Profile in ‘courage’
The such-as-it-is mettle of Mitt Romney
Picking on Mitt Romney is as easy as hitting a piñata full of alarm clocks and kittens without a blindfold in broad daylight—but for the love of the cauda equina, the bundle of spinal nerves and spinal nerve rootlets of the lumbar cistern, if the former Massachusetts governor were any more spineless, echinoderms would be telling him to grow a pair.
Romney, who has been Utah’s senator for fewer than four months, was on “Meet the Press” on April 7, and is already ashamed of his work and his title.
Chuck Todd: Do you prefer Governor or Senator still?
Sen. Mitt Romney: The term Governor’s always better, but I guess I’ve got to go by my current title, which is Senator.
Todd: That’s exactly what we —
Romney: But Mitt — but Mitt is just fine, Chuck. Mitt is just fine.
I’ll tell you: If my urologist hated his work as much as Romney hates his, I never would have let him near my prostate.
But I digress.
Romney was on the show — actually, there was no good reason for him to be on the show other than Chuck Todd’s desire to prove there are national GOP figures supposedly willing to stand up to Donald Trump.
Todd: Welcome back. Most Republican office holders have been reluctant, even a bit scared, to criticize President Trump. Not Mitt Romney. Just two days before he took the oath as a new senator from Utah, Mitt Romney wrote this: “Presidential leadership and qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Yes, exactly. Todd pulled that quote out of the bag to prove Romney’s disgust with the president’s moral failings. (How will Trump ever recover from such a rhetorical beatdown is beyond me.) Todd reminded Romney that he, Romney, once said he was, compared to Trump, the true badass when it came to opposing the hordes of foreigners from “shithole countries” coming to our border. Short of shooting little Ecuadoran kids in the back as they flee the border, I’m not sure how that is actually possible, but Todd pursued the questioning.
Todd: One of the things that you had said is you’d be tougher on illegal immigration than President Trump. Your positions. Give me an example where you feel as if you’re tougher on this than he is.
Romney: Well, I was referring to a time some years ago when I was running for president and, and noted that I was not in favor of the DREAM Act.
Phumpherer, line one.
And the president supported earlier in 2017 giving the DACA individuals legal residency. So I was referring to that point. But at this stage, I think —
That’s it? You were against a bill years ago the president just recently and cynically dangled in front of Congress in a clunky, transparent attempt to get his cockamamie wall funded, and that shows off your cojones?
What made the moment more absurd, as impossible as that was, Romney immediately walked back even that nothing burger.
Todd: Are you still against —
Romney: — we’re on the same page.
Shorter Romney: If you’re watching Mr. President, please don’t hurt me.
Romney, rather than taking off the gloves in criticizing Trump, lathered his hands in Neosporin, wrapped them in gauze, put on a pair of mittens, and put both hands under his underarms.
Romney: I would provide legal status for those Dreamers in the country. That’s something the president’s put on the table. I think we should get that job done. And hope we will get that job done.
He would treat human beings as human beings. Leadership!
But overall, we need to complete the border fence.
… or, you know, start, repair, update, fill-in, and/or secure whatever it is we’re calling the thingy on the border these days.
We need to have a system that keeps people from getting jobs here if they’re here illegally, and that’s an e-verify system.
And then we’ve got to deal with this asylum issue that’s really overwhelming our system.
Romney doesn’t want people working here illegally and wants to deal with the asylum issue. This, apparently, is what passes for special moxy in the GOP these days and gets you booked on Sunday mornings.
Todd: You, you have, you were very aggressive in getting, in getting candidate Donald Trump to try to release his tax returns.
This assumes, as the kids like to say, facts not in evidence, but please continue.
He now wants to fight this effort by Congress all the way to the Supreme Court. And while I could maybe understand he wants to do it on privacy grounds, he still doesn’t want to show the country his tax returns. How problematic is that?
Okay, senator — uh, governor — you released your tax returns, 12 years worth, and were not exactly Albert Schweitzer in your adult years. You also took the heat for your 47 percent comment. Bring the hammer, as it was brought against you.
Romney: Well, I’d like the president to follow through and show his tax returns. He said he would.
“I’d like the president—” Wait, that’s not a hammer. Try again.
I think it was on The Today Show. He said he would be happy to release his returns. So I wish he’d do that.
You’re kidding with this, right?
But I have to also tell you I think the Democrats are just playing along his handbook, which is going after his tax returns through a legislative action is moronic. That’s not going to happen. The courts are not going to say that you can compel a person running for office to release their tax returns. So he’s going to win this victory. He wins them time after time.
Wins what time after time? And what about the point of the release?
And, you know, the Green New Deal, all these candidates out there talking about getting, getting rid of Obamacare and traditional health care and putting in place Medicare, these things are just, just nonstarters.
Guess we’re not talking about the president’s tax returns anymore, but rather the talking points Romney jotted down on the car over to the studio. As for Obamacare, let us take the time to recall its similarities to a program Romney passed in Massachusetts, a time when he enjoyed so much being the state’s governor. Here’s what MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber, who helped craft the actual bill, said of Romney’s signature achievement.
“The problem is there is no way to say that,” Gruber said. “Because they’re the same fucking bill. He just can’t have his cake and eat it too. Basically, you know, it’s the same bill. He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he’s just lying.”
Todd, through the entire discussion of healthcare, didn’t remind Romney of that, for reasons that defy understanding. Worse, he let Romney get away with this:
And I think the Democratic party is finding itself in a real difficult position with those kind of positions.
Expanding Medicare and taking global climate change seriously — those are difficult positions for Democrats? Really?
Only a guy who said this after accepting his party’s nomination for president in 2012, would think so.
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet,” he said. The crowd burst into applause. Adding after a long pause: “My promise … is to help you and your family.”
In returning to the premise—Romney’s moral outrage at the president —Todd asked the former governor about whether anyone in the GOP would challenge Trump in 2020.
Romney recalled the time he curled up into ball and started cooing at the White House.
Romney: I have places where I disagree with the president. I was in his office just a couple weeks ago and said I disagreed with the steel and aluminum tariffs.
Quick! Get the man a cookie.
On the other hand, I said, “I’m overwhelmingly in favor with what you’re doing on China.”
No word if he rolled over and had his underbelly stroked.
In my opinion, you can get as hard as you want to get, pushing back on China. I think you also have to say the president has followed the Republican playbook when it comes to the domestic economy. Lowering taxes, lowering regulation. The economy’s doing very, very well. It’s hard not to recognize that’s a pretty strong record.
But what of the question, Senator/Governor/Bain Capital Man, of a primary challenge? Are you concerned about the president’s morality and character, or not? Will you, yourself, consider running, for the sake of the GOP, for the sake of the country? Will you encourage others to do so?
As to whether or not there’s a primary, time will tell. But parties typically do just fine when there’s a primary.
If Romney were any more irresolute, he would have wafted away like pollen through an open window.