out stupid. I think Pierre Delecto has finally cracked up.

    I can’t believe I voted for this guy back in 2012. Everything that has happened since 2020 has been a clarifying lens for me, on multiple levels.

  6. JSH, do you have any documentation of this claim:

    “Putin has publicly committed to rebuilding the Soviet empire and threatened the United States with nuclear war if it takes direct action to stop that from happening.”

    I have never seen such a thing, but I am willing to be convinced if you have a public statement and/or commitment from Putin to 1)rebuild the Soviet empire and 2)threaten nuclear war with the U.S. to stop it.

  7. Gabbard was the only Democrat in the 2020 primaries I would have considered voting for (and did, in the primary). I frequently disagree with her, but I thought she was the only adult on those debate stages, and she strikes me as someone you can disagree with and still have a productive discussion.

    What Romney said was unsupportable, and disgusted me. Treason can hold the death penalty; to use the term so casually is deeply concerning, especially given his position. (Perish the thought, but did Harry Reid do us a favor in 2012?)

    And it frightens me – we as a nation seem to be sorting ourselves into the Shiz and Coriantumr camps far too quickly at the moment. Someone’s been cranking up the heat on the Cold Civil War. There have already been casualties, but more fronts are opening.

  8. James W, good points. It was still wrong for Harry Reid to lie about Romney’s taxes, but it is certainly true that Romney would have been a much worse president than many of us thought in 2012.

  9. Geoff B, agreed. I abhor Reid’s knowing lie (“He didn’t win, did he?”) but Senator Romney looks and sounds a lot more like the guy who ran to the left of Ted Kennedy in that Massachusetts Senate race than the “severe conservative” of 2012.

  10. I’m less worried about the back and forth regarding Russia as that’s just politics as usual. Russia has always been a football that gets kicked back and forth by the parties.

    Votes to require masking of kids, especially at this point, reveal an inability to make good decisions based on evidence.

    It’s very clear that despite unprecedented efforts all across the world COVID is spreading. New Zealand, blessed example of lockdowns, science and vaccines, is sky rocketing. Germany, skyrocketing. Every piece of evidence used to justify masks was nothing more than a convenience sample that manipulated the population based on the timing of the sample.

    Everywhere will get covid, regardless of policy. If that’s the case, why the mask theater? Flatten the curve? Look at all the curves! You get flat line when COVID is not spreading then massive spike once COVID shows up.

    The assumption that COVID should spread equally at all places at the same time is a manipulated reality used to justify authoritarianism. Want to know if masks are effective? Tell a viral lab researcher to wear one instead of a hazmat suit just for a a couple days to lessen the probability. What a joke. If you’re wearing a mask for a month or a year, it’s surely not doing anything on average even if you consider probability of lessening exposure. Even a 50% reduction in risk (which is BS), means after a few days you’re at full risk. When COVID arrives, it spreads.

    Masked or not.

    Romney has shown an inability to think through this issue.

  11. “2 And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land.
    3 And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes.
    (3 Nephi 7:2-3)”

    Are Mitt Romney’s “treason” comments more or less likely to create division so that people do not trust each other? A real statesman would never, ever speak the way that Mitt Romney speaks of Tulsi Gabbard. As I say, it is bad enough that Mitt should resign from the Senate.

  12. Book, there must be 1000 real Republicans in Utah who would do better than Mitt, including Mia Love.

    Re: the masks. Romney voted to force children to wear masks at the same time that the Church was announcing ENDING mask mandates for temples worldwide. COVID is certainly dangerous for older people, ie the people who tend to make up the majority of people in the temple. Yet the Church does not believe a mask mandate is necessary, even for these older people. Obviously the Church is looking at the actual science, which has shown for many years now that masks that most people wear do nothing to prevent the spread of viruses. Meanwhile, anti-science Mitt is simply going along with the establishment virtue signaling, and even that is behind the times because the establishment now realizes mask mandates are a political loser. Mitt is like Al Gore — he is always a few years behind the times on what is actually happening in the world. He really is one of the worst politicians ever.

  13. John Swenson Harvey

    No, the Soviet Union was not our “enemy” in the Cold War when talking about treason. Half of the Democratic Party and all of the editorial board of the New York Times should have been convicted of treason if the SU was legally our enemy. Treason, as others have said in this thread, has an incredibly high bar for a reason. Was the SU a rival, yes.

    We throw around the word “enemy” far too easily. Ute fans are my enemy.
    China is our enemy. Russia is our enemy. Those are hyperbole, and not legally actionable. Legally, enemy means we are at war.

  14. JSH, you may want to re-read those articles you posted. In neither of them does Putin commit “to rebuilding the Soviet empire and threatened the United States with nuclear war if it takes direct action to stop that from happening.” There are a lot of analysts saying that this is what Putin wants to do (rebuild the Soviet empire), but no quotes from Putin saying that is what he wants to do.

    In fact, I have read many quotations from Putin and he always says he wants Russia to be respected as a great power, but I have never heard him say he wants to rebuild the Soviet empire, not have I heard him threaten nuclear war against the U.S.

    It is especially important at this time for our wording to be exact when dealing with this situation. Is Russia an aggressor nation that has invaded another nation? Yes, definitely. Does Putin say openly that he wants to rebuild the Soviet empire and has he threatened nuclear war against the U.S. if we get in the way? No, that has not happened, as far as I have seen. Again, if anybody can provide actual quotations from Putin saying these things, then I will change my stance.

  15. It’s not just that Romney supports masking children despite all the evidence showing this to be unnecessary and unhelpful to child development. The other factor is Romney supports the Federal government reaching its tentacles throughout all of society directly into towns and communities to make this happen!!!

    Limited government? Not on Romney’s watch. The man time and again displays incoherence between the principles he claims to support and the policies he actually supports. He is, as CS Lewis explained, truly a man without a chest.

    “We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”

    A more revealing perspective of Lewis’s criticism is in this next quote – people like Romney (and there are unfortunately many like him in high levels of authority) do not trust human emotions and so rather than teach what are good sensibilities, they emphasize logic without feeling. And by so doing they rob life and people of joy.

    “They see the world around them swayed by emotional propaganda — they have learned from tradition that youth is sentimental — and they conclude that the best thing they can do is to fortify the minds of young people against emotion. My own experience as a teacher tells an opposite tale. For every one pupil who needs to be guarded from a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.”

  16. Mitt Romney is like a jilted suitor who sought the heart of conservatives. In his mind he was supposed to be their pragmatic, tough businessman that would slay the dragons. But Trump was chosen instead, so Romney has a sour grapes thing going on. He definitely seems to relish disappointing Utah Republicans.

  17. As much as I despise Mitt these days, even be wouldn’t have been as bad as Obama’s second term, with its warmongering, race baiting, and stagnant economy. So I don’t regret my 2012 vote for Mitt.

    I do regret that he became a senator. He has been a horrible senator.. And a very poor representative of the church. He acts pretty and small and hypocritical.

  18. Is that Glenn Greenwald you’re block quoting there, Geoff? I knew I liked you. 🙂

    Re: Romney, I am reminded of a darkly funny line from Chris Rock a couple decades ago now. Speaking of equality in sports, he remarked that baseball wasn’t truly integrated until black baseball players who weren’t all that good started being drafted by MLB teams. Baseball wasn’t equal, according to Rock, until there were bad black baseball players. I wonder if there’s a comfort (tinged with mild disappointment) in the idea that the ascension to federal government of members of the church who are bad at politics is a signal of church growth.

  19. Throughout most of the Cold War we sold wheat in large quantities to the Soviet Union with congressional approval. In an actual war, that would certainly count as treason if Congress prohibited it. It would be adhering to the enemies of the United States *and* giving them aid and comfort.

    But in the Cold War? I don’t think so. We had diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and entered into various treaties with them. That is not the way you treat a country you are actually at war with, however serious the danger may be if things go wrong.

    Russia is a very serious rival of the United States, and an unquestioned menace to humanity as of late, but unless they are preparing an imminent attack upon us, I don’t think you can count them as our enemy for the purposes of the Treason Clause.

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